Best Fish Finders For Small Boats – 2019 Complete Buyer’s Guide

Say goodbye to the days of aimlessly paddling around and hoping you eventually are able to get a bite while you are out fishing – now you can go to exactly where the fish are with high-tech fish finders!

Read on to learn more about these awesome products and what they can do for you.

Let's get started.

Comparison Chart of the Best Fish Finders For Small Boats

Product

Our Rating

Price

​Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar

Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar - GPS Portable Wireless Wi-Fi Fish Finder for Shore and Ice Fishing

Best Overall

​Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer

Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5' GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional Transducer

Runner-up

​ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

ReelSonar CGG-MY-IBOBBER iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder for iOS and Android devices.

Best for the Money

​FishHunter Directional 3D Portable Fish Finder

FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless, Portable Fish Finder

​Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder

Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging

What is a Fishfinder?

A fish finder is a small electronic device, most frequently powered using a rechargeable battery, that uses sonar signaling to find fish. It is obviously waterproof and is most often submerged by either mounting it directly onto a boat or by connecting it to a reel and then casting it out into the water as you would a line (for smaller fish finders, this use also allows them to double as potential bait for a fish).

These devices send out sonar signals to let you know what is going on beneath the surface of the water, so they are not just good options for finding fish, but also for avoiding potential underwater obstacles such as rocks and driftwood.

Can Any Fish Finder Be Used on a Small Boat?

There is a wide range of different fish finders available on the market today. When fish finders were first being developed, they were intended to be used mostly for industrial fishing, so they were exceptionally large and would prove extremely unwieldy and difficult to use for the lay fisher in a smaller boat. New technological advances have produced smaller fish finders, some small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. If you have a smaller boat, you should definitely invest in one of these models as opposed to the bigger, more clunky versions.

How to Choose a Fish Finder if You Have a Small Boat

What should you be looking out for when seeking a fish finder? Here are some of the most important qualities:

Size

Obviously this quality is one of the most important to consider if you are operating with a smaller boat. Smaller fish finders typically have a more limited range than their larger counterparts, but they are also much more manageable.

Range

As mentioned above, range is also a critically important factor with your fish finder. Consider your fishing level: are you planning on fishing more casually, or are you more serious? Your range should depend on what you are planning to get out of your fishing experience.

Accessories

Fish finders can come with handy mounts to attach to your boat, or visibility caps so that you can more easily see where they are placed in the water. Consider your wants and choose a fish finder accordingly.

Quick Take - The Best Fish Finders For Small Boats 

These are our recommendations for the best fish finders for small boats:

  1. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar
  2. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
  3. ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

Review of the Best Fish Finders For Small Boats

Since you now have a better sense of what these bad boys can do, let’s check out some actual products:

Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar - GPS Portable Wireless Wi-Fi Fish Finder for Shore and Ice Fishing

Pros

  • Lightweight, at three and a half ounces
  • Has an onboard global positioning system
  • Only takes up two and a half inches of space
  • Offers bathymetric map-making and integrated Wi-Fi
  • Sonar sensitivity can be adjusted for cloudy or muddy water

Cons

  • Can only scan up to two hundred sixty feet deep
  • Deeper does not provide the best customer service
  • Does not have as many features as the product options you can mount on your boat

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers appreciate the fact that you can connect your smartphone to this product. It works well when connecting to a phone or a tablet, and can keep working up to a range of three hundred thirty feet. The image quality is much better when you can see it on a phone or tablet screen.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were impressed that you can access the maps on this finder even when it is in offline mode. If you want to save some battery life but still check out your maps, you can do that with this product.

Who Would Use This Most

This product is far and above the best choice for a finder to use when kayaking, or for anglers fishing in shallow water and/or narrow corridors.

Bottom Line

The Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is an excellent product and our top choice thanks to its smartphone connectivity and offline capabilities. Just know that you are getting the bare bones when you buy this finder, and you will have to purchase accessories such as a visibility cap and mounts separately.

Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5' GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional Transducer

Pros

  • Has a classic style and aesthetic
  • Durable enough to stand up to a lot of wear and tear
  • Built-in flasher allows for vertical jigging and ice fishing
  • Comes in a range of display sizes: three and a half inches, five inches, and seven inches
  • Waypoint marker allows you to mark successful fishing spots so you can return to fish there again at a later date

Cons

  • Transducer does not include maps
  • Software can sometimes be buggy
  • Global positioning system is complicated to figure out how to use

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report that the images they can see on this product are almost like photographs in terms of quality. This ability is thanks to Striker’s use of high-frequency sonar to produce extremely detailed images of fish and objects.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were blown away by how far this bad boy can see under the water. It has a range of sixteen hundred feet deep when in freshwater and seven hundred fifty feet deep when in saltwater. There is not much this device will not be able to see!

Who Would Use This Most

This product option is a great choice for beginner fishers, thanks to how easy it is to figure out how to use.

Bottom Line

The Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer is our runner-up for best overall due to its image quality and scanning capability. The one annoyance with this product is that some shipments do not include the transducer, so you may have to follow up with Garmin customer support if that happens.

ReelSonar CGG-MY-IBOBBER iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder for iOS and Android devices.

Pros

  • Battery life can last up to ten hours
  • Connects to your smartphone from up to one hundred feet away
  • Capable of marking a fish’s location, water depth, and water temperature
  • Comes with two different snap connections, so you can use it either as a fish finder or a bobber
  • Visible battery indicator shows how much energy you have left before you will need to recharge

Cons

  • App updates take a long time
  • Not good at staying connected in choppy water
  • Is not able to tell you if you are reeling too fast or too slow

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love the fish alarm on this model. It will let you know when it sees a fish, as opposed to you constantly having to monitor it to make sure you are not missing any fish alerts.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We could not believe you could purchase a high-quality fish finder for this low of a price. We thought ReelSonar must be trying to scam us. However, we could not be happier to report that we were completely wrong and this product is a steal of a deal!

Who Would Use This Most

This model is an excellent option for shore-based fishing, as it does not have the longest depth range at one hundred thirty-five feet.

Bottom Line

The ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder is an excellent product option that will save your wallet some cash. Keep in mind that you should only charge it right before using, though, otherwise it may lose some of its power.

FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless, Portable Fish Finder

Pros

  • Produces a clear picture of lake topography
  • Has a casting range of one hundred fifty feet
  • Made of high quality, military-grade materials
  • Does not require being close to a cell phone tower
  • Works at a depth of one hundred sixty feet (one hundred feet for ice fishing)

Cons

  • Difficult to initially set up
  • Requires submerging in order to fully connect
  • Can only be connected to one device at a time

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are big fans of the multiple different view options on this model. You can use it for 3D fishing, 3D structure mapping, bathymetric mapping, directional casting, and as an ice fishing flasher.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We liked that this model can still connect to your smartphone, but it uses WiFi to do so instead of Bluetooth. This adjustment makes the connection much faster and more consistently reliable.

Who Would Use This Most

Users who appreciate working with a wide range of different transducers will enjoy this model, as it provides five tri-frequency transducers at 381 kHz, 475 kHz, and 675 kHz.

Bottom Line

The FishHunter Directional 3D Portable Fish Finder is an all-around excellent product option that is sure to impress with its range of different view options and smartphone connectivity using WiFi. Just be aware that it has a tendency to report false-positive results when the water gets rough.

Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Mount can swivel and tilt
  • Screen is 4.3 inches long
  • You can set up the fish alerts so that they only alert you to certain types of fish
  • Offers Dual Beam Sonar and the choice between a wider and more narrow beam

Cons

  • Not a great option for advanced fishers
  • Suction cup on transducer does not work very well
  • Carrying case is not large enough to carry both the finder and its battery

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love how many different things they can accomplish with this model. It provides fish alarms and fish identification, depth alarms, and the ability to zoom in on specifics.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The down imaging on this product is ridiculously accurate. You will be able to see all the brush, rocks, bridge pilings, timber, and whatever else may be lurking underneath the surface of the water.

Who Would Use This Most

If you are looking for an all in one purchase, look no farther than the Humminbird PIRANHAMAX. It comes with its own soft-sided carrying case, a suction cup transducer, a 12-volt battery, and a battery charger.

Bottom Line

The Humminbird 410160 1 PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder is a phenomenal product option with a really robust down imaging system and a wide range of viewing capabilities. Just know that it does not have a screen brightness adjuster, so it can be hard to read in direct sunlight.

​Perks of Getting a New Fish Finder

If you have an older, but still small, fish finder model, it may be difficult for you to see why you should spend money on an upgrade. Here are the biggest reasons you should invest in a newer fish finder model:

Smart Phone Connectivity

Most, if not all, of today’s fishfinders come with the capability to connect to your smartphone via an app. Say goodbye to struggling with a small screen on a device you do not use often – now you can empower your fish finder to stream directly to your phone!

Increased Range

You will be blown away when you see how far the fish finders on today’s market can see underwater. Even when working with saltwater or when ice fishing, these finders can still see it all.

Versatility

Do you prefer to work with a narrow sonar beam or one that is wider? What about the frequency at which you want your fish finder to scan? You can customize all of that and more with the latest fish finder technology.

Conclusion

Fish finders can be a real game changer, especially for people who are fishing on smaller boats. Invest in the right fish finder for your specific needs and you will discover a whole new fishing experience. We promise that you will not be able to go wrong with a model form our list.

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