Best Portable Fish Finder with GPS

When you are considering fishing as a worthwhile activity, among the important items to get is a fish finder. In fact, you have no excuse in this day to lack one in your fishing activities. In this article, we have outlined the best five on Amazon, as well as some tips and guidelines when looking for a finder.

Fish finder Editor rating Screen resolution Maximum depth readings
STRIKER 4cv 010-01806-00 4.4 480×320 830ft in salt water, 1750ft in fresh water
Humminbird 410210-1 G2 4.5 800×480 1500-2500ft
Garmin 010-018007-00 5cv 4.0 800×480 1,100ft saltwater, 2,300ft fresh water
Deeper Wi-Fi fish finder 4.4 800×480 260ft for wide angles, 2ft for narrow angles
STRIKER 4 GPS finder 4.5 480×320 1750ft salt water, 1,600ft fresh water

Garmin Striker 4cv 010-01806-00

The STRIKER series is very popular among fishing lovers, and this follows its example. It has an added advantage, however – the use of ClearVu technology that enhances GPS marking of your favourite fishing hideouts.

Coming with a user-friendly fish finder, it also uses a 3.5-inch colour finder, as well as having a built-in, highly sensitive GPS locator and scanning sonar from ClearVu. It also displays your speed data on the screen directly, to help you track speeds and distances of your fishing grounds.

The fish finder comes complete with a transducer containing CHIRP ClearVu (around 455/800 kHz) and CHIRP (about 77/200 kHz). 500W battery powers the transducer, and the equipment includes a built-in flasher.

The finder reaches a maximum depth of 830ft in marine environments, and 1750ft in freshwater environments. It has a high resolution in its display, reaching up to 480×320 pixels, so it is able to accommodate itself to varied conditions.

What we like

  • Great value for money – it comes with several features that are useful for anglers
  • The display is of very high clarity and works well in many conditions
  • You can mount the transducer in both trolling and hull motors
  • It is easy to use and mount
  • The depth measurements are accurate
  • It does not take a lot of space, so you can use it even in smaller boats

What we did not like

  • The screen of the transducer is small, so you may have issues with it unless you keep it near you.

Humminbird 410210-1 G2 fish finder

The Humminbird SwitchFire comes with a long legacy of excellence in sonar innovation, so this it is no secret why this is our pick. It puts you in total control of your sonar return appearances because of its two displaying modes that allow you to adjust to your specific fishing conditions.

You can also add details or remove them, such as putting in water depths and accounting for them, putting in turbulence and temperature data, even experimenting with lure presentations. It is all in your hands, simply by pushing a button.

The fish finder comes with GPS technology, with powerful and accurate Precision GPS and WAAS receivers in the system. This allows the finder to give you accurate positions within 2.5 meters. In addition, the HELIX series comes with an integrated frame and screen, which allows for a continuous surface as well as an ultra-slim bezel to enhance cooling and minimizing space.

This finder comes with a Smartstrike feature. Say goodbye to the days of overrated and tiring chases where you mostly end up with no catches – this technology enhances your fishing experience. By simply entering your parameter data, the finder will show youth results immediately, making you spend less hours on the chase and more time fishing for better results. The standard base map aids this further; the map foundations are on the Helix Series G2N and G2 models, as well as data from NOAA, LakeMaster and other sources.

What we like

  • The finder allows you to save and upload your fishing ground data, all at no extra cost
  • It has great value and performance
  • The screen is very clear, and even works in bright sunlight
  • Easy to use after some sessions

What we did not like

  • Because of all the features the product has, it is more costly than other finders in the market are.

Garmin 010-018007-00 5Cv – best affordable fish finder

Another highly sought after product within the STRIKER series of fish finders; it is available in three screen sizes, which we like. The product comes with a ClearVu sonar technology, allowing you to view your fishing grounds easily. The CHIRP sonar is of high frequency, and provides you with greater range of information and fish arches. It also gives you high quality, near-photographic images that have details of structures, objects as well as fish.

The interface is very good, giving you three buttons for maximum control. The finder also contains a waypoint map that gives easy views and navigation in addition to markings of fishing grounds and locations such as docks and stumps. Moreover, a built-in flasher allows you to view sonar data. This will particularly help anglers who fish in ice water or in vertical jiggling circumstances.

What we like

  • The model is affordable and still retains its good performance
  • The GPS is highly sensitive, so it is very good in terms of accuracy
  • The screen contains a compass tape for additional accuracy in direction
  • The graphics are of very good quality, allowing you to view fishing grounds in detail at a glance

What we did not like

  • The model lacks built-in maps, which is a disappointment for marking out areas quickly
  • When you are moving quickly on the water (more than 5mph), it cannot read the depth of the water

The Deeper Wi-Fi fish finder – most versatile fish finder

Unlike many models in the market, this fish finder does not require cellular data or internet charges – it simply uses Wi-Fi networks. In that case, it still retains easy portability, but has the added advantage of compatibility with both Android and iOS operating systems.

If you are searching for a fish finder that is versatile enough in all fishing conditions, this is your best bet. You can use it in rivers, lakes, ice fishing, shore fishing, kayaks, and riverbanks and even float tube fishing. In addition, it is compatible with both salt and fresh water grounds.

An additional unique feature of this finder is the use of bathymetric mapping systems. In fact, the sole portable sonar uses this GPS feature. All you need to do is create your map, and then do an analysis on your PC through Lakebook.

It also has the best range of connections compared to other models – up to a range of 330 feet. Any object up to 0.5 inches in size, contained in a water depth of 250 feet is eligible for marking. In addition, you also receive highly detailed information of the structure of your fishing ground, as well as fish locations, underwater vegetation, bottom contours, water temperature and depths.

The beam is versatile as well – you can easily switch between wide and narrow beam scans, all at the touch of a button.

What we like

  • The use of Wi-Fi technology – that makes this fish finder more useful because it easily integrates with your smartphone, allowing you to make adjustments and analyse fish grounds
  • Its technology plots the coordinates for you, making your fishing experience easier
  • Battery life is very long, considering its use
  • Good performance for the price
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Versatile in many fishing grounds

What we did not like

  • The Wi-Fi connection is tricky to get in rough conditions
  • It is also difficult to get customer service in case of issues

Garmin Striker 4 GPS Fish finder

Similar to all STRIKER series of fish finders, the STRIKER 4 GPS finder also comes with highly sensitive GPS, which allows you to view your position in relation to other points you mark on the map. You can use the waypoint to see and navigate to specific areas like docks, brush piles and stumps. It is also very good to use it for finding your way back to the ramp of your boat.

The screen enables you to view the speed of your boat, and gives an opportunity to monitor the trolling speed. This will permit you to adjust for the lure you use and for specific fish types.

In addition, the finder comes with a portable kit that allows you to protect the finder, so this makes it very good for canoe, kayak or ice fishing. The kit includes a rechargeable battery with its charger, a storage and suction cup transducer mount, as well as a built-in transducer cable management and float.

An interesting aspect is the CHIRP technology that the finder uses. Instead of sending one frequency like the usual 77/200 kHz transducer, it sends a continuous frequency sweep that have different ranges (low to high). It then interprets them separately when they return. This technology allows it to make crisp fish arches due to higher separation of targets.

What we like

  • Has high accuracy levels in both deep and shallow water
  • It has a high level of detail for objects, and good navigation ability
  • Very easy to store and use
  • Good performance for the price

What we did not like

  • Similar to other STRIKER finders, the screen is small
  • When you move through the water at high speed, it has problems reading the water depth
  • The screen details are not visible in bright sunlight

Features to Look for in a Fish Finder

  • Frequency range

There are three ranges of frequencies that fish transducers use – multiple, single and dual. Various dual frequency transducers come in 60 or 20-degree cones.

Keep in mind that frequencies are a major difference when it comes to transducers, and this will affect the cone angles and sensitivity. Many transducers will come in 192, 83, 200 or 50 kHz. Also, remember the depth of your fishing ground when looking at frequencies. This is because higher frequencies like 200 kHz or 192 kHz will work better in shallow water, while lower frequencies will work better in deeper fishing grounds, for example for professional anglers.

The higher the frequency, the more details you will see on your screen. Therefore, for shallow water, the transducer sends more sonar waves out. You can even switch the display to more detail areas (narrower ranges) or bigger areas.

  • Screen display (resolutions)

In this aspect, consider a pixel to be one dot on your screen. This dot has the smallest detail amounts, which the screen can reveal to you. Many pixels will therefore give you a certain image. This is why you need to consider what screen display you want when you go out fishing.

For instance, if your screen is 480 x 320 pixels, that means there are480 pixels in every row (left to right), and 320 pixels in every column (vertical). This means that the more pixels your screen has, the more details you will see. Keep in mind that the minimal resolution you should go for is 240 x 160. Anything less than that and you will not view images clearly. In fact, with this resolution, the images will not be very sharp, so if you can get higher resolutions, the better it will be.

Screen size and resolution are the most important factor for determining the clearness of your display. More costly units will have bigger screens, and less costly ones will have smaller screens, so they are good for secondary finders or as backups.

If you are looking for a main fish finder unit for your use, it is best to go for a larger screen resolution. This will give you better options in terms of screen views, more data and more echoes.

  • The power of the unit

Another important factor to consider, and measured in Watts (W). It is directly proportional to the display resolution, so the higher it is, the better your screen resolution is, and the deeper your readings.

This makes one thing clear – if your fishing ground is in shallow water, it is best to go for the fish finder with less watts. This is due to the fish finder translating the sonar frequencies that the transducer sends, and when the power is less, the waves are slower and the reading is less sharp. If the power is high, sonar frequencies are faster and readings are sharper.

If you are fishing in deep water or salt water, the water is denser, so make sure you go for the higher power units, as high as you can get. If you are fishing in shallow water, the reverse is true – go for the lower powered units.

A general rule – at 50 kHz, for 100 watts of power the transducer shows readings up to 400 feet. In addition, for 200 kHz, for 100 watts of power the transducer shows readings of up to 100 feet. Use this rule when searching for the best power source.

You will get many mid-range finders of dual frequencies, so that you can view reading in both frequencies in split-screen manner. For instance, fish finders with frequencies of 85/200 or 50/200.

  • Transducer type

In a fish-finding unit, a transducer is responsible for sounding and receiving sonar signals. They do this by sending out sonar waves, and then these waves will bounce of objects and return to the transducer (similar to how water organisms and animals find objects). The main unit will pick up these returning waves, and it will then translate this data into a picture that you can understand easily.

Many fish finder units also come with transom mount transducers, and these happen to be the easiest transducers to mount. If your boat is more advanced or you just have higher requirements, it is better to BUY complex transducers, for example the thru-hull.

  • Material of the transducer

Transducers are from various material, and some materials are better for certain boat types than others are. Many fish finders on the market today come with plastic transom mounting transducer types, which is a good option for anglers that do sport fishing. These transducers are match well with various boat types except pontoon boats.

Recreational anglers have many options when it comes to fish finders – many of these will come with trolling motor transducers or transom mount transducers, which work very well in all boat types. Just keep in mind these rules when searching for a transducer:

Wooden hulls – use bronze instead of plastic, since when wood expands it can damage plastic transducers and cause leaks.

Through-hull – go for plastic or bronze casing.

Metal hulls – you should use insulating fairing, especially if you go for stainless steel casing.

Boats with positive ground systems – avoid transducers with metal housing.

  • Do you want a black and white or color screen?

Similar to televisions, the evolution of fish finder screens results in many finders having color screens. In fact, they offer better details and resolution compared to black and white screens. You have a better chance of understanding underwater objects and fish on a color screen since they pop out at you, instead of views in shades of grey.

Another advantage of color screens is that you can view them in direct sunlight. Even if the sky is cloudy on that day, you can see what is going on with a color screen. You can get black and white screens, but if your budget allows it, you can purchase a color screen.

  • Cone angles and beams

Cone angles determine the width of the beams that your boat sends into the water. Think of them as amplifiers, since they work in a similar way. Their top part contains the transducer. As the cone beam continues downwards, it gets wider.

This has a direct implication on the area the sonar waves cover. That means if you have a wider cone degree, the area the waves will cover will be larger. This comes with a caveat, however: if you get a very wide cone, the sensitivity of the waves will begin to lessen as you head out to deeper fishing ground.

The cones are in ranges of 9o to angles larger than 60o. Most finder units have cones that come between 16 and 20-degrees, but keep in mind that it is better to start with 20-degree cones. This is because they are versatile enough to accommodate anglers at differing depths.

Transducers that are currently in the market have a cool feature – they contain more than one cone that sends waves out within the same point. This means standard transducers have single beams, while higher-level ones contain dual, triple, side beams, and the list continues. Supplementary beams allow you to observe more water depths and areas, so this is a good option to get if you are searching for fish in a lake area.

In addition, certain models will come standard with the accessories while some will need upgrades. These will get more expensive, but the advantages they give you are worth it. Dual beams are also better than single beams if your fishing ground is in shallow water, due to them being able to cover more area easily.

Tips to Using a Fish Finder

Fish finders are very useful, as long as you know how to use them. Here are three tips to get the most out of your finders.

  • Combine the finder with a plotter

An important tool in fish finding is the chart plotter. When you use it in conjunction with the fish finder, it increases your ability to locate fish.

The best way to do this: if you have a combined unit, split the screen between the Charlotte and fish finder. If you do not have one, consider upgrading your system. This is because the plotter and finder will be in constant feedback, and this implies that when you get fish you no longer need to record the coordinates. The finder will record the spot location for you and you can revisit it afterwards.

  • Zooming the bottom

Consider this more often because it gives you more information on the areas you are zooming. This will mainly work for shallow areas, as it is irrelevant to know the bottom type for deeper grounds.

Keep in mind that the thickness of the line on screen is opposite to the reality. That means thicker lines denote soft bottoms and vice versa, due to sonar waves going through soft bottoms to some extent.

In light of this, also learn to identify thermoclines (areas of temperature changes in water). On screen, it is easy to confuse them for fish because they look like faint readings. How you can tell them is they remain at constant depths for long periods.

  • Sensitivity of the tuner

Finders today have very good technology, but it is important to remember – turn down the sensitivity when in murky water, or when you are in water having dense algae or plankton growth. You should instead increase the transducer power and reduce the tuner until the clutter goes.

Final thoughts

Our pick for this round is the Humminbird 410210-1 G2 finder. We particularly like the Smartstrike feature, which helps you to locate fish quickly with minimal time wastage, as well as the ability to adjust depths according to the ground you are working with. If you liked this article, check out some other articles I have written on inflatable boats, inflatable kayaks for fishing and one man fishing floats.

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