Best Handheld Fish Finder: 8 Portable Fish Finder Reviews and More

Best Handheld Fish Finder

 

Besides your angler skills, what controls your success in waters is your fishing gear. A good fish finder, as we all know, is one of the most crucial devices that can bolster your chances of scoring a big catch. However, if you don’t have a boat of your own, you can still take advantage of the technology by opting for portable fish locators. A fish finder is a small device that uses sonar technology to detect fish, vegetation, and hard surface underwater.

 

The portable fish locators are more affordable and lightweight and can easily fit in your pocket or a backpack. Also, unlike the traditional fish finders, they need not be hardwired on a boat to relay the sonar feedback. The best portable fish finders available today also give you the freedom to fish from the shore or temporarily mount the unit on a small boat or kayak, without bothering about the logistics.

 

If you have reached here searching for honest portable fish finder reviews, you need to look no further. We, at TrueBluefishermen, have done extensive research and gone through endless portable fish finder reviews from avid anglers to help you select the best device as per your fishing needs. We have narrowed down the choice to the 8 best portable fish finders on the market today that can help you fish from the shore, in the ice, from your kayaks or canoes, or even float tubes. Depending on your budget and fishing preferences, you can go ahead with any of these best handheld fish finders to make your fishing trips more successful. So, without any further delay, let us dive right into it!

 

Best Portable Fish Finders: At a Glance

 

Table of Content

  1. Comparison Table
  2. 8 Best Portable Fish Locators/Finders
  3. Types of Portable Fish Finders
  4. What is the Best Portable Fish Finder? – Buying Guide
  5. How to Use a Portable Fish Finder?
  6. Situations to Use a Portable Fish Finder
  7. Best Portable Fish Finder: Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Conclusion

 

Comparison Table

ProductRatingSonarDepth CapabilityShop Now
Best Overall Choice

Garmin Striker 4

Garmin Striker 4

4.7

CHIRP, Flasher1,600 ft.Check Price
Humminbird 5 410260-1

Humminbird 5 410260-1

4.9

CHIRP, Dual Beam1,500 ft.Check Price
Best Castable Fish Finder

Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar

Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar – GPS

4.4

Dual Beam260 ft.Check Price
Best Budget Buy

LUCKY Handheld Kayak Fish Finder

LUCKY Handheld Kayak Fish Finder

4.3

Single Beam328 ft.Check Price
Venterior Handheld Fish Finder

Venterior Handheld Fish Finder

4.1

Single Beam328 ft.Check Price
Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PT

Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PT

4.6

Dual Beam600 ft.Check Price
Best Portable Fish Finder Canoe

Humminbird 410050-1 Fishin' Buddy MAX

Humminbird 410050-1 Fishin’ Buddy MAX

4

Dual Beam600 ft.Check Price
ReelSonar iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

ReelSonar iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

4

Single Beam135 ft.Check Price

 

8 Best Portable Fish Locators

 

1. Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

Best Overall Choice

 

Garmin Striker 4Check Price on Amazon

 

Based on popular portable fish finder reviews, our first recommendation is the Garmin Striker 4. This fish finder has also earned a reputation for being the best portable fish finder for shore fishing. However, it also well-suited to be used on a kayak or canoe. The Garmin Striker 4 has a built-in GPS system that will prevent you from getting lost in unknown waters. It comes with a compact display of 3.5 inches and also features a split-screen mode so you can read your sonar data and also track your boat location and speed at the same time. You can also save your waypoints and mark your points of interest. This portable fish finder has a high-resolution color display and also features LED backlighting for a better view in direct sunlight.

 

Talking about the sonar capability, it features Dual CHIRP sonar and flasher. The dual frequencies of the CHIRP allow you to switch between the wide and narrow mode. You can also modulate the pulse for better target separation. The flasher mode can be used for ice fishing from a stationary position as it displays real-time sonar feedback on a circular scale. Since this fish finder gives you the advantage of both 2D sonar and a flasher in a single device, this capability also makes Garmin Striker 4 the best portable fish finder for ice fishing.

 

Features

  1. Built-in GPS system
  2. Depth capability – 1600 feet (freshwater)/ 750 feet (saltwater)
  3. 5-inch color display
  4. Waypoint map
  5. Dual Beam CHIRP sonar
  6. Built-in flasher
  7. Waypoint map
  8. Waterproof IPX7 rating

 

Pros

  • Light-weight and easy-to-carry
  • Good quality transducer
  • Portable carrying case
  • The package includes a transducer with a suction cup mount, battery, charger, and a carrying case to store all these accessories
  • Flasher unit allows ice fishing or vertical jigging
  • Long-lasting battery

Cons

  • Needs to be plugged into a 12V power source
  • Limited networking options
  • Does not have a chartplotter

Check Price on Amazon

2. Humminbird 5 410260-1 Fish Finder

 

Humminbird 5 410260-1Check Price on Amazon

 

Anglers who are looking for more advanced and high-end portable fish locators should definitely consider the Humminbird 5. While this model comes with a heavy price tag, it is one of the top rated portable fish finders that can offer exceptional features to both beginners and professionals.  This fish finder boasts of a large 5-inch display, one of the biggest display sizes you can find on portable fish locators. This model also comes with a split-screen mode to view sonar and GPS information simultaneously. The Humminbird 5 integrates a Dual Beam Plus CHIRP sonar with side and down imaging that considerably improves the image quality and coverage area. You can use the wide beam for scanning larger areas and the narrow beam for more details. The sonar capability makes this model one of the best portable fish finder that can help you analyze fish arches and structures for a greater distance and with more clarity.  Another feature that qualifies this model for the top portable fish finders is its built-in GPS system that comes with a pre-loaded Basemap. You can also upgrade the maps using the SD card slot.

 

Features

  1. Dual Beam PLUS CHIRP Sonar
  2. Down and side imaging
  3. SwitchFire Sonar for Max and Clear mode
  4. Built-in GPS
  5. AutoChart Live feature
  6. Humminbird built-in Basemap
  7. LakeMaster compatible
  8. Chartplotting with built-in Anima cartography
  9. Depth capability – 1500 feet

 

Pros

  • Comes with a portable carrying case
  • Portable fish finder reviews applaud it for its user-friendly interface
  • CHIRP sonar offers high-resolution imagery
  • It has an IPX7 waterproof rating
  • Offers extensive mapping performance

Cons

  • Lacks networking feature expected in the top portable fish finders
  • Quite expensive than other models
  • No battery saving mode
  • Size too big for smaller vessels

Check Price on Amazon

3. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar – GPS Portable Wireless Fish Finder

Best Castable Fish Finder

 

Deeper PRO+ Smart SonarCheck Price on Amazon

 

Are you in search of the best portable sonar fish finder? Then you must check out the Deeper PRO+. This castable fish finder has one of the best portable fish finder GPS combos in the size of a tennis ball that you can carry anywhere. You can use it from the shore, along with your kayak, or place it directly in the ice hole. All you need to do is hook it to a line and cast it out in the water and it will relay the sonar data on your smartphone. This portability also makes it the best portable fish finder for small boats. The sonar can give instant data on the water depth, bottom topography, water temperature, vegetation, etc. Its built-in GPS even allows you to create maps from the shore. This fish finder connects with your phone or tablet through Wi-Fi so you need not depend on a cellular connection, which means you can use it anywhere you want. This portable fish finder supports Dual Beam sonar, giving you the option to choose between more coverage or more detail. With innumerable features, the Deeper PRO+ is one of the top rated portable fish finders in the market.

 

Features

  • Onshore GPS mapping
  • Uses its own Wi-Fi signal to increase the range
  • Depth capability – 260 ft.
  • Sends 15 scans per second and 0.5″ target separation
  • Dual Beam sonar
  • Supports Bathymetric Management Platform
  • iOS/Android compatible
  • Every scan and map gets saved on the Fish Deeper App, and is available on any computer using Lakebook™

 

Pros

  • Highly portable
  • Installs quickly
  • Offers smooth trolling
  • No cables required
  • Syncs with phone or tablet using Wi-Fi
  • No internet required
  • Data saved on the cloud
  • One of the top rated fish finders suitable for shore, boat, and ice fishing

Cons

  • Does not work with older devices
  • Some portable fish finder reviews say that the batteries need to be recharged regularly regardless of use

Check Price on Amazon

4. LUCKY Handheld Portable Fishing Kayak Fish Finder

Best Budget Buy

 

LUCKY Handheld Kayak Fish FinderCheck Price on Amazon

 

Next up is the best handheld fish finder from LUCKY. And not just that, it is also the best portable fish finder for the money. However, do not mistake its lowers price for lack of performance. This portable fish finder can offer a good level of accuracy and basic functionality to the anglers. It features a 2-inch colored screen that can display the basic sonar data using different icons for fish, vegetation, and bottom structure. It is the compact size of this device that makes it one of the best portable fish finders for small boats and kayaks. It uses a single beam sonar to relay accurate data and the transducer also works well in shallow waters. The device also offers five sensitivity settings to provide more accurate information based on the fishing environment. The transducer comes with a 25 ft. cable, which means apart from being the best handheld fish finder, you can also cast it from the shore. Plus, it can be attached to the hull of your kayak or used for ice fishing. If ice fishing is something you’re looking forward to, don’t forget to check out our selection of top ice fishing reels.

 

Features

  • Displays water depth, fish location, vegetation, hard structure
  • Suitable for shore fishing, kayak, ice fishing
  • Can be used in handheld mode
  • 5 sensitivity options
  • Comes with a USB cable for charging
  • Transducer with a 25 ft. cable

 

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • You can hang it on your neck
  • The best portable depth fish finder that is easy to install
  • It has a battery saver mode

Cons

  • No GPS
  • The display is not waterproof
  • Cannot detect anything smaller than 3.49 inches
  • A couple of portable fish finder reviews call it inconsistent
  • Some customers find the screen too small
  • Inconsistent

Check Price on Amazon

5.  Venterior Handheld Fish Finder

 

Venterior Handheld Fish FinderCheck Price on Amazon

 

The Venterior fish finder is another best handheld fish finder giving a tough competition to the model by LUCKY. Despite being minimalistic in design, it does its job fairly well. Unlike the other portable fish locators, this device displays the information in black and white. Some portable fish finder reviews state that this works in its favor as it is easier to read the scans without any strange markings appearing on the screen. This fish finder is also the best portable depth fish finder that will give you accurate readings of how deep the water is along with the details of hard structures and vegetation. Its sonar sensor can reach up to 328 ft. and the transducer comes with a side-scan adapter and removable float. Another feature that makes it the best portable fish finder for the money is that the Venterior also supports nighttime fishing as it comes with a backlight setting and a fish alarm.

 

Features

  • Water depth capability – 328 ft.
  • Displays water depth, fish location, structure, weeds, and rocks
  • Backlight for night view
  • Single beam sonar
  • 2-Year warranty
  • Powered by 4 AAA batteries
  • 5 sensitivity modes
  • Fish alarm
  • Battery saver mode
  • Side-scan adaptor
  • Anti-UV LCD display

 

Pros

  • Works in extreme temperatures (-4°F to 158°F)
  • Highly portable
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • No need for drilling
  • Comes with a neck strap

Cons

  • The screen is not waterproof
  • No connectivity options
  • Portable fish finder reviews find it very basic

Check Price on Amazon

6.  Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PT (Portable) Fish Finder

 

Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PTCheck Price on Amazon

 

Looking for portable fish locators for a small craft? No worries, the Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4 PT will fit in just right. It has a suction cup mount which makes it quite convenient to mount the transducer on a small boat. The fish finder also comes with a soft-sided carrying bag so that you can store the fish finder and all its accessories conveniently in one place. The PIRANHAMAX is one of the top portable fish finders that features a 4.3-inch display screen that offers ample space to view the sonar data. It has an LED backlight that offers a clear view even in direct sunlight. This best portable fish finder for small boats integrates Dual Beam sonar so that you can switch between frequencies to suit your viewing needs. The Fish ID+ function lets you choose between the fish arch display and fish icons. The other useful functions such as fish alarm, depth alarm, and zoom mode also help in improving your fishing experience. This best handheld fish finder also includes a 7 Ah battery and charger making it an all-inclusive package.

 

Features

  1. Color LCD display
  2. Dual Beam sonar
  3. Frequencies supported: 200/455kHz
  4. IPX7 waterproof rating
  5. Uses rechargeable batteries
  6. Depth capability – 600 ft.
  7. Fish ID+ feature
  8. Fish alarm
  9. Depth alarm
  10. Tilt and swivel mount

 

Pros

  • Portable carrying case
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Backlight display allows better viewing in any light condition
  • As per the portable fish finder reviews, the Fish ID+ and audible alarm makes it easier for new users to detect fish
  • The built-in sensor reads the water temperature
  • Good quality transducer

Cons

  • Lacks built-in GPS system
  • The screen is smaller than several other portable fish locators
  • Very few upgrades available
  • Not meant to be used from shore

 

Check Price on Amazon

7. Humminbird 410050-1 Fishin’ Buddy MAX Fish Finder

Best Portable Fish Finder Canoe

 

Humminbird 410050-1 Fishin' Buddy MAXCheck Price on Amazon

 

Another excellent product coming from Humminbird is the Fishin’ Buddy MAX that has been deemed as the best portable fish finder for canoe. The top feature according to the popular portable fish finder reviews is its mounting system which makes it possible to mount it on practically any type of boat. This fish finder comes with a long metal frame with an adjustable C-clamp that can be mounted on a boat, kayak, or canoe. This hands-free approach also makes it one of the best handheld fish finders available in the market. The Fishin’ Buddy MAX features a 3.5-inch color screen that can give you a clear view of what is beneath your boat. With the Dual Beam sonar, you can switch between narrow and wide views to fish in deep and shallow water respectively. This best portable fish finder for small boats will also help you distinguish between fish, vegetation, and hard structure. It is powered by 8 AA batteries so you need not worry about the power supply while using it.

Features

  1. Adjustable clamp for easier mounting
  2. Dual Beam sonar
  3. Depth capability – 600 ft.
  4. 5-inch color TFT display
  5. Uses AA battery power
  6. Water temperature reader
  7. Fish ID+ function

 

Pros

  • Intuitive interface
  • Easy one-touch control
  • Ergonomic clamp mount
  • No rigging or wiring needed
  • The detailed display offers accurate data interpretation
  • The wide sonar beam offers a good side-to-side view

Cons

  • Some portable fish finder reviews complain of factory defects
  • At times it doesn’t work for depths over 15 feet
  • The unit cannot be upgraded
  • The clamp mount is not suitable for irregular surfaces
  • Short transducer tube length is not suitable for use from a dock or pier

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8. ReelSonar iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

 

ReelSonar iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish FinderCheck Price on Amazon

 

The last entrant making it to our list of the top rated portable fish finders is the iBobbler from ReelSonar. Similar to the Deeper PRO+, this fish finder relays the sonar data on your mobile phones. This device is one of the smallest and top portable fish finders that can easily fit in your palm, which means you can carry it anywhere. Its sonar fish identifier technology lets you select between raw sonar or fish tagging views. Another reason why we like iBobber is that it also has a GPS feature. The device connects with your phone via Bluetooth. You can use this fish finder to mark fish and points of interest, map the depth and water temperature, as well as define underwater structures. You can also share all this information with other anglers through social media. This best portable fish finder also incorporates an LED beacon and fish and strike alarms, making it an excellent option for night and ice fishing.

Features

  1. Patented sonar technology
  2. Integrated LED beam and alarm for night fishing and ice fishing
  3. Connects with a smartphone via Bluetooth
  4. Built-in GPS system with interactive mapping
  5. Depth capability – 135 ft.
  6. Syncs with iOS and Android systems via a free app
  7. Alternating raw sonar and fish tagging views
  8. Social media share feature
  9. Trip and spot logging feature

 

Pros

  • Light and small size
  • Best battery life amongst the top portable fish finders
  • Offers Lunar calendar and weather data
  • Compatible with Google watch and iWatch
  • Built-in water temperature sensor
  • Works well in both freshwater and saltwater
  • Suits fishing needs – shore, ice fishing, kayak fishing, or dock fishing

Cons

  • A couple of portable fish finder reviews state that the device tends to disconnect

Check Price on Amazon

 

Types of Portable Fish Finders

As you must have realized that the choices for portable fish finders are endless. If you ask “What is the best portable fish finder?” The answer will depend on your fishing preferences and the type of boat you will be using. Broadly there are three types of portable fish finders to choose from:

 

Portable/Handheld Units

These portable fish locators are one of the most common models that you can find in the market. They feature a decent-sized screen, generally larger than your palm, which allows you to read the sonar feedback comfortably. While some come with high-resolution LED displays, others follow a simplistic approach. Nonetheless, these models are quite reliable, accurate, and also offer a good battery life. They are also easy to use as you can access different functions through the buttons. The only drawback is that they are not very compact. In case you are using a canoe or a small boat, using them can be a problem. The best handheld fish finder options would be Humminbird 5, Garmin Striker 4, or LUCKY Portable Kayak fish finder.

 

Castable Units

The castable fish finders have a futuristic approach and are more convenient to carry along. These portable fish locators can connect with your smartphones via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and relay all the sonar feedback through a free app. Most of these fish finders are compatible with iOS and Android devices. The biggest advantage with these top portable fish finders is that can easily fit in your pocket if you are short of space. Since they use more advanced technology, they might not be compatible with older phones. The wireless connection also tends to break at times leading to discrepancies in sonar data. Some portable fish finder reviews also complain about their battery backup which can be a big downside when you are out and about in the waters. The top rated portable fish finders in this category are Deeper PRO+ and ReelSonar iBobber.

 

Mountable Units

The third type is the less common semi-mountable portable fish locators. These fish finders come with a C-clamp mount that you can fix on our canoe or kayak through its adjustable grip. The perfect example is the Humminbird Fishin’ Buddy MAX.

 

What is the Best Portable Fish Finder? – Buying Guide

Though you have the best options for top rated portable fish finders in front of you, we know that the dilemma doesn’t end here, Right? Therefore, to choose the right model for your fishing need, you must keep the following factors in mind:

 

Display Quality and Screen Size

You need a screen with good clarity to be able to read and analyze the data. You can go with a high-definition color screen or opt for a traditional black and white display. You must also select a screen that offers better readability in direct sunlight and if you plan to go for night fishing, the backlight feature is a must. When it comes to the screen size, you must consider your boat size and your comfort. Most of the screens come in a range of 3.5 to 5 inches. Some of the best handheld fish finders even come with a smaller display.

 

Quality of the Transducer

The efficiency of your fish finder ultimately depends on the quality of the transducer. Since the companies don’t really advertise the transducers, you can go through the popular portable fish finder reviews to gauge the accuracy of the reading of the model you are planning to buy.

 

Portability

You must select a model that is compact and easy to carry along. The size of the fish finder matters, even more, when you are fishing on a small boat or kayak. So, even if the fish finder offers a lot of features but is too big to handle, it can become more of a hassle than help.

 

Frequency

It is better to opt for a Dual Beam sonar that lets you adjust the frequency emitted by the transducer. This feature especially comes in handy when you plan to fish both in deep and shallow waters. Higher frequencies will work better in shallow areas and lower frequencies are best for greater depths.

 

Powering Capability

Fish finders are powered in three ways – rechargeable built-in batteries, disposable batteries, or plugged into a 12-volt power source. While the powered ones are cheaper, they are less portable. Since portability is your main criteria, we would recommend going for battery-powered models.

 

Waterproof

It is an irony that not every fish finder is waterproof. While their transducers are waterproof, the display unit relaying the data is not. You don’t want your device to conk off after a few encounters with water splashes, which is certainly a part of the fishing sport. Hence, it is always better to invest in a waterproof unit.

 

Pricing

It is always a wise idea to have a budget in mind so that you are not carried away with the swanky features offered by the top rated portable fish finders. The cheaper units also do the job fairly well, though they may lack some functionalities such as GPS and networking. However, if portability is not one of the key aspects you’re looking for in a fish finder, here are some budget friendly fish finders under 200.

 

How to Use a Portable Fish Finder?

If you are a beginner, operating a high-end model can seem a bit daunting. However, portable fish locators function more or less the same way. Here are the basic steps to set it up and running:

 

  1. Switch on the scanner and if it is an app-based unit, connect it with your smartphone through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
  2. Use the physical buttons on the device or use the fish finder app to make adjustments in the settings as per your requirement.
  3. If it is a castable unit, attach the transducer to the fishing line and cast it out in the water. Else use the float to drop the transducer near the boat. You can also attach it to the hull of your boat using the suction cup mount.
  4. Wait for some time for the sonar to start sending you feedback. While some models will display fish arches others will show you a fish icon. All you need to do now is follow the location and catch the fish.

 

Situations to Use a Portable Fish Finder

As the name suggests, portable fish finders can be used practically in any fishing situation. The only thing that can throw off the readings are the water currents and suspended particles. Mentioned below are some of the common situations that call for the use of a portable fish finder.

  • When you do not own a boat
  • Ice fishing
  • Kayak Fishing
  • Shore fishing
  • Fishing from a dock or pier
  • Night fishing
  • When you have no place to fix the fish finder on your boat

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are all portable fish finders waterproof?

A: While they should be waterproof since you will be using a fish finder out in the water, unfortunately, they are not. Even though the transducers are waterproof, the display screens are not and can get damaged with a splash of water. However, the high-end models do come with an IPX waterproof rating.

 

Q: Are portable fish finders better than mounted fish finders?

A: Mountable fish finders are more permanent fixtures that require the transducer to be installed under the boat and wired to the motor. The display unit also needs to be mounted permanently on the boat. These types of fish finders work well if you own a boat. If you don’t own a boat or want to rent one, or even want to fish from the shore, portable fish finders are a better option. They give you the flexibility to fish from a kayak or a canoe. They are easier to set up and are less expensive than the mountable units. Their transducers are also flexible, you can cast them out, throw them in the ice hole, or attach them to your watercraft.

 

Q: I am looking for the best portable fish finder ice fishing, which one should I buy?

A: In our opinion, the Garmin STRIKER 4 is the best handheld fish finder that is suitable for ice fishing. The built-in flasher mode can be used from a stationary position to display real-time sonar feedback on a circular scale. You can have both 2D sonar and flasher in a single device.

 

Q: What is the best portable fish finder for shore fishing?

A: The Deeper PRO+ is an excellent choice for shore fishing. This device offers a good range and comes with a built-in GPS system that allows you to create detailed bathymetric maps from the shore, bank, or dock.

 

Q: Which is the ideal location for mounting the fish finder on my vessel?

A: There is no definite answer as it comes down to the type of boat and your installation requirement. Ideally, the location of the transducer should be as close to the centerline of the boat, on the transom in smaller boats. The transducer also needs to be in contact with water all the time and sit as close to the level as possible. Many anglers also prefer mounting their transducers on the hull mount or through the hull mount. The signals and echoes received this way are quite clear. However, turbulence or air beneath the boat might interfere with the signals. Then, few prefer side mounting where the transducer is placed on a lengthy pole affixed to the side of the boat. It helps to reduce noise and avoid the risk of making a hole in your hull.

 

Q: Are all the best portable fish finder GPS enabled? Is GPS necessary?

A: Not all portable fish locators come with a built-in GPS. Whether you need a GPS or not depends on your fishing habits. If you prefer fishing from the shore, GPS is not necessary. When fishing from a boat or kayak, a GPS-enabled device can help you mark hotspots and you can make custom maps. If you do not wish to invest in a pricy fish finder, you can let go of the GPS functionality.

 

Conclusion

Portable fish finders can be a more convenient option for anglers for several reasons. When it comes down to the best handheld fish finders, there is plenty of fish in the sea, pun intended! You have the choice between single or dual beam, colored or B/W display, castable or mountable units, and much more. If you are new to the world of fishing, start off with a portable unit as it is more budget-friendly and easy-to-use. With that thought, we hope that our portable fish finder reviews for the top picks will make your decision easier. So buy one for yourself today and start exploring the waters.