The Buyer’s Guide To The Best Fish Finder For Pontoon Boats

Last updated on:

BEST OVERALL

Garmin Striker 4

5/5

RUNNER-UP

Humminbird Helix 7 SI GPS

Humminbird Helix

3.9/5

BEST PORTABLE

LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder

Lucky Handheld PORTABLE

4.1/5

There’s a piece of technology for just about anything these days, and for us lucky pontoon anglers, there are special fish finders to suit these vessels. 

With a fish finder equipped on your boat, you’ll increase your likelihood of landing that catch and will get a far more detailed understanding of the water you’re angling in. 

It’s important to do your research when you’re trying to purchase the best fishfinder because of the unique requirements that pontoon boats have, and the expensive cost of these devices. 

Although they aren’t made specifically for vessels, there are some key features you’ll want to choose that make them perfectly suited to pontoon boats so you have to know what you’re looking for. 

This buying guide is designed to make the process easy for you with recommendations on the best portable fishfinder on the market. 

We’ll show you what features you need to look for in this device and why they matter.

By the end you’ll be an expert in shopping for a brand new fish finder to make your pontoon complete.

Our Reviews Of The Best Fish Finders

#1

Garmin Striker 4

BEST OVERALL

You’re probably not surprised to see that Garmin is at the top of our list for best fish finder and this 1,600ft depth reading device has got everything you need. 

With a 3.5” display screen and extremely lightweight feel of just 8oz, it will shock you at just how capable it is for such a neat little package. 

As part of their hugely popular Striker Series, the 4th edition has fixed all of the old bugs and is ready for action.

According to the reviews, the accuracy of the Garmin Striker 4 is what makes it the best. 

You’re able to get clear readings thanks to the Chirp Sonar and up to 1,600 feet which means you’ll never fish in a bad area again. 

It’s incredibly lightweight and has a small 3.5” screen with a GPS tracker and tracking map display so you can see exactly where you’re going and where you’ve been to remember your favorite fishing spots.

The bad sides about this fish finder mainly have to do with the display. 

People found it near impossible to read in the sunlight and even while wearing sunglasses, so you really have to work to see what’s going on. 

You’ll need to spend some time figuring out the operation and settings to get it perfect, but once it’s done it’ll be worth the extra effort.

This is the best fish finder for trolling motor pontoons because it comes with the required hardware and mount. 

There’s also the option to detach and use a portable kit, but it does cost extra to get that gear added in. 

Priced a lot cheaper than a depth finder but with a quality transducer and Clearvu Scanning Sonar, it’s truly a great deal.

Garmin is a favorite when it comes to location devices and fish finders and the Striker 4 is no exception. 

Covered by a one-year limited warranty and available on Amazon for around $110, it’s reliable and accurate enough to change your angling game for good.

Technical specifications

  • Dimensions: 3.6” x 1.6” x 5.9”
  • Weight: 8oz
  • Display Size: 3.5”
  • Depth: 1,600ft
  • Portable: Yes
#2

Humminbird Helix 7 SI GPS

RUNNER-UP

Humminbird Helix 7 SI GPS

If you’re an angler who takes their hobby seriously and you have a lot of money to spend, the Humminbird Helix 7 SI GPS is considered a premium fish finder. 

The Helix 7 can reach depths of up to 1,500ft with the greatest of ease and has a sonar imaging range of 100 feet. 

Compared to others, these futuristic specs might make it seem worthwhile to spend that much more.

The best thing about the Humminbird Helix 7 is the display and how much information it’s capable of showing. 

With a visually stunning 7” screen it’s the largest of all that we’ve reviewed and you’ll never have to squint to get a reading. 

The functions and setup are all pretty straightforward which is another bonus for those who don’t have a lot of time to learn the tech.

Some people found the Garmin to deliver better accuracy, and considering the lower price, this is worth considering. 

There are optional extras you can purchase on top, like a Lake card or Hot Maps, both of which come in the form of a card that can be inserted. 

However, you’ll have to pay extra for this so the price bumps up even further and out of the reach of a lot of angler’s budgets.

There are plenty of cool technologies to brag about when you’re using the Helix 7 including Switch Fire Sonar, Side Imaging, and Down Imaging. 

This takes 12 v of batteries so it’s completely portable as well, meaning you don’t have to keep it wired onto the boat. 

The display is 480 x 800-pixel resolution which is pretty amazing considering it’s a small device like this.

Priced at around $1,400 when you shop on Amazon it’s pretty expensive compared to other fish finders that are just as capable, but if you only rely on the Humminbird brand you’ll be happy to pay. 

With just 12 months of warranty and a high price, it needs to be taken care of, but with all of the cool tech and features included, you’ll surely get a lot of use out of the Helix 7.

Technical specifications

  • Dimensions: 5.6” x 10.5” x 5.75”
  • Weight: 5.4lbs
  • Display Size: 7”
  • Depth: 1,500ft
  • Portable: No
#3

Garmin Echo 551dv

Garmin Echo 551dv Worldwide

Garmin Echo 551dv is the best fish finder for pontoon boats who want to venture into deeper waters. 

With a shocking ability to read depths of 2,300 feet, it’s definitely the top performer in this regard. 

The Echo 551dv has an all-in-one transducer that helps you get a clear picture of what’s below and near-photographic representation of the details.

What reviewers liked best about this fish finder was how clearly it displayed the fish and other details beneath the pontoon boat. 

If you’ve used other basic finders before and had a hard time reading what the different symbols and images meant and want something straightforward, the Garmin Echo 551dv offers absolute clarity.

On the downside though, you’ll need to wire this up to use it and the included pieces might not be long enough. 

They’re about 6ft long and the transducer cable is around 16ft so it doesn’t really match up. 

Check the exact measurements before considering it for your pontoon boat because you might be sorely disappointed.

Other notable features of the Garmin Echo 551dv is the clear display with 480 x 640 resolution and a 5” high-resolution display giving you adequate room and clarity to see what’s going on. 

There are some cool tech features like a sonar history rewind and Smooth Scaling that enables you to switch from shallow to deep water and back as needed.

The Echo 551dv is one of Garmin’s best sellers in the fish finder market but it might not be ideal for all pontoon owners. 

With a 12 month warranty and price of around $500 you’d expect a little more from its performance, but the fact it’s the best marine depth finder in terms of feet makes it one of our top choices.

Technical specifications

  • Dimensions: 1.8” x 6” x 5.9”
  • Weight: 1.1lbs
  • Display Size: 5”
  • Depth: 2,300ft
  • Portable: No
#4

LUCKY Handheld Portable Fish Finder

BEST PORTABLE

LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder

Portable fish finders are ideal for those who want a little assistance but don’t need every minor detail shown to them and the Lucky Handheld Fish Finders meets these requirements. 

This is affordable, easy to use, and portable with a tiny weight of just 1.1lbs and a small 2” display screen.

The Lucky Handheld Fish Finder is a favorite among those who want simplicity and are working with a small budget. 

The best features it offers is the clarity in where it shows fish, provided they’re in the range, and how easy it was to use. 

It only suits larger bodies of water and the transducer will work best in these settings, with a lake being the ideal spot for catching fish.

This comes with a pontoon depth finder installed but the range is pretty lackluster, giving you up to 328 feet or readings. 

For the price this is to be expected, so don’t go taking it out anywhere too deep otherwise the entire thing will be useless. 

The capabilities are limited and there’s not a lot of fancy features so don’t expect it to be anything more than a basic fish finder.

You have the option to switch between feet and meters for readings, it will last for 4-5 hours with the right batteries installed, and it’s incredibly lightweight. 

The screen is just 2” which will suit smaller pontoons and those who only need a quick glance, and it’s a great choice for pontoons and kayaks.

Lucky has managed to create an affordable and lightweight portable fish finder that’s great for pontoon boats, and it’ll cost around $40 when you shop on Amazon. 

This device also has a 12-month warranty for any faults, so as far as value for money goes it’s one of the better options.

Technical specifications

  • Dimensions: 5.9” x 3.9” x 3.9”
  • Weight: 1.1lbs
  • Display Size: 2”
  • Depth: 328ft
  • Portable: Yes
#4

Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar

Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar

For a high tech and truly portable fish finder, the Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar was made to deliver. 

This is a castable fish finder that you can actually throw in the water, and then the reading will show up on the dedicated app on your smartphone. 

You’ll read depths of up to 260ft and it’s ideal for shore fishing, not mention how cool it looks out there floating in the water.

The Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar works with an inbuilt GPS to make your own maps and the details it offers are quite spectacular. 

You’ll be able to see what’s beneath the water with the fish’s location, size, and depth, as well as other surrounding conditions like water depth and temperature.

Those who prefer to read the display on the actual device without taking their smartphone along won’t like how this one works. 

You’ll need to download the smartphone app to read it and because the Deeper Pro+ makes its own wireless signal it’ll work anywhere and any time, but having an extra device in your hand is a bit annoying.

This is a technical little device so it’s not for those who like simple things. 

Operating with dual beam sonar frequency and reaching a 55-degree wide beam, it’ll give a clear picture of what’s going on. 

You’ll be able to cast up to 330ft and go down 260ft, so it’s pretty impressive for such a small little package.

Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar is for the tech-savvy angler and it’s a good choice for a portable pontoon fish finder. 

Retailing at around $200 on Amazon and with a one year warranty it’s pretty fairly priced for all of the features, and ideal for those want something more advanced than most.

Technical specifications

  • Dimensions: 2.6” x 2.6” x 2.6”
  • Weight: 3.5oz
  • Display Size: Smartphone display
  • Depth: 260ft
  • Portable: Yes

The Basics of Fish Finders

Fishing With Use Of Fish Finders

Serious anglers will attach a fish finder to their boat that does the job of reading the water underneath to show you where fish are located.

With its guidance, you can move your pontoon to the right locations and even mark popular spots you’ve visited before, thanks to the GPS capabilities it has.

Fish finders are capable of reading different things, but most commonly they will be able to detect up to a certain depth under the water and show you what’s beneath.

They can be more detailed with features like different sonar models, high-resolution imaging, and down and side scanning, depending on what you’re after.

FAQs About Fish Finders for Pontoon Boats

A fish finder is a tool that many anglers find indispensable but if you’ve been fishing without one all these years you might find them overwhelming. 

These are some commonly asked questions about finders that will show you why they’re so important for pontoon boats and fishing

Why Should You Buy A Fish Finder for Your Pontoon Boat?

Without a fish finder, it’s impossible to know what’s really underneath our fishing vessels. 

With a finder attached, you’ll get a clear picture of the conditions, depth, and temperature, as well as accurate results on fish that might be living underneath.

How to Install A Fish Finder?

There are two methods of fish finders, each with different installation methods. A battery operated or portable one can be handheld or attached to your pontoon. 

Those that are wired and require power will need to be attached using the correct cords and cables that connect them to the vessel.

How Exactly Fish Finders Work?

A fish finder works with a transducer which sends sound waves into the water from the boat. 

These sonic waves send back readings to the display when they hit something, like a fish, weeds or rocks, and notify the user of their location, size, and depth.

How to Read Correctly Your Fish Finder?

All fish finders come with different displays and ways of reading where the fish are located. 

Most of the time there will be a symbol showing where the fish are in location to the boat along with detailed information like depth and size. 

It’s important to understand the manual that comes with your finder before attaching it to your pontoon so you know how to read the display.

A Trusty Companion for Your Fishing Pontoon

Pontoons go hand and hand with a quality trolling motor and a capable fish finder, giving you the holy trinity of a fully equipped boat. 

Gone are the days when we have to guess the location of potential catches and spend hours wasted out on the water because now it’s easy to get direction.

There are no hard and fast rules about how much you have to spend on fish finder for your pontoon as every angler has their own needs for information. 

No matter the choice, you’ll take some of the guesswork out of finding the fish and it’ll make for a much more successful fishing excursion when you’ve got one of these devices in tow.