Stick around to find out which model is considered the best fish finder for small boats in 2021. Keep in mind that there are always a ton of new models every year, so you may want to come back in the near future.
Below we’ve reviewed several types of models, depending on if you’re a novice or an experienced fisherman.
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
Best for Beginners
Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder
Best by Budget
Lowrance HDS-7 Carbon Fish Finder
Our Top 7 Rated Fish Finders For Small Boats Reviewed
- Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
- Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder
- Lowrance HDS-7 Carbon Fish Finder
- LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder
- OUTLIFE Fish Finder for Small Boat
- Joywee Phiradar Color 3.5″ LCD Boat Fish Finder
- Humminbird Helix 5 Chirp Fish Finder
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
If you’re interested in knowing what’s under and around your boat, you should consider buying this fish finder. It has high-frequency sonar technology for near-photographic and detailed images for fish, structure, and objects.
The dedicated buttons and simple keyed interface allow simplicity and make this device suitable for beginners as well. It’s equally as simple to use as it is to install. On top of that, it’s available in 3.5-, 5- and 7-inch display sizes.
Its maximum depth is up to 1,600 feet in fresh water and 750 feet in saltwater. Also, the current draw is at 12V:0.23A. This one also has an IPX7 water rating.
The chirp sonar technology sends a continuous sweep of frequencies for a wide range of information and target separation. It also has a built-in flasher allowing ice fishing and vertical jigging.
If you want something affordable with a simple and intuitive interface, then you might want to purchase the Garmin Striker 4.
- Easy to install
- Comes in several sizes
- Color display
- GPS is a bit tricky to figure out
Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder
If you’re looking for sharp image and ease of use, this Humminbird might be the best choice for you. It has a larger 4.3’’ color LCD for clear images and representations of what’s below.
It’s redesigned and now comes with a more straightforward interface. It’s easier to use and provides Down Imaging, Fish ID+, fish alarms, zoom, and depth alarms as well. It’s well-packed with several other features that could help you when in the water.
The Dual Bean sonar allows you to choose between a wide and narrow beam for large and detailed coverage area.
Down Imaging allows a clear view of what’s under your boat or fishing kayak. It’s an excellent feature for patrolling the water as it will show you rocks, brush, bridge pilings, timber, and other structure.
- Swivel and tilt mount
- Color LCD
- Depth capability of -320’ DI and 600’
- Hard to read in the sun
Lowrance HDS-7 Carbon Fish Finder
This easy-to-use product is among the most popular choices for beginners and amateurs. It features auto-tuning sonar and user-friendly menus for easier installation and use.
It offers a wide-angle sonar cone for double the coverage of what you’d get with most other fish finders. This one is ideal for small boats thanks to its dimensions as well as overall simplicity. It allows you to focus more on the water instead of settings.
It can be mounted on the transom, on the trolling motor, inside the hull, or through a scupper hole. This kind of versatility makes it ideal for kayaks and other smaller boats with limited space.
Also, it comes with a Bullet Skimmer transducer for traditional 2-D sonar views. The one-touch access to all the essential features allows quick and efficient use regardless of the water you’re in.
- Versatile mounting options
- Automated sonar settings
- Built-in mapping
- No cover included
LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder
This portable fish finder detects and shows water depth, approximate fish location, tall and short weeds, rocks, sand and other stuff on the bottom of the water. Since it’s portable, you can also hang it around your neck to carry it around with you.
It’s suitable for different fishing environments like off-shore, ice, lake, and sea fishing. It’s relatively small, so you can use it even in the smallest boats or if you have a fishing kayak. It comes with five sensitivity options and about 4 to 5 hours of battery life.
This model has a detector range in a 45°cone underwater. Its depth range is from 3ft to 328ft below fishing sonar transducer. You can choose whether you want that info shown in feet or meters depending on your preferences. It also comes with 25ft of cable and removable transducer float.
- Battery save mode
- For smallest boats
- Handheld isn’t waterproof
OUTLIFE Fish Finder for Small Boat
This product is among the best fish finders for small boats for several reasons. First of all, it’s easier to install than most other devices on the market.
Its wireless sensor turns on automatically once the switch terminals touch the water. The device then sends information back to the monitor making it suitable for both professionals and amateurs.
Temperature, water depth, fish size and location, bottom contour, battery life, and other information will be displayed on the handheld monitor. Also, depth and temperature can be shown in both English and metric units.
Sonar detection depth goes up to 147ft while wireless connection ranges up to 328ft. The unit also features a fish alarm and is suitable for small boats, river, sea, ice, bank and ocean fishing.
- LED backlight
- Waterproof sensor
- High accuracy
- Hard to read in direct sunlight
Joywee Phiradar Color 3.5″ LCD Boat Fish Finder
I recommend buying this product for those that are professionals and/or are amateur fisherman. It helps fishers find depth and bottom contour of water and fish location in the river, sea, lake and other waters.
It has a 3.5’’ 18bit display that’s easily readable in direct sunlight. The depth reading ranges from 1.8 to 984ft in 1/10th precision. Another thing worth mentioning is the water temperature and bottom contour indicator.
The unit has 100 levels of sensitivity setting and a multi-level depth range. You can choose between feet and meter reading as well as several languages.
Its 200KHz/83KHz dual beam sonar frequency makes it suitable for different waters. On top of that, it features a maximum output power of 800 watts and a battery life indicator.
- Audible alarm
- LED lighting
- Not waterproof
Humminbird Helix 5 Chirp Fish Finder
Humminbird is one of the leading companies in the industry. Its Helix 5 Chirp fish finder is among the best-selling fish finders by the brand. It has a 5-inch color WVGA display and a target separation of 2.5 inches.
The Chirp Dual Beam Plus Sonar features a power output RMS of 500 watts. Its power draw is 615 mA. The unit also has a precision internal GPS Chart plotting along with Anima cartography.
Side imaging offers a side-to-side perspective on the area below the surface. Its ultra-thin beam scans the area to return the image and build an incredible view of the bottom of the water. Down Imaging shows the area below your boat so that you can see all the brush, timber, rocks, and other structure.
If you’re looking to spend a couple more dollars for a small boat GPS, then you’d probably want to purchase the Humminbird Helix 5. This is one of my favorite fish finders, specifically when I’m on my kayak and for nearshore ocean fishing.
- Built-in base map
- Internal GPS receiver
- Micro SD card slot
- No screen covers
Choosing the Best Fish Finder for Small Boats Buying Guide
You may have noticed that some fish finders come with single, dual, or multiple frequency transducers. This is something you should think about carefully because frequencies are among the most significant factors.
The higher the frequency, the more detailed image you’ll get. It’s because fish finders send more sonar waves and receive a more accurate image.
High frequencies are the best choice if you’re fishing in shallow water. On the other hand, if you’re fishing in different types of water, you might want to consider a finder with multiple frequencies. It’s up to you to decide since even a single frequency is fine if you fish in only one type of water.
Power is another vital thing to think about depending on where you fish and how you plan to use the finder. Luckily, the market is packed with different fish finders that range in features and specifications, power being one of them.
The higher the wattage, the quicker you’re going to see the information readings. Plus, this also affects its depth, so the greater wattage allows the unit to go deeper in the water.
Less wattage means a slower unit which is better for shallow water. So, think about if you’ll be in shallow or deep water. Deeper the water, more power you’ll need.
Screen resolution may not seem like the most critical factor to consider for fish finders. However, it’s quite important since more pixels allow a more precise image that’s easier to read. If you want a sharp image and clear results, you should look for more pixels.
A general rule is to go for at least 240×160 which is considered a minimum. This is far from enough for a sharp image, but it’s the least you should think about.
If you’re a bit more serious about the image quality, you should consider a bigger screen and more resolution. These fish finders usually cost a bit more money but deliver quality and sharp images that are easy to read.
Color is a relatively new addition to these fish finders that used to be basic black and white a while ago. With color, you get better detailing and an image that’s easier to read. Different information is shown in a different color which is far better than what you’d get with a b&w screen.
Color on fish finders allows you to see all the information with more detail. This helps to see and understand what’s happening in the water and it’s much easier to read in direct sunlight.
Transducers are among the most important things to look for when buying a fish finder. It’s the part of the unit that emits and receives the sonar waves.
A transducer sends the signals to the water and then picks them up once they bounce off of the underwater objects. The information is then sent to the main unit that converts it into a picture. As a result, you get an idea of what’s happening under and around your boat with different accuracy.
Most fish finders come with transom mount transducers that are easy to mount, install and use.
When you’re shopping for a fish locating device for a small boat, there are a few things you should consider. Size is only one of the few important factors that determine whether the unit will work for you or not.
Still, as you can see from our list, these fish finders are quite versatile. They come in different sizes and have several various features to choose from depending on your needs and preferences.
If you’re still unsure which product to pick, we strongly suggest buying the Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer. It’s easy to use and has a color display. Also, you won’t struggle with reading the information in broad daylight which is often an issue for other fish finders.
Still, the choice is up to you, so think about your needs and preferences before opting for one of the devices above.