10 Best Portable Fish Finders – 2017 Top Models Compared!
Sound waves are what help you find a good fishing spot when you use a portable fish finder. All fish finders broadcast sound waves into the water.
When a sound wave makes contact with something, it bounces back like a signal to your fish finder. That action displays a reading on your screen that tells you how deep into the water the object it made contact with is.
You need to know that the “fish” your finder locates may not always be that bass you want to catch. The sound waves might detect underwater vegetation or debris beneath the surface. I will admit that no portable fish finder is entirely foolproof.
However, with some practice and adjustment to the settings, it can prove to be your best buddy out on the lake.
Table of Contents
- Best Portable Fish Finders - Comparison
- 10 Best Portable Fish Finders - Reviews
- 1. MadBite Portable Wireless Sonar Fish Finder
- 2. VECTORCOM Portable Wired Fish Finder
- 3. Humminbird Piranha MAX Portable Fish Finder
- 4. Venterior Portable Wired Fish Finder
- 5. NorCross HawkEye F33P Fish Finder
- 6. Lucky Wireless Portable Sonar Fish Finder
- 7. FishHunter Military Grade Fish Finder
- 8. Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder
- 9. Signstek FF-003 Fish Finder
- 10. FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless Portable Fish Finder
- Choosing Portable Fish Finder - Considerations
- Final Verdict:
Best Portable Fish Finders - Comparison
10 Best Portable Fish Finders - Reviews
1. MadBite Portable Wireless Sonar Fish Finder
Just the name “MadBite” is enough to get you to check out this portable finder.
The FX1000 is suitable for bass, kayak, bank and ice fishing; or any freshwater or saltwater fishing.
It has a castable, wireless remote sensor that floats and sends underwater images back to your hand-held LCD screen. Even in bright sunlight, you will have no trouble reading the screen. MadBite probes deeper and wider than other fish finders that cost a whole lot more.
The FX1000 comes with a built-in “smart” chip that stores your sonar settings after you turn off the unit. So, after a break in the action, you can get right back to fishing where they are biting.
If you’ve ever dropped something overboard, you know what trouble it can be to locate and retrieve it. No such worries with the MadBite finder. If you accidentally drop it overboard, it is waterproof and floats on the surface.
And no matter what climate or temperature you enjoy fishing in, this fish finder is dependable and tells you what you need to know. I recommend the MadBite as a must-have for all anglers.
- Portable, Water-resistant and Floats
- Detection Depth: 2 – 150 Feet
- Sonar Coverage and Frequency: 90 Degree / 125KHz
2. VECTORCOM Portable Wired Fish Finder
This unit comes with a small, round transducer. That’s the device that transmits the sound waves to pinpoint where the fish are.
You will like the fact that it is can shoot right through your boat’s hull.
If you enjoy fishing in the dead of winter, the VECTORCOM can detect fish through clear ice. On its screen, the VECTORCOM displays different bottom rock, grasses, and sand, in addition to what you need it for: finding fish.
A little fish icon on the right side of the screen indicates how deep the fish are in the water. When updated information is sensed, the old info moves to the left.
For me, with its water-resistant design, fish alarm, fish depth scale, and battery save mode, this portable unit is a keeper.
- Portable Wired Fish Finder
- TN/ANTI-UV LCD Display
- Display size: 40Wx39H
- Small Round Transducer
- Depth Range Max/Min: 328 Feet
3. Humminbird Piranha MAX Portable Fish Finder
If you check out Humminbird‘s website, they boldly state “Angling is in our blood.” Nothing can be truer.
They were first to introduce the fish finder to the world and their products never disappoint.
If you check out Humminbird‘s website, they boldly state “AThe PiranhaMAX Series has an exciting feature I really like.
It’s called Down Imaging and lets you see what’s below your boat with fantastic clarity. The tilt and swivel mounts make it easy to adjust your viewing angle quickly.ngling is in our blood.” Nothing can be truer. They were first to introduce the fish finder to the world and their products never disappoint.
With the PiranhaMAX, you don’t have to worry about being a geek to operate it. I find it easy to use a feature like Fish ID+. On your screen, you will see the size of the fish detected and the various depths they are at.
There is a Fish Alarm that sounds off to alert you when fish are detected. You can even set it up to alert you when you pass over small or medium or large fish. The other feature that I like about the Fish Alarm is the “off” button. A lot of us enjoy peace and quiet while we fish.
All in all, feature for feature, the PirahnaMAX 197c is a top-notch technology powerhouse in a compact package.
- Easy to use Interface
- Unlocking the Power of Fish ID+
- Fish Alarms
4. Venterior Portable Wired Fish Finder
I have heard the Venterior Portable Wired Fish Finder described as “cute.” That may be, but it is also a versatile, reliable performer.
You can mount it to your boat hull. Or, use a float on its 25 feet of cable to mount sonar inside the water.
You can also mount it on a pole and push it into position under the water. For ice fishing, cut a hole on the ice surface and place the unit under the water. Venterior’s fish finder detects and displays short and tall weeds, along with seabed rocks. Of course, it also shows you where the fish are.
When you want to know the size of the fish, it has a Sensitivity setting that can be turned high to show big and small fish; and on low setting, it displays only the big fish. Like other similar products I reviewed, this one comes with a fish depth scale and audible fish alarm that adapts itself to a pond, lake, river, or sea environment.
Although strong winds and waves and water that is very muddy will affect its performance, I still consider this unit a good performer in its price range.
- Detect and Display Grass, Short & Tall Weeds, Sand and Rocks
- Get the Approximate Location of Fish and the Depth of Water
- Round Transducer Sensor
- Fish Alarm
5. NorCross HawkEye F33P Fish Finder
Not everyone has a boat. But most everyone loves to fish. With the NorCross Hawkeye F33P, you don’t need a boat!
This compact-sized, portable fish finder goes anywhere your tackle box can go. Find fish from a dock, bridge, shoreline, kayak, canoe or on the ice.
The F33P fits in the palm of your hand. But just because it is small in size doesn’t mean it’s not loaded with features you’ll be glad to have. The NorCross Hawkeye includes 35 feet of cable. And get this. You can attach the floatable sonar sensor to a broom handle or a paint roller handle and drop it into the water.
Then, with a sweeping motion, you can scan for fish under weeds, lily pads, and other underwater vegetation. It has a two-stage alarm so you will always know exactly what kind of fish you’re zeroing in on.
Toss it in your tackle box, gear bag or put it in your pocket. The HawkEye works well under all conditions, and I especially recommend it to those who don’t always fish from a boat.
- 25 Degree Sonar Beam Angle
- Delivers Accurate Depth
- Operationable Down to Zero Degrees Fahrenheit
- Exceptionally Easy to Use
6. Lucky Wireless Portable Sonar Fish Finder
This fish finder will definitely change your luck! The Lucky FFW-178 is wireless and quite adaptable to your needs. With a boat, you can attach the sonar so that it’s towed from behind or simply attach the unit inside the boat.
Or, for using it with your rod and line, there are two holes in the sensor base to thread your line through.
Once you do that, cast the floating, waterproof sensor into the water and let the FFW-718 do its job. You will like how it instantly scans the area and sends an update to the handheld unit.
Take a look on the screen and you will know the depth, water temperature, and you’ll see visible fish icons that tell you if there are any fish ready to be caught. The Lucky is ideal for detecting schools of fish even as it shows you the true changing of the water bottom’s contour.
I recommend it as a very reliable fish finder. You will not only be lucky to have a Lucky with you for your time on the water, you’ll be smart to have it, too.
- Big Adjustable High Contrast Dot matrix FSTN LCD
- Wireless Frequency: 433 MHz
- 125 kHz Sonar Frequency
- Depth Range Max/Min: 131 feet
7. FishHunter Military Grade Fish Finder
Military grade means this portable fish finder is one tough companion to have along on your fishing adventures. FishHunter made it without any exterior joins that could cause a leak.
The protective rubberized outer casing is rugged enough to absorb being dropped, temperature changes, and anything you might run into on the water.
Another feature of this military grade fish finder that I found useful is the advanced sonar technology. That includes GPS tracking, so once you track your favorite spots, you’ll never have to remember their locations again. The next time you head out, FishHunter will take you right back to where the fish were biting.
The 3.0 works over Bluetooth and no cell tower or cell data is needed. That means you can be a long way from shore or the nearest town and still receive its sonar readings on the FishHunter app on your smartphone or tablet. You can even download photos of that monster you caught to the app and show your friends the big one that didn’t get away.
There’s a lot to like about the FishHunter Military Grade 3.0. It’s a big deal in a small, fit-in-your-pocket package.
- Bluetooth Casting Range is up to 80 ft
- Depth Range is up to 100 ft
- You Can Keep Detailed Information on Your Catches
- Including GPS Tracking, Mapping and Navigation
8. Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder
Weighing less than a quarter-pounder, the Deeper Wireless works in conjunction with over 7,000 kinds of smartphones and tablets, both iOS and Android.
It is smaller and lighter than any other traditional sonar.
The DP0H10S10-P delivers high accuracy shots to your device. You’ll see fish species in crystal-clear images. This unit tracks water temperature fluctuations so you will always know the perfect biting time.
Deeper lets you fish from places other fish finders can’t reach. Do you like fishing from shore? How about from an embankment or a dock? Deeper works wherever you want to go.
It can even find fish for you while you are riding a float tube. That’s what Bluetooth wireless technology and a smartphone or tablet can do for today’s way to fish. With the Deeper Wireless, you get their free app that includes some useful features.
I know all fishermen would use the fish activity calendar, as well as the weather charts. There is even a diary for you to enter notes about where you caught your fish and when it happened. It is a handy source to refer to every time you head out to the water.
The Deeper Smart Portable Finder makes perfect sense for the angler who enjoys modern technology to the max.
- Works in Conjunction with Smart Phones and Tablets
- Smart, Portable, Wireless Connected via Bluetooth
- Depth up to 130 ft and Battery up to 4 Hours
9. Signstek FF-003 Fish Finder
Many of the other fish finders I have reviewed are loaded with options. Some you may not even use but it is nice to have them.
They might even be bragging points among your fishing buddies.
But, if you feel that you do not need to spend a lot of money on a portable finder, and all you want it to do is find fish, the Signstek FF-003 is the one most kind to your wallet.
It certainly does not have some of the technology other models boast, but I recommend it to beginners and budget-minded fishermen.
It is a great fish finder to take along on a family vacation or that weekend fishing trip you have been planning for months. Kayakers and small boat users will like that the Singstek takes up very little space.
The display screen is not large or high-resolution by any means. But it shows you what you need to know and is readable even in bright sunlight. It can tell big fish from small fish and identifies which are which for you.
The FF-033 can send sound waves to a depth of 240 feet, which is pretty deep enough to find fish you want to catch. Singstek’s fish finder works just fine in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. It detects the bottom contour and water temperature just like the more expensive finders.
The only thing I caution you on is that I do not recommend it for use in extreme cold. So ice fishing is not practical with the Singstek FF-033. But everywhere else, under any other conditions, this is a fish finder that will do the job for you without spending a lot of money to buy it.
- 100-Level Sensitivity Setting and Multi Levels Depth Range
- Depth Reading From 2.0 to 240ft in 1/10th Precision
- Easy to Operate
10. FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless Portable Fish Finder
If you want to be not one, not two, but three up on your angler pals, the FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless, Portable Fish Finder fits your plan.
This one is the world’s first completely portable fishing device loaded with the power of 5 transducers.
What that means for you is picture-quality renderings on your display screen. I compare it to looking at an aquarium in your family room. You toss it into the water and you get 3D views. Or how about this? You cast the finder into the water, enter the distance from you and reel it back in.
That provides you with an accurate bottom contour map in 3D. (No, you don’t need special glasses!). All you do is save this map and use it to make GPS-based custom maps of your favorite fishing spots.
It has a Directional Casting feature that shows you exactly where to cast to catch more fish. Nothing is left to chance. With everything this fish finder is built to do, you are almost guaranteed to catch more fish than you ever have.
The highest of high-tech has come to the world of fishing. If you want all the bells and all the whistles, buying the FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless is a no brainer. I say “Go for it.”
- 5 Powerful Tri-Frequency Transducers
- Only 3D Wireless Sonar Available
- Depth up to 160ft And WIFI Casting Range of up to 150ft
Choosing Portable Fish Finder - Considerations
Something called a “transducer” is what transmits cone-shaped sound waves that show you what is below the surface of the water. How wide the cone angle beam the transducer transmits is an important consideration when choosing a portable fish find device.
The wider the degree of the cone angle, the bigger the view you get of what lies beneath. Most dual-frequency transducers will come with both 20- and 60-degree cone angles. A cone of 20 degrees is the ideal angle for anyone fishing in a variety of depths.
Higher frequencies, such as 192 and 200 kHz work best in shallower water. Lower 50 kHz transducers work best for deep water fishing
Keep in mind that the higher the frequency, the more detail you will see on your portable fish finder screen. That’s because there are a lot more sonar waves being sent out and received by the transducer.
The greater the wattage, the quicker your portable finder can display readings, and the deeper those readings can be. If you fish in deep water such as the Great Lakes or saltwater, choose the most powerful unit you can afford.
The shallower the water you fish, the less power you will need. With a minimum of 50 kHz, for every 100 watts of power, your finder can show reaction to depths of 400 feet.
Think of a pixel as a single dot on your finder’s screen. It is the smallest amount of detail that your screen can show you. When all of the dots are put together (like on a flat-screen TV) that is the image you end up seeing on your screen. The bigger the number of pixels, the more detail you will see.
At the very least, you want your screen to have 240 vertical pixels and 160 horizontal pixels. It will not be a clear image, so it may be worth it to you to buy a fish finder with a higher-resolution screen.
Screen resolution matched up with screen size will determine how clear your display will be. The biggest screen will give you the clearest images, data, and numbers.
I suggest that you don’t get too caught up in SONAR, transducers, pixels, and all the other features a portable finder can offer. Yes, all of that is important, and it would be great to have the most and the best of each feature. But, the number one thing you have to consider is your budget. So, for the money you have to spend, choose the portable fish finder that will help you catch the most fish.
When you first began to show interest in buying a portable fish finder, I am betting you had no idea how many different ones there are on the market. Like me, before I did my homework and checked them out, I presumed there were a “just a few” from which to choose.
You want something that will help you find fish. And you want it to be portable. Pure and simple. Now, after reading my reviews of recommended products, hopefully, many of your questions have been answered.
If you are an occasional fisherman, you can choose to go basic. Buy an inexpensive model and as long as it doesn’t crash and burn on you, it should work just fine. There is no need to buy something not very practical based on the number of times you will actually use it.
As long as it helps you locate fish, you have made a good purchase. My list of recommended products includes portable fish finders in the low-cost range. They all have enough features on them to make it a good investment.
For those who live to fish, there are finders on my recommended list that boast more powerful sonar, larger display screens, and even 3-dimensional imagery. This is where you need to decide on major considerations like cone angle, frequencies, power, and screen resolution.
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