8 Best Handheld GPS for Fishing in 2022

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Fishing often takes you to backcountry rivers and creeks. Often, you are so deep into the wild that not even your phone has coverage. So, what happens if you hit the jackpot? Or if you don’t know your way back? 

Thankfully, there is a solution for this problem, and it is a handheld GPS. These devices will mark the way as you dive deep into the unknown. Some even allow you to store your freshly found fishing spot. Some others yield such a detailed mapping that you can check the elevation and the shape of the coastline. 

Sadly, these devices are quite expensive. So, it pays to take as much time as needed to think about which option best suits your needs. But don’t worry. We are here to help. 

We’ve already done the heavy lifting for you. We tested and researched 8 of the best handheld GPS for fishing you can find in the market. A quick suggestion, get the Garmin 78sc. It strikes a perfect balance between price and feature, thus giving you a lot of value for your money. If you are looking for a touchscreen device, then let us suggest the Garmin Montana 700i. It packs everything you might ever need for your next fishing adventure. Plus, it rocks a beautiful colored display. But if you are on a tight budget, then the A6 Navigator is your best bet. 

8 Best Handheld GPS For Fishing Reviewed

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Handheld GPS

Features: 

  • Dimensions (inches): 2.6x6x1.2
  • Weight (ounces): 7.7
  • IPX7
  • Display: 2.6 inches
  • TFT Color
  • 1.7 GB of memory 
  • 25 hours of operation

Garmin and GPS are two words that are always together. They are widely known because of their accuracy and quality. The GPSMAP 78sc is no exception. 

It has a 2.6-inch color TFT display. It is a little small. Still, we feel that the color accuracy and contrast are enough. As a result, the screen remains visible throughout the entire day.  

The GPS comes with eight buttons and a large central navigation key. Their disposition is rather awkward. They sit above the screen, which is not a common practice on many GPS.

Garmin packed a lot of navigation charts, maps, coastlines, and ports. But you can also store waypoints, routes, tracks, and fishing hotspots. You can later share them wirelessly with other users with compatible GPSs.  

The 78sc, like all the 78 family, rocks an IPX7 water and dust protection. So, you can bring it on your next kayak fishing adventure with confidence. It won’t stop working even if it gets submerged underwater. Besides, it floats.

The Garmin 78sc needs 2 AA batteries to work. Allegedly they offer around 20 hours of continuous operation. But we are just testing it. 

Pros: 

  • Easily visible screen 
  • Waterproof 
  • It floats 
  • Prepacked with maps

Cons: 

  • Awkward key disposition 
  • Small screen 

Garmin Montana 700i Rugged GPS

Features: 

  • Dimensions (inches): 7.2×3.6×1.3
  • Weight (ounces): 14.5
  • IPX7
  • Display: 5 inches
  • Full color screen
  • 16 GB of memory 

If having a bright, large display is important, the Montana 700i is the answer to your prayers. The main drawback is that it is a little larger than the average. 

In terms of design, the Montana 700i rocks a 5-inch colored screen. It comes with no keys. You only need to use the touch-sensitive screen to navigate through the many applications the Montana GPS series has.

Like many Garmin GPS, Montana comes with a pre-loaded set of maps for the US and Canada. It includes both city and backcountry maps. You can also enjoy Garmin’s TopoActive mapping to check ground elevations, coastlines, and many things more. 

The Montana 700i is, as one would expect, completely water and dustproof. But if you want, you can purchase an aftermarket case, although it is not necessary. 

The Montana 700i also offers global connectivity as long as you have an active satellite subscription, of course. It also produces an SOS message upon clicking the interactive SOS app. Again, it also requires the aforementioned subscription. 

Lastly, the GPS also offers ABC sensors. As a result, you can check elevation data, barometric pressure, and weather. The latter is essential for fishing. 

Pros: 

  • Huge and clear display
  • Water, dust, and shockproof
  • Packed with applications 
  • Offers global connectivity

Cons: 

  • Expensive
  • Battery drains fast
  • You need an active satellite subscription to enjoy all the benefits4

Handheld GPS A6 Navigator Outdoor Navigation Tool

Features: 

  • Dimensions (inches): 6.1×2.36 x 1.1
  • Weight (ounces): 10
  • IP65 rating
  • Display: 2.4 inches
  • LCD screen 

Do you only have 100 bucks to spare? Then the A6 handheld navigation GPS is the best bet. It is suitable for all outdoor activities, including fishing. 

The A6 offers both GPS and GLONASS compatibility. However, the readings are not as accurate as those you enjoy on much more expensive devices. 

Among the good things, we can say that the A6 comes with IP65 water protection. Know that it only protects the devices from water splash. Not immersion. So, you better hold the A6 tight on rough waters.

One thing that sets the A6 apart from the rest is that it comes with rechargeable batteries. Say goodbye to AA batteries. However, we suggest bringing a power bank with you, as the internal battery doesn’t last long. 

You can store up to 1000 points of interest. As you would expect, the device isn’t compatible with microSD cards. So, you can’t share nor download your freshly-found fishing spots. 

Pros: 

  • Decent value for your money
  • User-friendly
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Large display for the price 

Cons: 

  • The GPS readings are not that accurate 
  • You can’t share or download points of interest 
  • It is only resistant to water splashes 

Garmin GPSMAPS 79sc Handheld Marine GPS

Features: 

  • Dimensions (inches): 2.67×6.85×1.67
  • Weight (ounces): 10
  • IPX7 rating
  • Display: 3 inches
  • TFT 65k colored screen 
  • 8 GB of memory 
  • Expandable memory (up to 32 GB)
  • MicroSD compatible

Do you want a GPS tailor-made for fishing? Then you ought to look at the 79sc by Garmin. It supports GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, SBAS, and QZSS. Consequently, the readings that you see on its 3-inch screen are reliable and accurate. 

The GPSMAPS 79sc also comes with a built-in compass that you can use to find your way back. In addition, you can store up to 10000 points of interest thanks to the huge, expandable memory. You can later download and share them from your computer. 

Although the 79sc is heavier than other handheld GPS, it still floats in water. Plus, it rocks IPX7 water and dustproof protection. In addition, its rugged design with rubberized sides and scratch-resistant screen promises many years of trouble-free operation. 

The 79sc comes with an eight key and a central navigation button. Use them to quickly swap between the waypoint manager, geocaching, are calculation, and other apps. 

Pros: 

  • It floats in water
  • Water, dust, and shockproof
  • Expandable memory
  • Accurate readings 

Cons: 

  • Expensive 
  • The batteries drain very fast if you have all the sensors are on 
  • It is not user friendly

Magellan CX0310SGXNA Waterproof GPS

Features: 

  • Dimensions (inches): 5.6×5.8×2.4
  • Weight (ounces): 5.2
  • IPX7
  • Display: 2.2 inches
  • Color display
  • 500 MB of memory 

If you are looking for something more rugged, then this GPS from Magellan is a suitable choice. The screen is quite small and opaque. Therefore, you might have a hard time reading it on sunny days. 

There are two versions available. Only one is waterproof, making it more suitable for fishing. The other, albeit cheaper, don’t offer such protection. So, you don’t have a choice here. 

The Magellan CX0310SGXNA handheld GPS has four buttons and a central navigation key. They work ok. But the central one is not as responsive as we would expect. 

The GPS works fine. It is accurate and comes with a detailed set of maps. However, it only offers 500 MB of storage space. So, you won’t have enough room to store all your waypoints and fishing hotspots. Another issue is that you can’t share any point of interest with no one. The only way is to connect the GPS to a computer and download your geocaches. 

Pros: 

  • Rugged 
  • Waterproof
  • User friendly 

Cons: 

  • Poor battery life 
  • The screen is barely visible under the sun 

Garmin eTrex 32x

Features: 

  • Dimensions (inches): 2.1x4x1.3
  • Weight (ounces): 5
  • IPX7
  • Display: 2.2 inches
  • TFT 65K color screen
  • 8GB of memory 
  • MicroSD compatible
  • GLONASS

Small, rugged, and user-friendly are the three words we would use to describe the eTrex 32x. You can get only the GPS or go for a case/Backpack tether if you want. 

The screen is small. It is only 2.2 inches. It isn’t bright either. As a result, you might have a hard time reading what’s on the screen under direct sunlight. 

On the bright side, the device offers up to 25 hours of continuous operation. Plus, you can quickly replace the 2 AA batteries to enjoy more juice on the go. 

The eTrex 32x offers both GPS and GLONASS satellite systems. As a result, the device yields very accurate readings. Plus, it also offers a 3-axis compass with a barometric altimeter. However, the latter is not very useful for fishing purposes. 

Garmin loaded the eTrex 32x with some TopoActive maps. Sadly, these are only useful for US or Canadian users. Still, you have 8 GB of memory to add maps as you wish. You can take advantage of the MicroSD slot to increase storage space. The eTrex 32x is the only device that offers such compatibility thus far. 

Pros:

  • Expandable memory
  • IPX7 water protection
  • Compact
  • Decent battery live

Cons: 

  • The screen is small and opaque 
  • Takes some time to turn on

Garmin GPSMAP 64sx Handheld GPS

Features: 

  • Dimensions (inches): 2.4×6.3×1.4
  • Weight (ounces): 7.7
  • IPX7
  • Display: 2.6 inches
  • TFT 65K color screen
  • 8GB of memory 
  • MicroSD compatible up to 32GB
  • GLONASS and GALILEO compatible 
  • Smartphone compatibility

Offering multi-GNSS support, the GPSMAP 64sx is ideal for backcountry lovers. You can dive deep into the wild without worrying about getting lost. This way, you can find those hidden fishing hotspots that no one else knows about. 

The 64sx packs a 2.6-inch colored display. The screen remains easily visible throughout the entire day. Use the arrangement of buttons to find maps, routes, and caches quickly. You can also use them to adjust the GPS settings according to your needs. 

The TopoActive mapping feature is only available for the US and Australian users. We don’t know if they will add more countries in the near future. However, it seems unlikely. 

The GPS allows you to connect any compatible smartphone to it. This way, you can check emails and text messages without having your phone at hand. You can also share your stored waypoints with other Garmin users. 

Pros: 

  • Very accurate 
  • You can check text messages 
  • You can share waypoints 
  • Bright screen

Cons: 

  • The TopoActive mapping is only available within the US and Australia 
  • Very expensive
  • Poor battery life

Garmin GPSMAP 66s Rugged Marine GPS

Features: 

  • Dimensions (inches): 2.5×6.4×1.4
  • Weight (ounces): 8.1
  • IPX7 rating
  • Display: 3 inches
  • Transflective colored screen 
  • 16 GB of memory 
  • Expandable memory (up to 32 GB)
  • MicroSD compatible
  • GLONASS, GPS, and Galileo compatibility 

Small and portable, the 66s is another suitable option from Garmin. Sadly, it is not very affordable. The good news is that it rocks a 3-inch display that remains readable throughout the entire day. In addition, you enjoy GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and compass. The readings are accurate. However, it takes some time to load. 

The 66s offers fish calendars, which come in handy when planning your next fishing adventure. You can also store up to 10000 fishing spots and track your activity with the built-in tracklog. If that is not enough, you can also download new maps and use the built-in hydrographic features. 

The 66s comes with 16 GB of internal storage space. You can always increase using a MicroSD card. 

Pros:

  • Expandable memory
  • Large screen-to-body ratio 
  • Built-in flashlight and SOS distress signal 
  • Detail satellite images without needing a subscription

Cons: 

  • Expensive 
  • It takes time to load
  • Poor battery life 

Handheld GPS for Fishing: What You Should Know

Although most handheld GPS you can find in the market are of the same brand, Garmin. However, it is still important to know all the features these devices offer. This way, you can make an educated decision about which is the option that best suits your needs. 

That’s the reason for this section. Here, we will talk about all the different features you can find on most handheld GPS and how they impact performance. This way, you can tell whether you need that or not. But enough talking. Let’s get down to it. 

Price 

The first thing that you must know is that these devices aren’t cheap. Most of them retail way over 100 dollars. So, you must first be willing to spend a couple of benjamins to lay your hands on a handheld GPS. To give you an idea, a reliable GPS with an IPX7 rating retails between 200 to 300 dollars depending on the other features it packs. 

GLONASS, GPS, Galileo or BeiDou? 

Some handheld GPS only supports a single satellite system. The most common signal is the GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System. It is an American technology that allows you to pinpoint your current location. It works worldwide thanks to a huge satellite network. 

GLONASS, on the other hand, is a GPS alternative created by the Soviet Union. The accuracy is similar to that of the GPS. However, there are some parts, like in the Americas, where the GPS signal is stronger, which yields more accurate readings. That’s why many smartphone and GPS brands use a combination of both systems. 

The BeiDou system is, on the other hand, the Chinese alternative to GPS. 30 satellites support the entire network. But the readings are not nearly as accurate as of the previous two options. As a result, only a handful of devices support such a system. 

Lastly, we have Galileo. Again, it is another positioning system that works globally. This time, however, it doesn’t belong to a single country. Both the European Union and the European Space Agency developed this alternative. The main difference between this one and the others is that Galileo wasn’t created for military purposes. In addition, it isn’t owned by a single country, making it less likely to be used for espionage. 

More Systems Means More Accurate Readings

While any of the above-mentioned systems work worldwide, some might yield more accurate reading depending on where you are. For example, if you are in China, then the BeiDou network might yield better results. Alternatively, the standard GPS might give better readings within its satellite coverage network. 

Let’s say that your handheld GPS supports more than one satellite system at a time. Then, it will be able to use more satellites to generate much more accurate reading and mapping. Nevertheless, you should know the more systems your device supports, the more expensive it will be. So, if you don’t have that kind of coin, we suggest choosing a handheld GPS that supports the system that works best in your region.  

GPS Protection

Although fishing might not look like an extreme outdoor activity, the device is still exposed to water, abrasion, dust, and hits. Therefore, it pays to get something able to withstand that kind of punishment. 

Luckily, most handheld GPS comes with some degree of water and dust protection. You only need to check whether it has an IP rating. The level of water and dust proofing depends on the specific label it has. We will take some time to explain in the following section.

Understanding IP Ratings

You can quickly tell if any electronic is water and dustproof by simply looking at the IP rating. The two numbers following the IP refer to the level of dust and water protection, respectively. Here you have a summary table to guide you. 

First NumberSecond Number
1Protection against solid objects over 50 nmProtection against water droplets 
2Protection against solid objects over 12nmProtection against direct sprays up to 15 degrees from the vertical
3Protection against solid objects over 2.5nmProtection against direct sprays up to 60 degrees from the vertical
4Protection against solid objects over 1nmProtection from water splashes from all directions 
5Protection against dust. Limited ingressProtection against low-pressure jets of water
6Total protection against dustProtection against high-pressure jets of water
7N/AProtection against water immersion up to 1 meter and for 30 seconds
8N/AComplete immersion protection

Shock Protection and Scratch Resistance 

While water is the most common enemy on a fishing trip, your device should be resistant to shock. This is particularly important for the screen. You don’t want it to shatter.

Make sure that the handheld GPS is rugged, with rubber sides. This way, it can handle the occasional hit. If the budget allows it, you should pick a scratch resistance screen. 

To Float or Not to Float?

Besides being waterproof, it will be of peace of mind if you find a GPS that floats as well. This way, you can quickly retrieve it if you happen to drop it on the water. Thankfully, most options on this list do float. So, nothing to worry about in this department. 

Touch Screen of Keys

There are plenty of different models of handheld GPS on the market. Most come with a screen and keys. But some others rock a touchscreen. While some users might like the technology behind the second, let us tell you that physical keys are a better deal altogether. 

For instance, a touch screen might get unresponsive after a few water splashes or if you are wearing gloves. That’s why we suggest going for physical navigation keys. Plus, the response is quicker too. 

Display and Screen Size

One thing that you should know is that handheld GPS aren’t known for their beautiful displays. In fact, these devices often have a 3-inch or smaller screen, which is smaller than most other electronics today. Only the Garmin Montana 700i has a larger screen. On the bright side, most of them are colored. 

Brightness is a common issue among most handheld GPS. Most of them are hard to see under direct sunlight. You must lay down a couple of extra dollars to find one that remains visible throughout the day. 

Battery Life

Poor battery life is arguably one of the most common problems on any handheld GPS. You are lucky if you can squeeze 20 hours of operation from one. But how to increase autonomy? Well, it depends on several things. 

The most obvious one is usage and screen brightness. The more you use it, the faster the juice will drain. The same applies if you are using several features at a time, such as mapping, geocaching, and similar apps. 

Rechargeable or Replaceable Batteries 

If you are looking for a handheld GPS with rechargeable batteries, we are sorry to inform you it will be a challenge. For instance, only the Handheld GPS A6 Navigator offers such a feature. The downside is that it lasts less than most other options on this list. 

Finding rechargeable AA batteries is the best way to split the difference between both worlds. 

Memory

One of the good things about handheld GPS is that you can store fishing hotspots, waypoints, routes, and even custom maps. Some devices even allow you to use a MicroSD to expand the internal memory. However, if you aren’t a hardcore angler, then you won’t need to expand the memory. Besides, expandable devices are inherently more expensive.  

Our Top Pick: Garmin 78sc

Few GPS offer the value of the 78sc. It is true. It might not have the most beautiful screen. But it offers a decent battery life, accurate reading, the ability to store up to 2000 waypoints, and IPX7 water and dust protection.

You can also increase the internal storage using a MicroSD, which might come in handy for those hardcore anglers who travel a lot. 

You can enjoy all of these features for around 200 bucks, which is lower than the average price for these electronics. Get yours here!

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Hi! I’m Steven!

I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started luremefish.com to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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