Portable fish finder are always getting better and using new technology to help you find the best fishing spots. One of the newest innovations in this niche would be smart fish finders. These are great for fishing by the dock or going out on the water with your boat. If you’re curious about what portable smart fish finders are and which ones are the best, then continue reading and find out. We promise by the end of this you’ll see that smart fish finders live up to their name. They’re smart and highly versatile.
What’s a Smart Fish Finder
A smart fish finder is the next step in fish finder evolution and it makes them even more convenient. These allow the fish finder itself to connect to your smartphone with ease. Your smartphone will show the radar findings and allow you to easily see fish, mark spots and map underwater contours to know what’s going on underneath the surface.
Instead of needing a separate unit to view the radar and sonar findings, all of that information is displayed on your smartphone. This is the ultimate in convenience because you can easily connect your smartphone and view the findings. Connect the smartphone to your boat, pole or anything else and fish to your heart’s content.
You might be wondering how the fish finder connects to your smartphone. It’s all done through either a special Wi-Fi signal or Bluetooth. We say special because this doesn’t use any of your phone’s data and the signal is fed directly from the fish finder to your device. This ensures you get quick, accurate information about the fish around you.
Wi-Fi provides a stronger connection, but Bluetooth is easier to reconnect if the signal is lost at any time. Both are good and have their pros and cons.
In general, most smart fish finders work with both Android and iOS. This means that you should have no problems connecting most smartphones. If you’re using a different OS, like Windows, then it might be a little harder to find a smart fish finder that works for you.
For a convenient and powerful solution, we highly suggest trying a smart fish finder.
Features to Look For
This smart fish finder buying guide will show you exactly what to look for. These are many of the same features to consider when buying a conventional fish finder, there are only some small differences here and there.
App Support: This is one of the most salient features with smart fish finders. They are only convenient if they connect with your smartphone. The majority of smart fish finders will work with Android and iOS devices. Be sure to check to see if your OS is supported and that you have the proper version. Older devices (or those that are rarely updated) might have trouble connecting with smart fish finders.
Battery Life: This refers to the battery life of the fish finder itself. Most smart fish finders will last for many hours and should be more than enough for regular fishing sessions. If you go on longer fishing sessions, then be sure to pay attention to this factor. While your smartphone battery will be impacted by connecting with the fish finder, they usually won’t take a huge toll on your device.
Scanning Range: The reason you’re buying a fish finder is because it can scan under the water. Having a fish finder that doesn’t scan deep enough simply isn’t worth it. Most smart fish finders are on par with conventional fish finders and scan 100+ feet underwater, but the exact range depends on the device itself.
Reliability: You might be worried about reliability since smart fish finders use your smartphone. There are two things you’ll want to consider when looking at reliability. The first is how reliably the fish finder connects to your smartphone. This usually isn’t an issue, but the last thing you want is a spotty connection. The second is how reliable the shapes are. Is it really a fish you’re seeing, or a boot? Consider the image reliability to ensure you’re actually going after fish and not trash.
Mapping: Mapping is a broad category. Most smart fish finders allow you to map the underwater topography. You may also want to consider getting a smart fish finder with pre-loaded maps and ones that can mark and save hotspots with lots of activity. Consider your needs and preferences with mapping and you’ll know which fish finder is best for you.
Additional Features: There are many additional features to consider. Some fish finders are perfect for ice fishing or fishing at night while others might be better at charging or showing additional metrics (like temperature or water movement). Extra features aren’t always necessary, but they are nice to have.
ReelSonar iBobber Review
- -Scanning Distance: 135 feet
- -Operating Systems: Apple iOS (10.0+), Android (4.3+)
- -Connectivity: Bluetooth Smart
- -Battery Life: 8 Hours
- -Extra Features: ice fishing, night fishing, interactive map, weather tracking, fish alarms
The ReelSonar iBobber is a highly versatile smart fish finder that easily connects to most major smartphones via the free app. All it takes is a few seconds for the iBobber to sense your device and connect. It’s easy even if you aren’t tech savvy. On top of that, the iBobber is perfect for nearly any fishing trip, from dock fishing and boat fishing to night fishing and nearly anything else.
The long 8-hour battery life ensures you can get a full day of fishing without needing to recharge. Not only that, but it has a very good 135-foot scanning distance. The Bluetooth connectivity works up to 100 feet away. This means you can cast out far or attach the fish finder to the back of your boat and still get readings.
Glare is an issue with many smartphones. While iBobber can only do so much since this largely depends on your device, the app is made to reduce glare. This is done by using strong colors and high-contrast images. There are also fish alarms so that you’ll always know when fish are around.
There are several mapping features. The iBobber can map waterbeds and contours, plus there is GPS tagging and an interactive map. There are displays for weather conditions like temperature, wind, rain and so on. One interesting feature is that you can instantly share your findings on the social media. That might seem weird, but that makes it easier if you’re fishing with a group of people.
The ReelSonar iBobber hits all the right marks and it’s ideal for almost any situation. From easy connectivity to lots of special features, the iBobber is perfect for anyone who loves fishing.
Deeper Start Smart Portable Fish Finder Review
- -Scanning Distance: 165 feet
- -Operating Systems: Apple iOS, Android
- -Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- -Battery Life: 6 hours
- -Extra Features: night fishing, water bottom contouring, fish alarm and three fish icons, vegetation, 2.5-hour charging, 40-degree sonar
The Deeper Start Smart Portable Fish Finder is a highly accurate unit that helps you find fish and vegetation. Why is vegetation important? An experienced fisherman knows that fish go where the food and shelter are, and that’s exactly what vegetation provides. There are three fish icons to show you if the fish are small, medium or large. You’ll easily know if the fish are worth your time.
The Wi-Fi connectivity works without any data and provides accurate data to your smartphone. Deeper Start suggests turning off all other connections so that they don’t interfere with the fish finder. While that might sound like extra work, it’s honestly quite easy and ensures the best connection between your device and the fish finder. You also get a long 165-feet casting range.
You may notice the scan goes left and right even though you’re standing still. This is normal. This is the sonar function searching around and constantly looking for fish in the area. The Deeper Start app stores history about your findings with a timestamp so that you can go back and see what your findings were several minutes ago, hours ago, or days ago.
The mapping function uses your phone’s GPS and allows you to save spots with notes. For example, if there is one spot that you love or want to avoid, just tap it, write a note, and you’ll remember for next time.
The Deeper Start Smart Portable Fish Finder is an accurate unit that’s easy to use with lots of extra features and good battery life. Not only that, but this will make it easy to know if the fish around you are worth your time and effort. This is an ideal smart fish finder for any fisherman.
Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ Review
- -Scanning Distance: 260 feet
- -Operating Systems: Apple iOS, Android
- -Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- -Battery Life: 5 hours
- -Extra Features: built-in GPS, ice fishing, sensitivity settings, vegetation, temperature, dual-beam sonar, detailed data generation
They don’t call this the Pro+ for nothing. The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ truly is one of the most powerful smart fish finders on the market. It offers tremendous scanning distance, casting distance and it collects a massive amount of data on the water and topography around you.
When it comes to scanning, you can peer 260 feet below the surface. The scan is dual-beam with either a 15-degree or 55-degree search. This allows you to map underwater topography, find fish along with their size, scan for vegetation, collect information on temperature and even find bottom hardness. Much of this is because the Deeper Smart Sonor Pro+ has its own GPS. Many other smart fish finders rely on your phone’s GPS for mapping, but not the Pro+.
Connectivity is done through Wi-Fi and the Pro+ works with most major devices. Be sure to turn off all other connections on your device for the best connectivity. The casting distance is a massive 330 feet, so cast far or even troll the fish finder behind your boat to collect detailed data about the water around you. This is even ideal for ice fishing and you can change the sensitivity to meet your needs.
The battery life is a little lower than some other fish finders here, but only a little. This is due to the strong features and the built-in GPS, which is definitely worth the slightly decreased battery life. You can still get a full day of fishing without any issue. Speaking of GPS, you can use your phone to track spots of interest and leave notes for yourself.
Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ vs Regular Pro
Now I want to take a second to compare this to the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro. The Pro and Pro+ are similar in many ways, but there is a major difference that makes the Pro+ the best for true professionals. They both have the same scanning distance, casting distance, scanning technology, and many other features. The major difference is the built-in GPS. Only the Pro+ has this feature. It gives you much more detailed data about the surrounding area. The Pro is great, but the Pro+ is even better.
If you’re looking for a professional-level smart fish finder with long-range and lots of features, then the Pro+ is the best option. It comes with its own GPS, has strong connectivity, works in almost any setting and has long scanning and casting distance. We highly recommend the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ for those who truly love to fish.
Lowrance Fish Hunter Pro Review
- -Scanning Distance: 150 feet
- -Operating Systems: Apple iOS, Android
- -Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- -Battery Life: 10 hours
- -Extra Features: ice fishing, fish icons, custom color maps, waypoints, live stream, tri-frequency beam
The Lowrance Fish Hunter Pro is a powerful and versatile smart fish finder with lots of features and a good scanning distance. You’ll find that the Wi-Fi signal is strong and ensures you get a reliable connection during your whole session. The battery life is among the best on this list and the features are quite impressive.
The FishHunter app allows you to switch between views with ease. The Fish View takes the raw data and simplifies it with fish icons and less interference so it’s easy to see what’s around you. Raw View is the actual results from the sonar itself. Bathymetric Mapping allows you to craft a custom map with your own colors. You can even see multiple views on the same screen.
An LED light on top of the Fish Hunter Pro serves two purposes. It helps you see the smart fish finder whether it’s morning or night as the light will gently blink. The other, and arguably more important, the purpose is that this light attracts most fish. This will make your fishing even easier and more enjoyable.
The transducer on the Lowrance Fish Hunter Pro uses three frequencies: 381kHz, 475kHz, and 675kHz. This provides you with highly accurate readings of the surrounding area. On top of that, the FishHunter app makes it simple to make waypoints and follow other nearby people if you’re fishing in a group.
This is a versatile and long-lasting smart fish finder with a great battery life and features you’re sure to love. It’s especially good if you like seeing multiple streams of data at once or making your own custom maps.
These are the best smart portable fish finders on the market. Each one has amazing features and they connect to your smartphone for the ultimate convenience. Whether you like casting at shore or mapping the underwater floor from your boat, smart fish finders are highly versatile and work just as good as conventional fish finders. Give them a try and see how much more convenient they are.
You might also want to check out my best fish finder post to browse more models out there.