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Best Castable Fish Finder for 2022! Catch More Fish From Shore

Written by: Pete D
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Castable fish finders are revolutionizing the way fishermen tied to the shore or a dock work the water. 

With powerful electronics tailored to their needs, including the option of sharable contour maps, the odds are no longer tilted in favor of boaters quite as much as they were in the past.

The best of the bunch approach the fish finding capacity of mounted electronics, closing the performance gap and offering spectacular fish finding.

But if you’re not sure which castable fish finder is right for you, we’re here to help.

Below, you’ll find reviews of the best castable fish finders on the market, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed quickly.

Also Read: 

Best Castable Fish Finder Reviewed

Deeper CHIRP 2 - Best Castable Fish Finder

Deeper Smart Chirp 2.0 Fishfinder, Desert Sand

Available at: Deeper | Amazon 

Maximum depth: 330 feet
Maximum range: 394 feet
Transducer beam angle: 7, 20, and 47 degrees
Frequency: CHIRP range of 100 kHz, 240 kHz, and 675 kHz
Target separation: .4”
Compatibility: iOS 13.0 and later and Android 7.0 Nougat and later
Battery life: up to 15 hours
Charging time: 80% in 60 minutes, 100% in 110 minutes

If you want uncompromising performance from a castable fish finder, Deeper’s CHIRP 2 is undoubtedly your best choice. Its performance is in every respect leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors, simply crushing the likes of the iBobber and Garmin STRIKER Cast.

The CHIRP 2 is a snap to pair with your smart device, and even your parents or grandparents will find this process easy. Its Bluetooth connection is the strongest on the market, offering a stated maximum range of 394 feet. Even in less-than-ideal conditions, the CHIRP 2 will maintain a strong signal at reasonable casting ranges.

Its user interface is well-designed and intuitive while still offering most of the power and options previously reserved for mounted electronics.

deeper chirp 2 castable fish finder

And of course, CHIRP.

That’s industry-leading tech.

The Deeper CHIRP 2’s transducer runs through a frequency range that starts down low at 100 kHz and moves higher to a maximum of 675 kHz. That full-spectrum coverage provides unparalleled detail and depth penetration, providing better fish finding and bottom imaging than any competitor.

Target separation matches the Pro+2 at .4 inches, allowing the Deeper CHIRP 2 to differentiate fish in a school or image predators stalking a cluster of bait fish. 

Expect Deeper’s powerful contour mapping software, and as with the other products we’ve reviewed today, ready-to-download maps of nearly any pond, lake, or shoreline will revolutionize how you fish.

If all that isn’t enough, Deeper supplies the CHIRP 2 with the best battery on the market, offering continuous run times as long as 15 hours and 80 percent recharging from zero in just 60 minutes.

Nothing beats that.

At 3.2 ounces, the CHIRP 2 uses the same great connection as the Pro+2, allowing secure, long casts with no worries that you’ll lose your fish finder.

Pros:

  • Easy to pair and use
  • Great UI
  • Very inexpensive for the tech you get
  • Awesome battery life and recharging rate
  • Amazing target separation
  • CHIRP sonar is the best in the business

Cons:

  • ???

To learn more about deeper see our full brand and product review here: Deeper Sonar Review - Most Capable Castable Fish Finder Tech

Deeper Pro

Deeper PRO Smart Sonar Castable and Portable Smart Sonar WiFi Fish Finder for Kayaks and Boats on Shore Ice Fishing Fish Finder

Available at: Deeper | Amazon 

Maximum depth: 260 feet
Maximum range: 330 feet
Transducer beam angle: 15 and 55 degrees
Frequency: 90 kHz and 290 kHz
Target separation: 1”
Compatibility: iOS 13.0 and later and Android 7.0 Nougat and later
Battery life: up to 6 hours
Charging time: 2 hours

Deeper has exploded onto the castable fish finding scene, offering performance that aims to close the gap between portable tech and mounted fishing electronics. And while far from their top of the line, Deeper’s Pro is nevertheless an excellent castable fish finder that squeezes every ounce of performance from its compact transducer.

The Pro series delivers an upgrade of the standard Deeper Start’s transducer, increasing its connection range and depth penetration substantially. It also improves target separation and mapping, constituting a substantially better product for anglers.

For my money, the Pro is the place to start in Deeper’s lineup.

With the Pro, Bluetooth connections can be maintained at distances of up to 330 feet, though real-world performance will rarely match that maximum. Expect chop to reduce range, but reliable connections can still be established at a greater distance than is possible with the Garmin STRIKER Cast. For shore-bound anglers, that can make a difference, especially if you’re fishing from a beach or pier.

Pairing is simple and intuitive - even tech-challenged anglers will find the Deeper Pro easy to link with a smartphone.

Rated to 260 feet, the Deeper Pro punches through the water column with a 90 kHz setting, switching to 290 kHz for accurate fish finding. This frequency combination works well with two beam angles, 15 and 55 degrees, providing excellent real-world results.

The Deeper Pro also functions in water as shallow as just 19 inches, vastly exceeding the capabilities of products like the iBobber that struggle in shallow water.

deeper sonar pro castable fish finder

Fish finding is excellent, with the Deeper Pro’s sonar being able to differentiate schools of bait fish from the predators you’re after. Target separation is as low as 1 inch, and to my mind, this is a better piece of fishing electronics than the STRIKER Cast or iBobber in this regard.

And while the user interface is easy to navigate and use, it provides functions more akin to mounted fish finders than their sometimes dumbed-down castable alternatives. That’s something that may really appeal to serious surf fishing enthusiasts or dedicated pier anglers.

And like the Garmin, the Deeper Pro allows users to create, upload, and share detailed bathymetric maps, providing a game-changing, home-field advantage wherever you plan to fish.

The Deeper Pro doesn’t offer full GPS functionality, but it will allow you to mark spots of interest on your maps.

Battery life is typically as long as 6 hours, and here the Garmin pulls ahead substantially. That’s long enough for many anglers, but continuous use will often push that time down a bit.

Recharging can happen quickly, with 2 hours being the usual time span to move from dead to fully charged. That makes multi-day fishing trips no sweat, and even a lunch break is enough for substantial recharging.

The Deeper Pro uses a brass screw-in eyelet that’s easy to tie to and very, very secure. I prefer this system to the plastic eyes of many of its competitors as it can really take a beating.

It weighs in at 3.5 ounces, so if you plan on casting it, you’ll need a stiff rod that can really launch heavy lures. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Uncomplicated interface makes the Pro easy to read and understand
  • Very inexpensive for the tech you get
  • Acceptable battery life and recharging rate
  • Awesome fishing tech
  • Excellent target separation
  • Great brass eye for connecting to your line

Cons:

  • Battery life is short

Deeper Pro+2

Deeper PRO+ 2 Sonar Fish Finder - Portable Fish Finder and Depth Finder for Kayaks, Boats and Ice Fishing with GPS Enabled | Castable Deeper Fish Finder with Free User Friendly App

Available at: Deeper | Amazon 

Maximum depth: 330 feet
Maximum range: 330 feet
Transducer beam angle: 7, 20, and 47 degrees
Frequency: 100 kHz, 240 kHz, and 675 kHz
Target separation: .4” in Narrow beam, 1” in Medium beam, 1” in Wide beam
Compatibility: iOS 13.0 and later and Android 7.0 Nougat and later
Battery life: up to 9 hours
Charging time: 75 minutes

Deeper’s Pro+2 is a substantial improvement on the Pro, offering a much more powerful transducer as well as a better battery. For anglers looking for a castable fish finder that’s both affordable and impressive, the Pro+2 is sure to impress.

As you’d expect, the Pro+2 is simple to pair with your smartphone, establishing solid Bluetooth connections from as far away as 330 feet. Of course, like all castable fish finders, that range reflects ideal conditions, and chops and swells will reduce that distance in the real world.

Nevertheless, you can count the Pro+2 among the best on the market in this respect, destroying the competition.

For surf casters and other anglers looking for every advantage, the Pro+2 is a decided improvement over products like the iBobber or Garmin STRIKER Cast. Its transducer uses three frequencies - 100 kHz, 240 kHz, and 675 kHz - as well as three beam angles - 7, 20, and 47 degrees - to punch through deep water, pick fish out from the background, and offer target separation as fine as .4 inches. 

You read that right: point 4 inches!

The result is a spectacular picture of the bottom, visualization of bait balls, and the ability to differentiate fish even when they’re in cover like weeds.

deeper pro plus 2 castable fish finder

The user interface is easy to navigate and use, and like the Deeper Pro, it offers more than simplified settings, giving shore-bound anglers the tools boaters normally enjoy.

With full-GPS capability, the Pro+2 offers awesome mapping and spot marking, and of course, this user-generated content is sharable.

And Deeper has equipped the Pro+2 with a more powerful battery, offering run times as long as 9 hours and full recharging in no more than 75 minutes. That puts it on par with the Garmin STRIKER Cast in the real world while delivering more powerful fish finding and greater range.

Yes, the Pro+2 is more expensive than these competitors, but you get a lot more for that extra money.

Garmin STRIKER Cast

Garmin Striker Cast, Castable Sonar with GPS, Pair with Mobile Device and Cast from Anywhere, Reel in to Locate and Display Fish on Smartphone or Tablet (010-02246-02)

Available at: Bass Pro | Amazon 

Maximum depth: 150’
Maximum range: 200’
Transducer beam angle: 22° x 63° @ 260 kHz and 9° x 14° @ 455 kHz
Frequency: 260 and 455 kHz
Target separation: ?
Compatibility: Android and iOS, but unspecified
Battery life: 10+ hours
Charging time: 1.5

 

Garmin built its name on GPS technology, and the shift into fish finders has been a natural extension of that experience. Notably, Garmin’s easy-to-navigate user interface has made its way to the STRIKER Cast, and its intuitive controls and consistent Bluetooth connection are attractive features.

The STRIKER Cast connects easily to your smartphone, sporting an advertised range of 200 feet. In the real world, that’s a realistic figure, though choppy water can reduce that range slightly. Still, Garmin’s Bluetooth connection is among the best on the market, a reflection of their long-term experience with portable GPS tech.

It comes as no surprise, either, that the STRIKER Cast offers great mapping software. Like all the fish finders in the Garmin lineup, owners of this castable model will enjoy access to Quickdraw Contours, allowing them to create and share detailed contour maps of the bottom that are measured in 1-foot increments.

That’s super impressive for a portable fish finder and potentially game-changing for lots of anglers.

And because the user-generated content is sharable, you’ll always have access to accurate maps. So whether you’re new to a lake, fishing on vacation, or just on the move, you’ll have up-to-date contour maps of pretty much any body of water you’d like to fish.

That’s a huge selling point for the STRIKER Cast, really setting it apart from the competition.

But mapping is always secondary to fish finding, and we need to take a close look at the transducer and its capabilities when paired with Garmin’s application.

How does it compare to the competition?

Garmin STRIKER Cast phone app

Right off the bat, it’s important to note that screen size and image quality are entirely dependent on the paired smart device. The better your phone’s screen, the better your image quality and legibility in the bright sun.

As you’d expect from Garmin, the STRIKER Cast’s UI is simple to learn, intuitive to use, and easy to navigate.

As with all castable fish finders, the STRIKER Cast is essentially a self-contained transducer. Operating at two frequencies and four beam angles, it offers a great mix of depth and detail, covering your bases in both shallow and deep water. 

The Cast’s 260 kHz penetrates the water column pretty well but can’t match the Deeper series’ depth ratings. Frankly, with real-world depths of up to 150 feet, that’s not a big deal. And in high-frequency mode at 455 kHz, detail is pretty good, as is target separation.

In practice, this means that it’s capable of picking fish out from background clutter and giving you an accurate representation of what’s down there, ready to be caught.

That said, it’s clear that Deeper’s transducers are more sensitive, and they provide better fish finding and bottom mapping than the STRIKER Cast.

Battery life is excellent, however, with most users getting a full day’s fishing in with charge to spare. For multi-day trips, you can top up the STRIKER Cast in about 90 minutes, which offers great peace of mind. That’s industry-leading for an entry-level castable fish finder.

Finally, the STRIKER Cast weighs in at about 2.6 ounces. It offers a small reinforced “loop” for connecting to your line, and with a sufficiently powerful rod, it’s no trouble to cast.

Of course, it can also be towed behind a canoe, kayak, or small boat, and as long as speeds are reasonable, it stays connected with your smartphone really well.

Garmin’s STRIKER Cast offers great UI, excellent connectivity, and fantastic mapping software. While it can’t compete head-to-head with the depth or target separation of the high-end Deeper CHIRP, it’s still a great buy that will provide excellent performance, especially if you love having a contour map of every lake, pond, and river you fish.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Uncomplicated UI
  • Very inexpensive for the tech you get
  • Excellent battery life and recharging rate
  • Awesome mapping features, including shared user-generated maps
  • Easy to cast

Cons:

  • Depth can’t match Deeper’s high-end products

ReelSonar iBobber

Reelsonar Portable Fish Finder Accurate Fish Depth Finder with Depth Range of 135 feet 10+ Hours Battery Life with iOS & Android App Wireless

Amazon 

Maximum depth: 135 feet
Minimum depth: 4 feet
Maximum range: 100 feet
Transducer beam angle: 42 degrees
Frequency: ?
Target separation: ?
Compatibility: iOS 11.0 and later operating systems and Android 6 or later that use Bluetooth Smart (4.0)
Battery life: 10+ hours
Charging time: 120 minutes

ReelSonar’s iBobber isn’t intended for serious anglers, but for weekend fishermen, it may be worth a look.

The iBobber is easy to pair with a smartphone, though Bluetooth connections are challenged by real-world conditions. Easily the shortest ranged castable fish finder on our list, its reported maximum is just 100 feet, but actual performance is short of that.

Typically, you can expect a maximum of about 50 feet for a constant connection to your paired phone.

That takes it out of contention for beach anglers and anyone else who needs long-casting range.

ReelSonar doesn’t report any information about the frequency or frequencies it employs, but it does state a single transducer beam angle of 42 degrees. Target separation is also unspecified, but in our experience, it’s not very good.

The stated maximum depth of 135 feet seems about right to us, but expect trouble in water shallower than 8 feet or so as the sonar will have trouble functioning. That’s not great for the casual angler this castable fish finder was designed for.

Fish finding performance is just acceptable, and maybe not even that.

The iBobber is supposedly able to detect fish, differentiating between those over and under 15 inches by displaying them in different colors (green or orange) and providing size estimates. On the water, the iBobber’s transducer can have trouble differentiating a fish from the background clutter.

In practice, that means that aquatic vegetation and cover like tree limbs or stumps can register as fish or hide the presence of the real thing. As many users note, it will sometimes report fish where none are present or fail to find fish that are actually there, and the size estimates can be wildly inaccurate.

Chalk that up to a relatively inexpensive transducer with limited frequency options.

The UI is easy to use but very simplistic, offering a cartoonish representation of what it thinks it sees below the water. In the “raw” mode, things don’t get much better.

On a positive note, the iBobber comes with some cool extras like a fish alarm that can help casual anglers relax and enjoy their time on the water without worrying about actively fishing. And the GPS spotting makes it easy to mark areas that are promising.

ReelSonar reports the iBobber’s battery life as 10+ hours, but actual conditions frequently reduce it to something more in the neighborhood of 3-5 hours. Recharging is accomplished via a somewhat finicky docking cradle. 

Expect to wait about 2 hours for the iBobber to move from dead to fully charged. Note, however, that there have been multiple reports of rapid discharging when not in use.

Finally, weather information, lunar calendar, water temperature sensors, and fishing logs can all be great tools to help you figure out when the fish are biting.

The iBobber has two plastic eyes for attaching to your line, neither of which are confidence-inspiring. It’s possible that they could fail on a hard cast, so be aware of this issue.

Is this a castable fish finder we can recommend?

Even for a truly casual angler, we’d recommend giving this fish finder a pass.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Uncomplicated interface 
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Poor real-world signal strength
  • Sonar can’t tell the difference between fish and other objects
  • Battery discharges quickly - and sometimes while not being used

Check out our dedicated review of the ReelSonar iBobber

Fish Finder Basics: Frequency Demystified

Sonar is just sound. It’s beyond the range of human hearing, but in principle, it’s no different than any other noise.

Sound takes the form of a wave, with crests and troughs or peaks and valleys. Higher frequencies pack more of these oscillations into a given span of time than do lower frequencies. 

Low frequencies

Low frequencies penetrate water better than high frequencies. Fish finders with very low-frequency transducers can “see” through the water better, allowing them greater depth.

The weakness of low frequencies, however, is that every oscillation provides data, and with fewer crests and troughs per second, they can’t provide as much information as high frequencies.

Think about your mobile phone for a second. It works much the same way, which is why 4G can carry more information--more data per second--than 3G. Higher frequencies equal more information.

High frequencies

High frequencies offer greater detail, allowing your fish finder to “find” fish and tell you their size and location.

They can’t penetrate much water, however, and they can’t tell you much about the bottom, including details like structure and cover.

Dual sonar

Most fish finders use dual frequencies, pairing a high and low frequency to provide the best features of both. For instance, when you see a fish finder that lists two frequencies, such as 77/200 kHz, that means that its transducer broadcasts at both 77 kHz and 200 kHz simultaneously.

The low-frequency signal reads the bottom, while the high frequency finds the fish.

Fish Finder Basics: Sonar Pings or CHIRPs

“One ping only, please.”

The Red October’s sonar used “pings,” bursts or pulses of noise that it sent into the water, striking objects and returning to its transducer for analysis. When the sonar was active, it wasn’t constantly transmitting sound.

Most fish finders aren’t much different. They use dual frequencies in pulses: short “pings” like the one you heard in the video. These short pulses are transmitted together, providing enough data to give the fish finder’s electronics a picture of the bottom and anything suspended in the water column.

But military tech has advanced a long way from the Cold War, and modern sonar systems use something called CHIRP, or Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse.

CHIRP sonar uses much longer pulses than standard systems, starting at the low frequency and moving quickly to the high frequency. These longer bursts, and the range of frequencies between the lowest and highest, provide much more information than standard sonar systems.

As you can see, there are many more peaks and valleys in the CHIRP signal, and each and every one carries information. The military uses CHIRP sonar because it’s simply far more effective than dual frequency sonar, and the good news is that so can you!

Some fish finders now offer CHIRP sonar. It provides better imaging, greater accuracy, and more information.

This isn’t a marketing ploy--it’s real, it’s a fact, and in our opinion, it’s worth paying for.

Buying Guide: What We Consider When Selecting a Castable Fish Finder

Obviously, we prefer CHIRP sonar systems. But what else matters?

Target Separation

Target separation is simply a measure of how precise the fish finder’s sonar is at distinguishing individual fish from one another. Smaller numbers mean better performance.

Transducer Beam Angle

Often a selling point, this is not nearly as important as marketing leads you to believe.

All other things being equal:

Wider angles let you see a greater area below your transducer.

But - and this is a big but - the “specified cone” isn’t the actual area the fish finder reads. Instead, it’s shaped more like this:

Moreover, for a specified beam width, the structure of the bottom can greatly affect performance. And the greater that width, the more likely this problem is.

As a general rule, the shallower the water you fish, the wider the transducer beam angle you want. Too much will create problems, and if you fish in deeper water, you want a tighter, more focused beam angle.

Maximum Depth

You want a fish finder with good maximum depth, and you want to match this rating to your actual use. Especially if you fish deeper water, like the Great Lakes, or if you’re a saltwater angler, this is something to consider carefully.

GPS and Maps

We think these are now nearly essential considerations in a good fish finder.

From careful waypointing to honey-hole marking, GPS and maps add so much functionality that they’re almost a no-brainer.

And with full-featured contour maps available to upload, share, and download online, the utility of mapping software is hard to underestimate.

Battery life 

Battery life is a big deal, and the harder you work your fish finder, the quicker it’ll drain down to zero.

I like to see a castable fish finder with real-world continuous run times of more than 5 hours. That’s not all day, but it does give you a chance for a lunch-time recharge.

Longer run times are even better, but high-end batteries are going to drive costs higher.

The best of the products on the market today in this respect is the Deeper CHIRP 2. With as long as 15 hours of continuous run time and quick recharging, it’s clearly the industry leader.

Ease of casting

Castable fish finders are sometimes just pitched into the water, but serious anglers will want to know that they can be launched beyond the breakers or out over promising features.

Two things make this possible: weight and the connection to your line.

We report the weight of every castable fish finder we review, and we strongly recommend that you only cast them with a rod rated to that weight. 

Otherwise, you’re asking for a broken or cracked blank!

We also like to see secure connections like the brass eyelet on the Deeper series. Simple plastic eyes like the ones used on the iBobber aren’t going to take the stress of casting very well, and when they break, you’ll have a devil of a time retrieving your fish finder.

Ease of setup through Bluetooth

The good news is that pretty much every manufacturer of castable fish finders has pairing down to an art, and it’s as simple as it can be when made by modern smart tech.

Bluetooth pairing works just like it does in your car, so no worries there.

User interface

Finally, one point of complaint about mounted fish finders is almost always how complicated the UI can be. Even studying the manual doesn’t help that much, and new users grinding their teeth in frustration is the norm.

We look for castable fish finders that spot easy-to-navigate user interfaces while still offering full-featured options.

Deeper has this balance about perfect in our estimation, with powerful fish finding and simple controls working seamlessly together.

Our Pick - Deeper CHIRP 2!

Most of the time, we have a hard time selecting a winner from so many good products, but in this case, Deeper’s CHIRP 2 is simply crushing the competition.

Not only is it easy to pair with your smartphone, but it also sports the greatest range and strongest Bluetooth connection, too. Powerful CHIRP sonar gives it the best fish-finding tech on the market, and a battery that doesn’t know the word “die” gives you every chance on the water, no matter how long you want to fish.

Its user interface is intuitive to navigate while still providing serious options.

And excellent mapping tech and industry-leading sonar add up to an unbeatable combo.

For serious anglers looking for a castable fish finder, this is as good as it gets!

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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