Fishing is a difficult sport because most often you are playing blind. You can’t see what is going on in the water below you and therefore when you paddle out onto a lake you are just hoping that you find a good spot with fish around you. While this can be part of the fun, there is a way that you can get a good peek at what is happening below you in the water.

With the help of the best portable fish finder, you will be able to see all that is happening in the water below you. With a clear view of where the fish are and their patterns, you will set yourself up for a much more successful day on the water. Whether you are looking for the best castable fish finder or a portable unit, it is important to get all your facts straight before making your investment. To help, we have made a list of the top units on the market as well as some key information that will help you in your decision making.

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

How To Choose The Best Portable Fish Finder – Buying Guide


As you can see, there are many different high quality portable fish finding units available on the market today. Before you begin your search for the best unit for you, we recommend gaining a thorough understanding of the different features to look for. Like all electronics, there is sophisticated technology that goes into making these units and therefore it is wise to know what features to look for. To help, we have listed the top features and specs that you should be familiar with before choosing your ideal model.

Portable Vs Castable Units

Castable fish finders work much like the name suggests. By securing it to your fishing line you cast the fish finder in the water and let it float on top the water like a regular bobber. Once coming into contact with water they begin to work. These are ideal because you can cast your line farther out into the water for an accurate reading of what is directly under your line.


We tend to break fish finders up into three different categories, or types. First, you will find GPS portable fish finders. These tend to be the units that are the most advanced and are ideal especially for those who prefer to fish in the ocean. As the name suggests, these units will not only tell you what is going on below the water with the help of a sonar but will also help you to get back to shore safely with the GPS reading. These units are ideal as they will pinpoint your location in order to remember locations that are prime for fishing.

Next, we have standalone fish finders that feature sonar similar to the first type but do not have GPS. This is a popular type as it comes in at a cheaper price while still delivering exceptional performance. With some units, you can even add on GPS later if you find it will be useful. Lastly, there are some fish finders built for our modern world of connectivity. These units are perhaps the most expensive option but allow you to use hotspots to share pictures online.


This part of your fish finder is important as this is the part that detects what is going on below you. It does this by sending sound waves below the water. The quality of your transducer has everything to do with the cone angle. When looking for your next finder, you will want to look at the beam width. The wider this is, the more you will be able to see. These will vary between 9° and 60°


The power rating will be measured in watts. The more wattage your unit has, the faster the readings will be displayed on your unit. Not only that but a higher wattage will allow your unit to go deeper while still recording accurately. We generally recommend you opt for the most powerful unit you can afford, especially if you plan to fish in deeper water or frequent saltwater. If you are planning to fish in shallower waters, the power rating becomes less important.

Screen Size And Resolution

As you may know with your phone or television, your resolution is recorded in pixels. Pixels are singular small dots on a screen that works to make the picture you see. When all these pixels, or dots, are put together you get the resolution of your screen. As you may guess having a screen with only 5 pixels will look a lot less crisp than a screen with 50. The higher the number of pixels your screen has, the more detail you will be left with. We recommend going with a screen no less than 160 horizontal pixels by 240 vertical. This is the bare minimum you will want to go keeping in mind that a higher resolution will be much better.

As you may guess, the number of pixels needed will directly be affected by the size of your screen. While you may want to keep your screen small on your unit as to keep it more portable, make sure it is still easily readable. Finding a nice blend of screen size and resolution quality is important.


When fish radars first came out, their screens were black and white in color and quite pixelated making it hard to see, especially in situations with glare. Luckily as technology has progressed most fish finders come with fully colored screens. The added technology has led to more detailed pictures that are easier to read. This allows you to use this sonar in bright sunlight and torrential downpours while still being able to clearly read your screen.

Ease Of Detachment

Some portable fish finders are able to be attached to your boat, kayak, or even fishing line. Having one that is easy to attach and remove will allow you to be able to get in and out of the water quickly.

For fish finders that attach to a boat, you’ll want to look for packages that have lots of transducer line. This will make setup a breeze. Also, depending on the type of boat you may want to permanently secure the fish finder. Usually, there is a sensor that is attached to the boat which the screen is then secured to. This will give you a system that is not only easy to setup but can be detached with minimal effort. If you are wanting an even easier time you can simply detach the screen unit and leave the other wires setup for next time.

If you have a fish finder that is designed for casting you’ll want to ensure it is easy to detach and adjust while on your line. Most castable fish finders have an easy way of attaching it to your fishing setup. These are in the shape and act like, fishing bobbers so being able to raise or lower the amount of line according to the amount of fish at certain depths.

Wireless Or Wired Connectivity

Traditional units require you to wire your fish finder into an electrical system in order to operate. These units are typically a less expensive choice. While they do have a cheaper price tag, they can be quite limiting in that they need to be plugged into a boat in order to be powered. On the other hand, wireless units do not need to be plugged in. Instead, they are much more convenient when fishing from your kayak or from the shore. Wireless fish finders come with either WiFi or Bluetooth compatibility making them easy to upload your results.


As with all portable items, you will want your handheld fish finder to carry as light a weight as possible. Being compact, these units do tend to carry very lightweight constructions which makes it easy for you to bring it with you just about everywhere. You can expect lightweight options to weigh around 1 pound or less. These are an excellent option for people looking to fish from their kayak. For people with larger boats, the weight of a unit won’t be as important as they can have a dedicated mounting place for the unit.

Cone Angle

If you are at all familiar with fish detectors, you have heard of a part of it called the transducer. This is the part of the fish finder that transmits cone shaped sound waves below the water to be able to pick up a full image of what is going on below the water. As you can imagine, that makes the cone angle quite important to the success of the fish finder.

The width of the beam determines how big of a view you get under the water. A wider degree of the cone angle the more you will be able to see under the water. Dual frequency transducers most often come with both a 20° and 60° cone angle. Most often, going with a cone angle of 20° is most ideal for fishing in a variety of depths.


A higher frequency will provide more detail on your fish finder screen. This is due to the fact that more sonar waves are being sent below the water and received from the transducer. The level of frequency that you use depends on the depth of water you plan to fish in. If you are fishing in shallower waters we recommend opting for a high frequency transducer, between 192 and 200 kHz is ideal. For deep water fishing, you will want a lower transducer of around 50 kHz.


Generally speaking, water and technology don’t mix well. For this reason, it is incredibly important to opt for a fish finder that is ideally waterproof but at the least water resistant. While you may be able to avoid your device being completely submerged below the water, you are quite likely to have splashes and rain come into contact with it. Fish finders typically require a fair sized investment. Ensuring that you have a unit that is built to withstand the wet conditions will allow your unit to last for longer.



Q: What Is A Portable Fish Finder?


A portable fish finder is a unit that incorporates sonar to be able to detect what is happening below the water. This unit shoots sound waves below the water in order to receive information of where the fish are below the water’s surface and send the information to the display screen. Unlike traditional fish finders, these units do not need to be hardwired into your boat and instead incorporate either disposable or rechargeable batteries in order to be powered nearly everywhere. They hold a lightweight and compact design that is able to fit into pockets or small areas and can be used for a variety of different fishing conditions.

Q: Is It Better To Get A Portable Or Castable Fish Finder?


For the time being, portable fish finders remain the more popular choice but castable fish finders are steadily growing in popularity. The choice of which one is better will mostly come down to personal preference. If you prefer to be able to cast your fish finder into the water or have it trail behind you as you paddle a lake, then the castable fish finder may be best. If you prefer instead to keep your unit close by, a portable option may be better.

Q: How Do Fish Finders Work?


A portable fish finder works much like the traditional fish finder but with the great advantage of not needing to be hardwired into your boat. These units work using sound waves. Transmitting these waves in a cone like fashion below the water they are able to track the fish below the water. They then send this information back up to your screen or smartphone in order to plot what is going on in the water below you. This information is then used to determine what area is a good spot to set up for fishing.

Q: Who Benefits Most From Portable Fish Finders?


Portable fish finders are incredibly versatile as you can bring them with you just about everywhere. All fisherman can enjoy the benefits of these units but those who tend to fish from non motorized boats such as stand up paddle board fishing tend to benefit the most from these units. These units are also ideal for those who tend to fish from the shore or docks as it will tell you the best places to set up without the use of an electrical source. Lastly, outdoorsman who tend to trek into campsites or fish from a variety of different areas and are looking for something as mobile as they are.

Q: What Are The Advantages of Portable Fish Finders?


Fish finders themselves are a great way to transform your fishing experience. When using a fish finder out on the water you will find that you have much more success. This is due to the fact that you will now know what is happening in the water below you. When looking at the different fish finders on the market, you will notice that there are many advantages that portable fish finders carry over other kinds.

Portable fish finders are much more affordable in price than other units. This makes this type of fish finder more accessible to the average person. As there is no installation required for this unit, it is also much more user friendly. No tools are required to start using this unit and you will find yourself fishing much quicker.

In addition, these units excel in their flexibility. As they are compact in size and designed to move, you can simply throw it in your pocket and bring it with you wherever you go. This is great for the fisherman who likes to take his casts to different waters and on different boats. The transducer of this unit can be thrown into the water off a dock, a boat or from the shore.

Q: How Are Portable Fish Finder Powered?


While most traditional fish finders directly plug into a power source, portable fish finders work a bit differently. To help them be both compact and easy to move, these units instead incorporate either internal rechargeable battery packs or use disposable batteries. There are pros and cons to both power sources. While rechargeable packs are better for the environment and are cheaper in the long run, disposable batteries are ideal because simply popping in new batteries will allow you to keep fishing for longer.

Q: Are Portable Fish Finders Less Powerful Than Traditional Fish Finders?


You are likely to think that portable fish finders will harbor less power and less performance than the traditional fish finder. Luckily, this is most often not the case. While there are certainly portable units out there that don’t perform as nicely as you may expect, for the most part, the power and functionality of these units rivals the traditional model.

Q: Can Portable Fish Finders Be Use For Ice Fishing?


Yes! One of the most appealing reasons to go for a portable fish finder is its versatility. These units are able to withstand the harsh conditions found with ice fishing allowing them to be used all year round. The unit works best once your hold is drilled but can also save you time by working before you begin to drill. If you are planning to use your unit before drilling your hole, you will want to clear the snow to work with a smooth surface. Pouring some

water on top the ice will work best in this situation.

Q: Are All Portable Fish Fish Finders Waterproof?


No. While not all units are portable, a great deal of them are. In most cases, those units that aren’t fully submergible will at the very least be water resistant. This makes them at least be able to handle rough weather or water splashes. It is worthwhile deciding how important it is to you that your unit is waterproof in the early stages of looking for your next fish finder.

Globo Surf Overview

In our modern world, you can always count on technology to help us. The same is true for fishing. There is no need to struggle anymore to find the prime fishing areas. With the help of a portable fish finding unit, you will be able to get detailed images of all that is happening in the water below you and be able to find the best areas for fishing easily. This will help you to be a better fisherman by having the most information about what is happening below the water. The portable units that made it on our list are of the best on the market ensuring that you will get the most from your fishing.

Good luck and happy fishing!

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Have you ever used a portable fish finder when you were fishing? Tell us about your experiences with it in the comment section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!