Best Portable Fish Finders

Why get a portable fish finder?

The Best Portable Fish Finder 2018 makes fishing, whether done as a sport or commercially, be a worthwhile and interesting undertaking.

Anyone charting the water of a lake or any large water body without a fish finder is like a blind person without their walking aide. This simply means your fishing exercise is based on luck and you hope to find fish towards the direction you choose to go. This can lead to boredom, little or no results at all and eventual waste of time and resources.

While you go out to fish, you should be able to trace your way back to the shore line or the dock from where you started. It is easy to get lost in the vastness of a lake or sea. Fish finder equipped with GPS technology can help you retrace your steps or in case of emergency and you need to be rescued then you can send out coordinates to indicate your geographical position.

Not only used for finding fish but a way back home.

This can help search and rescue teams to find you with ease. A portable fish finder is not only for the sake of having an interesting and successful fishing experience but can also be your lifeline if things go wrong with the engine or a storm hits.

If you venture in uncharted water bodies, you will be able to make your own maps if the fish finder is GPS enabled. This is important so that you can always go back to a fish hot spot you have visited before. Who knows, you may discover great fishing spots that haven’t been discovered by other fishermen.

It is important to understand that a fish finder equipped with a GPS is more expensive than an ordinary one. Purchasing one that has GPS is a worthy investment and certainly every person that launches out into a large water body should have a fish finder.

NameScreen SizeDepthGPSPrice
Garmin Striker 4
3.5"1,600 ftYes$
Lowrance Hook-3x
3.5"800 ftNo$
Garmin Striker 5DV
5"2,300 ftYes$$
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+
Hummingbird HELIX 5 DI
5"350 ft DI 600ft 2DYes$$
Garmin Striker 7SV
7"2,300 ftYes$$$$
Hummingbird Helix 5
5"1500 ftYes$$$
Garmin Echo 301DV
3.5"1750 ftNo$$
Hummingbird Helix 7 Sonar GPS
Lowrance 000-11448-001 Elite-3X Fishfinder with 83/200 Transducer

What makes the best portable fish finder?


Buying the best portable fish finder can be challenging more so to first time buyers. Confusion reigns where there is just too much jargon for you to handle and you know nothing about each of those terms you hear, transducer, sonar, cone angles and beams.

All you have as an naive angler full of enthusiasm and a few bucks. Before you think of buying a cheap fish finder since it is a bargain, read these few guidelines and you may want to reconsider going cheap for quality.

Power Wattage

Mucky waters laden with silt require a powerful fish finder with at least 1000 watts. Power on fish finders is expressed as watts (w) root mean squared (RMS). Your wattage determines how promptly your fish finder can display readings.

Fish finder utilizes communication signals known as pings’. These pings, or sonar waves, are sent to the seabed and the interpretation of what is beneath your boat is what you get on your fish finder. The transducer sends sonar waves to the fish finder.

The depth of the information being interpreted by your visual display unit is contingent to the wattage of the fish finder. Good amount of wattage makes the sonar waves to beam very fast and the reading on the fish finder is detailed and clearer.

The opposite is true for low wattage. Shallow water depth like an inland lake is visible with low power of about 200 watts. Anglers venturing in deep sea fishing, salty water or deep lakes need more wattage so it’s important to consider this when choosing.



The fish finder receives and interprets frequencies it receives from a sonar transducer. These frequencies can be single, dual, multiple or broadband CHIRP system. The capability of every kind of transducer is in direct relationship to the cone angle.

Higher frequencies will result into detailed and fine resolution with little pictorial noise. The general rule therefore is that for shallow waters go for higher frequencies such as 400kHz and for deep waters use lower frequencies of about 50kHz.

Broadband CHIRP (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse) system is the latest technology used on fish finders. Broadband gadget sends and receives sonar waves in a vertical linear motion. These broadband waves are frequency moderated making them transmit over a very long duration and places as high as 50 times more energy into the waterbed as compared to conventional fish finder transducer.

An example of broadband CHIRP frequency range transmission is 40kHz – 75kHz. The CHIRP technology employs a series of digital configurations and signal processing to exhibit very high resolution images and detect with razor sharp precision.

These transducers work best at the least depth of 10,000 feet and some have the capability of receiving dual, independent transducer operations at the same time. You can customize your broadband CHIRP device to transmit low and high frequencies simultaneously. This twin approach of using dual contrasting frequencies enables fishermen to locate fish without alarming them.



Depending on your reason for indulging in fishing and the size of the boat one has, it is necessary you acquire an advanced transducer as you advance. A transducer is the chief unit that sends and receives signals.

The signals sent into the water bounce of objects and are received again by the transducer. This signal is relayed to the portable fish finder and re-converted into visible graphic reflection of what is underneath and around the boat.

There are two major types of transducers which are common, the side scan and the down scan. There is also a third type of transducer that combines these two capabilities.

Down scan gives greater visual details e.g it can single out a fish in a pool of many other items on the water bed. The down scan is highly focused on the target. Down scan also give very accurate readings at a range of forty feet deep or more.

Problem is that since down scan is focusing downwards; happenings around the boat on the side cannot be captured. In shallow waters the down scan causes reflection and creates a blur of the images being transmitted to the fish finder.

By re-calibrating the sonar waves, down scan can still give impressive images.

Side scan has the ability to cover large geographical spheres in a single sweep allowing it to cover to the maximum of 100 feet. While that far information may luck clarity, at 75 feet and slightly more there is great detail to the information gathered.

Side imaging has less noise thus reducing the chances of spooking the target (fish). Down scan sends a shock-wave in the deep of the waters in a vertical motion, this weakens the return signal bouncing back to the sonar and is easily felt by the inhabitants in the vast waters.

One disadvantage of side scan is that if you get to water bodies where the depth stretches way far beyond 100 feet, then this kind of scan becomes least effective.

You do not have to worry whether to choose between down scan or side scan sonar. Present technology combines these two scan types into one powerful tool that is available from the different manufacturers of recreational fishing sonars.

Transcom mount transducer or trolling motor transducer will suffice if it used for casual fishing. Transcom mount transducer is a perfect fit for most boats.

Inland fish finding has improved over the years, with high-frequency down scan transducers that look down, to the side or those that can aim over a 360 degrees. Inland anglers have an ever increasing collection of choices in frequencies, beam widths, even the underwater direction you can look.

Fishermen who search for fish in shallow waters don’t need the ability to see down to 4,000 feet. Alternatively they can reap benefits by looking out to the sides and devices with multi-beam sonars have been developed for that reason.

Some of the key players in marine equipment manufacturing include Garmin and Lowrance.

Lower frequency sonars are usually known to radiate longer waves but fewer waves (in quantity) per second. Normally, lower frequency sonars also do display fewer element (larger fish) while transferring further dynamism and penetrate further to much deeper depths.

A single sound wave at 100 kHz is to some extent longer than two feet. So what can 100 kHz sound wave actually do? Interestingly, it can rigorously detect fish if their air bladders are large and are longer than an inch.

A lower frequency generally will not be responsible for as clear of a picture, but it will function efficiently in the depths of the seas.

On the other hand, higher frequency sonars are known to have much shorter wave lengths and much more wave sequences per second. This means that you can be able to visualize more details such as smaller fish,