- 1 Best Portable Fish Finder – Editor’s Choice & Reviewed & Tested
- 1.1 TOP 10 Best Fish Finders Reviews
- 1.1.1 #1 Garmin Striker 4 Traditional Transducer Fishfinder
- 1.1.2 #2 Lucky Handheld Fish Finder
- 1.1.3 #3 Garmin Striker 4CV Fish Finder
- 1.1.4 #4 Garmin 78S Marine Fish Finder
- 1.1.5 #5 Ricank Portable Fish Finder
- 1.1.6 #6 Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder
- 1.1.7 #7 Deeper Pro+ Smart Fish Finder
- 1.1.8 #8 Rcank Portable Wireless Fish Finder
- 1.1.9 #9 ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Fish Finder
- 1.1.10 #10 Garmin 010-01870-00 Striker Plus 4 Dual-Beam Transducer
- 1.1 TOP 10 Best Fish Finders Reviews
- 2 How to Use the Fish Finder Effectively to Catch More Fish
- 2.1 Principle of Operation
- 2.2 Definition of Different Types of Underwater Terrain
- 2.3 The Use of a Fish Finder to Assess the Type and Density of the Bottom
- 2.4 Conclusions
Best Portable Fish Finder – Editor’s Choice & Reviewed & Tested
With a fish finder, you can find out in advance whether there’s any fish nearby at all, and not waste time in vain when there’s too little or none at all. It also allows you to find out how deep the pond is, what’s the relief of its bottom – for fishing, this is also useful information. Next, we’ll analyze the main nuances associated with the choice of a fish founder, and determine the 10 best fish finders from the models that are currently on sale. Let’s get straight into our article!
TOP 10 Best Fish Finders Reviews
There are many devices for detecting fish in water bodies on the market today. But there are very few high-quality fish finders, and it’s very easy to confuse the fish finder with another fishing electronic device or stumble upon a cheap fake. That’s why we’ve collected for you the 10 best fish finders in our opinion, affordable and high-quality. Let’s look at them!
#1 Garmin Striker 4 Traditional Transducer Fishfinder
The fish finder from Garmin has good features for its cost and weight of just 300 grams. The transducer is powerful enough to search for fish and determine its size in any weather, there’s also a temperature sensor. The screen is available in 3.5, 5 or 7 inches. The display allows you to see everything well, there’ll be no flare in the sun.
A noteworthy model is a software for creating underwater maps of a large area – the area can reach 89 kilometers. Previously, such functionality was present only in more expensive devices from this manufacturer. There’s a GPS module in this fish finder. Mains power 12 V. Transom mount, fasteners included. The manufacturer gives a two-year warranty. In addition to the standard pack, you can order a kit with an extra battery, a protective case, and various mounts.
#2 Lucky Handheld Fish Finder
This model is notable for its low cost, but with a sufficient set of functions; moreover, it’s very convenient to use. In winter, you can look for fish under the ice with the fish finder at temperatures up to -20 degrees. The dimensions are compact, the device can be easily carried in the inner pocket of the jacket, which allows extending the battery life. If you lower the fish finder sensor underwater, the range will be up to one hundred meters.
When fishing on a small river, you can see the entire width of the channel and instantly move from one place to another – where the fish is currently located. It can be installed onboard boats using a special mount. Also, the kit comes with a cable, the length of which is almost 8 meters, due to which the device can be used even when fishing from the shore. The fish finder gives a high-quality picture, which will also allow you to determine the structure and topography of the bottom, to find out if there are snags or silt, where tackle can get stuck.
The emitter frequency is 200 kHz. The display has a backlight function that can be turned off. The accuracy of the device is 10 cm, which is quite enough when fishing. The energy of 4 AAA batteries is spent quite economically. Since the device works close to water, it’s equipped with a waterproof cover. The screen diagonal is 4×4 cm. It is allowed to use the equipment at temperatures from -20 to +70 degrees.
#3 Garmin Striker 4CV Fish Finder
Garmin Striker 4 CV Fish Finder allows you to create catching area maps for anglers. The model is equipped with a built-in GPS module, transducer, and software. The device is capable of creating maps for a large water area (up to 8 thousand square meters) with isobaths through 30 cm. On a bright display with a diagonal of 4.3 inches, the picture remains clear even in sunny weather.
The device interface is intuitive even for inexperienced users. Experts note the advanced Garmin CHIRP technology, it perfectly complements the work of ClearVu sonar. As a result, the fisherman gets an almost photographic picture of the underwater world. At the same time, goals are clearly identified and shared. The presence of such a fish finder will be the key to safe navigation in vast areas where coasts aren’t visible. The GPS receiver will help not only determine the route but also accurately determine the speed of the boat.
#4 Garmin 78S Marine Fish Finder
An excellent portable fish finder with a transducer and a 3-axis built-in compass that provides good parameters: the power of the fish finder is 1,600 W, the depth at which scanning is possible is up to 487 meters.
Even taking into account that these parameters can be achieved only under ideal conditions, and in reality, the indicators are usually lower, they’re still superior to many similar devices. Besides, the transducer can be replaced by a more powerful one from the same manufacturer. It’s powered by two AA batteries. also has a large amount of internal memory, which allows you to project fairly large-scale maps.
#5 Ricank Portable Fish Finder
Although this model is not well-known to users, unlike the products of other manufacturers, it deserves attention due to the high-quality material, excellent reliability, and extended functionality of the device. The beam viewing angle is 45 degrees, which allows it to work within a radius of 100 meters. The display here is a liquid crystal, its diagonal is 2 inches, the resolution is quite large, so the image quality is quite high.
The screen has a fairly bright backlight with which you can use such a device even in the dark. The overall dimensions are compact, the body is made of reliable plastic, which protects the product from various kinds of mechanical influences, water, and dust penetration.
The range of operating temperatures is quite wide – from -20 to +70 degrees. The fish finder has a sound notification system, it’s powered by 4 AAA batteries, they can work 6-7 hours in the energy-saving mode. The transmitter emitter is attached to the housing with a cable.
#6 Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder
The low-cost and compact fish-finder Venterior VT-FF001 is an excellent option for fishing at shallow depths. But the power of the emitter is enough to penetrate a depth of up to 70 m. The device can be used in the summer, and in winter the device’s performance will suffer.
It’s equipped with a robust construction with a bright screen. The device works from 4 elements of type AAA. The model has many useful options, for example, the display shows the depth of water, the presence of fish in the form of familiar icons. The display has an anti-reflective coating that allows you to clearly see the picture even in bright sunshine.
Professional anglers attribute the strengths of the Venterior fish finder to an affordable price, accurate determination of the bottom relief in shallow waters, a robust body, and a contrast monitor. The disadvantages of the device are a weak wire, which is quickly rubbed against sharp edges, unstable to the severe frost of the battery.
#7 Deeper Pro+ Smart Fish Finder
This design is definitely among the best fish finders designed for fishing from a boat and shore. The principle of operation of this device is quite simple – this design can be tied to a fishing line or cord and lowered into the water, and the picture will be transmitted to a smartphone. This product doesn’t have a screen, and it’s mandatory to have a smartphone; accordingly, not only the battery of the product itself but also the battery of the mobile phone will be discharged.
For fishing from a boat, this design is suitable if there’s an active movement in the pond. The kit includes a mount for the fish finder itself, but the mount for the smartphone (if you need it) will need to be purchased independently. The range of contact with the smartphone is up to 40 meters, and in many respects, that’ll depend on the power of the smartphone itself. This model has a very compact size, so it’s very easy to carry.
Most fishermen note the versatility of the product since it can be used both in winter and for fishing from the shore. The bottom relief defines simply excellently, also shows silted areas, the presence of snags and other features of the reservoir, for which the bait or hook can catch.
The fish finder has two radiation sources – one at 15 degrees with a frequency of 290 kHz, the second has a wider viewing angle of 55 degrees, and a frequency of 90 kHz. The built-in rechargeable battery is capable of working without interruption for up to 7 hours.
The body is absolutely waterproof, withstands even immersion to a considerable depth. The display isn’t provided here, the screen is a mobile phone with Bluetooth function. Also, the device allows you to measure the temperature of the water, and when fishing from a boat you can also create a depth map.
#8 Rcank Portable Wireless Fish Finder
Simplicity and reliability are the main parameters of this fish finder. The Rcank model was included in our rating of the best fish finders for its compactness and accuracy. The device copes with the relief, determining the depth, temperature, and location of the fish. All parts can withstand low temperatures (up to -20 ° C), and the working depth reaches 36 m. The wireless range is up to 200 m. The manufacturer recommends the use of a fish finder both in freshwater bodies and in saltwater. The portable device is powered by a battery that is charged via USB. The fish finder operates for up to 10 hours when fully charged.
#9 ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Fish Finder
The ReeISonar is a wireless fish finder that works in tandem with a tablet or smartphone. It’s enough to install a free app of the same name on a mobile device to begin studying the relief of the water area. The fish finder weighs 11 ounces, so the device must be equipped with a durable fishing line. The bobber itself transmits information through the Bluetooth connection, the range reaches 90 m. The device can work in a wide range of temperatures (-20 … + 40 ° C) and depths (2 … 135ft).
In addition to determining the depth, the device shows the angler the water temperature, the nature and density of the relief, the presence of fish. The manufacturer provided for the adjustment of sensitivity, the builder of maps, the adjustment of the blind zone. The fish finder is equipped with a battery, which is fully charged for 7 hours of continuous operation. It’s possible to fully restore the battery capacity within 2.5 hours.
#10 Garmin 010-01870-00 Striker Plus 4 Dual-Beam Transducer
The Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4 fish-finder can give the fisherman complete information about the underwater environment. Thanks to the bright display and high detail, the picture is clear and understandable. The device has a wide scope, fishermen use it when fishing from inflatable boats and metal vessels, in fresh and saltwater. Garmin works from the onboard network of the boat (12 V), which allows you not to think about discharging batteries at a crucial moment.
The research of the underwater environment occurs using a two-beam emitter. The built-in transducer is easily attached to the transom of the boat. Thanks to the GPS module, it’s possible to remember promising points, saving time when searching for a catchy place. Fishermen use the Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4 fish finder in a variety of conditions. The device clearly shows the bottom topography and the presence of fish in a selected section of the reservoir. The disadvantages include raw firmware.
How to Use the Fish Finder Effectively to Catch More Fish
To know where more or less fish is located, you need to not only see but also be able to read and understand the readings of the fish finder. Take a couple of minutes to read the manual and you can effectively detect the presence of fish, determine its size, bottom topography, its type, and density.
Principle of Operation
Firstly, scanning is performed by a scanning beam. What does it mean? The size of the scanned area depends on the width of the angle of the scanning beam. The wide-angle is 40°–60°, i.e. the area it covers is quite large. The narrow beam has a width of 10°–20°. When interpreting the data displayed by a fish finder, it’s important to know which beam is scanning (wide or narrow). Secondly, it’s important to remember that the fish finder continuously transmits and receives data, while the image on the screen moves all the time. Current scan data is displayed on the right; old data moves to the left as new data is received.
Thus, when studying the data on the screen, it’s important to remember 2 things:
- Know which beam the scan was performed: wide or narrow.
- Continuous image movement doesn’t mean that the fish finder is moving.
Fishfinders can show fish in two ways – icons or arcs. Fish icons are a useful tool in the first stages of using the fish finder: the device interprets the received data about the objects and tries to determine if it’s a fish or not. This takes into account factors such as the size of the object and the strength of the returned fish finder signal. Different fish swim at different speeds and in different directions relative to the beam of signals emitted by a fish finder. This means that their indicators can’t always be read in the same way. Besides, some underwater objects or algae can sometimes give indicators similar to fish.
Therefore, you need to learn how to independently interpret the data received by the fish finder to use it as efficiently as possible. Decide on an important step and turn off the fish icons – as a reward you’ll get more accurate indicators of the location of the fish. An additional bonus for determination will be new useful knowledge and improved skills. If the fish icons are disabled, how can I detect if there are fish on the fish finder data screen? Need to look for fish arcs. The fish will be displayed on the screen in the form of arcs. It’s important to remember that arcs can vary in size (length and width) and may be incomplete – half arcs should also be paid attention to.
Fish Arc Length
When interpreting the indicators of a fish finder, fishermen are most often mistaken in accepting long arcs as large fish. This is not true. On the screen displayed by the fish finder, the length of the arc means time. For example, imagine that the fish finder is stationary in the water. If the same motionless fish is under it, how will it be displayed on the screen? You’ll see one continuous line. This doesn’t mean that you have stumbled upon a huge blue whale in the lake. This means that under your fishfinder there is a still fish, the size of which can be very modest.
Imagine another situation: your fish finder is motionless, but 2 fish, large and small, swim in the area covered by its beam. Big fish swim through the scanning beam very quickly, small fish – slowly. Which one will be displayed with a long arc on your screen? The correct answer is a small fish. Because a slowly moving object leaves a longer track than a fast-moving object, regardless of its size.
Fish Arc Width
So, the length of the fish arc can’t be used to judge the size of the fish. It’s much more correct to pay attention to the width of the fish arc. Rule of interpretation of fish arcs: think vertically, not horizontally. Even if the fish arc is short but wide, it means that the signal is reflected from a large fish.
Definition of Different Types of Underwater Terrain
Fishfinders are an ideal tool for measuring depth, determining the topography of the bottom, and other underwater characteristics. Sometimes this information means more than direct fish detection. Let’s learn how to interpret the underwater characteristics that your fish finder displays.
First, you need to remember two things:
- The fish finder scans continuously, so the image on the data screen will move, even if the fish finder doesn’t move. If the fish finder is stationary, the bottom image will be flat, but not always. To get an accurate image of the bottom topography, the fish finder needs to move slowly and smoothly.
- The depth scale on the right side of the screen allows you to determine the depth of any found object. Depth indicators in the upper right corner of the screen display the depth of the bottom under the fish finder at a given time – keep in mind that it may not coincide with the depth of the objects that you just scanned, especially if it was a hole or elevation.
These are very useful functions when catching many types of fish, and most importantly – they are always before your eyes when using a fish finder. As you move the sounder, you’ll see changes in the bottom topography – don’t forget to watch the depth gauge to track the dynamics of increasing or decreasing depth.
Use 3 tips that’ll help improve the accuracy of indicators when searching for such objects:
- Having found the hole, switch from a wide scanning beam to a narrow one, and scan this area again. That’ll help to obtain a more accurate image of the relief changes and to avoid blind spots during scanning.
- Instead of scanning, you can use the function of creating depth maps. These maps also show pits and depth changes and help you easily return to the best fishing spots.
- If you’re fishing in large areas (for example, from a kayak), set up a depth gauge that warns you of falling into a given depth range. So you can navigate in shallow water without the need to constantly monitor the fish finder, and when you hear a signal – reduce speed and check the displayed data.
These functions will also come in handy when catching many species of fish, especially predators that hide in depressions, waiting for prey. It’s important to pay attention to the color of displayed objects to identify flooded branches and logs. The frequency of the signal reflected from them will be different, so the fish finder will show them a different color from the bottom (otherwise such an object will look like a tuber)
Vegetation And Algae
Sometimes it’s important to identify areas with vegetation or algae to fish there or to get around them. Such places will also be highlighted, as well as flooded branches and logs. Algae and vegetation are displayed by vertical lines, and the signal from them will be more intermittent compared to logs.
In some cases, as when fishing for carp, small indentations are ideal targets. Very often, such recesses are created by the fish themselves. They’re easy to detect with a fish finder – you just need to look for small v-shaped recesses in the topography of the bottom during movement.
The hills are more sloping compared to the recesses, but they’re identified equally easily. Maintain the same speed while moving the fish finder to get accurate slope indicators. In this case, you should use a narrow scanning beam to obtain the most accurate information and display all the shallows and mounds that may go unnoticed when scanning with a wide beam.
Other Underwater Objects
What can be hidden underwater? Sometimes unexpected objects can be displayed on the screen – for example, a fisherman in France, using a fish finder, found a car at the bottom of a lake. Not every object can be easily recognized, but its shape and the strength of the reflected fish finder signal help to do this. However, for all the usefulness of the function to detect strange underwater objects, the fish finder has a more practical task – to determine how hard or soft the bottom is.
The Use of a Fish Finder to Assess the Type and Density of the Bottom
Regardless of the type of fish you catch, information on the density and uniformity of the bottom of the reservoir is of key importance for good biting and successful fishing. To determine how hard or soft the bottom displayed on the screen is, there are 3 factors to consider: the color of the bottom, the thickness of the bottom line, and the presence of a second reflection of the signal.
The fish finder signals reflected from the hard and soft bottom are notable for their intensity. On the fish finder data screen, this difference is displayed in color. When using the standard color palette on the data screen, the color changes from dull brown (the softest surface) to bright orange (the hardest surface).
The Second Reflection
A solid bottom will reflect powerful signals that can sometimes come back and beat off from it again. On the screen, it’ll look like a second reflected signal passing under the bottom line parallel to it. This is an additional indicator confirming the hardness of the bottom.
The thickness of the bottom line is another important indicator for determining its density. The rule is simple – the thicker the line, the harder the bottom. But be careful: the thickness of this line may be affected by the sensitivity of the fish finder. Some fish finders allow you to adjust the sensitivity when displaying data. If the sensitivity is increased to 100%, the bottom line may seem thicker, with a decrease to 10% the line may be thinner. Practice sensitivity settings and evaluate how much the thickness of the bottom line depends on them.
Fishfinders are incredibly useful devices, and the better you learn how to interpret their indicators, the more effective your fishing will be. The main stage in teaching fishing skills is the transition from trial and error to knowledge-based practice. Perhaps you regularly fish in a certain place in a certain way – but do you know why in this place in this way? A fish finder will help you understand the reasons for both failure and success. And when you understand the reasons for success, it’ll be easier for you to repeat it.
Tags: #best portable fish finder / #best portable fish finder for kayak / #best portable fish finder for shore fishing / #best fish finder / #what is the best portable fish finder
I live in Tenerife (Canary Islands) for the last 10+ years and share my daily fishing experiences on my website. Many years of personal experience as a fisherman and the vast experience of my friends allow me to write professionally on any fishing topics (from choosing a flashlight and equipment to deep-sea fishing).
All of my advice is based on practical real-world experience and will be useful to both novice anglers and professionals. Read more about the author.
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About the author: Each article is verified by the fishing expert Sergio Smirnoff. The articles are written by professional and amateur fishermen with 20+ years of fishing experience.
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