Ranking Five of the Best Wireless Portable Depth and Fish Finders
While possibly a turn-off for those fishermen who romanticize their sixth sense and hunters instinct, portable fish finders and depth finders are versatile little tools that can be pretty valuable when they do their jobs right. If you want to catch fish, and you need to know where they’re hiding, a portable fish finder can set you off on a good day of fishing with no lulls and no wasted time.
Portable fish finders can be pricy, but there are models to fit all prices ranges. Whether you are an experienced fisherman or just starting a new hobby, you may find use for a portable fish finder when either fishing on boat or fishing on land.
Wireless portable fish finders tell you where the fish are so you don’t have to guess. SONAR Sounds signals are emitted by the device and then bounced back by fish in the water, which are then indicated to you by the device. Surely, one of these would be a useful tool for anyone who loves to catch fish. However, there are a wide array of wireless portable fish finders available on the market, and they can differ in quality, affordability, and ease-of-use.
For this article, we’ve taken a look at some of the best and most popular wireless portable fish finders on the market to see how they stack up against each other. In the end, we will try to determine the best portable fish finder and depth finder available.
#5 Deeper Start Smart FishFinder
This is a nice starter option for recreational use. It is on the more affordable end of the spectrum price-wise, being priced right now on Amazon for just $91.10. The device functions with an app that can be downloaded on your smartphone, making your smartphone the devices display screen. The device communicates with your smartphone through Wi-Fi, so no internet connection or cellular data is needed.
Great for dock, bank, or shore fishing
According to the manufacturer, the Deeper Start works for dock, bank, or shore fishing. It can scan waters up to 165 ft deep. The Deeper Start is said to feature an easy-to-see color design, portable size, and 6 hours of rechargeable battery life. Made by Deeper, the Deeper Start is the most basic portable fish finder they offer. This makes it perfect for anyone who just wants to try the idea out without the purchase making too much of a dent in their wallets. However, the lower price does come with some caveats, which we’ll get into.
Shorter Range Than Other Wireless Fish Finders
In our experience with the Deeper Start, it works best within short range. To use the device, you simply attach it to your line and cast it out, slowly reeling it back in so it can scan the given area of the water. To read the device, you must download an app which displays to you the information on your smartphone screen.
Includes Fish Finder App for Your Phone
When the device is working, your phone will display an image representing the water with three different sized fish icons showing you any fish there might be available for you to catch, as well as how deep they are. It was very easy to tell where the fish were hiding when the device was working at its optimum peak, and we were able to catch some good fish.
The device is aimed at land fishermen, so that’s how we tested it. We had a few issues with the Wi-Fi connectivity, but overall the device seemed to work fairly well. It’s definitely not the best portable fish finder, but it does its job for the most part, especially considering the lower price range. Would be recommended for hobbyists and children. So, while it may not the best portable fish finder, for the price, it does its job fairly well.
#4 LUCKY Knight Handheld Fish Finder
The LUCKY Knight Fish Finder is the only device we tried for this article that comes with its own display, so for those outdoorsmen who don’t plan on taking a smartphone on their trip, that makes this one a good option immediately. LUCKY Fish Finder comes with both a wireless SONAR device that can be cast out with your rod and reel, a wired SONAR device that stays connected to the display unit, and the display unit itself, which is about the size of a good walkie-talkie.
This Fish Finder touts itself as being good enough for both recreational and professional use, costing a bit more than the Deeper Start, going for $179.00 right now on Amazon. The wired sensor is said to be able to sense about 328 feet, or 100 meters, while the wireless sensor is said to do a bit less, at 147 feet, or 45 meters.
Great for Ice Fishing, Shore Fishing, Kayak Fishing
Unlike the Deeper Start, the LUCKY Fish Finder says it will work equally for all different types of fishing, whether ice-fishing, fishing on a boat or a kayak, or fishing off the shore. It touts a 10 hour rechargeable battery life, putting it a little bit ahead of the Deeper Start in that regard, as well.
Long Lasting Battery
In our experience, the device functioned very well. It was nice that the device had its own sanctioned display unit, as managing the battery of your smartphone and keeping it with you at all times could end up being a bit cumbersome on long fishing trips. The long charge was great as well, and the battery didn’t give us any issues on our entire trip out. Be warned, though, that the device charges through USB, and no USB wall outlet adaptor is included in the package. Either get the adaptor, or you will be stuck charging the device through your computer. A car adaptor, as well, might prove necessary on trips.
As far as functionality goes, the display was just as intuitive as the Deeper Start, except with a slightly smaller screen than the average smartphone. The display device, or control box, has a bright and colorful screen, with customizable palettes and fish icons. As well, the fish icons communicate the size of the fish just as well as the Deeper Start.
Using As Wireless Fish Finder Great, Wired So So
When we used the wireless SONAR device, it actually worked a good deal better than the Deeper Start, being more reliable and having a greater wireless range, as well as scanning deeper and more accurately. The wired SONAR device, however, was a different story. With the wired device, we had a hard time getting it to work the majority of time, and if we were to continue using the unit as a whole, we’d probably leave behind the wired device on our next trip.
Overall, a good experience. For the increased price over the Deeper Start, you get a self-sustained display unit and a little bit more range and accuracy. Not the best wireless fish finder or depth finder, but definitely not the worst.
#3 ReelSonar iBobber Wireless Sonar Fish Finder
With the iBobber, we are back to downloading apps on our smartphone to read the display, but this is something we’ve gotten used to. The iBobber also works with smart watches, but we only tried the smartphone option.
One unique feature of the iBobber is it looks just like a bobber and it can actually be used as a bobber if you get sick of using it as a fish finder. Like the LUCKY Fish Finder, the iBobber claims to be totally versatile, whether fishing on shore, on boat or kayak, or even on the ice. However, it doesn’t claim to be appropriate for professional use.
Great for Fishing Trip Logging
This device goes for $89.95 on Amazon as of the time of writing, which makes it appropriately priced for recreational or hobbyist use, or even just to get your kids interested in some fishing trips. The iBobber claims to have a depth sensitivity of up to 135 feet, with a wireless range of 100 feet. It has the ability to log your trips with all kinds of information, including date, place, water conditions, type of fishing done, and how much fish were caught. Also featured are a built in calendar as well as some weather tracking abilities.
The iBobber communicates to your mobile device via Bluetooth, which can sometimes be less accurate than Wi-Fi.
Our experience with the iBobber was not too shabby. It was nice having the designated display unit with the LUCKY Fish Finder, but after a minute or two we were again used to reading the display off of our smartphone. The display itself wasn’t the greatest one we’ve seen so far, coming in a little behind both the LUCKY Fish Finder and the Deeper Start. Fish icons are all the same size, but they can be color-coded to tell you the size of the fish. The display does feature some aesthetically pleasing water elements, with a nice blue color and a pleasant shimmering effect, but we would’ve preferred a less accurate representation of the water for a more accurate representation of the fish.
Decent Wireless Fish Finder for the Price
As far as how well it worked, it worked pretty good, all things considered. The given range and depth sensitivity might be a little less than advertised, as we tried getting a signal from 100 feet and generally could not get a good one. We were able to catch a good amount of fish, which is what we were aiming for.
If you’re looking for something that falls in the lower price range, the iBobber would have to beat out the Deeper Start by a small margin, just because it seemed like it worked a little more reliably. It also worked excellently as a bobber, but this would be one expensive bobber. In the end, not the best portable fish finder, but very affordable and works good.
#2 FishHunter Directional 3D Fish Finder
This was the most expensive one we looked at, going now on Amazon for $249.99. Justifying the price, the FishHunter Directional 3D does beat out the other three competitors we’ve looked at so far, so depending on your wants and needs, and budget, this may be a good choice.
150 Foot Wireless Range
Again, the device requires you to download an app onto your smartphone to read the display. The FishHunter Directional 3D advertises itself as being good for all types of fishing, whether fishing from the shore, from a boat or kayak, or ice-fishing. Unlike the LUCKY Fish Finder, no mention is made of professional use in advertisements. The device is said to have a depth-sensing range of 160 feet, but only 100 feet when ice-fishing. It is also said to be able to communicate with your smartphone at a range of up to 150 feet.
3D Fish Finder Imaging
What really sets the FishHunter Directional 3D apart from the rest are the 3D images generated by the SONAR, allowing for multiple angles and options for display. This technology allows for incredibly accurate readouts of the ground below the water, generating finely-detailed contour maps that really give you a great feel for the area.
Highest Quality Imaging
When put into action, we had a very good time with the FishHUnter Directional 3D. Immediately, the quality of the image and the abundance of information shot the FishHunter Directional 3D well above the three prior devices. The breadth of the 3D display really gave us a good idea of where the fish were, more so than the LUCKY Fish Finder.
Good Connection, Few Disconnects
There were a few times when the device became disconnected from our smartphone and we had to find it again in the Wi-Fi settings. For the most part, however, the connection was good and the signal was strong. You can alternate between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but Wi-Fi seemed like it worked a little better than Bluetooth.
Depending on what you’re planning to do, the 3D features may not be as useful to you as they would be to some. Some people just want to know if there are fish in the vicinity, and paying an extra $50 to $100 for 3D mapping and the like may seem like a waste of money. We were able to put the 3D maps to good use, personally, as it gave us a good idea of where to head in our kayak. We used the information provided by the contour map in conjunction with our intuition, which lead us to a nice, deep spot where a lot of fish were huddled together, and we were able to catch a good number of them.
Most Expensive Fish Finder
For those who don’t mind the hefty price tag, the FishHunter Directional 3D is a great and incredibly useful device. You generally seem to get what you pay for with portable wireless fish finders, and the FishHunter Directional 3D is no exception. For the right fishermen, the FishHunter Directional 3D comes highly recommended. Definitely has a higher price, but for that price you are getting one of the best wireless fish finders and depth finders on the market.
#1 BEST Portable Fish Finder: Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar with GPS
This is another device by Deeper, but this is one of the more higher-tier ones that they have available. The price reflects this, as the Deeper PRO+ currently goes for $198.41 on Amazon. Again, an app needs to be downloaded to view the display.
Long Wireless Range Up To 300 Feet
The DEEPER PRO+ boasts the ability to scan depths of up to 260 feet, which passes the competitors by a good margin. As well, the wireless range is impressive, at a supposed 330 feet, and it connects through Wi-FI as compared to Bluetooth, giving it a stronger signal than the iBobber.
Perfect for Shore Fishing
Like the Deeper Start, the Deeper PRO+ is optimized for shore fishing, so that’s how we tried it out. However, it seems that you could make good use of it in any fishing situation. The device uses GPS technology to create detailed maps of the water bottom, which can be saved and analyzed at home. While not specifically touted for professional use, the Deeper PRO+ does aim itself at more serious fishermen than the Deeper Start.
Easy Setup, Detailed Contour Maps
The device was incredibly easy to set-up and link with our smartphone, and the display was very impressive. The detailed contour maps provided were incredibly accurate and useful, and allowed us to find some good deep areas to cast our lines out. We could imagine the right fishermen having a lot of fun building and analyzing maps of their favorite fishing locations at home. As far as fish were concerned, the Deeper PRO+ seemed to have no problem tracking them, and its display communicates as wide a range of data about the fish as you could ask for, including size and depth.
No Connection Issues
For the price, the Deeper PRO+ seems to be well worth it. We had absolutely no issues with connectivity to our smartphone, and it seemed to do well mapping and analyzing the ground out as far as we could cast it. The app did seem to drain the battery on the smartphone slightly faster than normal, but this isn’t really that big of an issue, as we were still able to get a good 7 hour trip in with battery to spare. We have to say, this was the best wireless fish finder we tried, and probably one of the best portable fish finders available.
Clear Winner of Wireless Fish Finders, Deeper PRO+
Overall, the clear winner for us was the Deeper PRO+, which had the perfect balance of an affordable price and high-quality performance. The display wasn’t as vibrant as the 3D display of the FishHunter Directional 3D, but the extra features were hardly missed, and the detailed contour maps provided by the Deeper PRO+ would seem to be more than any fisherman could possibly need.
The designated display control box of the LUCKY Fish Finder did make that one appealing, but connectivity issues would seem to prevent it from coming out on top. For someone looking for something cheap for purely recreational use, or use with children, the iBobber would seem to be the way to go. It works good, and it is very affordable.
The Deeper Start was also a good affordable option, but the iBobber seemed to be a little more reliable as far as signal strength was concerned. If you’re looking for a mix of affordability and high-performance, though, the Deeper PRO+ seems to be just about the best portable fish finder and depth finder on the market.