Top 10 Best Handheld GPS for Fishing (2021 Buyer’s Guide)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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No matter what type of fishing experience you’re into: whether it’s trekking through mountains catching trout, scouring the great lakes, or going offshore fishing for sailfish – a handheld GPS for fishing is one of the most useful pieces of gear you can own. 

Not only will it help you find your way, you’ll also be able to save the location of all your fishing spots.

There’s no need to take a reference to remember your spot for next time, your best handheld GPS for fishing will guide you right to it, improving your fishing experience.

This in-depth review will provide you with all the details you need to make an informed decision on what the best fishing GPS is for you. Read on to find out the ins and outs of each of our candidates.

Here’s a quick look at the top three products from the list…

The Best From The Review

Here are the top three handheld fishing GPS systems from our lineup.

Top Pick

Garmin Oregon 700

The Garmin Oregon 700 handheld is the big brother to the 600 with some extra features to play with. It’s simple to navigate around and clear as day.

Garmin Oregon 700

The all-around best value handheld GPS for fishing is the Garmin Oregon 700. 

It has the biggest and best touchscreen of 3 inches for usability and being able to see clearly, uses all the networks for accuracy, and gives you weather updates.

You can mark waypoints with one touch, follow yourself in landscape or portrait, and it comes with all the maps you might need to get started.

Best Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing

Garmin eTrex 10

This Garmin Handheld GPS is as simple and affordable as handheld GPS units get, making it one of the best handheld GPS’ for fishing if you’re on a budget

Garmin eTrex 10

The best handheld GPS for ice fishing is the Garmin e-Trex 10. 

It’s simple to use, works in cold temperatures, and it’s the most affordable of the bunch, so if the cold weather does get to it, you can replace it without much expense.

While being simple, it’s deadly accurate and you can use the buttons with gloves on, unlike a touchscreen.

Best Kayak GPS

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

Made for life at sea and comes pre-loaded with coastal charts. Get to cruising around the ocean with these GPS units as soon as it arrives without any additional setup.

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

The best handheld GPS for fishing in a Kayak is the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc.

It does everything you’d expect from a Garmin, but it also comes with US coastal maps included, it’s waterproof and it floats.

So when it falls off your kayak, it’s protected and you can just paddle around and grab it. 

Our Best Handheld GPS’ For Fishing

Garmin inReach Mini GPS Satellite Communicator

With the Garmin inReach you can track your location and save waypoints, but you can also communicate with your friends, family, and SOS services when your cellphone has zero wireless connectivity.

Garmin inReach Mini GPS Satellite Communicator

The Garmin inReach Mini GPS Satellite Communicator is a bit more than a good handheld GPS, it’s a little satellite texter and emailer too. 

With this Garmin handheld GPS device, you can not only track your location and save waypoints, but you can communicate with your friends, family, and SOS services when your cell phone has zero wireless connectivity. 

This allows you to share up to date information about your location and give loved ones the peace of mind that you’re ok while out in the wilderness, and they can leave a reply. 

GPS

It is a mini GPS unit, so it’s super light and will fit in the top pocket of your shirt if you want it to. 

But, being mini also means a tiny screen which is not the best for navigating around a water body or anywhere for that matter. 

Connectivity

Garmin has tried to get around this by having this durable waterproof handheld GPS connect to the Earthmate app on your phone, so you can see where you are on a larger screen and still download useful maps of the area you want to fish.

This definitely helps with navigation but you’ll need to make sure your phone has enough battery life for the duration of your trip. 

Battery Life

This Garmin GPS has a huge 50 hours of battery life on a single charge, so it’ll last for about 4-5 days of fishing without needing to be plugged in. 

Reaching is simple via a USB cable, but it is a hassle to find a charge in the wilderness, so you might need to bring a power bank and/or a solar charger on your fishing trip. 

Features

You can use Garmin Basemap to plan trips, get up to do date weather reports, and it comes with unlimited cloud storage to hold all your data.

You can see all your waypoints on your computer at home and where you’ve been. 

Unfortunately, you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription to use the communication and weather functions on this little fishing GPS, so there are some added costs.

Specs

  • Display Size: 1.7 inches
  • Resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
  • Color: No
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Networks: Iridium (subscription), GPS
  • Battery Type: Internal rechargeable
  • Battery Longevity: 50 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Memory: Cloud
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Connects to the Earthmate App for a better display
  • Awesome battery life and easy to charge
  • Light, small, very portable
  • Sends and receives texts
  • Share your location with family or search and rescue
  • SOS function
  • Includes unlimited cloud storage for your data
  • Compatible with Garmin’s trip planner
  • Access to downloadable maps through the app
  • Advises about weather conditions

Cons

  • Subscription needed to use a lot of the features
  • A tiny screen that doesn’t show much
  • Not the best for standard navigation as you’ll need to use your smartphone
  • Fewer navigation features

Best Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing

Garmin eTrex 10

Simple and affordable as handheld GPS units get, making it one of the best handheld GPS’ for fishing if you’re on a budget

Garmin eTrex 10

The Garmin eTrex 10 is about as simple and affordable as handheld GPS units get, making it one of the best handheld GPS’ for fishing if you’re on a budget. 

Display

The Garmin eTrex 10 fishing GPS unit comes with a 2.2-inch sunlight-readable display that sits inside a durable and waterproof design. Aside from a reliable display, it comes with a high sensitivity GPS and a worldwide base map.

It can handle anything except being thrown overboard as it doesn’t float so it might not be the best for offshore fishing trips.

Battery Life

This Garmin eTrex 10 handheld takes 2 AA’s that last up to 20 hours on battery saving mode. The great thing about AA’s is you can replace them when they die, just make sure to pack extras. 

GPS

The Garmin GPS device uses both GPS and GLONASS support to give you better global coverage and a quick fix on your position.

It also uses hotfix satellite prediction which guesses where you are based on where you usually go to give you the fastest position fix available. 

Maps

This fishing handheld GPS comes with a worldwide base map that’s pretty basic although it’s probably still better than a smartphone GPS.

When in action it’ll tell you your location, speed, and heading.

You can follow yourself around, see where you’ve been, plot a go-to, and mark waypoints as you go. 

Memory

It’s simple to set up and use, plus all your data is saved on the 1.7 GB of internal memory and you can add a MicroSD to the card slot to boost it by 32GB so you can store thousands more routes and waypoints if you need to. 

This budget handheld GPS for fishing does come without some useful features though.

You can’t add any other maps, so you only get the basic base map, and that’s forever. 

It doesn’t come with an axis compass with a barometric altimeter for knowing your heading or altitude.

Specs

  • Display Size: 2.2 inches
  • Resolution: 128 x 160 pixels
  • Color: No
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Networks: GPS, GLONASS, Hotfix
  • Battery Type: 2 x AA
  • Battery Longevity: 20 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Memory: 1.7 GB & micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity: None

Pros

  • One of the most affordable units
  • Durable and waterproof
  • Easy to swap out batteries
  • Good battery life
  • Uses multiple networks for accuracy and quick positioning
  • Light, small, and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Save up to 10,000 points, 200 saved tracks
  • Includes a worldwide basemap

Cons

  • No extras like a compass with barometric altimeter
  • You can’t add other maps

Garmin GPS etrex Touch 35

Comes with touchscreen color display, excellent screen resolution, and extra features.

Garmin GPS etrex Touch 35

The Garmin etrex Touch 35 handheld GPS for fishing is like the etrex-10 on steroids. 

It’s one of the best GPS units in the etrex series with its touchscreen color display, excellent screen resolution, 3 axis compass with barometric altimeter, and extra features. 

Build

It has a solid screen size of 2.6 inches that is sunlight readable, you can use it on your fishing adventure no matter the weather.

It sits in a durable case that has a water resistance of IPX7, meaning it’s more than water-resistant, it’s waterproof. 

This fishing GPS can be submerged at 1m deep for 30 minutes before any liquid gets in there. 

Display

The touchscreen color display is responsive and you can even use it with semi-wet hands. It’s easy to navigate through all the advanced features and you can set up different activity profiles so you get the navigation set-up you want just by clicking on the Fishing Activity. 

Battery

This handheld GPS for fishing uses 2 AAs for power that lasts up to 16 hours but the battery life varies depending on what mode you’re on, but when it dies you can just put in some new AA batteries, just make sure you remember them. 

Connectivity

It connects to GPS and GLONASS networks for awesome coverage and it also uses Hotfix to find your position as fast as possible, though no quad helix antenna here.

Using it as a handheld navigator is super easy, just follow yourself around on the shaded base map or add maps for more details of your fishing area. 

Marking a waypoint is simple and you can save thousands of data points with 4GB of internal memory and you can add a microSD to the card slot for extra storage if you need it. 

GPS Feature

This Garmin handheld also comes with a 3 axis tilt-compensated compass with a barometric altimeter that lets you know your heading no matter how the Garmin GPS device is held.

It also lets you know your elevation and can warn you about any weather that might be coming in. 

The only negative to these GPS units is that the software can be a little glitchy and this does get frustrating, but this happens rarely and most people love using this Garmin GPS for fishing.

Specs

  • Display Size: 2.6 inches
  • Resolution: 160 x 240 pixels
  • Color: 65K color
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Networks: GPS, GLONASS, Hotfix
  • Battery Type: 2 x AA
  • Battery Longevity: 16 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Memory: 4GB plus SD card slot
  • Connectivity: WiFi

Pros

  • Includes a 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter
  • Fishing Navigation activity profiles for easier use
  • Easy to see the color display
  • Great coverage for accuracy and position fix
  • Large internal memory for storing a lot of data
  • You can add other maps
  • Easy to use the touchscreen
  • Comes with a shaded worldwide base map

Cons

  • Software is annoying to use
Garmin GPSMAP 62S

Garmin GPSMAP 62S Handheld GPS Navigator

It has a high sensitivity GPS that gives you excellent signal reception that provides pinpoint accuracy for your location and fishing spots.

Garmin GPSMAP 62S Handheld GPS Navigator

The Garmin GPSMAP 62S Handheld GPS Navigator is another one of the best handheld GPS’ for fishing around. 

GPS

It’s a high sensitivity GPS thanks to its quad helix antenna that gives you excellent signal reception to provide pinpoint accuracy for your location and fishing spots.

The Garmin GPSMAP 62S Handheld GPS Navigator comes with a great screen size of 2.6 inches that’s easy to read and takes 2 AA’s that are easily replaced once they die after a long 20 hours of use. 

Durability

Aside from the high sensitivity GPS, the Garmin GPSMAP 62S Handheld GPS Navigator also has great durability and water-resistance with a rating of IPX7. This handheld GPS for fishing can be submerged to 1m for 30 minutes before anything will affect it, so it’s a little more than water-resistant. 

Mapping

The navigation mapping system on this Garmin handheld gps is excellent, simple, and easy to use. You can even add custom maps to it.

Use the ergonomic buttons to open the mapping system and then just follow yourself around on the base map, or any extra maps you have added. 

You can mark waypoints with a push of a button, so you’ll never miss a fishing spot. You can see where you’re going with the go-to, your speed, ETA, where you’ve been, time to arrival, and more.

Storage

It comes with enough internal storage and you can boost it with a MicroSD to save all your data. You can then share your data via the device’s Wifi with others or use the SD card to upload it to see your data on Google Earth with Garmin Connect. 

The Garmin GPSMAP 62S also features a 3 axis compass with barometric altimeter for letting you know heading, altitude, and any weather changes.

The only downsides of these GPS units are that they don’t use GLONASS networks for better coverage and the user manual is hard to navigate.

Specs

  • Display Size: 2.6 inches
  • Resolution: 160 x 240 pixel
  • Color: Yes
  • TouchScreen: No
  • Networks: GPS, Hotfix
  • Battery Type: 2 x AA
  • Battery Longevity: 20 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Memory: 1.7 GB plus SD card slot
  • Connectivity: Wireless

Pros

  • Works with Garmin Connect and basecamp
  • Add other maps with ease
  • Share wirelessly with other compatible devices
  • Great memory for storing all your data
  • Know your position, heading, altitude, and changing weather
  • Works with birdseye satellite imagery (subscription)
  • Accurate and easy to use
  • Easy to see the display
  • An accurate navigation mapping system

Cons

  • Doesn’t connect to GLONASS
  • Not the best user manual

Best Kayak GPS

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

Made for life at sea and comes pre-loaded with coastal charts. Get to cruising around the ocean with these GPS units as soon as it arrives without any additional setup.

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

The Garmin GPSMAP 78sc is made for life at sea and comes pre-loaded with BlueChart g2 U.S./Bahamas coastal charts.

You can get to cruising around the ocean with these GPS units as soon as it arrives without any additional setup. 

Build

The Garmin GPSMAP 78sc comes with a solid screen size of 2.6 inches and the color screen resolution makes it easy to see in all weather. 

These GPS units are the best in terms of water-resistance, not only are they water-resistant to IPX7 standards but they also float, so if one does fall overboard, you can go get it. 

Mapping

It features a high-sensitivity mapping system that gives you better accuracy with the GPS network and it uses Hotfix to find your position as quickly as possible when you start it up, so there is less waiting around. 

Navigation

It’s simple to use and the navigation system is super accurate for marking waypoints and following tracks so you always know where you’ve fished and can find your exact fishing spots with ease.

It also has sun and moon information about your location and a hunt/fish calendar, letting you tailor your fishing to your current location’s seasons. 

GPS Features

Like most of the others, it also has a tilt-compensated axis electronic compass and barometric altimeter for letting you know your position, altitude, and changing weather conditions no matter how you hold the GPS.

The only drawbacks are that it doesn’t include the GLONASS network, so the coverage is a little smaller, and the screen is a little small for boating.

The rubber covers on the USB port can also leak, allowing corrosion in, so make sure you check them after your fishing adventure.

Specs

  • Display Size: 2.6 inches
  • Resolution: 160 x 240 pixels
  • Color: Yes
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Networks: GPS, Hotfix
  • Battery Type: 2 x AA
  • Battery Longevity: 35 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7 & floats
  • Memory: 1.7 GB plus microSd
  • Connectivity: Wifi

Pros

  • Includes a high-sensitivity GPS receiver for better accuracy
  • Comes with built-in BlueChart g2 U.S./Bahamas coastal charts
  • Gives you sun and moon info for planning fishing
  • Comes with a 3 axis tilt-compensated electronic compass
  • Includes a barometric altimeter
  • Store and analyze activities with Garmin Connect
  • Quick and accurate location
  • Large memory for storing every fishing spot
  • Easily to add maps as your desire
  • Intuitive to use
  • Durable, waterproof, and it floats

Cons

  • Doesn’t use GLONASS
  • Rubber covers leak a bit
  • The screen is a little small for boating

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

One of the best handheld GPS device for fishing thanks to its smart connectivity and the fact that it comes pre-loaded with loads of maps and subscriptions

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

If you’re going offshore fishing, handheld GPS such as the Garmin GPSMAP 64st is one of the premier choices thanks to its smart connectivity and the fact that it comes pre-loaded with loads of maps and subscriptions. 

Maps and Battery

With the Garmin GPSMAP 64st handheld GPS navigator, you get US TOPO maps and a 1-year BirdsEye subscription included, saving you a bunch of cash. 

The Garmin GPSMAP 64st takes 2 AAs with a battery life of 16 hours in power save mode. It would be nice if this was longer but at least you can just swap the batteries out when they die. 

Build

It’s water-resistant to IPX7, durable and it even connects to your phone so you can see texts and emails on the handheld GPS while your phone stays safe in your bag.

The Garmin GPSmap 64st also uses a high-sensitivity mapping system combined with multiple networks and Hotfiux to give you great accuracy and quick positioning.

Easy To Use

The system of this handheld GPS is intuitive to use.

It’s really simple to see where you are, where you’re going, where you’ve been and you can make a waypoint with the press of a button. It comes with a huge 8GB of internal memory for thousands of waypoints, routes, and tracks, plus you can extend it or add maps using the SD card.

Specs

  • Display Size: 2.6 inch
  • Resolution: 160 x 240 pixels
  • Color: Yes
  • TouchScreen: No
  • Networks: GPS, GLONASS, Hotfix
  • Battery Type: 2 x AA
  • Battery Longevity: 16 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Memory: 8 GB plus SD
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Connects to your phone for smart notifications
  • Sun and moon info plus a hunt/ fish calendar
  • Uses multiple networks for better accuracy and quick positioning fix
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Huge internal memory for storing data
  • Comes with US TOPO maps
  • Includes 1-year subs. to birdseye satellite imagery
  • Intuitive to use

Cons

  • Battery life could be longer

Garmin inReach Explorer+

Good handheld GPS that is durable and can also send texts and emails, contact search and rescue, and share your location.

Garmin inReach Explorer+

The Garmin inReach Explorer+ handheld GPS is the big brother to the Mini inReach we looked at first.

It does all the same things as the inReach GPS plus a bit more, and with a bigger screen. It also comes with a 3 axis tilt compensated electronic compass so you never lose your way, making it the best handheld GPS for fishing with comms. 

Display

The larger screen of 2.31 inches is also in color and allows you to use this for fishing. Handheld GPS such as this one also do not need to connect to your phone to see the maps as you would with the mini. 

It displays all your fishing trips information, lets you mark waypoints of fishing spots so you can find them later, and comes with Garmin’s North America Map installed which also includes Mexico. 

Maps

The map shows all national parks, lakes, and rivers, ideal for anyone fishing freshwater.

It’s a durable handheld GPS thanks to the protective shock-absorbing cover and it’s waterproof too to IPX7. 

Subscription Services

Once you subscribe to an Iridium plan, you can use this handheld GPS for sending texts and emails, contacting search and rescue, and sharing your location with anyone who might need to come to save you.

The subscription also gives you access to advanced weather updates, so you’ll know if a storm is coming. 

Battery

It uses a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 100 hours on power-saving mode, that’s a long time, and once it’s dead you’ll have to recharge as there is no option to put in a fresh battery like with AAs. 

GPS Features

This handheld GPS also comes with a 3 axis tilt compensated compass and baro-altimeter, so you can make sure you know your heading and altitude at all times when you’re fishing. 

The downsides to this handheld GPS compared to other Garmin devices are that it doesn’t use GLONASS or Hotfix so it might take some time to find your position, and the signal could drop in and out. 

Another annoying thing is you have to connect to your smartphone and the Earthmate app to use other maps and it doesn’t have much memory without a microSD card slot either, but you can use cloud storage via the app.

Specs

  • Display Size: 2.31 inches
  • Resolution: 200 x 265 pixels
  • Color: Yes
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Networks: Iridium, GPS
  • Battery Type: Internal rechargeable
  • Battery Longevity: 100 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Memory: 2GB & Cloud
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Send and receive texts and email
  • Send data about your route, location, and more
  • SOS location communication
  • Get advanced weather updates
  • Includes Garmin North America map
  • Features a barometric altimeter and compass
  • Accurate GPS with routes, waypoints, tracks, and more
  • Easy to use and the color screen is easy to see
  • Awesome battery life
  • Durable and waterproof

Cons

  • You can’t add a new battery, you have to recharge
  • Doesn’t use GLONASS or Hotfix
  • Comms only work with a subscription
  • Not much memory

Garmin Oregon 600

Handheld GPS with one of the biggest screens. It has a colored touchscreen display with great resolution.

Garmin Oregon 600

The Garmin Oregon 600 handheld GPS has one of the biggest screens of them all, hitting a whopping 3 inches.

It’s not that big I know, but it does make quite a big difference. 

The display is in color and comes with a great screen resolution, it’s crystal clear and it’s a touchscreen, so navigating around it couldn’t be easier. 

Battery

This handheld GPS also comes with a dual battery system, letting you use AAs or a rechargeable battery, so you’re covered either way. The dual battery system is a lifesaver, if you’re in a pinch the AAs last around 16 hours on low power mode. 

Navigation

The navigation system on this handheld GPS is great. You can add new maps with ease via an SD, share data over Bluetooth with other devices, and you can even set it to mark a waypoint with one touch, so when you hook a fish, that fishing spot is saved instantly. 

You can even create your own custom maps for it with the help of Google Earth.

This GPS tracking in this handheld uses all the networks; GPS, GLONASS, and Hotfix to give you a very accurate position and quickly. There’s not much waiting around to know where you are. 

Durability

In terms of durability, it’s equal to all the other Garmin handheld GPS’, with a shock-absorbing case and waterproof to IPX7. 

The annoying side to the Garmin Oregon 600 is that the user manual leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s hard to find what you’re looking for and not explained so well. Also, some people find that it locks up, and to fix it you have to reset it by pulling out the battery, but this is quite rare.

Specs

  • Display Size: 3 inch
  • Resolution: 40 x 400 pixels
  • Color: Yes
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Networks: GPS, GLONASS, Hotfix
  • Battery Type: 2 X AA and NiMH rechargeable battery pack (not inc.)
  • Battery Longevity: 16 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Memory: 1.7 GB plus SD
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Large, easy to use touch screen
  • Excellent screen resolution
  • Dual battery system
  • One-touch waypoint settings for marking spots quickly
  • Easy to use
  • Share data wirelessly
  • Add maps easily
  • Great accuracy and a quick positioning fix
  • Includes a 3-axis compass, accelerometer, altimeter

Cons

  • Not the best user manual
  • Locks up rarely requiring a reset

Garmin Oregon 700

The Garmin Oregon 700 handheld is the big brother to the 600 with some extra features to play with. It’s simple to navigate around and clear as day.

Garmin Oregon 700

The Garmin Oregon 700 handheld is the big brother to the 600 above with some advanced features to play with.

Like the 600 it has a large 3-inch color touchscreen display that makes life really easy.

It’s simple to navigate around and clear as day.

You can even use the screen in landscape to get a wider view. 

Build and Navigation

It’s a durable, waterproof, and versatile GPS and uses all the networks you might want for accuracy and quick positioning.

Navigating on it is simple, just add your maps via the SD, and off you go on your offshore fishing trip, marking fishy waypoints with one touch. 

Battery

The Oregon 700 handheld boasts a long battery life with the best battery system around, using both rechargeable and AAs, so you’ll always have power if you’re prepared. 

Connectivity

You can connect this handheld to your phone to see texts and emails while you’re fishing and your phone is safe in a bag. It also comes with a 1-year birdseye satellite imagery subscription, so you can see a satellite overlay of where you are, giving you extreme detail which is great for finding new fishing spots. It’s like using Google Earth. 

There aren’t really any downsides to this fishing device, just that it’s a little complex to use when you start, so make sure you have a good play with it before you go on your fishing trip.

Specs

  • Display Size: 3 inches
  • Resolution: 240 x 400 pixels
  • Color: Yes
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Networks: GPS, GLONASS, Hotfix
  • Battery Type: 2 x AA and NiMH rechargeable battery pack (not inc.)
  • Battery Longevity: 16 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX7
  • Memory: 3.4 GB and SD
  • Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth

Pros

  • Large, easy to use and see touchscreen
  • Dual battery system
  • Durable and waterproof
  • Active weather updates
  • Easy to navigate with and set waypoints
  • Connect to your phone to see emails and texts
  • Includes a 1-years birdseye satellite imagery subscription
  • Includes a 3-axis compass with accelerometer and barometric altimeter sensors
  • Shows moon and sun data plus hunt/fish calendar
  • Display works in landscape and portrait

Cons

  • Tricky to work out initially

Magellan eXplorist 310 Fishing Hot Spots Bundle

It has all the features you’d expect for a handheld in terms of navigation, marking waypoints, and the like, and it’s simple to use.

Magellan eXplorist 310 Fishing Hot Spots Bundle

The only non-Garmin handheld to make it into the review is the Magellan eXplorist 310.

It has all the features you’d expect for a handheld in terms of navigation, marking waypoints, and the like, and it’s simple to use when you’re out fishing thanks to the oversized buttons. 

Build

The screen is black and white and only 2.2 inches large, so a little small but manageable. It’s durable, waterproof, and takes 2 AAs that last a max of 18 hours before they need swapping.

The battery life indicator is unreliable though, so don’t be surprised if it suddenly drops.

Maps

The best thing about this unit is the bundle it comes with.

You get topo maps of 9 US regions that show you all the lakes and rivers for fishing.

You can also see the best fishing locations by species, contours, structure, and it even gives you gear tips to improve your fishing. The only downside to this is that it only leaves you with 500MB leftover for waypoints and routes. 

Network

The one major negative to this handheld is the small number of networks it uses, and it’ll take a while to find your position.

Once it’s found you though, it is very accurate.

Specs

  • Display Size: 2.2 inches
  • Resolution: 240 x 320 pixels
  • Color: Yes
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Networks: SiRFstarIII GPS
  • Battery Type: 2 x AA
  • Battery Longevity: 18 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Memory: 500MB
  • Connectivity: None

Pros

  • Includes a topographic map of 9 US Regions
  • Includes fishing maps of lots of US lakes
  • Shows best locations by lake for fishing based on structure, contour, etc.
  • Species information (Bass, Trout, Walleye, etc.)
  • Gear tips – Best Tackle and Lures/Bait for lake
  • Pre-loaded with the World Edition map
  • Easy to navigate with and mark waypoints

Cons

  • The screen is small and hard to see
  • The battery indicator is not reliable
  • Takes a while to find your position

What Is A Handheld GPS Unit?

GPS stands for Global Position System...

A handheld Global Positioning System, or GPS unit for short, is about letting you know where you are in the world from the palm of your hand, no matter where you are. 

If you have never had a handheld GPS device in your hands, it’s a bit like a smartphone or a portable fish finder in size, but quite a bit thicker with some rubber buttons on it. 

Power

They usually take AAA or AA batteries that you slot into the back and to turn them on you just press one of the rubber buttons.

Once on, they’ll quickly let you know exactly where in the world you are. They’re super easy to use. 

How Do handheld GPS units work? 

Aside from being easy to use. The best handheld GPS systems for fishing work by using their high sensitivity quad helix antenna to connect to global position satellites that are orbiting the earth. 

The best handheld GPS unit will connect to as many satellites as possible and from this determine where in the world you are, within around 15m of accuracy. 

Once it’s fixed your position, it shows you where you are on the map on the display and tells you all kinds of data about your location, depending on the map you have installed, and tracks you as you move.

NOTE

All the best handheld GPS’ for fishing let you know your location in lat/long, heading, the speed you’re moving, and some extra key features like; electric or magnetic compass, barometric altimeter – you can even send texts over the satellite network. 

Why Do You Need A Handheld GPS For Fishing?

GPS Device on a Mossy Tree Stump

You might be thinking why do I need a GPS or why can’t I use my smartphone’s GPS receiver with Google Maps to show me around? 

Using your phone as a GPS unit certainly is an option but the data you see and the features available are nothing compared to what the best handheld GPS for fishing can offer you on your fishing adventure.

Not everyone needs a GPS for fishing, and you don’t need one if you fish the same waters all the time and know them like the back of your hand, they wouldn’t add anything to your fishing experience.

But if you like to fish and discover new places in the backcountry, or spend time on large lakes, or fishing in the sea, a handheld GPS is a great fishing device to add to your arsenal, and here’s why. 

Waypoints

With the best fishing handheld GPS, you can mark thousands of waypoints, one for each fishing spot, to 15m of accuracy, even if you’re in the middle of the ocean, so you’ll never struggle to find your productive fishing spots again. 

Handheld GPS receivers are also way more reliable and accurate than a phone. It’s not delicate like a smartphone, it’s sturdy and some are even waterproof. 

Plus, it won’t run out of batteries like your smartphone as it takes replaceable ones you can just swap in and out. 

Routes

A handheld GPS for fishing also allows you to follow a predetermined route that you’ve hand made or save a trail you just made up for next time.

They also show you live data of your location and your heading in degrees, altitude and warn you about incoming storms with their inbuilt electronic compass with barometric altimeter.

Things To Consider When Buying A Handheld GPS

GPS Device Placed on Top of a Map
GPS Device Placed on Top of a Map

Display 

A big part of picking the right or best handheld fishing GPS comes down to choosing one with a good display, because if you can’t see the screen properly, then you’ll never actually know where you are or be able to use the GPS unit properly. 

When we talk about a good display for the best handheld GPS for fishing we’re thinking of: screen size, screen resolution, is it a color display? A touchscreen display? And is it sunlight readable? 

The larger the display and screen size, the easier it’ll be to see.

Resolution

The same goes for a higher resolution and if it’s in color. 

The problem is the larger the screen, the larger the unit, and possibly the less portable it is. 

The better the resolution, color or touchscreen, the more expensive it’s going to be. 

TIP

The key is to find a display that’ll work for you personally, and that fits inside your budget. All the best handheld GPS for fishing should have a sunlight readable display as standard, so this isn’t something you should have to compromise on. 

Battery Life & Type 

A handheld GPS device that is made to be used in the middle of nowhere that runs out of battery all the time, isn’t going to be very useful. 

The best fishing handheld GPS devices have a battery life of around 20 hours or more before you need to replenish, which is more than enough for a day of fishing.

Luckily most handheld GPS devices also use AAA or AA batteries, so as long as you remember to pack spares, you should never get caught short.

NOTE

Some models do take a rechargeable battery but you can always buy spares or charge them in the field via a power bank or solar panel. 

Satellite Networks & Accuracy

Person Holding a GPS Device
Person Holding a GPS Device

We all want our handheld GPS device to be as accurate as possible, especially when marking fishing spots to find again at a later date.

The accuracy of even the best handheld GPS devices for fishing comes down to the number of satellites it can connect to globally. 

There are a few satellite networks including GPS, GLONASS, and others too.

NOTE

The more networks your GPS device can connect to the better, as it’ll get more global coverage, get a fix on your location a lot faster, and maintain accuracy for longer. 

Winding Up

Hopefully, you now have a better grasp of handhelds and how they can help your fishing. You might have found the best one for you from the article, fingers crossed.

If not, here’s how I’d approach it.

Top Pick

If you’re looking for a handheld GPS for fishing that does it all, the Oregon 700 is your best bet.

It’s a touch screen, has a crystal clear display, the navigation is easy and it comes with maps and satellite imagery for free. 

Best Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing 

When it comes to marking spots for ice fishing, the eTrex 10 is the best GPS unit around. 

The big buttons are great for using gloves, it’s simple to navigate, works in cold temperatures, and is very affordable if the ice does get to it eventually. 

Best For Kayak GPS

If you’re kayak fishing, then the best one for you is the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc.

It does almost everything the other Garmin’s do but it also floats, so when it goes overboard you can just grab it instead of buying a new one. 

Thanks for reading the article, and I hope you found it useful.

Check out some of my other articles like the best fish finder and the best polarized fishing sunglasses for some more info on awesome fishing products.

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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