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10 Best Portable Fish Finders of 2021 (Reviews & Buying Guide)

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Fishing requires a lot of patience, time and persistence. However, if patience is not your strong suit, one way to speed things up is by getting a fish finder. It will help make your fishing trips more efficient and enjoyable since you’ll be spending more time fishing and less time just sitting around. And in recent times, particularly portable fish finders are gaining a lot of popularity, offering the perfect solution for when you can’t permanently mount it on your boat. That’s why in this article, we’ll be reviewing the 10 best portable fish finders available on the market in 2021. Below the portable fish finder reviews and comparison, you’ll also find a buying guide with key information to help you select the right style and model for your unique fishing requirements.

Best Portable Fish Finders Comparison Table

portable fish finder reviews
  • Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar
  • Display: -
  • Sonar: Dual Beam
  • Flasher: yes
  • Max depth: 260 ft
  • GPS: onshore mapping
  • Battery: rechargeable
top rated portable fish finder
  • Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4 PT
  • Display: 4.3"
  • Sonar: Dual Beam
  • Flasher: no
  • Max depth: 600 ft
  • GPS: no
  • Battery: rechargeable
best portable fish finder
  • Garmin Striker 4
  • Display: 3.5"
  • Sonar: CHIRP/Dual Beam
  • Flasher: yes
  • Max depth: 1,600 ft
  • GPS: yes
  • Battery: rechargeable
hand held fish finder
  • Humminbird 5
  • Display: 5"
  • Sonar: CHIRP/Dual Beam Plus
  • Flasher: no
  • Max depth: 1,500 ft
  • GPS: yes
  • Battery: rechargeable
best castable fish finder
  • Lucky FFC1108-1
  • Display: 2"
  • Sonar: Single Beam
  • Flasher: no
  • Max depth: 328 ft
  • GPS: no
  • Battery: 4 AAA
budget handheld fish finder
  • HawkEye Fishtrax 1C
  • Display: -
  • Sonar: Dual Beam
  • Flasher: yes
  • Max depth: 240 ft
  • GPS: no
  • Battery: 4 AAA

Top 10 Portable Fish Finders Reviewed

Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

best portable fish finderGarmin is one of the best brands when it comes to GPS systems and sonar units. And one of their top rated portable fish finders is the Garmin Striker 4. It comes with a portable kit, which makes it a perfect option for kayak, canoe and ice fishing.

The unit’s display measures 3.5 inches in diagonal. This offers enough screen space to read the sonar information, to use the waypoints system and to view both sonar beams in split screen.

It’s also a color display with a high pixel matrix, providing clear sonar images. Moreover, it features LED backlighting, so you can adjust it to get better visibility in direct sunlight.

When it comes to sonar, this portable fish finder supports both dual frequency and CHIRP. The CHIRP sonar supports two modes with 77kHz and 200kHz frequencies. You can modulate the pulse in order to get better target separation and clearer images.

The dual frequency mode allows you to view the sonar returns in split screen with the narrow cone on one side and the wide cone on the other. And the two conical beams have a coverage of 15 and 45 degree angles.

The included transducer can scan depths down to 1,600 feet in freshwater and 750 feet in saltwater. It can maintain sonar readings at speeds as high as 30 MPH. However, it performs better at slower speeds, providing the clearest images at speeds less than 6 MPH.

In addition to the traditional sonar, this unit also offers the flasher screen, which is excellent for ice fishing. This makes it a versatile fish finder that is suitable for both ice and non-ice fishing applications. It might not be as good as a dedicated flasher but it offers amazing performance for such a small unit that integrates both traditional and flasher sonar in one.

Another handy feature of this portable sonar fish finder is the waypoint mode. It features a GPS receiver, so you can locate your position anywhere you go on the lake. However, it doesn’t have any charts and you can’t upload them. It offers only basic navigation and this mode’s main purpose is to mark waypoints that you’d like to revisit.

This fish finder bundle also comes with everything you’ll need for its portable use. It includes a transducer with a suction cup mount, a 7 amp per hour battery, a battery charger and a bag that stores all these accessories.


  • 3.5 inch display.
  • CHIRP and dual beam sonar.
  • Flasher mode.
  • Fish ID.
  • Autogain technology.
  • GPS receiver.
  • Waypoint map.
  • Good battery life.
  • Easy to carry.
  • Very limited instructions that come with the unit. However, there are plenty of YouTube videos to help out.

Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar

portable fish finder reviewsIf you’re looking for the best castable fish finder, then our top recommendation is the Deeper Pro+. It’s a versatile unit that is suitable for all types of fishing, including fishing from a boat or kayak, shore and ice fishing. This castable fish finder comes with features akin to the models from Garmin, Humminbird and Lowrance, but it costs less and it doesn’t require any installation.

The Deeper Pro+ is so small that it can fit in your pocket, which makes it truly portable. Moreover, there’s no display unit, so all you need to carry is the small sonar unit.

The device uses a Wi-Fi connection to pair with your smartphone or tablet. This means that you can use this fish finder anywhere you want, even if there’s no cell service in the area. On top of that, pairing the devices through Wi-Fi provides faster and more reliable data transfer and a greater connection range. You can cast it as far 330 feet and it can scan down as far as 260 feet.

Once you’ve connected this castable fish finder to your smartphone, you’ll be able to operate the device through a free app. There you’ll find sonar features, fish notes, maps, weather forecasts and more.

The smartphone fish finder supports dual beam sonar with 90kHz and 290kHz frequencies. The two scanning cones have a 15 and 55 degree angles, so you can choose to view either greater detail or a bigger picture. It also makes it perfect for both shallow and deep water fishing.

This sonar device can also be used as an ice fishing flasher, providing you with a view of the water column beneath your hole. And you can view the traditional sonar and flasher simultaneously in split screen.

One more useful feature is the built-in GPS system that offers you a lot to play with. In addition to providing lake maps, it also allows you to create bathymetric maps. As you reel in the unit from shore or troll it behind your kayak, it maps the bottom contours of the lake. This feature allows you to create detailed maps of hotspots, so if you return to these spots again, you’ll know where the fish will be hiding.

The fish finder can be used as either a castable or trolling unit. For casting, it includes attachment bolts that you thread into in order to attach a fishing line. Alternatively, you can purchase an extension arm for mounting it on a kayak or canoe. Or if you’re ice fishing, you can just drop the sonar unit into the drilled hole.


  • Versatile.
  • Connects with smart devices.
  • 260 feet scanning depth capability.
  • Dual beam sonar.
  • Adjustable sensitivity.
  • Ice fishing flasher.
  • Fast data transfer through a Wi-Fi connection.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Bathymetric mapping.
  • The battery lasts 4 hours of continuous use.
  • Not as accurate when fishing through ice thicker than 8 inches.
  • Connectivity issues in rough waters.

Humminbird Piranhamax 4 PT

top rated portable fish finderThe Humminbird Piranhamax 4 PT is also one of the best portable sonar fish finders this year. It’s a simple fish finder that offers an easy-to-use interface and the most useful features.

Its 4.3 inch display offers high pixel resolution and a 256 color range. This provides nicer graphics that make it easier to differentiate objects that are displayed with the sonar returns. Moreover, for even better readability, there’s LED backlighting so you’ll be able to read the screen even in direct sunlight.

This portable fish finder features dual beam sonar, which operates at 200kHz and 455kHz frequencies. The 200kHz frequency uses a wide 28 degree beam angle, which can reach depths up to 300 feet. And the 455kHz frequency uses a narrower 16 degree beam angle, which provides less coverage but can reach deeper up to 600 feet.

There are also a few other useful sonar functions, which are also present in most of the portable fish finders in this list. It includes a Fish ID function that replaces fish arches with small fish icons. It also offers the Bottom View function, which focuses the sonar onto the bottom. And this device also features three alarms. You can set the alarm to notify you when the unit detects certain fish, certain depth or when the battery drops below a certain point.

The included transducer comes with a suction cup, which is perfect for mounting it on a kayak. However, this type of mounting doesn’t hold well when the boat is moving at high speeds. It performs the best when it’s trolling with a speed that is a maximum 6 MPH.

This portable bundle also includes a soft sided carrying case, a 7 amp hour battery and a wall charger. The fish finder is very easy to set up and it comes with comprehensive instructions in the manual.


  • 4.3 inch display.
  • Nice color graphics.
  • Dual beam sonar.
  • Maximum depth capability 600 feet.
  • Dish ID.
  • Fish, depth and battery alarms.
  • Long battery life.
  • Portable carrying case.
  • 1 year warranty.
  • No GPS.

Humminbird 5 Portable Bundle

hand held fish finderFor a high-end portable fish finder, we recommend checking out the Humminbird Helix 5 model. It’s the most expensive portable fish finder on our list but it also offers a lot of value for the money. So, if it’s within your budget, it’s a perfect option for both recreational and professional anglers.

It comes with a display that measures 5 inches in diagonal and it has great color and resolution. This provides a high level of detail and makes it easier to differentiate between different objects on the sonar. Moreover, the bigger screen size makes it possible to view two types of information split screen.

This portable sonar fish finder includes a suction cup transducer that supports CHIRP and Dual Beam Plus sonar. In the CHIRP mode, you can modulate the pulse in the 75-250kHz range, which will provide you with the most detailed view of what’s underwater.

Dual Beam Plus sonar, on the other hand, offers you to choose either a narrow beam for more accuracy or a wider beam for more coverage. You can view these beams either separately, blended together or in split screen side by side.

Another feature of this battery operated portable fish finder is the built-in GPS receiver. It meets all the navigational needs by providing tracking of location and marking of different points of interest. For example, you can mark your best fishing spots and use them for reference in the future.

The GPS comes preloaded with Anima cartography, offering detailed maps of inland lakes. These maps can also be upgraded by purchasing them online and then importing them to the fish finder.


  • 5 inch color display.
  • CHIRP and Dual Beam Plus sonar.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Anima cartography.
  • SD card slot for optional maps.
  • Includes a suction cup transducer and battery.
  • Comes with a carrying case.
  • 1 year warranty.
  • Expensive.

Lucky FFC1108-1 Handheld Fish Finder

best castable fish finderOne of the most affordable portable fish finders is this Lucky model. It’s a perfect choice for fishing beginners, though it offers features and accuracy that is suitable for all levels of fishing lovers. You can use this handheld fish finder from a kayak or small boat. You can also use it from shore or for ice fishing.

This fish finder comes with a small 2 inch screen. It displays basic sonar information, such as bottom structure, your boat’s depth, fish and their depth. So, while it’s basic, it can still help you understand the bottom’s composition and locate fish. On the screen, you can also view icons for different settings, such as backlighting, fish alarms, sensitivity and battery.

It uses single 200kHz frequency sonar that sends a 45 degree cone. Moreover, there are five sensitivity settings that you can adjust depending on the fishing environment at hand. It performs best in depths that are in a 3 to 328 feet range.

This unit requires 4 AAA batteries for operation. One set of batteries should last you about 4-5 hours. So, if you’re planning a longer fishing trip, you’ll need to bring a spare set. And you can extend the battery life by using the Battery Saver mode.

The images are very basic. However, for the price, it provides great value. This is a perfect affordable option for those who are looking for just fish detection and water depth in order to help you get more baits.

One of the downsides of this inexpensive unit is that the display doesn’t have anti-glare, so it’s difficult to read it when under direct sunlight. Another thing to keep in mind about this handheld fish finder is that it’s not waterproof. So, when using it, make sure that you don’t get it wet.


  • Versatile.
  • 328 feet maximum scanning depth.
  • 200kHz frequency.
  • 45 degree beam cone angle.
  • Fish alarms.
  • Battery saver mode.
  • 1 year warranty.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Difficult to read the screen in the sun.
  • Not waterproof.
  • Small display.

HawkEye Fishtrax 1C

budget handheld fish finderAnother great handheld fish finder that is good for seeing depth, fish and structure is the HawkEye Fishtrax 1C. It packs plenty of features in a portable and lightweight unit.

It features a good quality display with full color and high definition. And if you want a cheaper version, this same model is also available with a greyscale display.

The screen is big enough for easy viewing and the graphics are crisp and clear, even in direct sunlight. It’s also equipped with powerful backlighting that can be adjusted for easier viewing during both day and night. Moreover, the fish finder’s menu is easy to operate and understand. And the sonar icons on the screen are easy to identify.

It’s a dual frequency fish finder that uses 83kHz and 200kHz. It sends conical beams that have 14 and 26 degree angles. One works better in deeper waters and the other in shallower waters. You can get sonar readings in waters as shallow as 1.5 feet and as deep as 240 feet.

In addition to the fish finder mode, this unit also offers a digital flasher mode. In this mode, the screen will display a flasher that will show you sonar returns on a circular scale. This will enable you to target fish while ice fishing.

This handheld sonar fish finder also offers adjustability for getting the clearest sonar readings on the screen. You can adjust sensitivity and also filter clutter and noise. This will provide a clean screen with the unwanted readings removed.


  • Compact design.
  • Backlighting.
  • Dual frequency sonar.
  • Maximum depth reading is 240 feet.
  • Includes flasher mode.
  • Audible fish alarm.
  • Adjustable sensitivity.
  • IPX7 waterproof.
  • Reasonable price.
  • Uses 4 AAA batteries instead of rechargeable ones.

Lucky Portable Fish Finder

handheld sonar fish finderLucky also makes a good casting fish finder. With this handy device, you’ll be able to find fish, check the water depth and temperature whether you’re fishing from shore, dock or boat.

It’s a battery powered fish finder with a single charge lasting about 5 to 8 hours. And one of the advantages of this system is that the battery is rechargeable, so you don’t have to spend extra for disposable batteries. The fish finder comes with a USB cable that you can use for fast charging via computer or another electrical device.

This wireless sonar fish finder uses a single 125kHz frequency, which produces a wide beam cone with a 90 degree angle. This means that this unit can’t scan very deep but it can scan a wide area underwater. The maximum depth range of its wireless sensor is 147 feet deep.

Any detected fish is displayed in the form of fish icons. It also shows how big the fish are and at what depth they are suspended. All this information you can use to set your lure or jig in order to target more fish.

Additionally, the unit displays the shape of the bottom and different structures, such as drop-offs and holes. This can help you find the areas where the fish is located.

And to ensure that you don’t miss any fish, the fish finder offers you the function of an audible alarm. It notifies you whenever the sonar marks a fish, so no fish goes unnoticed.

The rechargeable fish finder is also conveniently compact and easy to bring along wherever you’re going fishing. You can use it in a kayak or when fishing from shore, making it perfect for a variety of fishing situations.


  • 2.8 inch LCD display.
  • 147 feet depth capability.
  • 125kHz frequency.
  • 90 degree beam cone angle.
  • Fish alarm.
  • Fish icons.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Rechargeable battery lasts 5-8 hours.
  • Small display.
  • No charging cord. Only USB cable.

Deeper CHIRP Smart Sonar

smartphone fish finderIf you’re looking for a portable fish finder with CHIRP capability, then we recommend checking out this Deeper Smart Sonar unit. It’s one of the more expensive portable fish finders but it does also offer more advanced sonar capabilities.

This is one of the best portable fish finders for shore fishing as it weighs just 3.2 oz, which makes it easy to cast it out with a fishing rod and carry it around. It’s also very compact with a size that is smaller than a tennis ball. Moreover, the device connects to your smartphone via Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to bring an additional display for viewing the sonar.

The fish finder generates its own Wi-Fi signal, which makes the connection to your smartphone faster and more reliable. This results in a seamless display of sonar data on the screen.

This Wi-Fi fish finder also excels when it comes to sonar capabilities. It uses three frequencies that produce three beams with 47, 16 and 7 degree angles. And instead of sending just one frequency at a time, it sends a continuous flow of frequencies. As a result, you get extremely detailed and crisp visuals, making it easy to pinpoint target species and identify other submerged objects.

The advantage of using three beams is that you can start with the wide beam in order to get sonar information for a larger area. Then, you can use the 16 degree beam to get a more detailed image of a hotspot that you have located in the wide angle beam. And finally, you can use the narrow angle beam to drill in on the spot even further and get the most detailed view possible.

Due to the use of CHIRP sonar, this mobile phone fish finder can provide accurate sonar readings in both shallow and deep waters. It can locate fish that is as close as 6 inches away and as deep as 330 feet deep. This means that you can target fish that is at the water’s surface or hugging the bottom.

It’s also a rechargeable fish finder that comes equipped with an internal lithium polymer battery. On a single charge, it can run for up to 6 hours. It also features fast charging technology that provides a 100% charge in just 75 minutes.


  • Displays sonar in a user-friendly free app.
  • Fast data transfer using Wi-Fi.
  • 3 beam CHIRP sonar.
  • 0.4” target separation.
  • Scanning depth ranges from 6” to 330’.
  • Offers bathymetric mapping.
  • Fast charging technology.
  • 5 year warranty.
  • No water temperature reading.

ReelSonar iBobber

battery powered fish finderThe ReelSonar iBobber is also a castable fish finder, which also acts as a GPS tracker, waterbed mapper and weather station. It’s perfect for fishing on a quiet lake or river and it can be used from shore, kayak or boat.

This fish finder is compatible with iPhone and Android operating devices. It connects to either your tablet or smartphone through Bluetooth and you can use it a distance of 100 feet. The use of Bluetooth also means that you don’t need a cell tower signal for the device to work.

ReelSonar provides a free app that you can download on your mobile device. And this app offers a lot of useful features. First of all, it provides you with the information received by the sonar device. The unit uses patented sonar fish identifier technology that offers accurate sonar readings by scanning depths up to 125 feet.

This wireless Bluetooth fish finder can also be used for ice fishing. It offers a flasher mode that can help you locate fish in a drilled hole.

The app also offers GPS spot tagging, so you can save your favorite fishing spots. It also allows you to create trip logs with all the information about your fishing trip, such as location, time, conditions and species of fish caught. Also, in this trip log, you can make and save photos.

Another feature of the app is the waterbed mapping. Using this function, you can map depth contours and underwater structure

This portable fish finder is also equipped with a rechargeable battery. It can continuously run for up to 10 hours, which is pretty impressive for a castable unit. However, keep in mind that the device will also be draining your phone battery.


  • Patented fish identifier sonar.
  • Maximum depth capability is 125 feet.
  • Syncs with a mobile device via Bluetooth.
  • GPS tagging.
  • Trip logs.
  • Waterbed mapping.
  • Flasher mode.
  • Rechargeable battery.
  • LED beacon for night fishing.
  • Inconsistent syncing.
  • Will drain your phone’s battery.

Venterior VT-FF001

wireless sonar fish finderOur last pick in our list of the top 10 portable fish finders is the Venterior VT-FF001. It’s a budget option but it also offers some of the features present in higher priced models.

This portable fish locator features a black and white LCD screen. It also offers yellow LED backlighting that you can turn on or off depending on the lighting conditions.

The display might not offer as much detail as color ones, however, it’s not surprising for a unit at this price. It does show the most important information, which is the location of the fish and depth that they are suspended at. On top of that, it shows the bottom structure displaying rocks, sand and plants.

There are five sensitivity settings that you can adjust to dial in for your specific needs. This can help you get better accuracy from this fish finder.

One of the functions of this portable fish finder is also a fish alarm. It provides you with an audible notification when the sonar detects fish schools passing by.

The sonar is capable of providing readings for depth in the range between 3 to 328 feet. And it can be used for both lake fishing and ice fishing.

The device comes with a round transducer. It also includes a 25 foot cord and a removable float, offering different ways of using the device. You can either cast it out using a fishing pole. You can trail it behind your kayak. Or you can cut a hole in the ice and use the sonar unit for ice fishing. In the package, you’ll also find a side scan adapter that you can use on your boat or kayak.

If you’re trailing this fish finder behind your kayak, you’ll probably find the 25 foot cord too long. In this case, you can shorten the cord to the length needed and the coil the rest of it.

This unit is powered by 4 AAA batteries, which are sold separately. So, unfortunately, it’s not a rechargeable unit. However, on the flip side, this means that you won’t have to worry about running out of charge if you bring enough batteries with you on your fishing trip.


  • Black and white LCD display.
  • LED backlighting.
  • Offers a depth range from 3 to 328 feet.
  • Fish alarm.
  • 5 sensitivity settings.
  • Powered by 4 AAA batteries.
  • 2 year warranty.
  • Doesn’t detect bait size fish.
  • Not a rechargeable system.
  • Not waterproof.

How to Choose a Good Portable Fish Finder?

Many fish finders might seem identical in what they offer. However, depending on their features, they will provide better or worse value and performance. That’s why it’s important to understand what makes a good portable fish finder and which features you should look for. By becoming familiar with these specs and features, it’ll be easier for you to choose the right product for your specific fishing needs.


portable fish finder buying guideTo show all the sonar information, the fish finder needs a display. Some units include their own display, while others operate through your mobile phone.

When choosing a fish finder that also includes its own display, consider its size, resolution and color. This will determine how detailed and easy to read the images will be.

The bigger the size of the display, the easier it will be to view all the displayed information. The higher the resolution, the more detailed will be the image. Colors displays also offer more detail and make it easier to differentiate different objects on the screen.

However, a bigger screen, higher resolution and more color are not always the best choice. For one, fish finders with these features are usually high priced. So, if you’re shopping on a budget, you might find a small greyscale display a sufficient option.

Many of the portable fish finders also operate by syncing with your mobile phone. In this case, the quality of the screen depends on the phone you have. This also allows you to choose yourself if you want a smaller or bigger screen. For example, if you want a bigger screen, you could use your tablet.

The advantage of this type of fish finders is also that it allows you to cut down on the gear that you need to bring for your fishing trip. Instead of an additional bulky display, all you need to bring is the small sonar unit and your phone, which you probably usually bring anyway.

Sonar Capabilities

how to choose a portable fish finderThe performance of your portable fish finder largely depends on its sonar capability. That’s why this should be one of the most important factors for your buying decision.

When it comes to sonar, there are two things to consider: frequency and beam angles. Fish finders can use either single frequency, dual frequency or multiple frequencies. And the wider the range of frequencies, the wider and more detailed would be the sonar results. However, at the same time, multiple frequency units are usually more expensive.

Most budget options use either single or dual frequency sonar. So, take into account your budget and fishing needs and choose a portable fish finder with according frequency capabilities.

There’s another thing to take into account when considering frequency. Depending on the depth of water that you fish in, you’ll be using different levels of frequency. For shallower waters, you’ll be better off with a high frequency transducer and for deeper waters, you’ll need a 50kHz low frequency.

If you want a high performing portable fish finder, consider getting one that offers CHIRP capability. This technology works by using a full range of frequencies and by interpreting each of the returned signals separately. This allows it to provide the best results for both depth and detail.

The cone angle of the produced beam is another critical factor. It determines how wide and how deep the transducer can scan. Wider cone angles provide you with a wider view of what is under the water. And narrow cone angles can reach deeper and provide more detailed results.

Most transducers send beams with cone angles that range between 9 to 60 degrees. And they can emit either just one, two or more different cone angles.

If it’s within your budget, consider getting a dual or multiple beam portable fish finder. However, if you’re looking for a more simple unit, it might be beneficial to choose a model with a cone angle around 20 degrees since it will work for a variety of depths.

Maximum Scanning Depth

Consider also how deep the portable fish finder can scan. The maximum scanning depth will differ from one portable fish finder to another. Some can be used only in shallow waters, while others can reach greater depths, even when fishing in saltwater.

The maximum depth can range from 300 to 5000 feet. However, most portable fish finders usually fall into the lower range. So, if you want a small and portable unit, be prepared to sacrifice some depth. However, most people usually buy portable fish finders for either kayak, ice or shore fishing and in these situations, a unit with a 300 to 500 depth capability would be enough.

GPS Function

Many modern fish finders also include GPS functionality. This feature will help you navigate the waters as you fish. On top of that, it can also be used to save waypoints if you find a fishing spot that you’d like to come back to in the future. In some models, the GPS functionality also allows you to map the lake’s waterbed, which you could then use for finding more fish.

This is definitely a good feature to have but it’s not necessary. It’s a feature that you’ll find on most mounted fish finders, but it’s not present in all portable units. So, if you think that this is a must have feature for your new portable fish finder, check that it comes with it.

Power Requirements

You also need to consider how you will power your fish finder. Many units use a 12v power source. However, if you’re looking for a portable option, you probably don’t have a 12v power source available. That’s why an ideal portable fish finder would have a rechargeable battery. Typically, these rechargeable fish finders can last you a full day of fishing.

To avoid cutting your fishing trip short, choose a fish finder with a battery that will provide you with sufficiently long runtime before needing recharging.

Another option is a fish finder that is powered by AAA batteries. This type can be advantageous for long fishing trips where you won’t have any power source to recharge the battery. In this situation, you could just bring a spare set of batteries and then you wouldn’t have to worry about the unit running out of charge in the middle of your trip.

When checking out the power specifications of the device, consider also its wattage. This power rating also plays an important role in the unit’s performance. Higher wattage means that the fish finder would be able to provide faster results with more accurate readings and would be able to reach deeper waters.

Wireless or Wired Connectivity

Fish finders can be either wireless or wired. Wired units require wiring to an electrical system, such as a 12V battery. These units are usually more powerful but can be quite limiting in terms of portability since they have to be always plugged in.

Wireless fish finders, on the other hand, don’t require any wiring and they operate through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. This is a more convenient option if you’re looking for portability.

Waterproof Rating

Since you’ll be using your portable fish finder around water, it makes sense to choose one that wouldn’t become unoperational with the first splash. As you know, water and technology don’t mix well together. That’s why choose a fish finder that is waterproof or at least one that is water resistant.


If you’re looking for a portable fish finder, you should also consider its size and weight. You will want it to be small and lightweight, so you could easily carry it around. Moreover, if you’ll be using the portable unit on your kayak or canoe, choose a unit that will perfectly fit on it.

A portable fish finder should also come with a transducer that doesn’t require permanent mounting. If it does require mounting, it should be easy to attach it and remove it. This would allow you to use the unit on your kayak or boat

Many portable fish finders also feature a castable design. This type of design offers you a lot of versatility on how to use the device. You can either attach it to your fishing line and cast it. Alternatively, you could use it with a temporary mount on your kayak or boat. You could also just have the transducer unit trailing behind. Or you could use it for ice fishing by dropping the sonar unit into the drilled hole.

Ease of Use

A good portable fish finder will also be easy to use. If it does require any mounting, it should be a simple process, which should be specified in the provided product’s manual. Moreover, it should also have easy-to-use controls and an easy-to-read screen. This would ensure that you’ll be able to spend more time catching fish rather than trying to figure out how to use the device.


All buying decisions also usually involve price. It shouldn’t be different when shopping for a portable fish finder. So, decide on the amount that you’re ready to spend. Also, figure out which features you think are essential and then find a unit that would offer the best combination of these features and price.


Fish finders don’t come cheap, so it’s important to choose a unit that is covered with a good warranty. However, given the tough conditions that these devices are usually used in, most manufacturers don’t offer very extensive warranty periods. Nevertheless, look for a fish finder that comes with at least a one year warranty.

Portable Fish Finder Frequently Asked Questions

What is a portable fish finder?

A portable fish finder is a device that is equipped with sonar technology, which it uses to detect fish and other objects beneath the water’s surface. What sets these fish finders apart from the traditional ones is that they don’t require any installation. You can use them from ashore, from a kayak and you can also use them from a boat. However, you don’t need to mount them, so you can easily bring them to any fishing location that you want.

These units are also usually compact and lightweight. Some of them are so small that you can easily fit them even in your pocket. But even the biggest portable fish finders are small enough to fit in your backpack and they are small enough to bring with you wherever you go.

How portable fish finders work?

Portable fish finders work just like any other fish finder. They use sonar technology, which emits sound waves into the water. These waves travel until they encounter an object, such as fish or bottom. Once they hit these objects, they bounce back and the returned signal is received and interpreted by a transducer.

A small built-in computer analyzes the returned signals and then displays the processed information on the screen. This allows you to clearly see what’s happening underneath the surface.

Are all portable fish finders waterproof?

All fish finders are designed differently, so some are waterproof, while others are only water resistant. The waterproof units you can safely submerge in water and a water resistant device will only survive an occasional splash, which will need to be dried immediately.

It’s definitely better to buy a waterproof fish finder, which will give you peace of mind that your investment will not be wasted with the first splash.

Is it better to get a portable or castable fish finder?

is it better to get a portable or castable fish finderChoosing between a portable and a castable fish finder is more a matter of preference. Lately, castable fish finders have been growing in popularity, with more models coming and new technologies coming out almost every year. They offer a few advantages. One of them is the versatility of use since you can use them either by casting them out or by trailing it behind your kayak as you paddle across the lake. Moreover, most castable units leave it up to you the preferred screen size since they can pair with your smartphone or tablet.

Portable fish finders usually require mounting the transducer on the bottom of your boat or kayak. In most cases, it’s a temporary mount that can be easily detached and moved to another boat if needed.

Who will benefit the most from a portable fish finder?

Having a portable fish finder can be advantageous in a variety of situations.

  1. They are commonly used by kayakers and canoers since portable units can easily attach and detach to their bottom.
  2. It’s also a common choice for those who rent boats for their fishing. In this case, a permanently mounted fish finder would not be an option, so a portable unit is a perfect solution.
  3. Portable fish finders can also benefit ice anglers. They can help you analyze plenty of potential holes before actually drilling one. So, over a day you could analyze over a dozen holes in order to find the perfect spot.
  4. This type of fish finders is also perfect for those who fish from shore or docks.

What can I use my portable fish finder for?

The main advantage of portable fish finders is that they can work in a variety of situations. They are perfect for kayak fishing and fishing from shore or dock. And they work well in both saltwater and freshwater. They are also commonly used for ice fishing since they offer the convenience of being able to easily move them around different drilled holes.

How do I mount a portable fish finder?

The display unit usually doesn’t require any mounting. But the transducer can either be mounted using a suction cup or tied to a fishing line and left trailing behind your boat or kayak.

Where should I mount my fish finder?

It’s recommended to mount the transducer on the right-hand lower section of your watercraft. This is generally the best mounting spot due to it having less turbulence, which makes it more accurate in providing the sonar results.

How are portable fish finders powered?

While regular fish finders usually plug into a 12 volt power source, portable units work a bit differently. To make it possible to use them on the go, they are usually equipped with batteries. However, some devices come with rechargeable batteries and others require additionally purchasing disposable AAA batteries. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. Rechargeable batteries are better for the environment, but the disposable ones make it possible to fish for longer.

Do I need a GPS on a portable fish finder?

This depends on your fishing needs. A GPS system is definitely more beneficial for boat fishing. However, it can also be handy when fishing from a kayak or from shore. In these cases, the GPS system would mostly be used for saving waypoints and for mapping the lake’s waterbed.

Can portable fish finders be used for ice fishing?

Most portable fish finders can be used for ice fishing. However, you should still take some precautions since not all of the devices can work in freezing temperatures. Typically, you can find in specifications the recommended temperature range for safe operation. Extremely cold conditions can completely ruin some devices.

If you’ll be using the fish finder only for ice fishing, consider getting a flasher unit. But if you want to be able to use the device year round, you can choose a portable unit that will have both traditional sonar and flasher mode.

Are portable fish finders less powerful than traditional fish finders?

Generally, that is true. To make the fish finders portable, manufacturers usually cut back on other features, which affects their performance. However, that’s not always the case and you can find plenty of portable units with a performance that can compare to that of traditional models.

Final Thoughts

For those who love to fish, a portable fish finder can become a great addition to their gear. It will help you catch more fish and will make the entire process a lot more fun. And if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all the different options on the market, we hope that our guide has helped and has pointed you in the right direction for finding the best portable fish finder for your specific needs. You can also refer to our buying guide, which will help you narrow down your options and save time and money.

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