If you are a fishing aficionado, you need the right tools to bring home a good catch.
But the waters can be quite fickle and finding the perfect fishing spot is not always an easy task. Even for experts.
This is why you need the best handheld GPS for fishing to locate fish and learn more about the conditions of the water. You can use this device to determine water resistance and where you need to go for your fishing trip.
In our review of the best handheld GPS, we have narrowed down our list to 8 of the finest items in stores today. Check out to learn more about each product, why they are great to use, and some considerations to think about before buying them.
And as you keep reading, you will learn more about our comprehensive buying guide and some commonly asked questions to help you find the right item to match your needs and standards.
Let us go and have a look at each below.
Top 8 Best Handheld GPS for Fishing
1. Garmin GPSMAP High Sensitivity 64st – Best for Comprehensive Features
If what you need is a complete and robust GPS for your fishing needs, the Garmin GPS MAP is the perfect choice for you. This unit comes with a sunlight-readable display that measures 2.6 inches. It is large enough for you to see the items displayed quickly, and checking the information is convenient.
With this device, you can explore a wide range of terrain including forests, local parks, rivers, trails, lakes, and so much more. It also features a built-in electronic compass, which lets you know your location even if you stay in one spot. There is a barometric altimeter that checks the pressure changes and lets you know your specific altitude, among many others.
Lastly, this is a smart, handy device that you can pair with a compatible mobile device. This allows you to receive notifications such as texts, emails and calls anytime and anywhere you may be.
- Great for hiking, climbing, and fishing
- Can upload data wirelessly on your smartphone
- Includes an electronic compass with a barometric altimeter
- Preloaded maps are limited to the U.S, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska
- The screen is slightly small.
2. Garmin eTrex 10 – Best for Accuracy
When it comes to precision, you can expect nothing but the best from the eTrex 10. This handheld GPS is equipped with outstanding capabilities that make fishing and any outdoor activity an even more worthwhile experience. The unit features a worldwide base map, geocaching (paperless), and many others.
It features a 2.2-inch display that is a breeze to read even in the sunlight. This unit comes with a long lifespan for the battery, which can last for up to 25 hours. With high sensitivity, you should be able to determine your position on the map as precisely as possible.
As a convenient capability, the eTrex 10 allows you to download geocache right into your smartphone. You can store information about your terrain or location without the need for entering coordinates manually or printing them out on paper. Plus, with the HotFix satellite, you can count on this device to identify your location even when you are in a deep canyon.
- GLONASS and GPS combined for speed of positioning
- Long battery lifespan
- An option for paperless geocaching is available
- The screen is smaller than a few handheld GPS devices
- It comes with a bit of a learning curve for some users
3. Garmin eTrex 20x – Best for Durability
A tough outdoor activity requires a rugged companion – and this is what the eTrex 20X is all about. This device is perfect for hiking, exploring, canyoning, and fishing. You can load several more maps, as well as ready information on the display clearly with its 65,000 color sunlight display.
This unit has a spacious internal memory of 3.7 GB, as well as a microSD card that allows you to load several maps including the TOPO 24K, Navigator NT, and so on. With a preloaded base map, you can search for your desired location easily.
We are impressed with the power-packed design of this GPS. However, it requires you to subscribe if you wish to use up their Birds Eye satellite, which allows you to see in a bird’s-eye manner. Overall, you can count on this GPS to get you from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible.
- Enhanced resolution for the light-readable brilliant display
- Comes with a preloaded base map
- Spacious internal memory for more storage
- Some of the features can only be unlocked through a paid subscription basis
- The display is a tad small
4. Garmin eTrex 30x – Best for Value
Why get just a GPS when you can have all the other accessories you need for your handheld GPS? This is exactly what the eTrex 30x is all about. It comes with a water-resistant and rugged display, as well as an improved screen resolution for better views and clarity.
It includes a 3-axis electronic compass that is tilt-compensated, as well as an easy to use design for a hassle-free mounting on your car, boat, bicycle, and ATV. There is also a capability to track the GLONASS and GPS simultaneously and precisely. Plus, with accessories included such as a harness wrap and a lanyard cord to prevent you from losing this tool.
It would have been better if there was a key-lock button to it since just one bump, and you can mark the waypoints by accident. There is also room for improvement on the button responsiveness since it can be a bit glitch sometimes.
- Enhanced and updated screen resolutions
- Equipped with a 3-axis electronic compass
- Portable and lightweight
- Lack of a keylock function
- You need to buy a microSD card since it is not included
5. Garmin Oregon 700 – Best for Outdoor Use
With the rugged conditions outdoors, you need to make sure your GPS device can handle the changing weather. This is why we like the Garmin Oregon 700, which comes with an IPX7 rating that keeps it resistant to tough climate and external elements including humidity, dirt, dust, and moisture.
This unit features a 3-inch display with a touch screen capability, as well as a dual-orientation. You have the option to view the screen either in a portrait or landscape view. There are also activity profiles that you can see easily. These are simplified, and among the contents of the menu are hunting, biking, climbing, fishing, hiking, and so much more.
The only thing to consider before purchasing this device is the battery life. It does not last very long, as compared to other GPS devices with a higher price range. But it sure is packed with a ton of functionalities that make it user-friendly and practical to use.
- Ergonomic and rugged body
- Touch screen capability for the display
- Large and readable screen
- Short battery life
- The buttons can be glitchy at times
6. Garmin Oregon 650t – Best for Convenience
Having a GPS device handy is always a practical thing when you are out fishing, hiking, or biking. This is why we are pleased with the functions and performance of the Oregon 650t. The unit has a dual-band system, which is the GLONASS and GPS positioning for greater accuracy and reliability.
Thanks to the Bluetooth technology, this device allows you to share tracks, geocaches, routes, photos, and custom maps wirelessly. Switching from one orientation to the other is also quick and simple – perfect for viewing items in a portrait or landscape view. With a dual battery design, you can either use it with two AA batteries or a battery pack.
Another thing worth mentioning about this unit is the autofocus 8 MP camera included in the unit. While it may not be the most powerful camera, having it included in the package is indeed a great addition that further increases the value of this item.
- Multi-touch/ touch screen capability for the display
- Sensors included such as the barometric altimeter, accelerometer, and 3-axis compass
- Comes with a dual battery system
- The battery life is not very long (does not last for 24 hours)
- Inability to plug the cable when there is a belt clip attached
7. Garmin 72H Handheld GPS – Best for High Sensitivity
This is one of the most sensitive GPS devices you can find that is perfect for fishing. It is a marine-friendly device that floats well in water. With its IPX7 waterproof rating, there is no problem even if moisture gets into the unit. It is highly dependable for tracking your location whether you are in a tough condition such as a deep canyon or under a heavy tree.
There is a celestial data built into the unit that gives valuable information to users. You can determine the time for sunset and sunrise, as well as details about the fishing and hunting calendar. With its high sensitivity, you will be able to receive a signal as quickly as possible.
The display is grayscale. While this may not be the best there is, we are pleased to know that it is clear and readable. The battery life is also 18 hours, which should be more than enough for those who do not plan on doing long hours of fishing or outdoor activity.
- Big and clear display
- Comes with a waterproof design
- Receives satellite signals fast
- Does not come with base maps
- The unit is a bit bulky
8. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc – Best for Watersports
If you are boating or fishing, the GPSMAP 78sc from Garmin is a solid option to consider. This unit includes a highly sensitive receiver and a TFT color display measuring 2.6 inches. It is perfect for use when fishing as it can float in water and has an IPX7 rating.
This is a reliable unit that lets you share your tracks, waypoints, and routes in a wireless manner. You can share these pieces of information with compatible devices in an instant. Plus, there is a BlueChart built right in with details on the depth contours, shorelines, marinas, navaids, and harbors, among others.
Just one thing to note about this product is that the power port comes with a rubber cover that tends to leak salt water. It is best to check if the port is sealed perfectly to prevent corrosion and damages to the unit over time.
- Excellent for fishing and boating use
- Comes with a color display
- Includes a BlueChart, electronic compass (3-axis), and barometric altimeter
- Flimsy design for the power and USB port cover
- More power consumed when there are lots of routes and waypoints loaded
Buying Guide and Tips on How to Choose the Best Handheld GPS for Fishing
You have already learned more about our top picks for this category. Now the next question is – what are the features and important things you need to know when buying a handheld GPS? Here are things you need to know:
1. Consider your purpose.
GPS units come in different types such as a sonar fish finder, personal GPS and a handheld GPS. You need to make sure that the unit is handy and portable, so you can easily take it with you anywhere you go.
A handheld unit should be hassle-free to work within remote places while allowing you to navigate with ease. If you are fishing, it should make it quick for you to gain access to important details that will lead you to a good catch.
You will need a GPS not only for locating your fishing spot but also to make sure you do not get lost. You can also share with other anglers that good spot where you are, so you will be able to provide viable information to them that they may not be aware of.
2. Determine the satellites used.
To make sure that the unit is working properly, it needs to have a minimum of 12 satellites. With more satellites, you can expect greater accuracy of your device. In fact, some units have as many as 24 satellites, which makes them even more precise and intelligent to use.
3. Go for a compact and portable unit.
When fishing, the most important thing is the portability of the unit. It should not be tedious to carry it around with you. In fact, there are some manufacturers that offer wearable GPS units, which are even better in terms of convenience. Some of these are the 78sc, which is very lightweight and portable. There are even GPS watches you can find for greater portability and efficiency.
But one thing to note about handheld units is the screen size. As the unit becomes smaller, so does the screen. This is why it is best to consider not just the size and weight of the unit but also the screen to make sure you do not compromise your convenience.
On the other hand, there are GPS receivers that are large and with a very big screen that can go up to 8 inches. While it may be good to have a bigger screen, this can be a bit of an inconvenience when you are out and about and navigating in your boat. A screen that is about 3 inches in size should suffice in terms of portability.
Frequently Asked Questions When Buying a Handheld GPS
Does the unit have good connectivity?
It would be good to find a GPS that can be hooked up to your mobile device wirelessly. For instance, you may want to share information on the routes to another smartphone that is compatible with your unit.
On the other hand, there are some GPS units that would require using a cord to connect it to the computer. This is not the most efficient thing to do when in the water, though, but it is a way to share, save, and load information including waypoints, maps, and routes.
What are the safety features you should look for?
When buying a handheld GPS, you want to be sure that it is safe to use in the midst of a catastrophe.
For instance, you want your GPS to include a receiver (12-channel) that lets you obtain a signal even when you are very distant from the shore. You will want this feature when you require to send a warning message or a distress call to those people who can help you in this situation.
An arrival alarm is another thing to look into when choosing the right handheld GPS to buy. It is a good idea to have this feature since there are boaters who tend to be distracted when they run up against the dock or pass by their destination by accident.
A low battery notification is a good feature to have in your GPS. This way, you are instantly alerted when the battery life is running low. You can easily know if you need to head back to the shore or recharge the batteries.
Lastly, a collision alarm is worth having since it can spare you from a number of accidents. In case you are getting too close to a rock underwater, you will be notified in an instant and prevent crashes.
Is the GPS unit waterproof?
Since you are intending to take the GPS unit in the water, it is only practical that you choose one that is waterproof. You want to make sure that they are resistant to water and have a rating of at least IPX7. This way, your device will not be instantly ruined when splashed with water.
There are also GPS devices that can float in the water. This is another nice feature as it can ease your worries of having to end up wrecking your GPS unit in case it accidentally falls into the water.
Determine the mapping system you need.
GPS units typically come with different mapping system types. There are units with more maps while others have less.
A non-mapping system fails to show the area’s map. Instead of presenting the map, this provides details on the distance, longitude, and compass. While these are very important pieces of information, they are not very easy to use for those who have no experience with a GPS unit before.
As for a base mapping system, it provides an overview of the waypoints, position and routes. You can rely on these maps when hiking or trekking.
Lastly, the most sophisticated mapping system is an advanced one. As the name implies, this type of mapping system provides full maps or layouts of what is underneath the ocean, river, or lake. You can also find the weather pattern, 3D views and even locate fish. If you prefer to fish in a smaller lake, then a nonmapping system is the way to go. As for a bigger body of water, you should use advanced mapping or bottom mapping.
There are many types and models of handheld GPS for fishing.
But one thing is for sure – you need to make sure that the unit you purchase has all the right features you need to achieve your goals.
After learning more about our top picks for a solid handheld GPS for fishing, we hope that you were able to determine the right one to purchase for your needs.
This way, you can invest in a great quality GPS that will help you have an outstanding fishing experience that is truly worth your time and energy.