Fishing from a kayak or other small vessel can sometimes mean that permanently mounted fish finders aren’t used. Having a portable fish finder to be able to tell metrics about the water can give you so much of an advantage when fishing but only when you choose one of the best portable fish finder for your needs.
This is one product that can vary widely in prices and quality and just because a unit is expensive doesn’t mean it works better which we’ve found out with our review of the best portable fish finder below.
- What Can The Best Portable Fish Finder Be Used Best For?
- Our Top 4 Picks for Best Portable Fish Finders
- General Advantages of Using Portable Fish Finders
- Mounting a Portable Fish Finder on a Small Boat or Kayak
- The Bottom Line
What Can The Best Portable Fish Finder Be Used Best For?
Having the ability to determine water temperature, depth, and even determine if fish are available in the area you’re looking at can give you a huge advantage. Unfortunately, for some fishermen, the type of fishing vessel they use doesn’t really allow for the installation of a permanent fish finder, or at least it wouldn’t be feasible. Here are some of the applications where you may need a portable fish finder.
Using a Kayak for Fishing
One of the more popular methods of fishing today on smaller vessels is to use a kayak. Kayaks are being utilized more and more for fishing and unfortunately, on most of these crafts there just isn’t room for a fish finder mount. Luckily with the list of the best portable fish finder you can enjoy the benefits of having a fish finder without having to permanently mount it on your kayak.
Most kayaks are usually already loaded when fishing so adding batteries and bulky mounting equipment can really make you uncomfortable and cause the kayak to ride deeper in the water meaning that it will be more difficult to maneuver and power. Having a portable fish finder can cut down on a lot of weight and space, plus, you’re able to remove it when you’re just out with the kayak and not fishing.
Using a Portable Fish Finder on Small Boats
Much like a kayak, there is usually not much room for lots of mounting gear, full size batteries, and display. All of these items adds weight and can be a bit cumbersome to get around in a smaller boat. Most portable fish finders are very small and can be moved about the boat to give you a better overall experience with the fishing trip.
Planning on Renting a Boat
A popular trend now for many fishermen is to rent a boat for their trip. This can have some advantages but many times electronics such as fish finders are not included on the rented boat. Of course, you can’t mount anything yourself on the boat but you can take along a portable fish finder that can help you locate the fish and have an awesome day fishing.
Our Top 4 Picks for Best Portable Fish Finders
Venterior Portable Fish Finder
- Shows you what is in the water: water depth, approximate fish location (suits for all sorts of fish), fish size(small/medium/big), short & tall weeds, sand & rocks on bottom. Suitable for fishing from a kayak, off the dock, and ice fishing. You can use the fish finder on moving kayak with slowly speed below 5mph. It can be used in fresh water as well as salt/sea water.
- Easy to Use: Toss the transducer into water and turn on the display unit, it will show you the water depth and approximate fish depth if fish schools passing by. It has 5 user selectable sensitivity; battery save mode; backlight mode ; fish alarm; unit of measure. Setting can be saved when turned off. The fishfinder is powered by 4 AAA batteries. It lasts 4-5 hours with new batteries in continuous use.
- Very portable that you can take it anywhere: It comes with neck strap that allow you to wear it around neck when you are busy on the kayak. It also comes with a water resistant bag to protect your fish finder display from water splash. The storage case is very easy to carry and will protect your fish finder from accidental bumps, scratches, or water splash.
One of the reasons why we think that the Venterior is one of the best portable fish finders is because of the price. It offers a great way for anyone who isn’t accustomed to using a fish finder a way to determine if it’s something they really want to use. The price of this unit is lower and allows you to ‘test’ the waters before using more expensive models. And although the unit is very economical it does provide a great experience for you.
This unit can do almost everything the higher priced models can do. The unit will be able to detect the depth of the water and also give the temperature of the water in Fahrenheit or Celsius. The transducer (sensing unit) is connected by a wire with a cable that is 25 feet long which seems like a bit of overkill but works well either using a mounting device or simply floating it around the boat. This unit also comes with a float attachment that can be used on the transducer.
One of the best features of this unit is that it offers great battery life. The unit can be powered by the same batteries for a complete day of fishing plus it has a battery save mode that can make it go even longer. It also has a power off function when the reading is blank for more than 5 minutes which can also save battery life.
All in all this is a great portable fish finder that is very inexpensive and provides excellent value for the price. Sure there are more expensive models that offer more but for the price, this is one of the best portable fish finders on the market today.
Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder
- Clear Vu scanning Sonar shows you more of what is in the water around your boat; This high frequency sonar gives near photographic images with detailed representations of objects, structure and fish
- The power of simple offers a keyed interface with dedicated buttons; The device is easy to use and easy to install; Available in 3.5, 5 and 7 inch display sizes; Water rating IPX7
- Waypoint map: Use the way point map to easily view, mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles, stumps and docks; Maximum depth 1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater; Current draw at 12 volt: 0.23 Ampere
A portable fish finder like the Garmin Striker is a great piece of technology that is easy to use and very powerful. The unit uses CHIRP sonar technology, meaning it continuously sends a sweep of frequencies to scan the area for fish.
Although the display is rather small at only 3.5 inch it does have great graphics that can display information well.
Surprisingly, this unit is pretty affordable. For only $119.99, it’s one of the most reasonably priced gadgets on the market. Especially taking into consideration the fact that it has GPS.
Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 Fishfinder
- Display Size Diagonal - 4 3-Inch
- Dual Beam Sonar
- 2400 watts PTP/300 Watts RMS
Humminbird has always been one of the best names when it comes to fish finders. With their portable Fishin’ Buddy models they continue that trend. This all in one unit clamps directly to the side of your boat, kayak, or even floating tube. There are no wires to contend with and the power source is 6 AA batteries.
This can be advantageous because it allows you to change out the batteries if needed without the need to recharge batteries. Using rechargeable batteries is advised with this unit.
If you’re looking for a color display with down imaging then this Hummingbird model is for you. Although the display is rather small at only 4.3 inch it does have great graphics that can display information well. There is also a back light to help during cloudy conditions.
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+
This is one of the best portable fish finders on the market today for several reasons. The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro connects to your smart phone or tablet using a Wi-Fi connection. While this may not seem like a big feature when compared to Bluetooth connected devices it can really make a difference.
The speed at which data is delivered to your device is dramatically increased and in real time. So where the float is located is the scan you’re looking at, not seconds ago. The display on the smart phone is incredibly detailed with the bottom display featuring many details including weeds, debris, and more.
Like many castable fish finders it connects to a rod so that you can throw it farther. It can pick up at a distance of 330 feet and provides fast, detailed images of the water. It’s also great for ice fishing and shore fishing.
This fish finder comes complete with every thing you need to start finding the fish. Simply add the app to your smart phone or tablet and you’re set. It has a rechargeable float so you get hours of fishing time on a single charge.
General Advantages of Using Portable Fish Finders
- Affordability in General. Since most permanent mount fish finders are hundreds or even thousands of dollars, portable fish finders can give everyone a chance to use these electronics.
- Flexibility. The fish finder that you use can be easily moved from one craft to another and some used on piers or even beaches. This sort of flexibility can give the unit many more uses.
- They are Easy to Use. Since people aren’t required to mount portable fish finders most are a simple setup systems and use.
- Transducer flexibility. One of the problems of many permanent mount fish finders is running cable and finding a place to mount the sensing unit or transducer. With these best portable fish finders you have lots of flexibility on where are how the unit is mounted if you decide to mount it somewhere. Or course, some do not need any sort of mounting.
Mounting a Portable Fish Finder on a Small Boat or Kayak
People who fish from kayaks and small boats are the most likely to buy a portable fish finder. They are lightweight and don’t require any special mounting skills or hardware to make them work. I decided to include this resource in the best portable fish finder article simply because I think it will certainly help clear up any confusion about how to use the portable fish finder in this setting.
Cast or Pull Behind Fish Finders
Mounting the fish finder is more about mounting the transducer for the fish finder since that is the part that will need to be touching the water. In this best portable fish finder article I included several different models which have different transducers on them. The Fish Hunter Pro and Deep Smart Sonar are both drag behind or cast transducers. Which means you can just drag it behind your craft.
Other models of transducers may have a small unit that needs to be added to the craft. Typically, most portable fish finders will have a suction cup style fitting that simply sticks onto the side of the craft. Most kayaks will have a smooth finish that this suction cup can stick to easily. But some smaller boats especially if made from wood don’t have this smooth surface and the suction cup may not stick well which can be a problem.
All in One Units
Mounting the Humminbird Fishing Buddy is a bit easier as you simply attach it to a lip or side of your boat. This allows the transducer to dip into the water as needed. You can still see the display on the fish finder. This versatility is one thing that gives the Humminbird such high marks.
There are several mounting brackets that are available to help with the installation of the transducer and the display unit. You may also need to include waterproof cases for some units. Especially those that work with smart phones and tablets.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to getting the best outcome for your fishing trip having a fish finder can certainly help. It can shave hours of time off location of the fish and if you are going fishing then having a fish finder on your craft will save loads of time. Portable fish finders are a way to get the technology of a fish finder on your side even when it’s not mounted on your boat.
Any one of the portable fish finders we’ve reviewed above are a good fit and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, having any sort of fish finder is better than none. They truly do make that much of a difference.