It always helps to orient yourself while out fishing. There are a few ways to get your bearings, but none are as effective as a handheld GPS. The small devices have become much more popular over the last few years, giving anglers a great way to explore new waters without worry.
If you’re a fisher looking for some extra technology to help you find your way during your expeditions, the items in this guide are for you. All of them have key attributes needed while you’re out fishing, and they come with a slew of great features that make them useful for other activities as well.
- The Garmin Oregon 650t is a multi-functional GPS packed full of high-end features. Not only does it have an anti-glare screen, but it comes with numerous sensors as well.
- If you’re looking for a versatile GPS that can go beyond fishing, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st may be for you. This highly-sensitive model can be read in sunlight, has a long battery life, and works with Garmin connect.
- The Garmin GPSMAP 78sc is the best model for anglers who want a GPS tailored specifically to fishing. This device floats in water, is fully waterproof and comes loaded with a range of coastal maps.
Who Should Get This?
Anglers who need extra help finding their way on the water will love any of the GPS’s outlined in this guide. Fishing is fun, but it can also be quite unpredictable. A good location device ensures you know where you are at all times, no matter if you’re on the shore or out on the water.
The following models are not the best options for people who only fish in one specific spot or familiar terrain. Such anglers obviously know the area, which greatly limits the need for a GPS.
Best Handheld GPS for Fishing: What to Consider?
Display and Screen Size
A fishing GPS needs to be easy to read. As such, always look for a wide screen, as well as a bright, clear display. Though you aren’t going to get a huge screen with a handheld GPS, 3-inch displays should be more than enough space to work with. That will let you see the water you’re on, while also providing extra information on the coast or shore. Anti-glare properties are important as well
Waterproof or Water-Resistant
Of course, a good fishing GPS needs to be waterproof or extremely water-resistant. No matter how careful you are or where you like to fish, your gear will get wet at one time or another. You never want to have a subpar GPS device when that happens. Waterproof construction allows you to fish without having to constantly check on your gear. It helps to get one that floats as well.
Your GPS needs to be able to map the areas where you fish. Though some cheaper models can do that, they may only be able to do it one way. When picking up a handheld fishing GPS, do your best to get a device that has non-mapping, base mapping, and advanced mapping capabilities. That combination will allow you to record both your data and information, which then leads to more versatility.
Best Handheld GPS for Fishing: Our Picks in 2020
When it comes to handheld GPS’s, few have more features than the Garmin Oregon 650t. This handy device utilizes dual-band GPS satellite positioning so you can always find your way, no matter where your fishing takes you. In addition, the touchscreen display is bright and easy to use, while the screen can be read even in the brightest sunlight.
Another bonus of this device is its Bluetooth compatibility, which enables you to share tons of relevant information like routes, tracks, and specific waypoints. There is also a range of built-in sensors, including a 3-axis compass and an accelerometer. That means you’ll always have relevant information at your fingertips.
What We Like:
- Sensitive touchscreen
- Detailed maps
- Bright, easy-to-read screen
- Different memory options
- Readable in sunlight
- Bluetooth compatible
- Auto switch between land and portrait views
- Numerous sensors
- Dual-band GPS satellite positioning
What We Don’t Like:
- The battery could last longer
If you’re an angler who wants to get a bit more from their GPS, look no further than the Garmin GPSMAP 64st. This model has a full color screen that can be read in any weather condition, as well as a 160×240 screen resolution. It’s easy to read, simple to use, and comes packed with a range of features. It is also highly sensitive, and has a ton of internal storage that allows you to save key locations.
Techies will also love the 64st’s ability to wirelessly upload its data directly to Garmin Connect so you can view it from your smartphone. That gives the GPS a bit of extra functionality that works seamlessly with the included sensors and optional smartphone notifications. If you want to go further, you can also use Live Track to share your activities with others.
What We Like:
- Sunlight readable
- 16-hour battery life
- 8GB internal memory
- Nice resolution
- Live Track lets you share activities
- 3 axis compass with barometric altimeter
- Dual battery system
- Can upload data to Garmin connect
What We Don’t Like:
- Not as durable as similar models
Rounding out our list is the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc. This model, unlike the other two in this guide, is made specifically for fishing. It’s marine-friendly, making it great for both boat fishers and those who cast from shore. To back that up, it has built-in coastal charts, harbors, marinas, and depth contours. That overdose of information makes the device useful in any and all fishing environments.
If you do fish in an uncharted or remote area, the GPS also comes with a 3-axis tilt compensated electronic compass so you never lose your way. The color display is easy to navigate, while the ability to share your tracks, routes, and waypoints provides you with a bit of extra functionality. Another great bonus is that the 78sc floats in water, which means you won’t lose it to an accidental drop.
What We Like:
- Preloaded with coastal maps
- Color display
- Easy to use
- 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass
- Allows you to share waypoints, tracks, and routes
- MicroSD card to load extra maps
- Rubber side grips
- Highly sensitive
What We Don’t Like:
- Can be a bit tricky to use
- Doesn’t work great on land
Useful Tips and Information
It is always important to remember that owning a device does not mean you’ll be able to use it. Many fishing GPS’s, while useful, have complicated or tricky interfaces that are not always easy to understand. If you want some help getting started, look at the tips listed here.
While GPS can make your fishing experience much easier, they are far from the only fishing gadgets on the market. If you’re curious about expanding your inventory or trying out new items, this video has some great gadgets to try.
A fishing GPS, while not needed for every excursion, comes in handy when out in tricky or completely new terrain. The above handheld models all give you great features that help keep you on track and they each come with additional features that make them useful in a range of situations. There’s simply no better way to orient yourself while out on the water.
Do you bring a handheld GPS on your fishing trips? Where is it most useful? Let us know in the comments below!
Andreas is a freelance tech writer based in California. He works on a Mac in the office and lives with a PC and many old computer electronics at home. While he is not reading or writing, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends.