Let’s face it, we take our smartphones everywhere. Our phones are used for games, weather alerts, news, photos, social media, and now you can even make your smartphone an essential part of your fishing gear. How can you make a smartphone a part of my tackle box you ask? With the creation of Bluetooth compatible fish finders.
We loved the development of hand held portable fish finders – with the only minor downside being that your sonar detector was connect by cord to the handheld device, making those devices inconvenient in certain situations. The development of Bluetooth compatible fish finders for smartphones has made all those wires obsolete.
These wireless fish finders basically have a ball that is placed or casted into the water that will start transmitting data back to your smartphone instantly! If you are going to have your phone on you, it might as well start helping you catch fish!
Deeper: The King of Smartphone & Table Fish Finders!
Anytime you are talking about fish finders for smartphones the first company you need to talk about is Deeper. They were really the first company to bring this technology to the mainstream fishing masses. Their most popular option is the Deeper Smart Fishfinder 3.0.
Step one is you purchase the product and download the app to the smartphone or tablet you will be using. The fish finder itself is a small black ball that weighs about 3 and ½ ounces. It floats on top of water and will start relaying data to your tablet or phone as soon as it hits the water. You can actually tie the fish finder to fishing line and cast it out, pulling data from 20 or 30 feet from shore.
This fish finder can track depths of 1.5 feet to 130 feet. It works in both fresh and salt water, and will also measure water temperature, fish locations, and even vegetation. It does a really good job capturing underwater structure as well, making it a perfect way to find the right fishing spots.
One of the best features this product offers is its mapping tool. You can mark fishing spots and map out a body of water. There is even an offline mode that lets you see all the maps you created. This device works well for ice fishing, shore fishing, kayak fishing, and boat fishing.
It will work on both Android and Apple devices. According to the deeper website, the batteries do need to be charged every two months, even if it hasn’t been used. On the water, the fish finder should last up to six hours, however, check the battery life of your phone or tablet to make sure those will last that long.
This is the one of the most expensive options, but it is our highest recommended Bluetooth fish finder, and will give you the best bang for your buck. If you just aren’t going to spend a couple of hundred dollars, there are some effective, cheaper options.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTES: There are 3 versions of the Deeper Smart FishFinder. The original Deeper Smart Fishfinder 3.0 uses a Bluetooth connection. The Deeper Pro and Deeper Pro + use a wireless Wi-Fi connection. The Deeper Pro and Deeper Pro + have an internal Wi-Fi access point built in, so they do not require an internet connection or data to use (just make sure the Wi-Fi is turned on and connected to the Deeper access point on your phone or tablet).
What this means for you is you will spend a little more on the Deeper Pro and Deeper Pro + but they will provide even more accurate information for you than the Deeper Smart Fishfinder 3.0. The Pro + also works up to 330 feet from your mobile device which is a much greater distance than the 130 feet or so that the Bluetooth connection of the 3.0 connects to.
There is also a product called the Deeper Flexible Arm that can be used to attach any of the Deeper fish finders to a boat or kayak. The clamp easily attaches to both metal and plastic boats, and can be removed in a couple of minutes. There are mixed reviews about this particular product online. It does not float, so if it slips off the boat, your fish finder is going to sink to the bottom. There are a few horror stories where this happened.
iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder
Once you download the app to your phone, the iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder will connect to your smartphone or tablet from distances of up to 100 feet away.
It is castable, so you can tie the fish finder to an extra rod and cast it out. It will read depth, structure, and let you see all the fish swimming by in up to 135 feet of water.
iBobber claims this is the lightest portable fish finder on the market, weighing only 1.6 ounces! That is light, so I believe that claim.
The price is great, normally under $120 – making it a great pick for anybody that isn’t on the water all of the time. The reviews are mostly positive, making this a very good value buy.
The downside? You aren’t going to get all the bells and whistle you get with the Deeper fish finders. Those Deeper fish finders are just much more detailed in the information you get back.
FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless Portable Fish Finder
This portable fish finder is a homerun for fisherman that want a fish finder to provide very detailed mapping capabilities. This fish finder actually has 5 transducers that gather information for it, giving you a much more detailed map layout, and an expanded coverage area vs. other portable fish finders.
This technology also allows you to create 3D Bottom Maps. You basically just need to cast it out, than troll with it or reel it in slowly. It will gather very detailed data which will help create those 3D Maps.
This fish finder works up to 200 ft. away from your mobile devices, and it works in water depths up to 160 feet. If you are looking to gather a lot of fishing data for a certain body of water that you do a lot of fishing in, we would recommend this fish finder.
Important Notes on these Products
- Wi-Fi or cellular data is not required to run these products. The sonar ball that you put into the water has an internal Bluetooth device that will connect to your phone or tablet.
- The biggest complaint with Bluetooth connect fish finders is that phone or tablet system updates can affect or even prevent these devices from working. Normally the manufacturers will provide a quick solution or the problem will fix itself quickly.
- Software updates may be required to keep your product updated and working properly.
2017 Update: Vexilar SP200 T-Box “Sonar Phone” Smartphone Fish Finder
UPDATE: We have a new entry on this list. The Vexilar SP200 T-Box smartphone fish finder is a bit different than all the others on this list, but it is definitely one of the top models when it comes to a smartphone friendly fish finder, as your charged smartphone is a very important part of this setup to make the entire system work.
This is a system that you mount permanently in your boat with steady access to a 12 volt power supply and that combination creates the set up to allow your smartphone or tablet (this works with either) into a fully functioning sonar system and fish finder. Some people look for a smartphone fish finder, some people look for a tablet fish finder, the T-BOX SP200 system from Vexilar does both.
One of the major things we really like about this system is that the WiFi technology is built in. You don’t actually need to be in a Wi-Fi hotspot because this creates its own, and you don’t need to have cell phone coverage wherever you’re fishing. That means if you like to fish in the really isolated spots like we do, always in search with that yet as unfound trophy fish, you will still be able to use this system. Many anglers love it, noting that it rivals some of the best pure fish finder systems out there.
The instructions with the SonarPhone help you set up everything, including downloading the proper app, and this works with both Android and IOS systems. There are several different configurations available based on what you find most useful, so don’t be afraid to give this a try and see which setup works best for your needs and go from there.
Carrying a one year warranty for the battery and a two year warranty for the fish finder itself, that’s a lot of security behind this up and comer in the smart technology outdoor arena and it is worth a serious look.
It is really neat just how accurate these fish finders are. It is also neat that you can incorporate your smartphone into your tackle box. Each one of these fish finders has certain strengths and weaknesses, so pick the one that fits your needs the best. If you do not want a portable fish finder that incorporates your smartphone, check out these “regular” portable fishfinders (or if you are scared of losing your phone or tablet, maybe these are a better option).
Check out this video about the Deeper Fish Finder!