There are very few things quite as dumbfounding as the process of selecting the best portable fish finder.
On one hand you have the “cheap is expensive” mantra ringing in your head; but then again you know so well that the most pricey portable fish finder may not necessarily mean that it is of the highest quality or the most effective.
Seasoned fishermen can work their way around this quagmire; but intermediate and novice fishermen may struggle.
Top 4 Best Portable Fish Finder in 2018
Last update on 2019-03-24 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Amazon Disclosure
It is not all so hopeless however. With your little knowledge about fishing you can still identify a portable fish finder that best suits your needs. Whether an active or passive fisherman, there is the perfect fish finder for you out there. You just have to zero in on the most important features of effective fish finders and all will be well.
Best Portable Fish Finder Reviews
1. Best Portable Fish Finder - Deeper Smart
I usually don’t go for products with cheesy brand names, but the “Deeper” product caught my eye. I still think they could have done better with the trademark, but that’s none of my business. Still, they hold their own when it comes to the best portable fish finders. I had a chance to use the Deeper on a fishing trip.
On the surface, this fish finder does not seem any fancier than other sonar fish finders. Put on trial, I realized it’s quite a nifty little gadget. It is definitely among the best portable fish finders around.
At a Glance
It comes along with free applications such as diary, fish activity log, sharing bookmarklets and maps. You may be lucky to get USB chargers with the newer models, but this equipment does not come with one. If you’re buying it for someone, you can also have it gift-wrapped.
The best feature for me is the ability to work with smart devices (phones, tablets, etc.) from all platforms. It boasts of a depth of up to 130 feet.
I used the DP0H10S10 on two occasions – both with absolutely contrasting weather conditions and waterways. At the lake, I used it pretty smoothly with my iPhone. It was extremely handy in identifying the topography of the lake bottom. I liked it that I could identify potential future fishing spots with this gadget. Furthermore, I easily used Bluetooth connect with my phone. I noticed that I had a greater haul than usual. I can’t pinpoint exactly what I did differently, but I guess the Deeper’s strong beam came through for me here.
I didn’t have better luck in rainy weather though. I would not fault the fish finder on this, however, because I can’t term myself as a pro fisherman. Furthermore, having the best portable fish finders never guaranteed anyone of a large haul.
You may not even need the manual after you acquire the Deeper fish finder because the directions are written right on the box for best attachment points. This applies to all scenarios such as boat side connection, elevated dais, or direct shore. I’ve never gotten to use the temperature features on any fish finder, but this one has an elaborate one as well.
It’s not all rosy with the Deeper DP0H10S 10-P fish finder too. You stand to lose all your configurations every time you update your smartphone. After the update, I had to start all over again (I didn’t mind it much, because I got to make better configurations the second time, lol). Newer models may work around this hitch, but I am not changing fish finders just yet.
This fish finder is well suited for both novice and experienced fishermen. The best portable fish finders will usually work on a wide range of terrain so this one fits the bill.
I’m pretty sure the Vexilar SP200T-Box Smartphone fish finder is among the best portable fish finders in the world. I haven’t tested them all (of course :smile:) but this one is way up there among the very best. Their two year warranty had my eye considering some issues I have had in the past with my old gadget. To cap it off, its battery also comes with a 1-year warranty.
We all have had trouble of sorts when it comes to mounting fish finders. The Vexilar was such a breath of fresh air for me; it is made with drilled holes for additional accessories and fittings! I got wind of this product when it had already been in the market for a while. That meant I was able to get it at a slightly lower price.
Fish finders don’t get better than this. The sonar phone app is very simple and effective. I was able to work the app icons smoothly even when under the waterproof cover. Side swiping can be a bit tricky here but still it works well for me. Alarms and whistles are absent in the Vexilar fish finder; something I found to be very refreshing. I had grown weary of the incessant beeps and whistles whenever I paddled in the water. If I can see the screen then surely I don’t need sound alerts to notify me as well!
You can load your charts from your smartphone to the already existing chart maps. It is an effective way of constantly updating charts without much effort. I think chart editing is the greatest piece ingenuity shown by this smartphone fish finder. Your alterations will be a point of reference for other fishermen too.
I was disappointed however when I realized I should not rename the network ID whenever using boating apps. Boating apps work better with default network names. A custom network name interferes with data streaming. Also, resetting the device was a bit of a hassle because of discrepancies in the Vexilar operation manual. I diligently tried to do a fast reset by pressing the power button 5 times (as instructed in the manual). One time it took more than 5 presses to reset and another took only 3 presses. Why all the trouble when there is a reset button anyway?
Brand New vs. Used Fish Finders?
Final word of advice: If you want to acquire a Vexilar fish finder, just opt for the new gadget! Used Vexilar fish finders may look brand new still but most usually come with issues after prolonged use. Used fish finders may offer good value for money instantly but in the long run you may end up spending more on replacing melted transducer wires, or haywire temperature readings, etc. Enjoy your new gadget.
It is very rare to find the best portable fishfinder that actually matches with the advertised information. I was therefore quite surprised when I chanced across the HawkEye Portable fish finder. It was the HawkEye FT1PX FishTrax model to be exact. From its VirtuView Dot Matrix Display, I instantly knew it was a more manual fish finder.
Traditional fishermen like me do not really fancy all these trendy flashy gadgets that spring up every other day. I like my fishing old-school.
The most important feature of the HawkEye portable fish finder is its water depth detection facility. It means I could try it out in various waters and test its capability. I realized I could also try it out on near – frozen waters. Ice fishing is actually fun with this fish finder as it provides new challenges during the exercise. In as much as it’s portable, I mostly use the Hawkeye fish finder on the boat mount. You also get to enjoy dual frequency sonar and fish depth ID.
Great portable fish finders are usually medium – lightweight; and the HawkEye weighs just above a pound. You get it with a two – year warranty.
Starting with the downside, I was really disappointed with the HawkEye’s transducer. My kayak’s scupper hole is round but the HawkEye isn’t. It just would not fit on my kayak. I think it is something to do with the thermo tag on the side that distorts its shape. I worked around this issue using duct tape. It’s not what you would expect to find on one of the best portable fish finders but it worked for me just well.
Another limitation concerns availability. I wanted to order a second fish finder for my old man; but by the time I went to make the purchase none could be found!
The biggest benefit I realized with the HawkEye was its detailed manual. By the time I went to buy the fish finder, I had familiarized myself with its online manual and had become a pro of sorts. You can get both the operation and owner’s manual so you will basically hit the ground (or is it water?) running. The Hawk Eye works pretty well on still waters. It should do so on slightly turbulent waters too.
Top-notch portable fish finders boast of versatility. That is exactly what I got. It’s hard to kayak in freezing weather, but I still could do a side scan on the mooring. I was a bit overwhelmed at first at just how hi-tech this gadget is but soon I could work it just like a pro.
With the popularity of the Hawk Eye, I see a newer model spring up pretty soon and I’ll be ready when it becomes available.
When I bought a used Signstek FF-003 portable fish finder I did not expect to have excellent service from it. These thoughts were quickly dispelled when I first put it into use. I was so impressed and went out to get a brand new one. Unfortunately for me, they were well out of stock. That is always the case with anything popular.
I knew about the Signstek fish finder from my uncle’s operation manual. The exterior design was not very impressive to me it looked like a swollen GPS. But when I familiarized myself with its core functions I was hugely taken aback. Although its depth readings are lower than other latest fish finders, the Signstek has a depth reading of up to 240 feet. That is decent enough for any passive fisherman. I found the multilevel depth range to be very handy.
I also familiarized myself with the aspect of bottom contour, thanks to the Signstek. The water temperature gauge is also nicely done. I did not need any help when I started using it. It is so easy to operate; it would be the perfect companion for starter fishermen. Its TFT screen also has a white front light (LED) and you can easily take readings even in glaring sun rays.
On my test run with this fish finder I was simply blown away. I was not looking to get much fish anyway, but the moment I paddled inward the alarm went overdrive. On my first try I’d paddled right above a bulky school of fish. On the screen I could read the depth very accurately and fish ID showed different symbols for the kind of fish underneath. I will definitely try it out again in the upcoming ice fishing season.
My disappointment however was on the transducer. I had no idea I would find it in black and white, but I was informed I could easily get a preferred one (at a small extra cost of course). In such a case there are two options – either get in touch with the supplier and work on how to replace the transducer or just send it back to Amazon and order a brand new one at discounted rates. The former option is not advisable if you are pressed for time because it may involve shipping the equipment from wherever the manufacturer is based.
The battery life of the Signstek is not very different from other fish finders; its battery life is decent enough to handle your fish trip for the better part of the day if used non-stop. You may have issues mounting the fish finder on a canoe depending on the shape and design of the edging. I had mine fitted with a suction cup and it worked pretty well. Later on I may have to get an experienced fisherman to re mount it on my canoe because I keep getting 0-ft readings every once in a while.
I would definitely recommend these fish finders to other users.
Treat your potential fish finder the same way you do smartphones. At first, you will notice what appeals to your eye the most. You may even end up buying it. Nevertheless, eventually you purchase the smartphone that best suits your needs. Apply the same principle when it comes to fish finders. Take note of all the glamor and glitz that is touted on every single release of the latest fish finders. But for the long term; select the best portable fish finder that matches all your fishing ambitions.
If you are a passive sunny – weather pond – marauding fisherman, you do not have to subscribe to fish finders with humongous depth and underwater contour scanning capabilities. Likewise, experienced ice-fishing enthusiasts will have no use for entry – level fish finders. Just choose fish finders that offer you enhanced affordance. Do not be stuck with a very powerful sonar fish finder that cannot be mounted on your boat.