Until the digital world started exploding, technology in the fishing world has traditionally been associated with tackle. And, traditionally, this all took place with an understanding that fishing is a time to get out of the house, get away from television, and needless to say—stay off the phone. But with the rise of internet accessibility and phone technology there came an advantage: more fishermen could share their recent fishing reports. Couple this with the advancement of tech to make sophisticated and user-friendly digital applications, fishermen now have access to fishermen and fishing reports all over the world. Weather radars, river gauges, tide charts, maps, etc. and all the other data fishermen use to find fishing success are now accessible from a small mobile device. This question now confronts traditional wisdom: Does spending time on your phone help you catch more fish? The answer can now be a resounding yes! If you spend it wisely. A big part of this includes choosing the best fishing app for your purpose.
What Makes the Best Fishing App?
Fishing apps are always changing and new ones are always trying to squeeze into a niche within the market. A quick scroll through the app marketplace and it appears flooded on first glance. Which to choose? Below is a list of services that apps can provide to help you catch more fish. Digital fishing apps are constantly changing, but fish are still fish. These are unchanging factors you can use to help judge fishing apps in order to fit your needs.
Are there a lot of users? Are they active and engaged?
Talking with other fishermen is perhaps the best way to hone your knowledge and skill, aside from trial and error. For this reason, one of the most underrated ways to catch more fish actually takes place off the water. Simply, the more fishermen you talk to, the faster you’ll learn the best ways to catch fish. But there is an art to it. Much of the info you’ll learn is hard-won information from lots of time and dedication. Whether online or in person, you should approach other fishermen with a genuine sense of curiosity. Listen to what they have to say. If you have something valuable you think you can provide, offer it. If you’re a pure beginner, this still doesn’t leave you out. When you go fishing, you’ll always have a fishing report to share.
Does it record your location? Does it cover your geographic area? Which kind of maps does it offer?
Some fishermen spend a lifetime fishing a single body of water and never fully figure it out. Fishing apps that provide geographic information on your specific area can be invaluable and save you lots of time and effort. With the right geographic information and enough fishing data compiled, someone completely new to an area can fish it successfully their very first time out. This is the power of recording geographic information. Fishing apps that can overlay fishing reports with geographic info provide a powerful tool for fishermen.
Weather, Wind & Water Data
Do you need fast and reliable data for safe boating or wading conditions? Want to predict fish behavior?
Knowing weather predictions and the current conditions are essential in any boating or wading situation. Outside the parameters of life and death, however, weather and water data are the key elements for predicting fish behavior. It’s pretty easy to pick out your favorite weather app or type in the nearest river gauge station to your favorite spot. But it’s easier if you have a single app that can streamline that process into just a couple taps of the phone screen. Use fishing apps to save time by quickly accessing this important info.
Which kind of data can it organize and record? Catches? Location? Weather? Water Conditions?
To make all the data available even more worthwhile, select an app that will record and store it all. Over time, you will have a record of weather and water conditions combined with fishing reports that will help you make better decisions in the future. As you compile more and more data over time, your record, or journal, will start to become an invaluable source of information for you to reference.
Quick Access & User Friendly
Is it intuitive and easy to maneuver around? Does it take too long to load?
If the app doesn’t provide you with a good user experience, you’re simply not going to like it. Keep in mind one of the main purposes of apps is to save time and effort. Since many apps provide the same services, consider choosing the one that best fits your intuition and provides the best experience. This is perhaps the most subjective component of what comprises the best fishing app. Though, it’s very possible to be objective about subjectivity. A website with a slow load speed, for example, will not be ranked high in by search engines precisely because it has been proven that websites with slow load speeds quickly lose people’s attention within seconds.
What is the Best Fishing App?
Just like selecting the best fishing lure, the best fishing app depends on your situation and your preferences. Many apps provide the same services such as weather and water data, log books, geographic information, communities and forums, etc. Before selecting one that best fits your needs, consider trying a few of them to develop your preferences and just go from there. The sections below include recommendations for specific purposes, but it’s not an all-inclusive fishing app comparison nor is it exhaustive.
Note on Apps and App Stores
Instead of adding links for each of these, we encourage you to simply search the app name in your mobile phone’s app store. There are various app stores for multiple devices and we don’t want to be sending you to the wrong app store for your phone. As of writing this article, all the apps below are in all the major app stores. However, prices and paid services change. Any cost listed below may change before we update this again. Regardless, everything in the mobile app fishing world is either free or relatively cheap. Our team of anglers use the below apps we highlight and pay for their services when charged. As of right now, we believe they’re worth it and we can attribute plenty of fish we caught to using these apps.
Fishing App for Lake Maps & Navigation
Navionics is our go-to when fishing a new body of water. Before we even get there, we pour over the Navionics contour maps for a good understanding of the lake, river, or ocean structure. The structure of the water body is typically the shape of the land under the water. The changes in depth and structural features that break up the bottom are very important for picking a spot. Some of these features are points, drop offs, humps, saddles, sunken islands, and more. We find the key structural features on the waterbody and mark those of interest. These are the first places we start fishing. Then we look for other things on these features or in relation to them, such as fishing cover, wind, water clarity, and food sources. But every trip starts with Navionics. Their lake maps also have a GPS feature so you can position yourself relative to the map. They have a mobile map package for all water in the US for $14.99. They also have a desktop based Navionics web app for free that shows the same thing, but you can’t use that one on the water with you.
Fishing App for Networking
Simply, FishBrain contains lots and lots of data. Where did it all come from? From over 13 million fishermen all over the world. Making this app allegedly the most popular fishing app on the market. Employing a substantial team of 70+, FishBrain is here to stay and is determined to grow, continuing to pick the brains of millions of fishermen worldwide. Joining FishBrain is truly entering into a community of all experience levels. You never want to be the most experienced in a room if you wish to grow. Upgrade to FishBrain Pro, and you’ll have access to private groups and data that has taken some people years to acquire. This app’s popularity makes it the best fishing app for beginners and networking with fellow fishermen.
Fishing App for Logs & Record Keeping
The team at ANGLR means business, determined to perfect the creation of the most advanced personalized digital logbook. The beauty lies in its sophisticated auto-source capability. Auto-capture your GPS coordinates and weather and water data while you fish without having to think about it. Then log your catches and drop your waypoints to build a complete profile. Use this on waters you frequent. Over time, you’ll have built a small database you can review for any fish patterns. Transparency is key for weather and water data. ANGLR uses NOAA nautical charts and USGS weather forecasts, water gauges, and topo maps, making ANGLR’s source of data one you can rely on.
Best Fishing App for River Data
Need to check the water conditions at your local river? Then save time by downloading Rivercast for free. This app is not as sophisticated as others, but it’s built to cut through the clutter and serve one purpose: to give you up-to-date river data. The data is pulled from USGS, NOAA, US Army Core of Engineers, Colorado Department of Water Resources, and California Data Exchange, providing this app with data you can count on. Plan on fishing your favorite river? Use this app to quickly check for safe and fishable conditions.
Animated Knots is boasted as the web’s #1 site for learning how to tie knots. $4.99 gets you one of the simplest guides of the most popular knots. Select Fishing under Knots By Activity and you’re faced with superb interactive illustrations of all the fishing knots you’ll ever need. This is clearly one of the best apps for pure beginners that will have you tying solid knots within the day. Master the ones you need, and you may never need the app again. If you’re looking for an alternative app without the price tag, then look no further than the app that only caters to fishing knots called… Fishing Knots. This one is free.
Fish Identification and Regulations
The staff over at Fish Rules is dedicated to providing fishermen with accurate and up-to-date Federal and State saltwater fishing regulations from Maine to Texas to Hawaii. And they’ve only just begun. They’re determined to expand this quick access to include freshwater regs as evidenced by their recent additions of Texas, Alabama, and Florida. Checking fishing regulations is an ongoing process, and even tedious depending on which species and how many states you plan to fish in. Not sure which species you just caught? This app excels in fish identification, making it one of the best apps for beginners. Upgrade to the Pro edition and you can even have a seasoned pro identify for you. How can you tell the size limit if you don’t know the species? Simplify the whole endeavor and download Fish Rules. Runner-up for fish identification is FishVerify. Download this one for free.
For additional well-rounded fishing apps, check out FishAngler, Fishidy, and iAngler. These three apps are also very popular with tens of thousands of fishermen worldwide, offering much of the same features as ANGLR and FishBrain discussed above.