A portable fish finder is a device for locating underwater fish, and it uses energy sound pulses like SONAR to do this. Today’s fish finders indicate measurements in a graphical or sound display that allows an operator to locate the bottom of the water, schools of fish and underwater debris.
The early fish finders were simply that, tools for locating schools of fish. However, these instruments have evolved significantly and now have multiple capabilities and features like a compass, marine radar and more.
Different types of fish finder devices are available, but there are certain features you need to check out if you want to have the best portable fish finder. While their functions are the same, the way they’re built varies and this makes all the difference. While most fish finders are used by fishermen, they can also be used by sportsmen and for commercial purposes.
Features to Look for When Choosing a Portable Fish Finder
Below are some of the features that you need to check before buying a fish finder. If this is your first time using this instrument, it’s imperative that you become familiar with these. Unless you take the time to study these features you could end up buying an instrument that doesn’t have the features you need.
The transducer transmits a cone—shaped sound wave down into the water until it reaches the bottom. There are four kinds of transducer beams, the narrow, wide, both and specialized. With a narrow beam you get an angle of 20 degrees, and in 20 feet of water that is equal to a circle at the bottom measuring 7 feet. If you have a wide beam transducer, you would get a 22 ft. circle.
A fish finder can only provide information on the area that is covered by the cone. While a wide beam covers a bigger area, the strength dissipates more quickly and it cannot go as deep as a narrower cone. A marrow cone moreover, can provide more info concerning the bottom composition. Because of this situation, you’re better off with a dual frequency or dual beam, which combines the features of wide and narrow beams.
When it comes to the display, it’s all about the pixels, and the more pixels there are, the more detail you’ll see. A low priced device would have a pixel display of 160V x 132H, but better ones are available. Aside from the pixel count, keep in mind that each has different degrees of black or grey. There are also fish finders today with color, but they are more expensive so you need to decide if the color is worth the price.
The power of the fish finder determines how deep its signal can go. You can gauge this in watts, so the higher the watt number, the more powerful the device is (This resource page goes in great detail on the topic of power output). Also keep in mind that the water can affect the instrument’s performance, with salt water needing more power. However, today’s fish finders no longer sacrifice convenience for power as they’re portable. Unlike in the past, the modern fish finder has its own power supply and carrying case so you can bring it with you wherever you go.
Portable fish finders today have a lot of extra features, such as freeze frame, customizable display speed, backlit screen and GPS. The GPS is a feature that’s become increasingly common in fish finders and with good reason. With a GPS on your device, you’ll have an easier time locating hot fish spots, and you can mark it on the GPS for future reference. Unlike other instruments, a GPS can mark hundreds if not thousands of these.
5 of the Best Portable Fish Finders on the market
NorCross HawkEye F33P Fish Finder
The NorCross HawkEye has a solar beam angle of 45 degrees, which means it can provide you with precise readings from 1.5 to 99 feet. The HawkEye also provides you with accurate bottom structure and fish readings, and you can operate it in 0 degrees F. –> Click here to read our full review.
Humminbird 110 Fishin’ Buddy
The Humminbird 110 is a versatile fish finder that you can use on a float tube, dock or boat. The Humminbird is a portable device, and the nicely designed clamp mount lets you use it just about anywhere without the need to mount a transducer. In addition, the Humminbird has a high resolution display and a 24” housing for the transducer tube. –> Click here to find out more.
Signstek FF-011 Wireless Fish Finder
The Signstek FF-011 is a high end fish finder that comes with a sophisticated water temperature indicator, very useful if you’re looking for specific types of fish. The Signstek FF-011 also has a fish depth indicator, fish symbol, and zoom on/off and a versatile depth range. –> For more details on this model click here.
Lowrance X-4 Fishfinder 200KHz Transom Mount Transducer
The Lowrance X-4 fish finder has a 4 inch LCD display with a pixel definition of 240v x 160h with 4 gray scale levels. This is a full featured device that offers wide coverage, and the display has been configured so it’s easy to view even when the sun is directly overhead. –> Click here for more on the Lowrance X-4.
Vexilar SP100 SonarPhone with Transducer Pod
The Vexilar SP100 has a portable transducer pod equipped with an underwater camera designed specifically to help with your fishing. The Vexilar SP100 is not like your regular fish finder, but it works and is a good alternative if you’re looking for something different. –> Click here for more details.
Thanks to modern technology, fish finders have become much more powerful and are now capable of delivering much more accurate results. At the same time, it’s imperative that you choose the right device for the kind of fishing you have in mind to achieve the best results.
However, the process of selecting doesn’t have to be difficult. With the information provided here, you should now have a clear idea what components make up an ideal portable fish finder. By being an informed buyer, there’s less chance you’ll end up with a fish finder that you won’t be able to use.
Click Here to View Our Interactive Fish Finder Comparison Table