Best Handheld GPS for Fishing in 2021

Best Handheld GPS for Fishing in 2021: Our Top 5 Picks 

Is fishing one of your favorite ways to relax and calm your mind?

Is it something that you look forward to every year with your family?

Well, as technological advancements would have it, handheld GPS devices are now all the rage! At first glance these tiny devices might not seem like they carry any power, but, don’t be fooled, they can help steer you in the right direction.

They’re lightweight, easy to handle and operate, and almost always give you accurate coordinates. You’ll never lose your way in the waters again! However, there are many other reasons why you should consider choosing a handheld GPS. Let’s list a few of them for you.

Why Should You Get a Handheld GPS?

  • Preloaded maps: Most of these tech-advanced handheld GPS’s come with preloaded maps, which can come in handy if you ever lose your signal or network. Imagine a scenario where you tread into the water with zero signal and you get confused on your way home. You don’t know which way to go and how to reach the port. The preloaded maps on your GPS will instantly come to your aid.
  • Easy to operate: Handheld GPS devices have been designed specifically to provide you with the right directions. Therefore, all the features are easy to operate. That means better map quality, zoom-in features, and the capacity to read the directions.
  • Mark your area: The device can also mark the spot that has the largest amount of fish, that way you can come back to that spot anytime you want. Oftentimes you can’t reach a good spot because someone else is already there, these handheld GPS’ allow you to mark it for next time. This is a great advantage for people who are heavily into fishing.
  • Memory: A lot of factors go into deciding when to fish, where to fish, and what gear to pack. Imagine accidentally going to a place where it rains heavily and, as a result, coming back all soaked up with no fish. You can now store all this information in your GPS tracker. Store coordinates, weather conditions, water temperatures, and so on and so forth in order to plan your trip better for the next time.

Best Handheld GPS for Fishing

Keeping all those points in mind, we have also created a guide of the best handheld GPS’ just for you. We’ll be comparing various Garmin GPS models and noting the distinct features, pros, and cons of each one.

Let’s get started!

1. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

Garmin is the industry standard when it comes to GPS devices and watches. Their products have an unparalleled list of features and superior build quality. The GPSMAP 78sc is no different. Quite simply, it has everything that you would want in a handheld GPS device.

It comes with a full-color screen, preloaded U.S. coastal charts, and features, and a 3-axis compass all in a rugged, stylish design.

Overview

  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.2 x 6 Inches
  • Weight: 7.7 Ounces
  • Color: Black
  • Batteries: Included
  • Screen Size: 2.6 Inches
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Map Type: Oceania
  • Battery Life: 20 Hours
  • Memory Capacity: 1740 MB

Pros

Pros
  • The receiver is highly sensitive, comes with a 2.6-inch color TFT display
  • Certified IPX7 waterproof standards, ideal for any water activity
  • Built-in charts that make navigating unknown waters seamless and comfortable
  • Built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter give information like altitude, weather, and changes in pressure
  • Can easily share your tracks, routes, checkpoints, and waypoints to other compatible devices
  • BirdsEye Satellite Imagery allows you to download satellite images to your device and integrate them with your maps

Cons

Cons
  • Slight issue with unlocking the map
  • The location marker is huge and can sometimes hide important landmarks
  • The screen size is quite small
  • Might be challenging to read the data under bright sunlight

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2. Garmin GPSMAP 78S Marine GPS Navigator

The Garmin GPSMAP 78s is pretty similar to the 78sc apart from one fundamental difference. The 78sc has bluewater charts built-in to its GPS, but the 78s do not. If you don’t mind this feature and are looking for a cheaper GPS anyways, then this might be the perfect device for you!

Just like the 78sc, this GPS is completely waterproof with IPX7 waterproof verification. Its 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass also lets you track the terrain even if you’re not holding it level.

Overview

  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.2 x 6 Inches
  • Weight: 7.7 Ounces
  • Color: Black
  • Batteries: Included
  • Screen Size: 2.6 Inches
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Map Type: Worldwide
  • Battery Life: 20 Hours
  • Memory Capacity: 1724 MB

Pros

Pros
  • Can load additional maps using the MicroSD card slot
  • 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter lets you check the weather and altitude
  • Comes with a 1.7 MB memory
  • Great for water enthusiasts and those who are constantly playing in the water
  • Allows you to wirelessly share waypoints, tracks, routes, and geocaches with other compatible devices

Cons

Cons
  • Doesn’t come with preloaded marine charts
  • Might crash if you try to store up to 2000 waypoints
  • Display is not made for hard sunlight
  • GPS may lose its position sometimes

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3. Garmin GPSMAP 78 Handheld GPS

The Garmin GPSMAP 78 is the basic option of the two models we’ve already discussed. It features a crisp, clear display, which is especially impressive considering the price. Since this is more of a base model, you don’t get a lot of the additional features that you do with the 78s and 78sc, such as preloaded maps, barometric altimeter, and the electronic compass.

That being said, it still gives you the option to use a MicroSD to upload additional images. It also comes with a rubber side to grip surfaces better and prevent accidental slipping.

Overview

  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 2.6 x 6 Inches
  • Weight: 14.4 Ounces
  • Color: White
  • Batteries: Not included
  • Screen Size: 4 Inches
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Display Type: TFT
  • Map Type: Oceania
  • Battery Life: 20 Hours
  • Memory Capacity: 1724 MB

Pros

Pros
  • Features a transflective 65-K screen
  • A highly sensitive GPS receiver that keeps track of all your movements while giving you seamless navigation
  • Battery life is amazing
  • Waterproof according to IPX7 standards
  • MicroSD card can be used to record or upload new maps
  • Use Garmin Connect to get a detailed analysis of your activities, information on your favorite fishing spots, etc. and send the data straight to a compatible device

Cons

Cons
  • Price is still too high for the features offered
  • Technology is too basic
  • Rebooting might actually slow down the process of reloading the map
  • The battery compartment has no cover

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4. Garmin GPSMAP 86S

The Garmin GPSMAP 86S will be your perfect partner for your next fishing adventure. The device is water-resistant with a 3″ sunlight-visible display. It allows you to connect with compatible devices in order to consolidate all the relevant information onto one device.

Better yet, the ergonomic design with buttons on the top makes it easy for you to operate no matter what. It can also connect to WiFi and comes with both ANT+ and wireless Bluetooth technology.

Overview

  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 2.65 x 7 Inches
  • Weight: 9.6 Ounces
  • Color: White and Black
  • Batteries: Included
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Display Type: Color TFT
  • Map Type: Nautical
  • Battery Life: 50 Hours

Pros

Pros
  • Water-resistant with an ergonomic floating design
  • Transfer all data to your device by connecting it with the GPS
  • Can pair the device with your smartphone to receive notifications
  • Can be used as a remote control for Garmin autopilot and Fusion Marine products
  • Amazing battery life
  • Sync with the Earthmate app and Garmin Explore portal to manage waypoints, checkpoints, and track your favorite fishing spots

Cons

Cons
  • Might have an issue in understanding how to change the active route
  • Initial setup requires time and energy
  • Doesn’t come with a detailed user manual

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5. Garmin GPSMAP 86Sci

If you’re someone who likes to stay connected even while doing your favorite water activities, then the Garmin GPSMAP 86Sci is the model for you!

The device comes with the ability to connect with Iridium websites that let you send custom texts. It can also connect with your smartphone to send out messages even if your GPS device is busy tracking routes. In other words, you’ll never be too far to send a text message!

Overview

  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 2.8 x 7 Inches
  • Weight: 1.5 Pounds
  • Color: Black
  • Batteries: Included
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Display Type: Color TFT
  • Map Type: Nautical

Pros

Pros
  • Stays connected even in no-signal zones
  • Comes with a sunlight ready 3” display
  • Water-resistant with ergonomic floating design
  • Consolidate all your GPS data onto a compatible device
  • Preloaded bluechart G3 coastal charts and GPS-based location tracking
  • Remote control for the smooth operation of Garmin autopilot and Fusion Marine products

Cons

Cons
  • Preloaded charts haven’t been updated in over a year
  • Takes time to connect to a phone and requires constant updating
  • No web support available on weekends

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Things to Consider Before Buying a Handheld GPS

Fishing is a fun and adventurous hobby, but it can also be extremely unpredictable. Therefore, you need to be fully prepared before leaving in your boat. Having a good GPS might even save your life if you ever get lost or encounter a storm. Here’s what to look for before buying your new handheld GPS.

  • If you want your GPS to function accurately, it needs to be connected to at least four satellites. The more satellites the merrier, so always make sure that the device functions on principle.
  • The handheld unit should have a good, bright, and reasonably large display so you can navigate properly. A good display will help you recognize the shallow and rocky areas so you can proceed with caution.
  • The GPS device needs to have some sort of storage facility to keep important information such as waypoints and checkpoints.
  • It’s a no-brainer that the GPS should be waterproof or, at the very least, water-resistant. Nobody is perfect, we all are guilty of dropping our stuff into the water at some point or another.
  • The GPS device should have a good mapping system, especially for those who are fishing enthusiasts. A mapping system will track and save information on the map so you can refer to it later. No matter how good or experienced you are, there’s no shame in letting your GPS help you find the correct longitude and latitude.

Conclusion

We hope this guide has helped you choose the right device according to your preferences. There are so many smart GPS devices on the market today, but we’ve listed the top 5 models based on features, price, and reviews. Choose wisely and then set sail!

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