Best Handheld GPS For Fishing: Reviewed & Compared

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When fishing in the middle of the sea, you need to have the right equipment to stay safe and make the most out of your fishing experience. One device that anglers can’t do without is a good handheld GPS system to guide them on a fishing adventure. There are various options to choose from for a GPS, but which ones are the best?

To help you decide, we reviewed some GPS devices available in the market to suggest the best handheld GPS for fishing — so you can make a good purchase. Read our handheld GPS for fishing reviews to find a system that best suits your needs.

Preview

Model

Screen Size

Battery Life

Check Price

Garmin in Reach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite...

Garmin inReach Explorer+

1.4 x 1.9-inch display

Up to 100 hours in tracking mode
Up to 30 days in the power-saver mode

Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact...

Garmin inReach Mini

0.9 x 0.9-inch display

50 hours of battery life

Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS Navigator with...

Garmin eTrex 30x

2.2-Inch

Up to 25 hours

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with...

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

2.6-Inch

16 hours

Garmin GPSMAP 62S

Garmin GPSMAP 62S

2.6-Inch

Up to 20 hours

Garmin GPS 73

Garmin GPS 73

2.6-Inch

Over 18 hours

Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS...

Garmin eTrex 10

2.2-Inch

Up to 20 hours of use

Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator,...

Garmin eTrex 20x

2.2-Inch

Up to 25 hours


Why Use a Handheld GPS While Fishing

Fishing can be a risky affair if one doesn’t have the right equipment. To be safe and enjoy your fishing experience, a handheld GPS for fishing device is always useful. With the best handheld GPS for offshore fishing, you can locate a catch easily.

It also makes sure that you never get lost at sea — and always return to the shore safely.  The devices are easy to carry and have useful mapping functions, which make sure that you always sail in the right direction.


Choosing Quality Handheld GPS For Fishing

Satellites & Accuracy

Accuracy is a crucial aspect when selecting a handheld GPS for fishing. For proper navigation, choose a device with a minimum of 12 satellites. Some of the best handheld GPS for fishing devices feature 24 satellites as well.

Interface

Vibrant colors, screen size, and adjustable brightness are some of the things you should consider when choosing a handheld GPS for kayak fishing or ice-fishing trips. Make sure your GPS device has an adequate display. For an accurate reading, a big screen is always helpful.

Data Storage & Sharing

For a good fishing experience, your handheld GPS for fishing device should be able to store maps, checkpoints, and waypoints to guide you throughout the journey. Whether you chose a handheld GPS for ice fishing or for your boat in summers, make sure it comes equipped with maps.

You can also download the maps online — so choose a device that can connect with a computer and has memory-card compatibility. A good GPS should have a wireless data transfer system so you can share routes, waypoints, and tracks with fellow anglers.

Waterproof Design

The best handheld GPS for offshore fishing or any other kind of fishing should be waterproof. Not all handheld GPS for fishing devices are water-resistant, which is why you should be wary when buying a GPS.

A waterproof GPS device can last for years if taken care of, negating the worry about buying a GPS device anytime soon. Click here for some practical advice on fishing if you are a beginner and want to enjoy your fishing sessions.

Mapping System

The best handheld GPS for fishing and hunting has exceptional mapping capabilities such as base mapping, non-mapping, or advanced mapping systems to record data. Here’s a breakdown of the features and how they help anglers.

  • Base mapping feature — information about routes, positions, and waypoints
  • Non-mapping feature — shows latitudes, longitudes, elevation, and distance
  • Advanced mapping feature — shows weather patterns

Battery Type & Life

Gone are the days of buying new batteries each time before a fishing trip. All handheld GPS devices for fishing now come with rechargeable batteries. The battery often gets drained on long boating trips. Ideally, a GPS battery should provide at least 10 hours of uninterrupted service. Some devices offer up to 15 – 30 hours of use per charge.

Safety Features

Your GPS should have enough features to guarantee a safe sailing experience. It should allow you to help other boaters if the need arises. 

  • 12 Channel Receiver
    With a 12 channel receiver, anglers can make distress calls in case of emergencies, or contact other boats for assistance.
  • Arrival Alarm
    Sometimes even experienced fishers set sail in the wrong direction. Your GPS device should have an arrival alarm to make sure you stay on the right path.
  • Collision Alarm
    Another important feature is the collision alarm, which goes when a collision could occur on the chosen coordinates. It also protects against underwater rocks or glaciers, which can potentially cause a vessel to sink.
  • Low-Battery Alarm
    It rings up when the battery is close to draining out and gives you some time to prepare for a backup. When out in open waters, it is vital to have a backup ready for all necessities.
  • Track Navigation
    A track navigation feature is a handy tool for all anglers, especially in adverse weather conditions. The track navigation feature on handheld GPS for fishing devices shows the best route to choose in poor weather conditions.

Price & Warranty

Choose a handheld GPS for fishing unit that offers good value for money. Make sure you do not compromise on safety features or battery life for a low price. The warranty period varies among devices available in the market — but the more coverage a manufacturer provides, the better! If you want to upgrade your fishing gear, check out our Best Fishing Rods Reviewed & Compared piece to choose one and impress your friends on the next fishing trip.


8 Best Handheld GPS For Fishing Reviewed

1. Garmin inReach Explorer+

Our Top Pick!

Screen Size

1.4 x 1.9-inch display

Satellite Coverage

Uses the Iridium satellite network which has 66 satellites (subscription needed)

Battery Life

Up to 100 hours in tracking mode

 Up to 30 days in the power-saver mode

Water Resistance

IPX7 Rating

Screen Resolution

200 x 265 pixels

Warranty

One-year limited

Want to buy a handheld GPS for fishing that makes your fishing experience more enjoyable? You have googled the best handheld GPS for fishing, and come across many Garmin handheld GPS for fishing devices. Garmin is famous for offering some of the best GPS units. And in our handheld GPS for fishing reviews —we rank the Garmin inReach Explorer+ as first in our reviews!

This device has many features of the ever-so-popular Garmin inReach SE+, with two GB of extra memory space, a barometric accelerometer and altimeter, preinstalled Topo maps, and a digital compass.

The outstanding functionality makes the device our top pick. It has coverage from the Iridium satellite network – so you can send text messages on phones and to other inReach devices. The satellite network provides pole-to-pole coverage without any distortion.

Also, the GPS can find coordinates with a five-meter accuracy for primary navigation. Simply follow the route, create waypoints along the way, and the Garmin inReach Explorer+ will direct you back to the shore. Apart from the features mentioned above the Garmin handheld GPS for fishing also has:

  • Emergency assistance around the clock, with an SOS message option
  • Location-sharing option via the MapShare portal
  • All your data is safe on the cloud
  • Pairs with other phones through the Earthmate app
  • A lithium-ion battery which offers 100 hours of uninterrupted use
  • USB connectivity
  • The device is waterproof and has an IPx7 rating
Pros
  • Worldwide coverage
  • SOS feature keeps you safe at all times
  • 100 hours of battery time
  • Built-in digital compass for an accurate sailing experience
Cons
  • Most preinstalled maps are for the North American region. You can download new maps though
  • You need to get a subscription which can cost up to $412 per month

2. Garmin inReach Mini

Most Portable Handheld GPS For Fishing

Screen Size

0.9 x 0.9-inch display

Satellite Coverage

It uses the Iridium satellite network which comprises 66 satellites (subscription needed)

Battery Life

50 hours of battery life

Water Resistance

IPX7 Rating

Screen Resolution

128 x 128 pixels

Warranty

One-year limited

Coming in second in our handheld GPS for fishing reviews is another Garmin GPS device — the Garmin inReach Mini, which is the most portable handheld GPS for fishing. Apart from a few features, the unit is quite similar to the Garmin inReach Explorer+. With coverage from the Iridium satellite network, you can send text messages, emails, or contact other inReach devices —even without any cellular reception.

The unit has 66 satellites, and it calibrates coordinates with a five-meter accuracy. Once you start on a journey, simply follow the instructions and create waypoints along the way. The Garmin inReach Mini allows you to share location data to let friends and family know about your exact coordinates at sea.

If there is an emergency, your handheld GPS will have an SOS trigger — to send out a search and rescue message. Some other capabilities of the Garmin handheld GPS for fishing are:

  • Easy pairing with mobile phones via the Earthmate app and access to US NOAA charts and topographic maps.
  • The lithium-ion battery has enough juice to give 50 hours of backup
  • The Garmin inReach Mini comes with a carabiner clip, USB cable, and an adapter
  • A sturdy device built to withstand rough weather
Pros
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Messaging is easy when connected to a phone
  • Good coverage
  • Has a sent message notification
Cons
  • Some users complain the device is not easy to use at nights
  • Many users aren’t happy with the subscription fee to use the satellite service

3. Garmin eTrex 30x

Best Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing

Screen Size

2.2-Inch

Satellite Coverage

Over 24 satellites

Battery Life

Up to 25 hours

Water Resistance

IPX7 Rating

Screen Resolution

240 x 320 pixels

Warranty

One-year consumer limited

When ice fishing, apart from a flasher or a fish finder, we urge you also carry around a handheld GPS device for ice fishing. As an angler, you know how important it is to remember each hole. And the device lets you mark holes to help catch fish or return to them later. This is why on number three in our handheld GPS for fishing reviews, we have placed the Garmin eTrex 30x, which is one of the best handheld GPS for ice fishing available in the market.

The Garmin handheld GPS for fishing is a successor to the popular Garmin eTrex 30. The unit has a 2.2-inch screen with 65k colors and can hold more maps than its predecessor. Thanks to the 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass, the eTrex 30x pinpoints the right course even when you are not moving. For barometric pressure and altitude calculation, the handheld GPS for fishing has an altimeter.

Some other features are:

  • A perfect handheld GPS for kayak fishing, ATVs, cars, and hot air balloons
  • The device uses the GLONASS satellite system and calibrating takes 20% less time than a standard GPS
  • You can use Garmin GuntView or TOP 24k maps
  • With a BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription, you can download satellite images
  • Can wirelessly connect with other Garmin devices
  • The BaseCamp software allows you to organize routes, waypoints, and tracks
Pros
  • The display is readable in bright sun and at nights
  • Compass detects the position even when not in motion
  • Expandable memory
  • Accurate coordinates with the GLONASS satellite system
Cons
  • Some users were not thrilled as the device doesn’t have a touchscreen

4. Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Best Handheld GPS For Offshore Fishing

Screen Size

2.6-Inch

Satellite Coverage

Over 24 satellites

Battery Life

16 hours

Water Resistance

IPX7 Rating

Screen Resolution

160 x 240 pixels

Warranty

One-year consumer limited

When fishing in deep waters, you need to take all pre-emptive measures before decking out for a safe experience. The best handheld GPS for offshore fishing can make your trips safe and more fun. We introduce you to the Garmin GPSMAP 64st — one of the best Garmin handheld GPS units in the market.

A successor to the GPSMAP 64, the unit has better build quality against its predecessor. And a large 2.6-inch display with vibrant colors. Even when you zoom, the image quality is never distorted. The device features a quad-helix antenna, just like the GPSMAP 64. What's new is – the availability of 100,000 topographical maps – with BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription for a year.

What makes this the best handheld GPS for offshore fishing is its Bluetooth connectivity feature — which makes the transfer of waypoints and maps easy. For geo-positioning and altitude readings, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st has a three-axis compass with a barometric compass.

Pros
  • A compact device which is easy to carry around
  • The device works well in all weather conditions
  • Accurate tracking
  • The display is always readable
Cons
  • Some users complain that the device loses signals quite often

5. Garmin GPSMAP 62S

Best Handheld GPS For Fishing And Hunting

Screen Size

2.6-Inch

Satellite Coverage

Four satellites of the total 24 at all times

Battery Life

Up to 20 hours

Water Resistance

IPX7 Rating

Screen Resolution

160 x 240 pixels

Warranty

One-year consumer limited

On number five in our handheld GPS for fishing reviews, we have included the Garmin GPSMAP 62S, which is the best handheld GPS for fishing and hunting. So whether you are in search of the perfect catch on land or sea — this device will surely improve your experience!

This Garmin handheld GPS for fishing and hunting has a better reach thanks to the built-in worldwide map. It also lets you download geotagged images, and use the GPS to reach a location. The signal strength is exceptional with the device’s quad-helix antenna.

So no matter where you are stuck – in the heart of a forest or the ocean – you can always find your way back. The Garmin GPSMAP 62S is a sturdy handheld GPS, which is made from durable materials. All thanks to the rubber exterior, the device grips firmly in your hand.

Pros
  • Option to load new maps
  • Durable and waterproof
  • A good-sized color screen
  • Powerful satellite receiver
Cons
  • Some customers feel the screen could have been better

6. Garmin GPS 73

Best Handheld GPS For Kayak Fishing

Screen Size

2.6-Inch

Satellite Coverage

At least 24 satellites

Battery Life

Over 18 hours

Water Resistance

IPX7 Rating

Screen Resolution

120x160 pixels

Warranty

One-year

If kayak fishing is your cup of tea, your best pick for a handheld GPS for kayak fishing is the remarkable Garmin GPS 73 — one of the best handheld GPS for kayak fishing. The unit is perfect for vessels without a chart plotter. The Garmin handheld GPS for fishing can store up to 100 tracks and 1,000 waypoints. So, if you ever feel like revisiting a spot, the GPS will lead you right back.

The unit has a SailAssist feature, which guides you during fishing trips. Even if you are in a rough spot, the GPS is always able to track your location. The handheld GPS for kayak fishing is MMEA 0183 compatible — via a USB port, you can connect the device to your computer and transfer data.

The Garmin GPS 73 comes packed with celestial data, which can enhance your fishing or hunting experience. The data includes a fishing and hunting calendar, sunset/sunrise times, marine data, and other relevant information. If you are planning a kayak fishing trip, watch the video on effectively using a fish finder and GPS in a kayak. The featured display is readable in all conditions as the buttons are backlit.

Pros
  • Easy-to-read screen with back-lit buttons
  • Easy to carry
  • 18 hours of battery backup
  • GPS works in the remotest of places
Cons
  • Some users feel the unit is too big

7. Garmin eTrex 10

Best Cheap Handheld GPS For Fishing

Screen Size

2.2-Inch

Satellite Coverage

Over 24 satellites

Battery Life

Up to 20 hours of use

Water Resistance

IPx7 Rating

Screen Resolution

176x220 pixels

Warranty

One-year

Coming in at number seven in our handheld GPS for fishing reviews is the Garmin eTrex 10, which in our opinion, is the best cheap handheld GPS for fishing if you are on a budget. The best part is the device is quite reasonably priced and doesn’t compromise on features. It is a durable device with an adjustable monochrome display and comes equipped with all capabilities seen in some of the best handheld GPS for fishing devices.

It has a 2.2-inch display and features a global base map, plus it is backed by GLONASS and HotFix support, which ensures that all calculations and readings are on point. It has an IPx7 water resistance rating, so even if you are new to fishing, you do not have to worry about any water-related damages.

The Garmin eTrex 10 uses 2AA batteries to power up and has enough juice to last up to 20 hours. Also, what makes it popular is the geocaching feature, which is a rarity in this price point. The 3D satellite feature makes it easy to plan a journey and allows you to add new maps and routes.

Pros
  • Comes with a base map
  • Easy to carry
  • Reasonable price
  • Has a long battery life
Cons
  • No preloaded maps

8. Garmin eTrex 20x

Value For Money Model

Screen Size

2.2-Inch

Satellite Coverage

Over 24 satellites

Battery Life

Up to 25 hours

Water Resistance

IPx7 Rating

Screen Resolution

240 x 320 pixels

Warranty

One-year consumer limited

Last but not least, coming in strong on number eight in our handheld GPS for fishing reviews is the Garmin eTrex 20x — the best value for money GPS you can buy. The lightweight device is simple to use — all thanks to a sturdy built and decent screen size.

It is water-resistant with an IPx7 rating and delivers the same performance in frigid temperatures, even below the freezing point. So a few splashes will not harm, and it can be your go-to handheld GPS device for ice fishing.

Any layman can operate the Garmin eTrex 20x. What makes the product unique is that the Garmin handheld GPS for fishing has 25+ hours of battery backup and uses the GLONASS satellite system and GPS — it can 200 routes and 2,000 waypoints with coordinates up to nine feet.

The best part is that the Garmin eTrex 20x comes with a base map and 3.7 GB of storage space; you can upload a good number of Topo maps on the device with such a memory. Learn more about Garmin GPS systems in our Best Garmin GPS Devices Rated & Reviewed piece to decide what is best for you.

Pros
  • Weighs only five ounces
  • Quick location search
  • The device is easy to use
  • Works well in severe cold
Cons
  • Some users do not like the fact that the battery has to be removed to access the microSD card slot
  • Some feel the need for an electronic compass or barometer

How To Use A Handheld GPS For Fishing

  • Turning On GPS Device
    Technology has led to many innovations that enhance the fishing experience of anglers, and one such device is the global positioning system or GPS. Power up your handheld GPS for fishing with the button and make sure it is fully charged. Learn how to use a handheld GPS device for fishing if you are buying a GPS device for the first time.
  • How To Load Maps
    The device you purchase may have preloaded maps on it. Check if the included maps have the location you plan to visit. If not, connect the device to a computer and download the map before your journey.
  • Checking The Signal
    So you are ready to set sail? Before heading out, make sure that your GPS has enough signal strength. Switch on the device at the launch site and notice the signal strength and also if the device is pinpointing your current location. If that is the case, you are good to go!
  • Mark Launch Site
    If your plan to go into unfamiliar waters, make sure to mark your launch site before a fishing trip. Chances are, you may not be able to find your way back due to bad weather or other adversities. By pinpointing your launch site beforehand, your location can always be tracked.
  • The Breadcrumb Feature
    Some of the best handheld GPS for offshore fishing come with the breadcrumb feature, which traces your steps from the launch site to your destination. If you want to return to the same destination at a later time, you can easily do so by accessing the recorded data.
  • Label Waypoints
    Using a fish finder, you can locate potential areas with a good number of fish. You can mark the points and return to them later — looking for your catch. The good news is that the best handheld GPS for fishing may allow you to mark 500 or more fishing spots. Many also let you add comments for quick recall, i.e., types of fish or the number of fish caught.
  • Mark Possible Fishing Sites
    When sailing, you might notice other fishers or anglers having an excellent day with many catches. You can mark such spots on your GPS device and make notes so you can return to the place later.
  • Storing Information
    Once you are done for the day, and it’s time to head back – make sure all information regarding your fishing experience is saved on your handheld GPS for fishing device. Experts recommend making notes of the trip and mentioning the type of weather, the water temperature, and overall results. The information can come in handy on your next fishing trip and you can plan accordingly.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How Do GPS Units Work?

More than 30 satellites are revolving around the earth; a GPS unit uses location information from these satellites to guide users. A handheld GPS for ice fishing or kayak fishing has GPS receivers to search for signals from these satellites. When in operation, the receiver calculates the distance to pinpoint the exact location. To learn more about how a GPS works, please watch this video.

How Accurate Are Handheld GPS Units?

Some of the best handheld GPS for fishing units have a wide area augmentation system, which can find coordinates within a three-meter horizontal accuracy. Some other devices can display coordinates for about 10 meters as well.

Can I Use A Smartphone GPS For Fishing? What Is The Most Accurate GPS App For Fishing?

Yes, you can use your smartphone's GPS for fishing. A good app is GoFree HOOKED, available on Android and iOS for free. Click here to download the app for iOS.

Are There Any Special Maintenance Steps For Taking Care Of My Handheld GPS?

You should pay close attention to the upkeep of your handheld GPS device for ice fishing. A few things you can do are:

  • Keep the device in a proper bag or carry case when not in use
  • Install a screen protector
  • Switch the device off when not in use
  • When charging the device, make sure the required power is being supplied as power surges can damage the device
What Are The Top Handheld GPS Brands?

Lowrance, Garmin, and Magellan are known and loved by anglers and fishers for manufacturing some of the best handheld GPS for fishing.

What Is The Difference Between A Chart Plotter And A GPS Device?

The chart plotter presents coordinates in an easy to understand manner, whereas GPS data just shows the latitude and longitude. An excellent example of a chart plotter is Google Maps.


Conclusion

For a safe and fun fishing experience, you should carry a handheld GPS device at all times. It will help you reach the best spots easily. And once you have had your fair share of pickings, the device will guide you back to shore. To help you make a better decision on the best handheld GPS for ice fishing, kayak fishing, or shallow water fishing — we reviewed eight devices in total to guide you on the best handheld GPS system.

After many tests and a thorough review of each GPS device, we think the Garmin inReach Explorer+ is the best handheld GPS for fishing. If you are an experienced angler or just want a sturdy GPS device to last years, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ should be your choice!