Regular vs. Portable
A portable fish finder can get to places a regular fish finder cannot get to. If you can’t permanently mount one to a boat or don’t want to, portable options are a great way around this.
They are great if you are using a small boat, taking on trips or if the boat you are using isn’t yours. A portable fish finder affords you greater flexibility when you are fishing.
You don’t need to worry about the kind of boat you are in, and there is no reason to go to the trouble of mounting it. You can jump in your boat and get going right away, and portable options are often much cheaper.
Portable versions are great if you are going to be kayak fishing as they afford greater freedom. They are straightforward to use and are perfect for beginners. Our list of portable fish finders reviews will help you find the right one for you.
Regular fish finders used to have better graphics than portable devices, but they have significantly improved over the years. There are also options to have Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity so you can connect with your phone while you are out on the water.
Bluetooth and WiFi options are no longer limited to your larger and more expensive devices, so you can easily connect with your phone and post your social media results.
However, regular fishfinders tend to be larger and therefore have bigger screens. If you are looking for a device with ultimate visibility and screen quality, you will need to look at a regular version.
The displays on portable devices are still good, but a regular fish finder will be the right option if you are looking for a screen with photographic quality. If you will be using your fish finder regularly and have been using one for a while, you may wish to purchase a regular option. (Find the Best Fishfinder GPS Combo Under 1000)
They can be more intricate and a bit harder to use and often come with more options and add-ons than a portable fish finder. Depending on how tech-savvy you are and what you will be using it for will help you decide whether a portable version is right for you.
Top Portable Fish Finders
Humminbird 4086301 PiranhaMAX 165 PT Portable Single Beam Fishfinder with Portable Case
The Humminbird has a 4-inch monochrome display and is backlit. This makes it easy to use in all light levels and simple to interpret. The display is not color, and it uses simplistic graphics, so if you are looking for more photo-like images, this option might not cut it.
- Dual Beam Sonar: Choose from a narrow and a wide beam for great detail or a generous coverage area, helping you identify fish, structure and contours
- Down Imaging: Get a clear view of what's happening below your boat with Down Imaging
- Tilt and Swivel Mount: Quickly adjust your viewing area angle
- Modern styling and a larger 4.3" color LCD
- Features Dual Beam, Down Imaging and an easier-to use interface
It uses a single beam sonar to display the objects and fish beneath you accurately. Humminbird portable fish finders come with a purpose-made case to keep your device safe. This device is waterproof and comes with a water temperature display, allowing you to read your surroundings accurately.
Is this the best fish finder for the money as there are no connectivity functions such as wifi or Bluetooth?
FishHunter Military Grade Portable Fish Finder 3.0
As the name suggests, this fish finder is military grade. It uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone or tablet, and the Bluetooth casting range is up to 80ft.
The depth range is up to 100 feet; it is 60 feet for ice fishing, and to track jig is up to 30 feet. This device comes with a charging station, a mini USB cable, a manual, and a carry bag. There is a fish finder app for the iPhone to be used alongside the device.
You can use this app to record information such as the type of fish you have caught, the fish’s weight, and the length. You can also take photos and save them with the information you have recorded.
- A FISH FINDER ON YOUR PHONE: FishHunter 3D transmits sonar data to an app on your mobile device giving your a quick, reliable, and easy-to-use fishfinder you can take anywhere.
- NO DATA CONECTION REQUIRED: Better than Bluetooth, the WiFi connection between FishHunter and your smartphone or tablet does not require a cellular or internet connection.
- MULTIPLE FISHING VIEWS: Quickly check water depth and find fish with Directional Casting View or Ice Fishing view.
- CREATE CUSTOM MAPS: Create custom color contour charts or structure maps of your favorite fishing spots.
- INTEGRATED LED LIGHT: FishHunter 3D is easy to see during early morning/nighttime conditions due to an integrated LED light.
You can log locations on the map so you can return to your favorite spots with ease. This handheld fish finder is small enough to fit in your pocket, and you can find the best location to fish with the water temperature reading.
One of the major negatives is having to use your phone to make use of this device. If you are in a kayak, for example, you may not want to take your smartphone out on the water if it falls in or gets wet.
Going fishing to disconnect from the online world makes this iPhone fish finder out with you isn’t ideal for relaxation.
Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit 150
This Garmin portable fish finder is straightforward to use. The installation process is easy, and the keypad has dedicated buttons for ease of use. This device is available in different display sizes; 3.5 inches, 5 inches, and 7 inches. This allows you to go for a smaller and lighter option if space and weight are an issue.
You can also opt for a larger display to make for easier reading. You can use the waypoint map to navigate to locations, and you can mark locations on the map so you can quickly go back to them at a later point.
- 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.
- Waypoint map - use the waypoint map to easily view, mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles, stumps and docks.
- Chirp sonar - chirp sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information. Chirp sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation.
- Built-in flasher - view your sonar data in the classic flasher format; Ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging.
This fish finder uses CHIRP sonar to send a continuous stream of frequencies, which gives you more detailed information. You can also switch to view your information in a flasher format, ideal for ice fishing.
It comes in a portable case, making it a great option for kayak, canoe, or ice fishing. You also may upgrade to a higher performance CHIRP. This fish finder gets fantastic reviews, and in our opinion, it is the best portable fish finder for kayaks.
Your choice of fish finder will ultimately depend on the type of fishing you will be doing and how you will be doing it.
Portable fish finders have a great number of amazing features, and above all is the flexibility they provide you. You can go anywhere and everywhere with them.
There are options out there, whether you want a straightforward and easy-to-use device or one where you can connect to your phone and share updates on social media.