One of the newest inventions in recent years that has really changed the game when it comes to fishing from shore are castable fish finders. Not to be confused with portable fish finders, with these you actually cast the fish finder out onto the water using a fishing pole.
So these gadgets sound like the best thing since sliced bread but do castable fish finders really work as they claim? The short answer is yes…they work, but there are some things that you need to be aware of before pulling out your wallet.
In this article, I’m going to point out some of the pros and cons of using one of these types of fish finders in order to help you decide if they are right for you!
How do Castable Fish Finders Work
When it comes to the technology, a castable fish finder works in the same way as a regular fish finder that you find mounted on boats, in that they use sound waves.
The sound waves travel through the water until they hit an object (fish, grass, limbs, bottom, etc) and then bounce back, transmitting the size, composition, and shape of the object.
The biggest difference in a castable fish finder is that they don’t have to be mounted to anything to work! You simply attach it to the end of a strong fishing line connected to a relatively stout fishing pole and cast it into the water.
If you want to know if there are fish in that spot, then you can leave the fish finder be. However, a lot of fishermen like to cast it out in a fan-like area and reel it back slowly.
This can give you a better idea of what’s below the water’s surface and whether or not there may be fish present.
Most of the popular brands will work on Android and Apple devices, including phones and tablets. All you have to do is download their app to your phone or tablet and follow the connection instructions from there.
Oh, and since these fish finders don’t require data or internet connection in order to work, you never have to worry about using all of your data on one fishing trip.
Do They Perform in All Conditions
While you can surely use them in all conditions, they do not work the same in all conditions!
One of the biggest advantages is that they float, making them highly mobile. This, however, is also one their biggest flaws!
Because they float, when the water starts to get a little bumpy, it can wreak havoc on the fish finder’s ability to transmit accurate data, including the depth of the water, the amount of fish present, type of structure and so on.
With a boat mounted fish finder, the transducer (it’s what transmits the sound waves into the water), is securely fastened to the boat, so even if the conditions are rough, you’re still going to get a pretty reliable reading.
This is why I would never recommend one for surf fishermen, or those fishing in fast moving stream and rivers.
They are best suited for those fishing on calm/flat days, whether it be your local pond, lake or bay waters.
The depth of the water that you’ll be fishing will also determine whether or not one of these fish finders is a good fit for you!
If you’re a flats kind of guy, then leave this one on the shelf! As with all fish finders, you’re not going to get a reading in water that’s less than 3 feet deep.
On the flip side, if you plan on fishing in water that’s deeper than the 200 feet or so that most of these types of fish finders are rated for, then I would avoid them as well.
A few of the top brands on the market even work for ice fishing and also for those night owls looking to catch a few bass at night.
Also, castable fish finders are not meant to be a cheaper, more portable solution to your boats current fish finder. While they can work if you are stopped in one spot, as soon as you begin to move at a speed greater than that of a retrieval speed, you’re not going to get an accurate reading.
This includes using your trolling motor and in some cases, even drifting with the wind!
Can You Use Them in Saltwater
Yes, it’s perfectly okay to use them in saltwater as long as you give them a good spray down with fresh water after each use to avoid any type of corrosion due to the salt.
With that being said, keep in mind what I said previously!
Most of these types of fish finders do not work well in the surf, or other bumpy or fast-moving water.
Also, if you plan on fishing in water that’s more than 200 feet or less than 3 feet, you may want to reconsider purchasing this type of fish finder.
Are They Worth the Money
If you are okay with the fact that they do not come with all the bells and whistles that your traditional fish finders come with, then yes, in my opinion, they are.
They can be especially beneficial for shore bound anglers who are looking to get a little bit better idea of what’s underneath the water.
While I wouldn’t compare them to the fish finders found on boats, they can provide you with valuable data such as changes in the depth of the water, the type of structure on the bottom, and if there are fish present.
How Much do They Cost
You can get an iBobber fish finder for around $100 bucks! While it won’t have the best sonar, depth or signal range, it should be more than adequate for those fishing close to shore in water that’s less than 130 ft deep.
However, if you are looking for the top-of-the-line, then you will need to spend about $200 and get you a Deeper Smart Sonar Pro. The Deeper Smart is just an all-around better fish finder than the iBobber in my opinion.
If you are looking for something more in the middle when it comes to price and quality, then you might want to consider the Lowrance Fish Hunter 3D or Fish Hunter Pro. Each of these will set you back about $150.
As far as which one is the best…if the price is not an option and you want a fish finder with the maximum range and most advanced sonar, then I would definitely go with the Deeper Smart Pro.
Can all Fishermen Benefit From Them
Obviously, this type of fish finder is designed with shore anglers in mind, but which shore anglers are they good for?
If you think that they are magically going to help you start catching fish, then think again!
Just because they can show you that there is fish present doesn’t mean that they are the type of fish you are targeting or in some cases a fish at all.
Did you know that a small school of tightly swimming bait fish can cause a fish finder to send back a reading that there are several larger fish in the area? Also, there are other aquatic animals and reptiles that could give a fish finder the wrong idea, such as turtles, snakes, stingrays and so on.
In my opinion, they are best for those fishermen who are wanting to get a better idea of what’s on the bottom of the area that they are fishing!
Are there steep or gradual drop-offs present?
Is the bottom made up of grass or is it a sandy or rocky bottom?
Are there logs or other structures that might be holding some fish?
These are just a few questions that a castable fish finder might be able to answer for you, which could lead you to your very own honey hole.
Have you ever been fishing from the bank only to look out onto the water and see all the state-of-the-art fishing boats zoom by? Rigged with all the latest fishing gear and technologies, you’re almost certain they’re going to catch some fish. If you could utilize one of those pieces of technologies from the bank you’re fishing from, would you use it?
While a castable fish finder isn’t going to make the fish start jumping out of the lake and into your cooler, they can give you a better idea of where the fish might be, so you’ll have a better chance at catching them.
Have you ever used a castable fish finder and if so, what do you think about them? Please leave a comment below letting us know your experiences with them.