Best Portable Fish Finder Reviews Guide

When you are going on a fishing expedition, one of the last things that you want to think about is making the most of your storage space or having to find room to place a bulky fish finder that is far too large, especially if you are on a kayak. In order to do that, though, you’ll have to know how to find the best model overall, and then know which portable model is the best for you.

What Are Portable Fish Finders Especially Suitable For

Fish finders come in a variety of forms, but you will have to realize what a portable fish finder is best for specifically. In particular, you will need to look into these if you are on a:

Kayak

When you are on a kayak, you will no doubt have a shortage of space that you will have to deal with. All of your equipment will already be weighing down your kayak and you’ll have plenty of other things to take with you. When it comes to a fish finder, every little bit of weight will make it harder to paddle, making you work harder, and make you more tired at the end of the day. A portable fish finder will be lightweight, compact, and make sure that there is simply one less thing to think about when you are out on the water and hunting the next big catch. Since you will be able to sneak around the water in a way like never before, you will see why kayaks are very great choices for fishing.

Small Boats

Small boats can suffer from the same problem as kayaks. With the addition of multiple people and an engine, you won’t notice the weight difference as much, but that doesn’t mean that a portable fish finder isn’t ideal for you. Smaller boats don’t have a large amount of space for mounting a fish finder, regardless of how much room there is for a motor.

Boat Renters

If you rent a boat, it is important to have a portable fish finder that doesn’t require any permanent installation. Installing a fish finder requires equipment that might not be possible to use when you are renting a boat that isn’t yours to do with as you wish.

Our Top 3 Picks

NorCross HawkEye Fishfinder
  • NorCross HawkEye Fishfinder
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Excellent Portability
  • Price: See Here
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Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder
  • Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Proffesional Choise
  • Price: See Here
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Lowrance Elite 4X HDI Fishfinder
  • Lowrance Elite 4X HDI Fishfinder
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Great Screen
  • Price: See Here
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How To Choose The Best Portable Fish Finder For You

Knowing what to look for is the number one way to make sure that you choose the best portable fish finder possible. There are a lot of things to think about with a fish finder, but for a portable one specifically there are special things to look at:

Easy Detachment

It is vital that you are able to easily detach your fish finder and put it on and off without having to make major changes to the boat. When you are on a kayak, there won’t really be a way to install it permanently, which can be a problem for you. Quick Release options are the most common here, but you can find a variety of ways that companies figure out how to make it easier than ever.

Sonar

The type of sonar that is available in different fish finders will make it possible to find every single fish that is in the water. A dual band sonar system will make it possible to see both near and far at different detail levels, so that you can have the best view of what is going on underneath you, helping you catch more fish than ever.

You’ll also need to look into the angle of the sonar. You can find options that are up to 120 degrees, which will give you an incredibly wide view. Most will be somewhere in the middle of the range, but depending on how deep the water you are fishing in is, you will be able to make the rest decision.

Top 4 Portable And Easy To Install Fish Finders

1. NorCross HawkEye F33P

NorCross HawkEye F33P Fish Finder

This is considered one of the most portable options you will find anywhere, as well as one of the most affordable. For fishermen on kayaks or other smaller crafts, this is ideal.

There are dozens of features on here that make it stand out, including the WeedID feature, that lets you see the exact fishes that are below you. In addition to that, you will be able to read down to 99 feet without any trouble, and always see everything because of the VirtuView LCD display.

A two stage fish alarm lets you know when something is approaching, while the superior side scanning adapter makes it possible to scan from side to side, making sure you never miss anything. That works through attaching the adapter to the end of a stick, or even your paddle if you want to have the easiest way of saving space. This will also let you get a good look at the shallow waters that you can get to with your smaller boats that let you get into places you otherwise wouldn’t ever find with a larger boat.

For a hand held option that is incredibly versatile and useful, you will be hard pressed to do any better than this, especially when you consider that it is powered by just 4 AAA batteries for up to 20 hours.

Check out this review:

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2. Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder

Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder Sonar GPS

This is a more expensive option, but you truly get what you pay for in this instance. The Raymarine Dragonfly FishFinder is a one of a kind sonar and GPS unit that will give you an unprecedented look at where you are and what is going on underneath your boat.

To start with, there is an incredible 5.7” display that offers a photo-like look at the world below. With the CHIRP dual channel sonar you’ll be able to target both fish and the debris on the bottom without having anything to worry about. By including Navionics charts, they have also made it possible to constantly see your precise location and where you are going, without getting lost, but also with the opportunity to save your favorite fishing spots and make sure you can come back time and time again.

What is important here is the tilt/swivel quick release holder that attaches easily and lets you remove the unit as needed. Without being forced to install it in an in depth way, you will have the best opportunity to attach it to any kayak or smaller boat.

If you are looking for the absolute top of the line, highly detailed, highly portable option possible, you need to check this one out.

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3. Lowrance Elite – 4X HDI

Lowrance ELITE-4X HDI
Lowrance ELITE-4X HDI

There is an all new model from Lowrance known as the Elite 4x HDI. This is the top of the line for them, but it is also an incredibly useful one for people who want to have a portable option to take with them on the water.

To start, there is a 4.3” display that is super bright and easy to read even in the brightest light, thanks to the powerful LED backlighting. There are 70% more pixels than you will find on any of the previous models in this line, too. With their exclusive method of Hybrid Dual Imaging, you’ll have two of the best technologies in the industry combined in a way that gives a highly detailed view of the current location of your craft along with a one of a kind look at the underside of the water.

In doing that, you won’t need to adjust any of the settings either, since the Advanced Signal Processing feature makes it easy to see everything and calibrate itself, without your input. With the TrackBack you’ll also be able to review recorded locations and see anything that you think you might have missed.

Finally, it stays portable and doesn’t take up much space at all. By being this light, you’ll benefit from it greatly and you’ll be surprised how many more fish you start catching your first day of using it.

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Read Our Lowrance Elite 3x Full Review!

4. Kayak Depth Finder Fish Finder Humminbird Piranhamax 176i GPS Combo

Humminbird 4086701 PiranhaMAX 176i
Humminbird 4086701 PiranhaMAX 176i

One of the trends that we are seeing more and more on fish finders is the use of a color display. Color displays are certainly great if you want to get as detailed and clear of a view as you possibly can in the depths of the water that you’re currently fishing in. There is no denying their power in these regards, but there is an area where these color displays act as a bit of a hindrance. That area comes in the form of shorter battery life. While you get more details and such with these color displays, they are also considerably more intense on your fish finder’s battery pack. If you’re someone who’s more concerned about great battery performance, rather than having a color display, Humminbird’s Piranhamax 176i GPS Combo is absolutely worth a look.

The GPS unit is built directly into the fish finder, and it provides for very detailed and precise information regarding the area that you’re currently in. Additionally, the interface that Humminbird has included is extremely easy to use, and should prove to be perfect for those who are the first time owners of a fish finder. And, finally, the include DualBeamTM sonar system allows you to get extremely detailed stats and data on the waters that you’re in. This allows you to get detailed readings on not only fish, but anything else that’s picked up in the waters below your boat.
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Making the Decision

Now that you understand the right things to look for, you will be able to make the best decision. Regardless of what you are looking for, though, the four listed here are some of the best choices that you will find. A portable option is always wise, so take a look at these and find out what you can do to start having the very best fishing outings of your entire life. You’ll be surprised how many more you can catch when you know exactly what they are and where they are.

Portable Fish Finder FAQ

When it comes to fishing, there are a slew of different gadgets and tools that you need to bring with you in order to have the most effective and successful fishing trip possible. While some people are perfectly fine hitting the open waters with nothing more than their pole and some bait, there are other folks out there who prefer to be a bit more prepared when it comes to embarking on the fishing trip of a lifetime.

Why is this though? When talking about fishing, people take on this hobby for a couple big reasons. One, the simply enjoy the peace and quiet that comes bundled with going on a fishing trip. Two, they are out there to catch as many fish as they possible can, either for sport or need. These are two very different schools of thought, and if you are someone who just likes fishing for the peace and quiet that it brings, you may not be entirely concerned about catching a boatload of fishing when you take your boat off the dock and into the water.

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However, let’s say that you are someone who is concerned with catching as many fish as possible. Whether you’re doing this for a catch and release or to cook up for dinner, catching as many fish in a day as you can is easily one of the most rewarding experiences out there. While the peace and calm of the water is certainly a nice touch to have, knowing that you had a successful day of fishing is even more rewarding. However, catching an ample amount of fish is more than just guessing and testing different parts of the water. While this might be an effective method for some, it is far from the most practical or efficient. It’s a perfectly fine solution if you have nothing but time to kill and want to enjoy the open space, but if you want to find fish in your area as easy as you possibly can, your best bet is going to come by way of a fish finder.

Fish finders are some of the most useful tools out there when it comes to fishing gear, and is also one of the most recognizable as well. Along with poles, boat motors, bait, and more, fish finders are one of the most essential tools that you can buy if you want to be the very best at fishing. This isn’t something that guarantees a great day of fishing, but it can go a long way in helping you scope out there very best spots in your area that you should be positioned at if you want the best chance possible to catch as many fish as you can in a small amount of time.

However, one of the biggest downsides to fish finders is their need for a constant power source. While this might not seem like that big of a deal right off the bat, if you put some thought into it, it could quickly turn into a bit of a hassle. For starters, if you’re on a smaller boat or something like a Kayak, you may be without a power source at all on your boat. If this happens to be the case, you’ll need to purchase a marine battery and construct your own DIY method of powering the fish finder of your choice. And, if you do have a power source on your boat, you need to ensure that the cords of the fish finder will be able to reach it in a way that won’t get in the way of your fishing. Either way you look at it, there’s some level of inconvenience that is involved.

If you’d like to do whatever you can to avoid these issues, you might be interested in looking at a portable fish finder. Portable fish finders contain all the power of regular fish finders without the hassle of having to have them constantly plugged into a power source. They are extremely convenient, and are often the better choice for a lot of fishermen out there over traditional fish finders. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own fair share of problems and questions. We noticed that there were a lot of unanswered questions about portable fish finders online, and in an attempt to clear some of this confusion up, we’ve created the ultimate FAQ guide that should cover all the questions you may have ever had about portable fish finders. And, hopefully, you’ll have all of them finally answered by the time you’re done reading through this!

Q: How are portable fish finders powered?

b2Since they don’t have a direct power source like traditional fish finders, portable fish finders get their power in a much different manner. Rather than having to be plugged directly into a power source, portable fish finders get their power from a couple different ways. Depending on the model and variant that you choose, portable fish finders are powered either by internal battery packs or disposable batteries that you can purchase from virtually any store out there.

Both of these are effective manners when it comes to powering your portable fish finder, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Each one offers ample power, with the ones with built-in battery backs requiring you to charge it whenever it gets low on juice. The other option will require you to pop in new batteries each time it starts to run low, so deciding which of these options to go with ultimately comes down to personal taste and preference.

Q: What are castable fish finders?

When looking up portable fish finders, you more than likely have come across something by the name of castable fish finders. Castable fish finders are an entire breed of their very own, but they still absolutely qualify as a portable fish finder. You see, castable fish finders – just like normal portable fish finders – don’t require to be plugged in for their power source.They run off of their own battery solutions that are built right into them, defining them as a type of portable fish finder. However, the form and function of them is quite different and unique when compared to everything else that is out there on the market.

Castable fish finders work pretty much exactly as the name would suggest. You tie these buggers to the end of your fishing line, and you then cast it into the water around you. They are activated once they come into contact with liquid, and they float just like a bobber when you cast one into the water.

With castable fish finders, you can either have it trail behind you as you slowly troll through an area, or you can cast and reel as many times as you would like to get an accurate reading of your entire surroundings in your area. It’s certainly a different take on the whole portable fish finder game, but with their popularity continually increasing, it’s important to know just what they are whenever you hear them mentioned. And, at the rate they’re increasing in popularity, you’re probably going to hear them mentioned much more often as time goes on.

Q: Are portable fish finders less powerful than tradition fish finders?

b4Often times when talking about portable fish finders, some people jump to the conclusion that they are less powerful when compared to traditional fish finders. This is an understandable concern, as it can sometimes be hard to believe that a gadget without any wire can provide the same amount of power than one with wires can. Although not every portable fish finder out there is created to be the most powerful brute out there, portable fish finders aren’t any less capable or powerful than that of traditional fish finders. There are all sorts of makes and models available, with some being tailored towards beginners and others being made for the professional in mind. Just because it is portable doesn’t mean that it’s a wimp.

Q: Can portable fish finders be used for ice fishing?

Absolutely! If you decide that you want to use your portable fish finder for ice fishing, we would suggest that you first drill a hole in a section of the ice that you’re on and then dip the fish finder into the water. However, if you don’t want to go through all of this hassle, it is possible to use a portable fish finder while ice fishing without having to first drill a hole.

In order to achieve this, you’ll first want to remove any snow that’s on top of the area that you’re going to can with your fish finder. Once you do that and you ensure that the surface you’re going to be scanning is as smooth as possible, pour some water on the ice prior to putting your sensor onto it. Once all this is done, you should still be able to get a pretty accurate reading of the area around you!

Q:Are all portable fish finders waterproof?

Not necessarily. Although the vast majority of them are, not every single portable fish finder out on the market can withstand submersion of water. Being able to survive splashes of water is quite common, but being able to be fully submerged is less common. If this is important to you, you’ll definitely want to ensure that the portable fish finder you’re looking at is rated for some form of waterproofness. This might seem like a tedious thing to do at first, but it is guaranteed to save for a lot of potential headache in the future when you actually go about using your portable fish finder.

Q: My portable fish finder won’t turn on – what do I do?

b3If you have a portable fish finder and it won’t turn on, don’t fret! While it might be easy to immediately think that there is something terribly, terribly wrong with your gadget, there more than likely is an easy fix to be had. If your portable fish finder is one that has a built-in battery pack, plug it into the charger for a few minutes and let it top up. This will breathe new life into your battery pack that is more than likely dead.

If your portable fish finder uses AAA or AA batteries (or any other kind of disposable batteries), pop out the old ones and insert some new additions. Once this is done, your fish finder should have new life!

If neither of these options work for you, it is possible that you have some sort of internal damage with your unit. What we would recommend doing is consulting the manual that came with your portable fish finder to see if there might be an easy fix. If not, call the manufacturer and see if they can help you figure out what the problem is.

Q: Is there any way to mount a portable fish finder to my boat?

While mounting a portable fish finder into one place might seem like you’re going against the whole idea of having a portable fish finder, this actually makes a lot of sense! Lots of folks purchase portable fish finders because they don’t want to have to deal with annoying wires or anything like that that gets in the way with traditional fish finders.

If you want to mount your portable fish finder to your boat, there are actually a number of ways to go about this – each one depending on the make and model of the portable fish finder that you have. Some fish finders can be mounted with the use of screws, while others can be mounted just with a suction cup system or with some sort of external grip/mount. There are really a number of different ways to go about this, so your choices are far from limited here.

Final Thoughts

And with all that said, that’s our guide for the most frequently asked questions about portable fish finders! Portable fish finders are easily some of the most interesting gadgets out on the market for fishermen of all types, and they really do bring a great source of convenience and ease of use that you simply cannot get from a traditional fish finder. Hopefully we covered all of your answers today, and now you can go out there and be confident in your purchasing decision! There a plenty of different portable fish finders to choose from, and hopefully you now have a better understanding of them when you come up with any possible questions.

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