Fishing is a great hobby for people who want to forget about their daily struggles and problems in general. It’s a very rewarding and fulfilling sport. However, no one wants to catch fish without any success.
Having quality equipment is crucial for success. One of the main elements for successful fishing is a well-made fish finder.
We have made a list of five fish finders that we consider are the best for 2017. If you’re planning to buy one for yourself, this is the ideal place to start your search. We offer comprehensive and honest reviews because we want to bring the details about these devices closer to you. The market is flooded with various units of suspicious quality. That’s why we’ve made this list; to help you avoid purchasing something you don’t need. Take a look at these units; you’ll find them handy.
- 1 Top 5 Portable Fish Finders
- 2 Criteria We Used to Select These Products
- 3 Advantages of Portable Fish Finders
- 4 Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Portable Fish Finder
- 5 Our Verdict:Which Portable Fish Finder is the best?
Top 5 Portable Fish Finders
Venterior Portable Fish Finder with Wired Sonar Sensor Transducer
This unit comes with a high-sensitivity sensor, a 4.6 cm transducer, and has a depth range of 100 meters (330 feet). It’s a cheap yet useful device suitable for anyone who’s willing to improve their chances for success. The Venterior Portable Fish Finder is one of the most affordable devices on the market. It can be used for fishing on a boat, off the dock, and ice fishing as well.
Using this unit is pretty simple, as long as you follow the instructions from the user manual. In fact, the manual is very well-written, and it contains graphic representations of the required steps, so you shouldn’t have an issue with it whatsoever. The special thing about this unit is that it offers you an option to differentiate fish, plants, and even turtles underneath the surface. It also comes with a temperature sensor which is pretty neat.
Although it requires four AA batteries, it doesn’t drain much power. In fact, it has a power-saving feature which turns the device off after five minutes of inactivity thus saving power. You can also zoom in the environment once you get the readings thanks to the beam angle of 45 degrees. This angle allows it to read the vegetation beneath the surface as well. In simpler words, you’ll easily distinguish weed from fish.
If you’re looking for a low-price device with numerous useful features, this might be the one. It offers simplicity, quality, and durability. These three elements are the most important ones if you want a productive day of fishing.
Signstek FF-003 - Best for Deep Water Fishing
If you’re looking for an affordable model, this is one of the cheapest units coming from Signstek. One of the greatest things about this unit is that the display can be read both in direct sunlight and in the middle of the night due to its LED backlight. This fish finder is easy to operate and install, regardless of your technical background. Whether you’re a pro or just an enthusiast, you’ll get a hold of this unit within an hour, especially if you read the manual first.
The thing that separates this company from the others is the greatness of their customer support. They are always there to help you no matter how severe your problem is. It may not be a crucial factor, but it’s worth mentioning. This unit, unlike others, delivers precise readings as soon as you turn it on. There is no need for any calibration whatsoever. As far as the brand name goes, Signstek is well-known for their quality of production.
The sonar on this device is impressively accurate. One wouldn’t expect such a good piece of technology for this price. A lot of people gave it a 5-star rating, and that’s more than enough proof of its quality. The display is also one of the main elements you should pay attention to when buying these devices. This one has a 512 colors TFT screen with a resolution of 240 x 160-pixels. Depth reading of its sonar goes from 2 to 240 feet.
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker - Good Value for Money
When in doubt – buy Garmin. That’s a simple yet a very true saying. Garmin is well-known for making top-quality fish finders, and this one isn’t any different either. In fact, the Garmin Striker is one of the best units on the market for less than two hundred dollars.
It comes with numerous useful technologies such as ClearVu scanning sonar, waypoint maps, GPS, and much more. However, the GPS is the most notable feature among these.
Having a GPS integrated into the unit is an enormous advantage, especially in this price range. It allows you to mark certain positions and come back anytime by using your maps and pre-set waypoints. It’s available in three different screen sizes, and it’s very easy to use and install. You don’t need any previous experience, as long as you follow the instructions from the manual.
The CHIRP technology sends a constant beam of frequencies and offers very accurate readings. Other devices that don’t have CHIRP technology operate on a single beam of frequency thus providing somewhat inaccurate data. It has a built-in flasher that allows you to read the data in the classic flasher format which is ideal for jigging and ice fishing. You also have the option to upgrade to high-performance CHIRP technology which provides even better readings and images.
Overall, this product is great in many ways. It’s well-done, has a sturdy casing, and it’s pretty durable. That’s all that you need in a top-quality fish finder. However, some users have experienced issues with this unit in salt water.
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ - Great for Fresh and Salt Water Operation
This sonar features a wireless connection, onshore GPS mode, operation in both fresh and salt water, and dual frequency sonar. This finder is different from the others because it’s practically a probe with sensitive hardware inside. You don’t need expensive equipment to use this finder; all you need is a smartphone or a tablet. Before you drop this sonar into the water, simply sync it with your smart device, and you’re ready to go!
This unit is a perfect depth sounder for any fishing. You will get a detailed description of the situation underneath your boat directly onto the screen of your smart device. This sonar detects underwater structures, vegetation, targets, depth, and temperature. The smart imaging sonar view also offers a real-time stream on your phone which is great. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the bridge, shore, or a boat, Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ can be cast with ease.
All you have to do is attach it to a hook, and cast it to the desired spot. The boat mode allows you to create personal maps in real time. You can also attach this sonar to the flexible rubber arm, mount it on your boat, and start exploring the water. The history feature also lets you save unlimited data for future use and offline map examination.
The ice fishing mode allows you to use this unit to monitor the conditions under the ice cap and get crystal clear real-time information. You can also split the screen and zoom in to get more details about the situation underneath the deck. The compact design of this sonar will allow you to store it anywhere you want, even in your pocket.
HawkEye FT1PXC - Well Made and Effective Product
This unit is one of the rare units that match with the advertised information. It’s pretty rare to stumble upon a quality device like the HawkEye in this price range. The most important feature of this product is its water depth detection. It has a very precise sensor, and it offers accurate data. Also, ice fishing is not an issue with this unit; it can tackle cold waters without an issue.
It’s very light (one pound), compact, and most importantly – portable. You can bring it with you wherever you go without much hassle. Whether you’re familiar with these units or not, this one won’t give you any headaches. The user manual is very well-written and comprehensive. As long as you follow the instructions, you’ll get a hold of it within minutes.
Its VirtuView HD Color Display offers clear images of the terrain below the vessel. Having a quality screen is important, especially in lower-tier fish finders. Many of these come with a poor display; however, the HawkEye FT1PXC comes with an incredibly clear screen with a great graphic representation of the situation below.
The dual-frequency sonar is also one of the notable things about this unit. One would expect a poorly functional sonar due to the low price of this product. However, the situation is completely different. It comes with a high-tech sonar that offers impressive readings for a reasonable price.
Overall, you won’t make a mistake if you opt for this particular product. It’s great for both professionals and amateurs.
Criteria We Used to Select These Products
We had to use certain criteria to make a list of the top five units for the year 2017. Although we paid attention to a lot of different things; we will include only the most important ones in the list below.
Having a good and readable display is one of the crucial elements. Without a good screen, you aren’t able to distinguish vegetation from fish or terrain. No matter how good your sonar is, it’s worth nothing if you’re unable to read the data on your screen.
The sonar has to be a quality one; there’s no question about that. The reason is pretty simple. If you don’t have a quality sonar with various capabilities, the readings are going to be faulty. As you know, you can’t do a thing if you’re presented with wrong data, especially in a dynamic sport like fishing.
All of these five products come with an affordable price. Some more expensive ones might have better things to offer, but it doesn’t mean they’re better quality in comparison to the lower priced ones. However, these five are complete, useful, versatile, and affordable. Those elements play an important role if you consider purchasing a good fish finder.
Advantages of Portable Fish Finders
People often don’t know the advantages of portable fish finders compared to the fixed ones. There are many of them, and we’ll list a few crucial ones.
First of all, the portable fish finders are cheaper than the fixed ones. Regardless if you’re a professional or a beginner, cost efficiency should always be on your mind. If you’re on a tight budget, opting for portable units is the way to go.
Portable finders can be transported and used in various locations. However, that’s not the situation with the fixed ones. Whether you’re fishing from a boat, shore, or a kayak, you can always bring your portable unit with you.
Ease of Use
These devices are very easy to use, and you don’t need any previous experience. However, there are many technical obstacles with fixed fish finders such as installation and calibration. As long as you thoroughly read the user manual, you shouldn’t have any issues with portable units.
The Flexibility of the Transducer
You can use the portable transducer on many different occasions. You can mount it on your boat, or throw it into the water; it’s up to you. This transducer versatility is what separates the portable finders from the fixed ones.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Portable Fish Finder
There are many things you should consider before buying a fish finder. The more aspects you manage to cover, the more success you’ll have. However, we’ve managed to exclude some of the most important things you should consider before choosing a product for yourself. Take a look at our list, and you’ll find some pretty useful advice.
A good sonar is one of the most important parts of a quality device. The device is worthless without a quality sonar. Before choosing a unit for yourself, make sure to check out the available frequencies of that particular device. The frequencies are mainly separated into three categories – dual, single, and multiple. Many dual frequency transducers come with 50, 83, 192, or 200 kHz.
Higher frequencies are better for shallow waters, whereas lower frequencies work well in deeper waters. Bear in mind, the higher the frequency is, the more details will show up on your screen. Some of the top-quality transducers have up to 400 kHz.
The power is also an important factor. The power of these units is measured in Watts (W). The greater the wattage, the better the readings are. Also, the overall power of the unit affects the speed of the readings. For example, with lesser wattage, you'll get the reading data much slower. That’s because your device translates the frequency waves it receives from the transducer. If the overall power is poor, the waves are slower, and the reading is blurred and out of focus.
However, the output also depends on the depth. In simpler words, if you’re in shallow waters, you’ll need less power. At 50 kHz your finder will show readings up to 400 feet, for every 100 Watts of power. At 200 kHz, it will show readings up to 100 feet, for every 100 Watts of power.
When it comes down to the screen, everything is in the details. To be able to distinguish certain things on your display, you’ll need a good resolution. The principle is simple – the more pixels you have, the better the quality is. A bare minimum is a screen of 240 x 160-pixels. Everything below that is considered bad. In fact, even with this minimal resolution, the details are going to be pretty poor.
It’s worth investing in a high-resolution screen because you’ll get much better and sharper images. The resolution combined with the size of the screen is going to be the ultimate factor for how detailed your screen is. Revise your budget and don’t hesitate to invest in a higher resolution screen.
Black and White vs. Color
The color screens are almost mandatory nowadays when fish finders are in question. Although there are some black and white still available on the market, it’s a pretty easy decision. The benefits of color displays are obvious. Aside from the benefit of seeing in colors, you also get a much better insight into the details below the deck. Also, color screens are much easier to see on a sunny day, or in bright light.
Which Portable Fish Finder is the best?
After careful analysis, we have come to the conclusion that Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker is the best fish finder you can get in this price range. It offers a lot of useful features and options. It’s also very easy to use and install without any prior experience. However, the most important element of this product is its affordable price.
The best thing about the Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker is the integrated GPS. You won’t stumble upon many GPS-ready devices for a low price. The benefits of having the GPS are great. First of all, you’ll always be aware of your position. Determining the exact position is pretty hard without a GPS, especially when you’re fishing on a vast lake. However, you’ll even be able to mark waypoints and come back by using the GPS.
Another amazing thing about this unit is the CHIRP sonar technology. While the vast majority of sonars use a single beam of frequency to acquire data, this one uses multiple beams thus providing a much better representation of the situation underneath the vessel.
The Garmin Company is well-known for their quality of production and durability of their products. So, as far as quality goes, this one is among the best-made fish finders on the market in its price range.