570 Portable ($269.99)

570 Portable ($269.99)

Humminbird

Key features: Dual-beam sonar with 2,000-watt output; five-inch, 640 x 320 pixel screen with 12-level grey-scale display; selective fish ID, echo enhancement and split-screen zoom.

The promise: “High performance. Great value.”

X67 Icemachine (U.S. $299.99)

X67 Icemachine (U.S. $299.99)

Lowrance

Key features: Includes ice transducer, but adapts for open-water use; 3.5-inch, 320 x 240 pixel colour display; rechargeable battery provides 1500-watt output.

The promise: “Redesigned for performance and flexibility.”

Piranhamax 160 Portable ($140.39)

Piranhamax 160 Portable ($140.39)

Humminbird

Key features: Dual-beam sonar with 800-watt output; four-inch, 160 x 132 pixel screen with four-level grey-scale display; includes suction cup transducer, case, 12-volt battery and charger.

The promise: “Maximize your angling experience.”

FishEasy 350C ($249.99)

FishEasy 350C ($249.99)

Eagle

Key features: Rugged enough for saltwater, with a 3.5-inch, 320 x 240 pixel colour display and 800-watt output; adjustable ping speed with HyperScroll shows fish at higher boat speeds.

The promise: “Performance in a compact portable case.”

140C Fishin' Buddy ($291.95)

140C Fishin' Buddy ($291.95)

Humminbird

Key features: Telescoping transducer pole means no rigging or wiring; 1,000-watt output via six AA batteries; 320 x 240 pixel colour screen (budget models offer B&W and lower resolutions).

The promise: “Designed to use nearly anywhere.”

X-4 Portable (U.S.$129) & buying tips

X-4 Portable (U.S.$129) & buying tips

Lowrance

Key features: Four-inch, 240 x 160 pixel grey-scale screen; 800-watt output on eight D batteries; Lowrance’s Advanced Signal Processing and FishTrack option to aid bait placement.

The promise: “Affordable performance is in the bag.”

Buying tips

When buying a portable fishfinder, keep in mind that power output and display quality largely determine the price tag—just as with home electronics. Want more power and the best possible display? Expect to pay more.

Power output: With sonar, power output is usually measured in watts of peak-to-peak power; higher output makes a fishfinder more efficient and powerful, while low wattage (under 800) results in a slower readout. Shallow-water anglers need less power, but for fishing deep lakes or saltwater, go big.

Display: As with computer screens or TVs, more pixels produce a clearer image, while too few make the display look blocky, like an Atari-era video game. Similarly, larger screen sizes make structure, depth or temperature readings and chart plotting easier to see. While not essential, colour can also help you better understand and interpret the readings.