The Best Fishing Apps
by Ben Team
Fishing apps are some of the most exciting tools available to modern anglers, and the best ones put relatively powerful technology into the palms of their user’s hands. With little more than a smartphone, tablet or desktop device at your side and a few bucks spent on a subscription, you can access previously unavailable data and information that can elevate your angling to new levels.
But while there are plenty of fishing apps available across the internet, most of them are essentially worthless. You have to be a discriminating customer when shopping for fishing apps to avoid wasting your time and money downloading unhelpful apps.
But we can help in this regard: Below, you’ll find the information you need to distinguish the good fishing apps from the bad and our recommendations about the best five fishing apps of 2018.
The five best portable fishing apps of 2020 are:
See Table of Contents
Fishing App Quick Comparison
Deeper Smart Sonar
Open Ocean Apps
Measuring Fishing App Value
While most high-quality fishing apps on the market provide a number of the same features and characteristics, most exhibit significant differences and they each excel in different ways. Some of the most important characteristics and features you’ll want to look for when picking a fishing app are listed below.
Relatively few fishing apps provide all of the following capabilities, so you’ll need to prioritize them based on your individual needs and fishing habits.
Many fishing apps provide you with maps of varying quality. Most fishing apps that allow users to access maps provide information about shorelines, major structural features and limited depth data. However, the best even display things like vegetation, boat access points and fishing-related retail establishments near major water bodies.
The number of maps accessible via an app varies from one product to the next, but those with exceptional mapping features provide maps of most major lakes, rivers and saltwater locations. Some fishing apps also overlay their maps with the location and catches of other anglers.
Access to Local Catch Data
Some fishing apps will not only show you where other anglers are currently fishing, but it will also show you what they are catching and what they are using as bait. This is sometimes displayed as a map overlay (as described previously), but other apps display this type of data in chart form.
No matter how this data is presented, it can be an invaluable tool for catching more fish. Now, you can see that the local largemouth have been striking floating frogs the last week or two, or that the striped bass have moved out over deep-water humps within the last few days.
Personal Statistics Logs and Charts
One of the best ways to improve your fishing success is by tracking your past experiences and learning the lessons they provide. Some anglers have the discipline to chronicle their fishing trips in a journal, but for those of us who struggle to do so, some fishing apps provide automatic logging capabilities.
Every angler has his or her own idiosyncrasies and tendencies, which will influence the way you cast, retrieve and approach fishing on a given day. By reviewing this kind of information, you can learn from past successes and failures and increase the number of fish you catch.
Provided Bait and Location Recommendations
Novice anglers often struggle to figure out where the fish are holding on a given day and what lures and presentations will be most effective. Historically, you’d simply have to learn by talking to others, learning the tactics and strategies the pros use and a bit of trial and error.
But many fishing apps have alleviated this problem by providing bait and location recommendations. This allows novices to learn the basics very quickly and it can even help experienced anglers break free of ruts.
Weather Forecasts and Current Conditions
Weather is an important factor that all anglers should consider on every fishing trip. And while you can probably catch fish in just about any conditions, you’ll need to adjust your approach significantly depending on the current conditions.
Some of the best fishing apps provide users with this kind of information, and they can do so before you even get out of bed. This will help you plan your trips more effectively and inform your preparation. The end result is that you’ll likely catch more fish per hour spent on the water.
While many people are forced to fish by themselves, it is always fun to share your catches with friends and families. You may even want to share your most impressive catches with the entire world!
Although some fishing apps fail to provide any social connectivity, most allow you to share your catches and fishing experiences in just this way. Some do so via dedicated social networks, while others simply work in conjunction with popular social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter.
You can even adjust your privacy settings on most apps to limit access to your super-secret fishing spots and tricks if you like.
Some anglers will want to use their fishing apps across multiple devices, including their smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Most of the best fishing apps work with most modern devices, but be sure to verify this before making your purchase, if such things are important to you.
It is obviously important to avoid apps that aren’t compatible with your devices, but most modern apps are available for both iOS and Android devices, which limits these types of problems.
No In-App Adds
Many of the most popular fishing apps come in both free and premium versions, although some only come in one form or the other (Navionics, for example, always requires you to pay a subscription fee, while Deeper only comes in a free option).
Those that are available in free and premium versions usually have one thing in common: The free option has limited functionality and it comes with preloaded advertisements. This doesn’t bother everyone, but if you will be annoyed by constant advertisements, be sure to investigate this characteristic of any app you intend to purchase.
It bears mentioning that at least one app – Fishbrain – includes advertisements with both the free and premium versions.
A Final Word About Capabilities and Features
Remember that fishing apps can add new data and capabilities quickly via upgrades, so don’t immediately rule out an otherwise ideal app because it doesn’t provide a relatively simple and common function. You may ultimately determine that you need the capability in question immediately, but more than one app has become better in the blink of an eye thanks to software updates.
For example, you won’t want to choose a map-free app in hopes that the developer will add them in the future if maps are your primary reason for purchasing an app in the first place. But, if you really like an app that doesn’t provide weather forecasts, you may still want to select your preferred app and hope such capabilities are added on to the platform in the future.
Individual Fish Finder Reviews
While portable fish finders have become increasingly common in the marketplace, relatively few are deserving of serious consideration. But you can avoid substandard and poorly functioning models by starting your search with the five models detailed below.
Fishbrain is the fishing app of choice for social butterflies, as it possesses the most impressive social integration of the most popular fishing apps. Compatible with several of the most popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and Twitter, Fishbrain has more than 3 million users, giving it the largest social network of any fishing app.
With Fishbrain, you can see locations in which other anglers have recently caught fish, and you can even see what type of lure they used to do so. Fishbrain even provides its own lure recommendations based on a combination of current and historical patterns.
Fishbrain also provides weather forecast information inside the app, which will help you better anticipate the fish’s movements. Basic maps are included, and recent local catches are overlain on the display to help you find good fishing spots. You can even see graphs of catch frequency and similar data to help inform your location choices.
Fishbrain is available for iOS and Android systems, and it will work on most devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Fishbrain is available in both free and premium formats. Most anglers will definitely want the premium version of the app, but note that both versions contain in-app advertisements.
FishingTech found that while Fishbrain clearly provides value to anglers, it has a few shortcomings that relegated it to the second tier of fishing apps. Accordingly, it receives a B grade.
See our in-depth Fishbrain Review.
Fishidy is a map-based fishing app for your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. It is helpful for anglers of all skill levels, but novice anglers will be particularly well served by this app, as it provides several different types of information that will help improve your fishing.
Fishidy provides maps of more than 20,000 freshwater waterways and 180 saltwater waterways, as well as information about 175,000 streams. In addition to basic map images and depth contour lines, the premium version of Fishidy provides a number of selectable overlays, which provide supplemental data. This includes things like bottom composition, vegetation, boat ramps and main lake structures.
Additionally, Fishidy provides some basic social media functionality, allowing you to share catches with friends and follow other anglers as they post their best catches. Fishidy also leverages the data users input to recommend fishing hot spots, and it comes with a library of general fishing tips that are displayed when appropriate for the current conditions.
Fishidy is available in both free and premium versions, but while the free version will give you a bit of helpful information, most serious anglers will want to spring for the premium version, as the map data provided by the free version is very rudimentary. The premium version, however, provides some of the most detailed maps of any fishing app.
Fishidy is available for both iOS and Android systems, and it will work on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Because of its excellent mapping functionality and the lack of glaring shortcomings, Fishidy earns an A grade from FishingTech.
See our in-depth Fishidy Review.
Deeper is a free app for mobile devices that works in conjunction with one of Deeper's transducers – a castable fish finder with mapping functionality. However, it also provides plenty of value to anglers who use it as a standalone app. In fact, Deeper is FishingTech’s selection for Best Fishing App of 2018.
Deeper provides several different types of data via the app, including weather forecasting, a solunar calendar, photo-taking functionality and a plethora of downloadable maps -- a fantastic feature for those fishing in areas with spotty cell phone reception. You can mark important locations using the app, and you can also log your prior catches too. You can also share your catches with the world, via the included social media functions.
However, the most impressive functions provided by the app work in conjunction one of Deeper's transducers. The Deeper fishing app allows you full control over your Deeper Fishing Bobber in the palm of your hand, and it even allows you to make your own custom maps with depth information.
Because it is designed to be used with the Deeper transducer, Deeper’s fishing app is not compatible with laptop or desktop computers. However, it will function with iOS- and Android-based smartphones and tablets.
While its full capabilities are only unleashed when used with one of Deeper’s castable transducer units, the Deeper app still provides plenty of helpful information for anglers using other sonars or none at all. Accordingly, FishingTech rates it as an A+ product.
See in-depth reviews of Deeper's castable sonar units, the Deeper Smart Sonar 3.0 and the Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+.
As you may expect, the Navionics fishing app is a chart-based product designed to turn your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer into a cartographic powerhouse and help you navigate like never before. Although it is actually a boating app, it provides obvious value for anglers – even those who fish from the shore.
Navionics provides access to the same charts provided by most high-end GPS devices. But while it should come as no surprise that a company who is regarded as a leader in the navigational charting world would make an app that possesses some of the best maps available, Navionics actually provides several other helpful capabilities.
For example, Navionics provides a Dock-to-Dock Autorouting function that makes navigation incredibly easy. It also provides weather data, tide information and it has a Timeline feature, which allows you to revisit earlier trips. Navionics doesn’t provide a lot of functions that are specifically directed at anglers, but it is a great option for those who already know what types of structure to seek and what lure to use, yet need access to maps and navigational aids.
Navionics offers a brief free trial period, but you’ll have to subscribe to the platform to continue accessing the data. Navionics also comes preloaded into a number of other apps and software packages, including several fish finders and GPS units. It is compatible with both iOS and Android systems.
An excellent fishing app for those who want access to some of the best maps and charts available, Navionics earns an A- grade from FishingTech.
Not to be confused with the beast-link fishing pedal kayak from Hobie, Pro Angler is a fishing app designed specifically for the needs of saltwater anglers. It provides most of the same functions that other apps do, including maps, weather forecasts and marked fishing hot spots. However, it also provides a number of navigational aids, including boat speed and a compass function. It will even tell you the amount of time remaining until you reach your destination.
Pro Angler also provides a huge amount of data about the fish lurking in your local waters. This includes regulatory information, population notes and tips for catching them. In total, the app provides information about 350 saltwater species in more than 500 locations.
You’ll also have access to plenty of fishing recommendations by using the app. This includes data on local fishing trends, as well as recommendations provided by a team of experienced charter guides.
Pro Angler is available for both iOS and Android devices, but it does not work with desktop computers or laptops. There is a free version you can download, but you’ll likely want to spring for the premium version if you like the system’s interface and features.
Pro Angler is a high-quality application, but because it is designed specifically for saltwater anglers, its value is somewhat limited. This, combined with the numerous complaints from customers about software glitches cause it to receive a lower grade than it otherwise would. Nevertheless, FishingTech still gives the app a B, thanks to the functionality it provides.
The Bottom Line
Taken as a package with its castable fish finding transducers, the Deeper Smart Sonar fishing app edges out the rest of a very capable field. The company has delivered an elegant form factor and highly usable user interface that should set the standard for fishing apps.
Even without the castable sonar unit, Deeper's app is an impressive piece of fishing technology and, as a free app, is definitely worth the time and bandwidth to download.