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Old 09-25-2019, 10:21 AM
Johndee19892012 Johndee19892012 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 3
Default Portable fishfinders

Hey guys i don't own a boat but i plan on renting one a few times a year when i go to my favourite lake. So the portable finders seem to be the way to go.my question is what's your experience with the different portable one's out there? I am partial to the hummingbird pirahnamax 4 any thoughts are appreciated.
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Old 09-25-2019, 11:39 AM
Mojo-NC Mojo-NC is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 1,287

You do not need to be limited to those fishfinders that are marketed as portable - any fishfinder can be converted into a portable unit with a little ingenuity. It depends on what you are looking for in your unit. I used to be content with just water temperature and bottom structure/depth. If that's all you want or need, then go with any portable unit that you like in your price range. Read some reviews first.

My buddy ruined me forever when he converted his Humminbird unit to portable for Canada and I fished with him a few days. GPS, down scan, and sonar are really nice features to have, especially when fishing unfamiliar waters and offshore structure that has inconsistent depths. I'd be in shallow one minute and out deep the next while trying to fish offshore structure using my previous unit. With his, we could follow the contour line he marked and stay right on the break. With a GPS unit, you can mark your trails and stay on them for safe travel and lay down waypoints on offshore structure. Those features come in very handy in Canada, which is the only time I use a portable unit.

It's all my buddy's fault that I converted my Lowrance unit to portable. All you need is the head unit, a power cord, transducer, suction cup transducer mount, gel cell battery, mounting bracket, and storage box. I added a cigarette lighter power plug for convenience. The battery stays in the waterproof box and is easily removable for recharging. I added some rubber feet to keep the box from sliding around on the boat seat. Here's a picture of the one I recently converted for my trip to Canada. It worked flawlessly. I brought a spare battery with me and switched back and forth while charging one or the other.
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Last edited by Mojo-NC; 09-25-2019 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 09-25-2019, 08:42 PM
h8go4s h8go4s is online now
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Victoria, MN
Posts: 1,392

All you need is a little plywood and a few screws.
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Read your owner's manual.
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Old 09-26-2019, 04:37 AM
Johndee19892012 Johndee19892012 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 3

Thats pretty cool. What is a gel pack battery though? Is that like a lawn mower battery?
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Old 09-26-2019, 05:49 AM
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Bobby Winds Bobby Winds is online now
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: WNY
Posts: 9,437

Originally Posted by Johndee19892012 View Post
Thats pretty cool. What is a gel pack battery though? Is that like a lawn mower battery?
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Old 09-26-2019, 07:05 AM
Johndee19892012 Johndee19892012 is offline
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Posts: 3

Ah i gotcha thx for the link and i think i will try this
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Old 09-26-2019, 07:12 AM
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adempsey2.0 adempsey2.0 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: London, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 366

The PiranhaMax are just fine. As are most lower priced units these days. Garmin, Lowrance, Humminbird or Ray Marine all make good units. The biggest differences are when you start looking at more advanced units.

I would check out the used market too.

Portable units are great and have all you need out of the box. If you like DIY, then putting a portable system together is great too. DIY lets you choose whatever sonar you want as well as the battery type and transducer mount.

The portables come with a suction cup for the transduce, which works ok. Otherwise you can use a piece of wood and a clamp or buy ( or make) a preformed aluminum mount for it. There are some nice magnetic mounts now too.

Consider picking up a lithiim ion battery instead of the typical lead acid agm battery, if you have the budget for it.


Lighter and charge faster, but do cost more.

Any 12V battery will run a sonar.

The Ah rating tells you the capacity.

Standard lead acid gel cells are 7 Ah and are cheap. Most low end units will run 10 to 12 hours off of that. Larger screens and GPS need more. Sometimes much more. A 9 or 10+ Ah battery is nice to have. Having two 7Ah batteries is always a good option too.

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Old 10-21-2019, 07:37 AM
troutbum32 troutbum32 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 2
Default Portable Fish Finders

I've been experimenting with a fish finder on the kayak over the last summer and had some really great results. There are some amazing ones now that are around $100 and connect to your smartphone for the display. I haven't tried that one specifically but they seem to be pretty well-reviewed.

I got the Garmin Stiker IV which was around $170 at the time (after reading this review https://flyfisherpro.com/gear/access...der-for-kayak/). It came with everything I needed and have mapped all my local lakes and marked the underwater features etc. It's just not really good in shallow water from my tests, but if you can see the bottom you likely don't need a fish finder.

Apparently the hummingbird FENIX 5 is also pretty good but it was a little more expensive and a little less portable so went with the Garmin.
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Old 10-26-2019, 10:48 AM
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[email protected] rjitterbs@gmail.com is offline
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: ETN
Posts: 54

The biggest issue is battery life. I used to run a 12 foot inflatable with a 9.9Tohatsu and a small trolling motor mounted on the front when we were on the road in the RV. I found that I could run the trolling motor for about 4 hours, actual running time, off of a deep cycle the size of your normal riding mower battery. That should be your starting point and then you should be able to run a decent portable fish finder for the better part of a day. When the TVA draws my home lake down in the winter I will grab my Helix5 SI and find another creek bottom to plot. It is the best way to stay in the small creeks when the water jumps up 30 in the spring. I use a 12 V, AA, open rechargeable battery pack when I am out walking these creeks and I usually can get about an hour to an hour and a half off of the small portable battery pack. I carry an extra set of batteries in case the walk runs longer than the hour+. This gives you an idea of how much power a Helix 5 consumes.
Good luck and buy as much FF as your wallet and battery will allow you. A small finder sometimes is not worth it because of screen size. Everyday I wish I had purchased 7s or above because the 5s screen is hard to read at speed.
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