I have fished my whole life and for much of it, I was shore-bound. The idea of a fishfinder was so alluring. I wanted to know the best spots, know where the fish were. I was so obsessed with the idea that I bought my first fishfinder long before I ever owned a boat.
At the time, the idea of something small and usable from the water’s edge was unimaginable. There had to be significant advances in both electronics and batteries before this could happen. This is not to mention the advent of smartphones that have really made this technology possible.
These new, smaller fishfinders are a glorious piece of technology that has changed the way I fish forever. I still enjoy a little time on the bank, especially on hard to access waterways. I even use a castable fishfinder from a kayak frequently. Simply put, it puts you on fish in a way that no other technology can.
While the basic function of these devices is similar, there are many differences between them. Not all are created equal and some have functions far beyond the others. While these are still a little rare, here are some of the options you are likely to encounter.
The Deeper series of castable fishfinders are easily the best available and the PRO+ is at the leading edge. This fish finder does more and does it faster than any of the other models in production today.
When you say something is the best you have to back it up. So, what makes this product the best? What can it do? More than you ever imagined.
First and foremost this small, castable fish finder does what any fishfinder should. That means you can find the best hot-spots and see the size, location, and depth of any fish in the area. You can also spot structure, weeds, and all the favorite haunts of the bigger fish. With this, you will get bottom contours, hardness, temperature, and water depth.
You get all of this from a device that casts easy and can broadcast up to 330 feet and reach depths (in good conditions) of 260 feet. It uses dual beam like all of the top of the line boat-mounted models. With its combine 55 and 15-degree scans, you get a good wide shot and a great pinpoint shot of anything around.
On top of all this, you can cast and retrieve in a fan pattern to create a bathymetric map of the area and save that data to your smartphone for future use. These sync to Deeper’s bathymetric management platform for later review on any device to better plan your future trips. This is the single most amazing feature the Deeper Pro+ offers!
Using the Deeper Pro could not be easier. It generates its own Wi-Fi- signal to connect with any Android or IOS phone through the Deeper app. Connection is easy and trouble-free every time. Unlike Bluetooth, the Deeper system is secure and far more powerful with better data transfer speeds. It even has 24/7 tech support if you do run into a problem.
Though it’s always good to explore options, I have used the Deeper system for almost two years and it blows anything else away. I use it from a Kayak and would never go without it again.
Lowrance FishHunter Pro
With the success of the castable fishfinder, it was only a matter of time before one of the big names got behind the idea. With the expertise of Lowrance you know that limits are going to be pushed and new technologies developed. Right now, this is the first run and it is a great one but we expect better in the future.
While this is still a new technology, it does a lot of things very well. Like the Deeper system, it connects via Wi-Fi which means no data charges and a fast, secure connection. Unlike the deeper system, the Lowrance system uses the same type of transducer their boat-mounted models do. This gives you three frequencies of sonar for better penetration.
With this expanded penetration, you get many of the standard views that a normal fishfinder would provide. This means the fish view with symbols, a raw view with point clouds, and even an ice fishing view. This will dramatically help you in locating fish along with providing data like depth and some structure view. Notably missing is water temperature and information on bottom composition.
Though a little rudimentary, the Lowrance FishHunter Pro does have some mapping capabilities. They aren’t as advanced as those on the Deeper models but they do work. These also work with the Android/IOS app to make them available for planning. You can also create waypoints and stream your catches via this interface.
The iBobber was where this craze all started and it maintains its popularity. This is through a combination of good features and a very attractive price. It may have limitations over some of the more costly options but it does perform well. If you want to dive into the best, this may not be what you want but if you want to try something affordable first, this is a great option.
The idea of the iBobber is to use it as a standard bobber. An idea that I find stressful with the chance of losing it. Instead, you can use it as a standalone fishfinder and that is what I recommend. It functions in that way like all other fishfinders. You get depth and fish icons along with raw data that you can use to target your catch. It’s a little rudimentary but effective.
For additional features, you do get spot tagging with the onboard GPS as well as water and structure mapping. It doesn’t work nearly as well as Deeper’s method but it will give you what you need to know. You also get a calendar and weather view for where you are as a standard view.
If you use the iBobber as a standard bobber, you will get a strike indicator which is nice. This functions as an alarm on your smartphone and is very effective at letting you know what is going on. Much better than a flashing light or chirping from the bobber’s location.
Unlike the above systems, the iBobber does use Bluetooth. This drastically shortens the range of the signal so you will be keeping it closer. This is actually not that bad if you use it as a bobber. For casting and mapping, I would prefer the Wi-Fi option.
Where the iBobber really excels is in the app. For Android or IOS, this app does far more than any other similar app out there. You can view your trip with weather and other information live as you are on the water. You can also log the information about your trip and each catch including size and species. This can make planning very simple if you like to crunch data on fishing spots.
All in all, this is a great starter unit but you will likely want to upgrade eventually.
With these new castable fishfinders, I can hit those hard to reach spots where a boat isn’t going to go and get the same data I would on the biggest lakes I fish. For that reason alone, these have become an invaluable part of my fishing arsenal. And if you want something for your kayak that is easy to use and doesn’t require much extra equipment or rigging, then these are the way to go.