Best Portable Fish Finders in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Fishing has always been known to be the best interest of patient people only; however, this has finally changed. Even if you are not patient, you can still enjoy fishing with a good portable fish finder. 

A fish finder will tell you where the fish are and whether there are any fish or not in your location. In other words, you can enjoy fishing and get it over with as quickly as possible while catching a whole lot of fish. 

In this article, I have managed to collect some of the greatest portable fish finders on the market, along with some important information about them. May you find your best portable fish finder among them. 

List of the Best Portable Fish Finders:

  • Deeper Smart Sonar Pro – Best Overall
  • Garmin Striker 4 – Runner Up
  • HawkEye Fishtrax 1C – Long Battery Life
  • ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart – Social Media Sharing Option
  • Humminbird Helix 5 410260-1 – Portable CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
  • 6Venterior VT-FF001 – Can Be Used At Night
  • Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 DI – Features Wide and Narrow Beam Sonar

Our Top Picks

Fish FinderWeightDimensions Screen Resolution 
Deeper Smart Sonar Pro3.52 ounces3 x 5.3 x 5.9 inches
Garmin Striker 4 8 ounces3.6 x 1.6 x 5.9 inches480X320
HawkEye Fishtrax 1C 10.2 ounces 6 x 3 x 2 inches
ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart 0.16 ounces2 x 2 x 1 inches
Humminbird Helix 5 410260-1 9 pounds1.1 x 7.5 x 4.3 inches800 x 400
Venterior VT-FF001 15.2 ounces 9.6 x 2.2 x 5.9 inches160X160
Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 DI 2 pounds3.6 x 3.9 x 6.8 inches272 X 480

The 7 Best Portable Fish Finders for 2020

1. Deeper Smart Sonar Pro – Best Overall

Deeper Smart Sonar Pro

If you are looking for the best castable fish finder, you will be happy with what you are about to read. You can use it for shore fishing, ice fishing, and boat fishing, and it won’t ever disappoint you. 

It is effortless to start because all you have to do is place the pod in the water and sync, which is extra easy since this baby syncs easily and quickly with Android and iOS devices via a Wi-Fi hotspot. You do not even need an internet connection for this to work, which is great because you can enjoy fishing without any interrupting messages and notifications. 

It scans down to 260 feet and can make up to 15 scans per second. It also has a 0.5″ target separation. 

Deeper Smart Sonar Pro does not only feature a dual beam sonar for marking fish but also enjoys an internal GPS receiver. What is this good for? It is excellent for allowing you to make maps when you are on the shore. All you have to do is fan cast along the bank, and the app will record the depths as you reel it in. 

It is better to use it with a stiff rod and a heavy braided line.

Pros: 

  • 5.5-hour continuous use
  • Dual-beam sonar 
  • No need for internet connection 
  • Internal GPS receiver
  • Easy installed 

Cons:

  • Battery-charging problems 
  • Does not work for iPhone 

Bottom Line

With its GPS, dual sonar, ability to be used in different situations, and ease of use and installation, Deeper Smart Sonar Pro is the most excellent wireless fish finder. 

2. Garmin Striker 4 – Runner Up 

Garmin Striker 4

At an affordable price, Garmin Striker 4 features a CHIRP sonar technology, which is pretty much a great point on its side. This technology enables it (and consequently you) to see down to 1600 feet in freshwater and 750 feet in saltwater thanks to its ability to continuously send out frequencies. 

The CHIRP technology also offers clear images and excellent target separation, where you can isolate the smaller targets from the clusters of fish. 

It is available in 3.5, 5, and 7-inch display sizes, which is pretty awesome because you get to choose the size that is most suitable for your needs. Moreover, its full-color screen has a 480X320 resolution. It also enables the user to see what it has to say even in sunlight due to its backlight.

Moreover, it has an incredible internal GPS that is highly accurate. When it is detecting fish, it can use two conical beams so that it can pinpoint a wider surface area. You can also use its waypoint map to navigate and mark locations. 

For ice fishing or vertical jigging, enjoy using its built-in flasher that enables you to view your sonar data in the classic flasher format. 

Are you sick of having to wait for good weather to be able to enjoy fishing? This would all be a distant memory if you get Garmin Striker 4 because it is IPX7, so it can pretty much stand any weather. 

Sadly, it does not include the Maps function. 

Pros:

  • Three screen sizes
  • CHIRP sonar technology 
  • Dual-frequency
  • Check your speed on the screen
  • IPX7
  • Comes with a rechargeable battery 

Cons:

  • Does not support Maps function 
  • No MNEA connectivity 

Bottom Line 

Do you need the best portable fish finder that you can use in any weather? Do you need one that displays crisp images and accurate information? If your answer is yes, you will find this and more in Garmin Striker 4. 

3. HawkEye Fishtrax 1C – Long Battery Life 

HawkEye Fishtrax 1C

If you are looking for a device that is super easy to use, HawkEye Fishtrax 1C is the one. It is also extra accurate because its sonar can deliver precise readings up to 240 feet. They are precise thanks to the presence of algorithmic software programming that minimizes false readings. Moreover, it makes an alarm when it detects fish. 

These readings can be clearly read on its VirtuView HD color display screen that can be read even under sunlight as it has an LED backlight. 

Back to the sonar, it features a 25-degree sonar beam that shows where the fish are. Moreover, it is impressively portable because it is trollable, boat mountable, and floatable. 

To allow for an easy setup, this device comes with a transducer, side-scan adapter, sensor float, 30 feet of cable, and a cable strap. The sensor can be used in icy conditions and deep weeds. 

It can be submerged down to one meter into the water because it is waterproof (IPX7). 

Moreover, it features FishArc and FishID fish finder indicators that target the fish depth and HD bottom landscape imaging. You can use it for 20 hours using 4 AAA batteries.

Pros:

  • Compact 
  • Provides accurate readings 
  • Sunlight-readable screen display 
  • Two-year warranty 
  • Can be used for 20 hours straight 
  • FishArc and FishID fish finder indicators

Cons:

  • The waterproof feature might not work 
  • Problems with registering depths 

Bottom Line

This is an easy-to-use device that delivers accurate readings down to 240 feet. It is also very portable so that you can take it anywhere. 

4. ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart – Best Cell Phone Fish Finder

ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart

This is an excellent cell phone fish finder because it can display all the readings on your cell phone’s screen through its free app. Moreover, it is great because you can use it as a bobber on your fishing line or as a remote fish finder.

It is also an impressive Bluetooth fish finder because it uses low power Bluetooth in order not to drain the battery’s life. In fact, this strong baby can last up to 10 hours until you’d need to charge it again. 

It provides you with information about your trip log time, your location, the water temperature, and conditions. You don’t have to count the number of fish you have caught nor determine their species because it provides you with this information, as well. 

Furthermore, it features a strike alarm so that you can know when you have fish on your line. It syncs with iOS (Apple) 10.0 and later operating systems and Android 4.3, or later that use Bluetooth Smart (4.0)

You have the option to share your trip and its info on social media, so that you can increase the fun. Moreover, it has a GPS spot tagging with an interactive map. 

Regarding how precise it is, it can give you accurate readings down to 135 feet. You can also cast it up to 100 feet without losing its connection to your smartphone. However, some reports say that it disconnects after it passes 10 feet. 

Pros:

  • Rechargeable battery with 10+ hour battery life 
  • Has a strike alarm 
  • Accurate 
  • Affordable 
  • GPS spot tagging with an interactive map 
  • Social media sharing option

Cons:

  • May need to get charged before 10 hours 
  • May lose its connection to your smartphone if it passes 10 feet 

Bottom Line

This could be the best portable fish finder as it shows its readings on your smartphone, has GPS spot tagging, and other impressive features at an affordable price. 

5. Humminbird Helix 5 410260-1 – Portable CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar

Humminbird Helix 5 410260-1

This device is best known for its 5-inch color WVGA display screen that does not suffice with being this big but also allows the users to read it even in sunlight. Allowing for better readability, the display is also colored. 

It has a built-in GPS plotting system with built-in Anima cartography to track your time out of the water, to save waypoints, or to see optional maps. It also has a MicroSD slot that allows you to save the location of your top fishing spots so that you do not waste your time searching for a good spot on your next trip. 

Moreover, it has 4000 watts power output, so you can rest assured that you will get the most out of it. To track the fish below you, this babe is armored with a portable CHIRP dual beam PLUS Sonar. It can scan down to 1500 feet deep. 

Pros:

  • 4000-watt power output
  • Portable carrying case for protection 
  • Built-in GPS 
  • Portable CHIRP dual beam PLUS Sonar
  • The 5-inch color WVGA display
  • 16-hour battery life 

Cons:

  • Bad interface

Bottom Line

This is a nice device that will provide you with a built-in GPS, a 5-inch color WVGA display, and a 4000-watt power output. 

6. Venterior VT-FF001 – Can Be Used At Night 

Venterior VT FF001

This is an excellent portable depth finder as it can detect water depth from 3 feet to 328 feet. Its screen that has a backlight mode that enables you to use it even at night displays the water depth, fish location, weeds, sand, and rocks so that you have a clear view of whatever it is below your boat. 

Moreover, this handheld device is equipped with a round transducer 25 feet cable and removable transducer float. You can use this babe for offshore fishing, lake fishing, river fishing, ice fishing, etc. 

It even has five user-selectable settings for sensitivity, battery save mode, backlight mode, fish alarm, side-scan adapter, neck strap, and a unit of measure where the water depth is shown either in meters or in feet. Moreover, it comes with a two-year warranty so that you can buy it with a peaceful mind. 

Pros:

  • Two-year warranty
  • Runs on 4 AAA batteries
  • Can be used at night
  • Excellent depth detector  
  • Affordable 

Cons:

  • The battery is not included 
  • Does not work well in strong waves and muddy water
  • Won’t perform well in negative zero degrees

Bottom Line 

This device will have your back if you use it in proper temperature and clear water; otherwise, you won’t like what it does. 

7. Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 DI – Features Wide and Narrow Beam Sonar

Humminbird 410160 1 PIRANHAMAX 4 DI

The best thing about Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 DI is its screen display. It has a 4.3″ LCD 256 Color Display that displays clear images of 272H X 480V pixel resolution. Moreover, it enjoys an LED backlight so that you can easily read the information it provides you within sunlight. 

It features a dual-beam sonar so that you can choose a narrow or a wide beam depending on whether you need a detailed image or a wide coverage area, respectively. It also has a down imaging sonar with a 2D depth to 600 feet and DI depth to 320 feet. 

Moreover, it is equipped with an XNT 9 Di T transducer that has a water-temperature sensor and can be mounted on the transom. This transducer uses conical sonar beams and can be used to scan the water for fish and even target them for you. 

Sadly, you can only operate one frequency at a time because the scan function is Dual Beam only and not Dual Beam Plus. Furthermore, while it does not feature CHIRP sonar technology, it comes with tip 2.5″ target separation so it can detect fish from general vegetation. 

However, the downside of this device is that it does not feature a built-in GPS or any other navigation function. You must consider this before buying it. 

Pros:

  • Wide clear screen 
  • You can choose between the wide or narrow beam
  • Has a water-temperature sensor
  • Down imaging sonar 

Cons:

  • No built-in GPS
  • No navigation function 
  • No CHIRP sonar technology 
  • The scan function is Dual Beam only

Bottom Line 

If you are okay with not having any navigation function, and if it won’t bother you having to use just one frequency at a time, then go for Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 DI. 

Eight Things To Look For Before Buying a Portable Fish Finder

1. Power 

The more wattage your device has, the faster the reading will appear on its screen. Also, more power enables your device to show accurate readings even if it is so deep into the waters. Get the most powerful device out there if you are going to fish in deeper water or saltwater. However, if you fish in shallow water, power becomes less important. 

2. Transducer 

This is an essential part that lets you see what is below you by sending sound waves in the water. The transducer is highly related to the cone angle as it transmits cone-shaped sound waves below the water. These waves enable it to display what is going on under the water onto your display screen.

Moreover, the wider the beam width of your transducer is, the more you will be able to see. They usually vary between 9° and 60°. A 20° cone angle is ideal for fishing at various depths. 

3. Frequency 

The higher the frequency, the more detail on your fish finder screen because higher frequency means that more sonar waves are going into the water and being received from the transducer. However, this does not mean that it is always better to go for high frequencies as it depends on the depth you are fishing in.

For example, go for a high-frequency transducer (between 192 and 200 kHz) if you are fishing in shallow water, and go for a lower transducer of around 50 kHz if you are fishing in deep waters.

4. Screen Size and Resolution 

A small-sized screen is more portable, and therefore, better. However, make sure that the info that appears on the screen is still readable no matter how small the screen size is. In order to ensure this, you have to consider the resolution. 

Like any other screen, the clarity depends on the pixels. The more pixels there are, the crisper and more apparent the image is. The least resolution you could accept is 160 horizontal pixels by 240 vertical.

5. Display 

When fish radars were first made, they were in black and white. Sometimes, it was hard to read them in sunlight. Luckily, at this time and age and with the technology developing at a high rate, the screen displays are becoming easier to read in sunlight. They are also in colors now, which adds to their ease of readability. 

6. Weight 

When we speak portable, we talk about weight. The lighter the device is, the more portable and more comfortable to carry. They are usually compact and lightweight at one pound or even less. This is especially convenient for those who go fishing on their kayaks.

If you will fish using a large boat, the weight won’t be an issue because you will probably have a dedicated mounting place for the unit.

7. Waterproof 

Imagine investing in a fish finder only to have it destroyed when water spray touches it, a nightmare, isn’t it? 

It is crucial to buy a device that withstands water because there is no way you can protect it from water and inevitable water splashes.

8. Wireless or Wired Connection

Some devices need to be plugged into an electrical system to operate; however, this could be incredibly limiting. 

Conversely, some devices do not need to be plugged; they just come with either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth compatibility, which enables them to upload the results. Such types are great for fishing from a kayak or the shore. 

Why Would I Use a Portable Fish Finder

Location 

Since they are portable, they are travel-friendly. In other words, you can use them in a variety of areas, whether you are a professional fisherman or a casual angler. You can use them when you are fishing from a boat, the shore, or any kind of vessel. 

Quietness 

A portable fish finder provides anglers with stealth. You can position the transducer over the desired area without needing to move your boat. Consequently, you do not make any noise that would scare the fish away. 

Flexibility

If you are going to fish in a place where you have to keep moving your vessel to a minimum, a castable portable fish finder will have your back. All you will have to do is cast it where you need to fish, and it will tell you if there are any fish to target. 

Specialty Angling

The sonar technology helps with special fishing practices like ice fishing, or fishing in harsh weather conditions. All you have to do is immerse the transducer and carry on fishing.

Types of Portable Fish Finders

1. Portable 

Portable units are the traditional style. They consist of a nylon carry case that holds all the components of the device. The device consists of a small fish finder unit (3 to 7-inch screen), a plastic mounting base, a portable transducer, and a small rechargeable 12V battery.

2. Castable 

This is the new modern type of the previously mentioned one. They work with the power that is already on your smartphone. They consist of a small floating transducer that connects to your smartphone via Wi-Fi or via Bluetooth. This is usually used for bank fishing, yet it is also suitable for boat fishing. 

3. Mountable 

This is the type that you can mount to the side or transom of a small boat and then remove. They are also the only type that can work with a float tube using the float tube accessory.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Shall I Get a Portable or a Castable Fish Finder? 

This mainly depends on your personal preference. If you are okay with casting the fish finder or letting it float behind you as you paddle, then a castable unit is your choice. However, if you feel more comfortable having your device nearby, then go for a portable unit. 

Can Portable Fish Finders be used in Ice fishing?

Portable fish finders are best known for their versatility. They can pretty much be used in all cases, so yes, you can use them in ice fishing. They can withstand all harsh weather conditions, and therefore they are used all year long. They work best once you have drilled the hole, but they can also be used before drilling. 

If you want to use them before you drill, you must clear the snow to work with a clean surface. It will also help if you pour some water on top of the ice. 

How do I Mount a Portable Fish Finder?

This mainly depends upon the model and the fixings that come with it. However, suction cups that are attached to the transducer are one of the most common methods of mounting a traditional portable fish finder. You can freely adjust the angle of the suction cup to position the fish finder before locking it into place. If you have a castable fish finder, you will need to tie it to your rope with a rope. 

Do Portable Fish Finders Work?

They sure do. Moreover, the idea that they are less potent than traditional fish finders is all wrong, as well. 

Final Thoughts 

Hopefully, you have already set your mind on the best portable fish finder. If not, I will help you by recommending some of the above devices.

If you do not want to use an internet connection, go for Deeper Smart Sonar Pro. I also recommend it for its easy installation and dual beam sonar. However, if you have an iPhone, stay away from it

In case you need a waterproof device that comes with three screen sizes, CHIRP sonar technology, and dual-frequency go for Garmin Striker 4.