If you are looking for an electronic fish finder, one of the most reasonably priced ones you’ll find is the iBobber Bluetooth Smart Castable Fish Finder from ReelSonar.  Shaped like a bobber, this is compact enough to put in all but the smallest tackle boxes. It’s about the size of a tangerine. But, read on, I had some issues with it.

 iBobber and iPhone

Before you leave

Before you can use the iBobber, you need to charge it.  It comes with a small tripodish stand that you must use to charge the device. The bobber twists into place, making contact with a couple small charging pins in the base of the unit. Then, plug the charger into a USB adapter or a USB port on your computer.

A blue ring around the bobber lights up while charging and then blinks when fully charged. Don’t leave the bobber in the charger after charging, per the instructions, as this will discharge the battery. Also, there is no On-Off switch, so I’m not sure how or when the battery knows to shut down.

You’ll need to add an app to your iPhone or Android phone. It communicates with your phone via Bluetooth (v4.0) so make sure your device has that version.

Next, the instructions (page 5) tell you to check for a firmware update on page 26  (it’s really on page 25). And here’s where I had problems. I could never complete the update. The app stays on the “writing” screen for over an hour and never completes.  I tried it multiple times.

After contacting customer support, I was told “the iBobber update with the patch for iOS isn’t out QUITE yet. You’ll be able to do the firmware update as soon as that is released and you are updated.”  Hmmm, still waiting. 

Out into the lake

Taking the iBobber out to one of the popular, local fishing holes, I cast out and tried several the functions available on the device.  Using the mapping function, I reeled it across the lake and watched the depth change as it got closer to the dock I fished from.

mapping the bottom

In the standard sonar mode, I began to wonder about the accuracy of the device when the bobber was stationery and the display kept showing alternating solid bottom, then weed covered bottoms scrolling across the screen.

Tech support explained it this way. “The screen is split into 4 columns, and the most current sonar ping is on the left. The scree slowly scrolls to the left after each second, so one full screen holds the current sonar, -1 second, -2 second, and -3 second sonar. The important part is iBobber has about 90 degrees full angle, so it is pretty wide. say you are in 10ft of water, the sonar “looks” or “queries” the data from 20ft diameter. Basically it senses everything what is inside of that cone. So what you have observed in terms of the vegetation in the static condition, was 1) scrolling or time plotting (moving form right to left) and 2) getting averaged data from 90 degree angle.

explanation of the sonar

I’m not sure what to believe now, because this screen shot from their website shows a 42 degree angle, not a 90 degree angle.

What I also still don’t understand is how often that pattern repeats, because I did see three fish once but they never showed up again.

showing fish on the iBobber

According the explanation above, since the water was about 5’ deep, the cone of vision should have been 10’ Does that mean they all three swam through that 10’ circle at identical speeds, at various depths, in the same direction and then never came back? Hmmm.

Two more perplexions. That bottom fish, is he swimming through a raised portion of the lake bottom? And the two top fish, down 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 feet deep, shouldn’t even be showing.  Per the FAQ Page on the iBobber website,”if the fish are less than 3ft down, … or are located outside of that cone-shaped area, they will not be seen by the iBobber.” If not fish, they sure appeared as fish???

Being fair

My experience may not have been typical. There are 477 reviews on Amazon at the moment and 75% of them are 4 star or better. You might want to read what other users have to say to make an informed decision. There are a lot of features to like about iBobber, so check it out, hopefully you’ll be in the 75%. Maybe my problems will be corrected in the upcoming update???


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received iBobber for free from ReelSonar in consideration for a gear review.

Also published on Medium.