Sitting on the bank of a river or lake, you look down at your fishing pole and see that there’s not even a nibble. You begin to think about how to improve your chances of catching fish – maybe you should invest in some new tackle. Or maybe it would be worth investing in one of those fancy portable fish finders?

It can be difficult knowing what makes for the best portable fish finder: size, price, durability, features…there are so many different factors! In our article today we will answer common questions about these devices and provide product reviews as well as useful tips to help you choose the best option for your needs.

The device itself is a small box-like instrument attached to the outside of your boat. It has an LCD screen and emits sonar signals through the water, which bounce back when they hit something.

Portable fish finders use these return sounds or “pings” that come from different depths of the water column and then calculate where those pings are coming from on their screen – giving you an image similar to what we see in Google Maps! This allows for high accuracy so it doesn’t matter if you’re fishing on still waters or rough seas: with this technology, you’ll know exactly where there’s good structure (where fish might be) below your boat at all times. Good portable fish finders will also include GPS mapping, so you can mark your favourite spots and return time and again.

Portable Fish Finders Reviewed

Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

The Garmin Striker comes with a great GPS and fish-finding technology that has a built-in flasher for finding out where the best fishing spots are around you to give you an advantage over other anglers.

It’s waterproof up to IPX seven standards so it can be taken along without worry about getting damaged by water since it’s submersible down to one meter or three feet deep which is perfect for fresh or saltwater use depending on what kind of fish are being targeted at the time.

Trip tracking software lets you keep track of important information while traveling across open waters, including speed traveled, distance travelled in total, average speeds overall, elapsed times during transit between points A and B as well as your electronic breadcrumb trail so you don’t get lost even if the sun starts to go down.

Built-in Wi-Fi capabilities lets you transfer screenshots and videos taken of your fishing trips directly to your smartphone or computer for later sharing with friends and family on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter; this is a great feature that’s included in addition to all the other bells and whistles already packed into the Garmin Striker fish finder.

  • Great GPS and fish-finding technology
  • Built-in flasher for finding fishing spots
  • Waterproof up to IPX seven standards
  • Trip tracking software
  • Wi-Fi capabilities for transferring media files
  • No backlight on the screen which can make it difficult to see in low light conditions.
Venterior VT-FF001 with Sonar Sensor Transducer

Venterior VT-FF001 with Sonar Sensor Transducer

The Venterior VT-FF001 portable fish finder comes with a Sonar Sensor Transducer that works well as an entry level choice for going out on the water to try it out and see if you like what it has to offer by itself before upgrading later.

It’s waterproof up to IPX four standards so be sure not to submerge this unit too deep or else there could be damage done from moisture exposure overall compared to something more advanced that will have resistance against submersion of various depths depending on its rating instead.

Built-in LED backlight lets you use your device no matter how dark things get while casting lines, making long trips easier since it can also stand up against impact without breaking apart completely; just be careful with it.

The included float also makes it easier to track where this fish finder is at any given time without having to search around in the water for a while or worry about losing it if dropped overboard accidentally.

  • Sonar Sensor Transducer
  • Waterproof up to IPX four standards
  • Built-in LED backlight
  • Float included
  • Cannot be submerged too deeply without damage being caused from moisture exposure
Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar

Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar

The Deeper Pro+ comes with a built-in Smart Sonar that does the job well as an entry level fish finder for those who want to take it out on the water to go fishing or exploring without having to spend too much money. It’s waterproof up to IPX eight standards so be sure not to submerge this unit too deep, but you can definitely use this one in shallower waters.

You’ll also get real time data readings from down below thanks to its included sensors that provide information about depth plus other metrics like temperature and speed of sound waves through water; all types of activities at sea are possible with what is offered here. A cool feature worth mentioning is how well it tracks your movements; if you’re a fan of kayak fishing then this would be the perfect fish finder for you as it can keep up with your every twist and turn without missing a beat.

The Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar is an excellent portable fish finder that will give you accurate readings while on the go.

  • Excellent for kayak fishing
  • Can track your movements easily
  • Not great for deep waters or surf fishing.
Humminbird Fishin’ Buddy MAX

Humminbird Fishin’ Buddy MAX

The Humminbird Fishin’ Buddy MAX is a very popular and affordable option for those looking for an entry-level fish finder. It has a compact, handheld design that makes it perfect for taking with you on fishing trips. The unit includes a transducer that sends out sonar signals to help you locate fish underwater.

One of the best things about the Fishin’ Buddy MAX is its large display screen. This makes it easy to see what’s going on beneath the water’s surface, even in low light conditions. The device also features AutoChart Live, which allows you to create your own maps of the waters you are fishing in. This can be really helpful if you plan on doing a lot of fishing in unfamiliar areas.

The Fishin’ Buddy MAX has a battery life of up to 12 hours, so you can spend all day on the water without having to worry about running out of power. It also includes a built-in fish alarm, which will let you know when there are fish nearby.

  • Large display screen
  • AutoChart Live
  • Fish alarm
  • No GPS tracking
Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4 PT

Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4 PT

The Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4 PT is a top-of-the line portable fish finder that is perfect for fishing enthusiasts of all levels. With its sleek design and easy-to-use interface, this fish finder is packed with features that will help you take your fishing game to the next level. Thanks to its large 4.3″ color LCD display, you’ll be able to see what’s going on below your boat like never before. And with Fish ID+, fish alarms, depth alarms and zoom capabilities, you’ll have everything you need to track down those elusive fish.

The PiranhaMAX also comes with a built-in transducer that provides high-quality sonar images, and it can be used in both fresh and salt water. Plus, it’s completely waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about taking it out on the lake or river. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fisherman, the Humminbird PiranhaMAX is the perfect tool for finding fish fast.

  • Large screen, portable
  • Can be used in fresh and salt water
  • Relatively expensive
IBobber RealSonar Bluetooth/Wi-Fi

ReelSonar iBOBBER Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

The Bobber RealSonar Bluetooth/Wi-Fi fish finder is a top-of-the-line device that allows you to track your fishing progress like never before. With its high-resolution sonar and Wi-Fi capabilities, this fish finder provides clear images of what’s going on below your boat. And with its built-in transducer, you’ll be able to track down those pesky fish in no time.

The Bobber also comes with an accompanying app that lets you view your sonar data in real time, as well as save and share photos and videos of your catches with other fishermen. Plus, it’s completely waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about taking it out on the water.

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line fish finder that will help you take your fishing game to the next level, then the Bobber RealSonar Bluetooth/Wi-Fi is definitely worth checking out.

  • High-resolution sonar for clear images
  • Comes with an accompanying app that lets you save and share photos/videos of your catches
  • Completely waterproof, so it can be taken on the water
  • None
HawkEye Fishtrax 1C

HawkEye Fishtrax 1C

The HawkEye Fishtrax is a great option for budget-minded anglers who are looking for an affordable fish finder. This device offers a high-resolution, color sonar display that gives you a clear picture of what’s going on below your boat. The Fishtrax also comes with a built-in transducer, so you can start tracking down those fish immediately.

Plus, the Fishtrax has some other helpful features that make it ideal for fishing enthusiasts of all levels. It includes an automatic depth calibration feature to ensure accurate readings, as well as a water temperature indicator to help you determine the best time to head out onto the water. And if you want to share your catch with friends and family, the Fishtrax comes with a wireless remote control that lets you take photos from the comfort of your boat.

In short, this is one fish finder that should definitely be on any angler’s radar. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as some other models out there, but it does give you accurate sonar readings at an affordable price point which makes it a great option for budget-minded shoppers who are looking to get their feet wet before investing in something more expensive.

  • Affordable
  • High-resolution, color sonar display
  • Automatic depth calibration feature
  • Water temperature indicator
  • None identified
Humminbird 5

Humminbird 5

Humminbird is a well established brand in the fish finder market, and for good reason. This device has been described by many as being one of the most outstanding pieces of technology that they’ve ever seen. One reviewer even went so far as to say it’s “the best thing since sliced bread!” In addition to providing anglers with accurate sonar readings, this Humminbird model also comes packed with an impressive list of additional features including: GPS capability, WiFi connectivity options, a wireless remote control, mobile app integration and much more. There really isn’t anything you can’t do when using this amazing machine on your boat.

One downside some customers have mentioned about this is that it may be a bit too advanced for beginner anglers. However, if you’re looking for the best of the best then there’s simply no doubt that the Humminbird is your go-to option.

  • Accurate, high quality sonar readings
  • Easy to use interface with lots of features and options
  • GPS capabilities make this a great option for those who want to map their routes and keep track of where they’ve been fishing
  • May be too advanced for beginner anglers looking to learn how to fish.
Lowrance Hook2 4x Portable

Lowrance Hook2 4x Portable

If you’re looking for a more affordable option that still packs in all the features then this low-cost model from Lowrance may be just what you need. It’s ultra portable, so you can bring it with you on your boat or on any other fishing trip without taking up too much space. The best part is that even though it comes at such an attractive price point, this fish finder doesn’t sacrifice quality whatsoever!

This particular device has been praised by many reviewers who have used competing products in the past and were disappointed to find how lacking they are compared to their new Hook² unit. This product will provide anglers with accurate sonar readings of water depth, bottom contour structure information and excellent target separation throughout the water column.

One downside that has been mentioned is that the Lowrance Hook² doesn’t have a GPS system built in, so you’ll need to purchase an additional accessory if you want to track your location while fishing. However, this is a relatively minor inconvenience when weighed against all of the amazing features and benefits that this fish finder offers.

  • Very affordable price point
  • Accurate sonar readings with excellent target separation
  • Ultra portable – perfect for taking with you on fishing trips
  • No GPS system included
Vexilar SonarPhone

Vexilar SonarPhone

If you’re looking for a fish finder that will let you take your fishing experience to the next level, then you should definitely consider the Vexilar SonarPhone SP100. This device is perfect for serious anglers who want to be able to track their location and map out their surroundings while they’re on the water.

The Vexilar SonarPhone SP100 also comes with a ton of other features that are sure to make your fishing trips more enjoyable and successful. It has a built-in GPS system so you can always know where you are, as well as an intuitive touch screen display that makes it easy to navigate even when wet.

This product also includes Fish ID+, which uses advanced sonar technology to help you distinguish between different types of fish. With the Vexilar SonarPhone SP100, you’ll be able to find and catch more fish than ever before!

  • Touch screen display
  • Built-in GPS system
  • Fish ID+ technology
  • Expensive

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Portable Fish Finder

Types of Portable Fish Finders
  • Portable Fish Finder

This is the traditional style for locating fish on the water. It works best on small boats and kayaks. The transducer is attached to the boat and sends sonar waves out in a cone shape. You hold the unit up, looking at the screen to see what fish are below you.

  • Castable Fish Finder

This style of fish finder is becoming more popular. Placing the transducer inside the bait-casting rod’s handle allows you to lower your rig into likely fishing spots without having to cast or drag it along behind you.

It works by sending out sonar waves similar to the other units, but its use while casting gives a wider cone shape than can be seen with traditional units. This provides for greater coverage in finding fish and makes it easier when looking at multiple possible areas where they may be feeding or holding up.

  • Mountable Fish Finder

Mountable fish finders are used for boats and larger watercraft. They work the same way as other models, but they need to be mounted somewhere on your boat or kayak.

They can be placed in many locations depending on what works best with how you use it yourself. One of the most common is right at eye level so that it’s easier to read while sitting up instead of having to stoop over a small unit held close by hand.

Portable vs. Castable

The first thing to consider when purchasing a fish finder is whether or not you will be able to use it from your boat. For those who have small boats and canoes, a portable unit should work fine for finding fish below the surface.

If you are fishing on larger watercraft such as kayaks or pontoon boats, then taking along a castable fish finder adds convenience and ease of use without adding much extra weight to your gear bag. You may want both styles if you like using them in different situations depending on what type of craft you’re cruising around on that day.

Weight and Durability

Castable fish finders are durable because they’re meant to be used in a variety of conditions and situations. The transducers inside the handle can take abuse from being knocked around or dropped without causing damage. However, that same durability means it is going to weigh more than other models as well.

Portable units need to fit easily into your gear bag so usually have less weight than something you’ll leave on your boat all day long while fishing out at sea. If portability is important, then choose one with high-quality components but not too much extra bulk: what’s built strong will always work better than trying for lightweight and cheap materials that don’t stand up under regular use.


Each model of fish finder is different, but most use either a transducer that attaches to the outside edge of your boat’s hull or one that inserts into an opening on the side. It can be placed above water level without fear of it getting wet and breaking down because you do not need access inside the unit itself to see what kind of readings are being shown back up top.

Power Source

The best portable fish finders come with their own power source, whether it be an internal battery or the ability to plug into a 12-volt outlet on your boat. This eliminates the need to carry along extra cables and adapters that can easily get lost in the depths of your fishing gear bag.

Castable models usually don’t have this luxury because they’re designed as a standalone product; you’ll need to use AA batteries (or something similar) to power it up before each fishing trip. If you’re looking for something that doesn’t require much upkeep, then go for a unit that has a long-lasting rechargeable battery instead of constantly swapping out new cells.

Screen Size

Screen size is important because it affects how much information you are able to see on the screen at any given time. This includes both the depth readout and what each color means for fish or bottom structure below. If you’re onboard a small boat that doesn’t have room for anything larger than five inches, then look into buying something with a smaller footprint overall so it can fit in your gear bag better without taking up too much space.

Screen Resolution

The resolution of the screen is important because it affects how well you are able to read any information being shown on-screen. Look for something with a higher pixel density so that individual pixels remain small and don’t stand out as much, which makes it easier to see what’s going on in shallower water where less light passes through compared to deeper spots.

Remember not all screens are created equal: calibration also plays an integral role in determining if readings look good or not depending on the type of display panel used. Some use LCDs while others opt for LED technology instead; either way will work just fine but LEDs tend to be more expensive overall due to their construction materials versus cheaper alternatives found inside different types of fish finders.


Batteries are important because they’re the power source for any portable fish finder. The internal battery is rechargeable and built inside so you don’t have to worry about it being exposed to water or getting wet while casting out your line, but it has a shorter life overall compared to using replaceable cells instead.

Rechargeable batteries can be charged via USB port on your laptop computer if needed which makes them excellent options when back at home base doing repairs or upgrades; just remember that fishing trips will drain them faster than what you get from light use around the dock before having to return back again later that night.

GPS and Chartplotter

GPS capabilities are a nice-to-have feature on portable fish finders because they give you an idea of where you are in relation to structures and other important pieces of information underwater. This can be especially helpful when traveling to new fishing spots since you can save the coordinates for later use without having to remember any longitude or latitude values by heart.

Chartplotters come standard with most GPS units, but some entry-level models might not have this function turned on so be sure to double check before making your purchase if this is something that’s important to you while out on the water.

Waterproof IP Rating

Waterproof rating is important because it dictates how much water the fish finder can handle before being damaged by moisture exposure. Look for something that has a high IPX or Ingress Protection value to ensure you get the most use out of your unit when taking it along on fishing trips with friends who might not be as careful with their equipment compared to what you are used to handling yourself.

IP ratings are broken down into numbers, so anything above six should give you enough protection from accidental spills while below five means there’s just basic dust- and snow-resistance overall instead of full submersion in shallow depths without worry about getting wet afterward.

When to Use a Portable Fish Finder

  • Shore Fishing

Portable fish finders are a great option for shore fishing. When you’re fishing from the shore, there are a few things to keep in mind. One of the main considerations is getting your bait as close to the fish as possible. This can be difficult when casting off into deep water or trying to reach spots around rocks and other obstructions. A portable fish finder can help you overcome these obstacles and increase your chances of catching dinner. 

  • You’re Boatless

Another great situation for using a portable fish finder is if you’re boatless. This might be the case if you’re fishing in a new location or on a smaller body of water where renting or borrowing a boat isn’t feasible. Portable fish finders are also perfect for kayaks and canoes, which gives you an advantage over other anglers who might not have this technology.

  • Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing is a great way to get close to the fish and enjoy some peace and quiet. It can also be a bit challenging, as you’re often limited in space and have to work with what you’ve got. A portable fish finder is a perfect addition to your kayak fishing gear, as it will help you identify good spots to cast your line and increase your chances of landing that big one.

Tips for using a portable fish finder

  • Portable fish finders usually come with a transducer, so you’ll need to attach it to your fishing rod.
  • For best results, set the depth of the transducer on or slightly below the surface of the water. This will give you a more accurate reading and avoid interference from rocks and other structures beneath your boat.
  • Look for changes in shading as well as numbers that increase above zero when scanning an area with your portable fish finder. These indicate places where there is more movement under the surface which could mean fish swimming around down there!  
  • If you’re fishing from a kayak, try to cast off between two points with different readings on your portable fish finder. You can then work your way back and forth in that area until you catch something.
  • If you don’t have much space behind the seat of your kayak, consider using a line counter reel instead. These reels will help reduce tangles as well as give an accurate reading for depth so you always know how deep or shallow your line is running! 
  • When using your portable fish finder, take note of the weather. Clouds and mist will cause interference with sonar readings while rain or fog might make it difficult to get a clear picture of what is beneath you on the lake bed.
  • When kayak fishing, always follow local regulations regarding how far away from shore you are allowed to cast your line. Portable fish finders can help keep you within this limit by allowing you to easily see where the bottom ends and open water begins!  


How do portable fish finders work?

Portable fish finders use sonar technology to determine the depth and location of objects under the water’s surface. This is done by sending signals from a transducer attached to your boat or kayak down into the water, then listening for echoes that bounce off any objects underneath you. The time between when this signal was sent and when it returns tells you how far away an object is as well as its size and shape – perfect if you want to know what will be nibbling on your line!

How deep can I see with my portable fish finder?

Just like people can only dive so deep before they need scuba gear, not all portable fish finders are created equally. Some can only see up to a few feet deep, while others have a range of nearly 100 ft! Keep in mind that this is going down from the surface of your boat or kayak though, so if you drop it straight down into the water itself you will be able to see much further out. 

What types of fish can I find with my portable fish finder?

With advancements in technology and improvements to sonar equipment, there isn’t really anything that a good portable fish finder won’t be able to detect under the water’s edge. However, some units might display certain objects more clearly than others based on their size and shape – for example, you’re more likely to see smaller fish than larger ones.

What should I do if my portable fish finder starts giving inaccurate readings?

If your portable fish finder is not displaying the bottom of the lake correctly, it might be because of interference from structures or objects in the water. This can often be resolved by moving to a different spot on the lake or increasing the depth setting on your transducer. If there are still issues after trying these things, it might be time to contact customer service for help!


If you enjoy fishing, but don’t want to spend the time researching where fish are hiding in your favorite body of water, a portable fish finder is worth considering. Portable fish finders can be used on land or while boating and will show you how deep the water below your boat is as well as whether there are any schools of fish nearby. There are different types of portable fish finders available for purchase with some being more versatile than others depending on what type of fishing you do most often. Our buyer’s guide should help answer many questions about which one would work best for you since all have their pros and cons when it comes to usability and price point. The key benefits include not having to rely on someone else