The Best Portable Hand Held Fish Finders

Kayaking Photo

Portable Fish Finders are perfect for Canoeing and Kayaking!

Technology has come a long way in the fishing industry since I was a kid. I remember how excited my brother and I were when our dad brought home a fish finder. That new fish finder almost made you feel invincible, how could you not catch all of the biggest fish when you actually knew where they were at?

The only downside to that new fish finder was it did nothing for us kids who were shore fishing. Luckily someone was smart enough to create portable hand held fish finders that are perfect for on shore fishing, kayak fishing, ice fishing, and pretty much any type of fishing where having a big fish finder attached to your boat isn’t an option.

It might be twenty years too late for me, but here are some handy tips and reviews for you to look at when deciding on what type of fish finder you should buy.

How do Portable Handheld Fish Finders Work?

Every setup is going to be a little bit different, but the first steps are going to be pretty basic. Batteries will be installed, transducers/sonar sensors will be connected to the portable screen, settings will be formatted, and the transducer will be connected to a floating device. The transducer will be thrown into the body of water and it will start gathering data like water depth, fish detection, and even what type of structure is at the bottom of the lake or river for you. Our best advice is to always read your user’s manual to see all the special features your fish finder has – because you may be pleasantly surprised by some of the options!

Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish Finder Review

Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish FinderThis is a very highly rated portable fish finder on the different review sites we checked out, and we can see why. It’s very easy to use – just hold on to the screen and cast out the sonar sensor into the water. It works in both fresh and salt water.

We really like the colored screen which presents a clear picture and works well in sunny conditions. It is also programmed to read water depths from 2 ft. to 240ft. You can also get data about water temperature (which many other units do not offer) and you get to see what type of structure is at the bottom of the body of water.

It also gets very high marks on battery life. It requires 4 AAA batteries, but can run 5-6 hours at a time for multiple days in a row with little issue.

The transducer can be permanently mounted to a boat with the appropriate instructions included in the owner’s manual. However, doing that kind of defeats the purpose of having a portable fish finder.

You can also attach the adapter to a broomstick handle. This allows you to maneuver the sonar to give you readings under docks, boats, or you can use this technique when ice fishing.

The manufacturer does include a note that extreme cold weather is hard on the electrical components of the fish finder, so they recommend keeping the unit in temperatures above zero degrees when in operation. This is our top choice for serious fisherman or anybody that needs an easy to view, easy to use portable fish finder. It is also very good for ice fishing.

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Hawkeye Portable Hand Held Fish Finder Reviews

NorCross HawkEye F33P Fish FinderOne of the best portable handheld fish finders from a pricing standpoint is the NorCross HawkEye F33P Fish Finder. This fish finder has been on the market for a few years, and has a very loyal following. It can read water depths from about 1.5 feet of water to approximately 100 feet.

Besides water depth you can also see fish, weeds, and bottom contour readings. There is a fish alarm that will help notify you when fish swim under the sonar sensor. The floatable sonar sensor is attached to 35 feet of cable, which is perfect for on shore fisherman that want readings from a good deal of distance away from shore.

The key to using this fish finder is adjusting the sensitivity settings correctly. The unit has four different sensitivity settings. Dirty water, deep water, and salt water will require a higher sensitivity setting to get accurate details. Higher sensitivity settings does mean you will get false readings from time to time. The cleaner the water, the lower the sensitivity level can be set to get accurate readings.

HawkEye FT1PX FishTrax Portable Dot Matrix Fish FinderThe downside to this option is the screen doesn’t read as well as some of the other options and it does not read water temperatures (which is really valuable information for fisherman and recreational kayakers).

The price is really hard to beat, so we would recommend this fish finder canoers or kayakers that are interested in water depth and for fisherman who take a few trips a year, but don’t want to spend a lot on a fish finder. It comes with a two year warranty, and customer service reviews have been very positive.

Hawkeye also released a new model that gets rid of some of the flaws associated with the NorCross HawkEye F33P Fish Finder. This newer model is called the HawkEye FT1PX FishTrax Portable Dot Matrix Fish Finder. It is more expensive, but the dot matrix screen makes it very easy to read, and it has the ability to read water temperature. This is a great unit for fisherman because the unit will display fish as icons with a depth reading beside it. Basically, for the more serious fisherman or outdoorsman, this is a better option than the older NorCross Hawkeye F33P.

There are other portable hand held fish finders that are wireless. To learn more about those, please feel free to click onto that article here (coming soon).

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Handheld Fish Finder Tips

Here are just some basic tips and important information to know when you are purchasing a Portable Handheld Fish Finder. If you are looking for a Bluetooth Portable Fish Finder, check out this list.

  • When using these products for ice fishing, we do recommended using lithium batteries because they work much better in cold weather.
  • You cannot test these depth finders in bathtubs, buckets, or anything like that. Unless they are in an open body of water they do not read depths accurately. You will get an error message or no reading when trying to test it outside of open water.
  • These fish finders do not get accurate readings through wood, plastic, or composite materials.
  • Thick ice can also cause issues.Temperatures below 0 degrees are extremely harsh to the electrical components.

Final thoughts

There are so many great usages for these fish finders. Recreational canoers and kayakers can use these tools to find out water depth and temperature, while fisherman have opportunities to get fishing data from places that weren’t available in the past. I do wish I had these fish finders when I was younger, but it is better late than never! If you are looking for some fun places to take your portable fish finder too, check out these awesome kayak trip ideas from the National Forest Foundation!

Also feel free to watch this great video from HawkEye about their protable fish finders!

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