Top Phone Apps for Fishermen

Before, during or after a trip, you’ll be glad to have these fishing apps on your smartphone.
Fishing Apps for Phones

Phones and Fishing

Today’s fishing apps meet many needs for saltwater anglers, from marine charts to weather forecasts and even digital tournament platforms. Chris McGlinchy

Phones are as common as car keys in today’s hustle and bustle. Incorporating smartphone use into your fishing missions is the next logical step. Apple’s iPhone 7 is water-resistant, so it’s better able to protect against spray and splashes. Fishing-friendly apps for Android and iOS operating systems bring together anglers via social media, offer real-time fishing conditions, help locate fish and track boat routes, and provide a host of other functions. Whatever your need, there’s probably an app for it. Here are nine fishing apps that offer just some of what’s available to anglers.

You can find more useful boating apps for anglers in the April 2016 issue of Sport Fishing.

Animated Fishing Knots

Animated Fishing knots app
Animated Fishing Knots by John Sherry Courtesy John Sherry

Learning a new knot and forget a vital step? The Animated Fishing Knots app shows complete animations of 60 popular fishing knots. All knots reside on the mobile app, allowing access to knot demos on the water even without cellular network service.


Popular knots include the Alberto, Australian plait, FG, haywire twist, loop-to-loop, snell and plenty of others. Zoom, pause and play the knot to highlight specific steps. All knots have a picture of the completed knot with a text description. The knots are listed in four categories: 1) Attach a hook, fly or lure, 2) Miscellaneous, 3) Tie two lines together, and 4) Tie a loop.

The price is 99 cents (iTunes, Google Play).

Boating USA

Boating USA app
Boating USA by Navionics Courtesy Navionics

The Boating USA app covers 18,000 lakes, full U.S. coastal areas, and upper Bahamas regions via SonarChart, delivering contoured maps right on your phone. The app provides 1-foot inshore and lake contours, as well as advanced fishing contours of 3 to 6 feet past 80 feet offshore. If your boat doesn’t have a chart plotter, or if it has one that dies while on the water, this app works as a backup (and can offer a non-interactive chart even without a GPS signal, as long as the area was downloaded first).


Among the features is dock-to-dock auto-routing: Enter starting and ending waypoints, and the app automatically calculates the best route based on your boat and depth settings. Search local information for marinas, fuel prices, waterfront restaurants, fishing spots and tide stations.

Even off the boat, the app allows anglers to plan fishing trips. Look for areas to fish, mark the spots, and be ready to go in the morning.

Boating USA is $10 a year for all features, then $5 for yearly renewal (iTunes, Google Play).



BuoyWeather app
BuoyWeather by Surfline Courtesy Surfline

The Buoyweather app from Surfline predicts accurate seven-day wind and swell data worldwide, based on proprietary virtual-buoy technology. Rather than relying on a wide regional forecast, the app lets anglers know marine forecasts for any exact GPS location. Simply drop your cursor where you want the weather forecast.

Anglers and boat owners must check weather regularly, especially before heading offshore, to utilize safe weather windows. Having that data right on your phone or tablet is a huge asset.

The price for access to the seven‑day forecasts, tides, and advanced wave heights and wind maps is $15 per month (iTunes, Google Play).


Deeper Smart Sonar

Deeper Smart Sonar app
Deeper Smart Sonar by Friday Lab Courtesy Deeper Smart Sonar

The Deeper app works in conjunction with three portable Deeper Smart Sonar products: Deeper Smart Fishfinder 3.0, Deeper Smart Sonar Pro and Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+. For anyone unfamiliar with Deeper, it’s a small, ultralight wireless castable sounder that floats on the water’s surface and transmits detailed bottom and water-column information straight to your smartphone screen.

The Smart Sonar captures depths up to 130 feet, bottom structure, temperature, vegetation, fish location, and other data points. Deeper units operate in online and offline modes and connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth.

The Deeper Smart Portable Fishfinder is $200; the app is free (iTunes, Google Play).


Downrigger app
DownRigger by JEC Solutions Inc. Courtesy JEC Solutions Inc.

The DownRigger app works with any downrigger configuration to help set a desired depth. Although modern downriggers have line counters and depth settings, they aren’t always accurate, especially in current or moving water.

To use the DownRigger app, set the line display to match the number on your downrigger. Then tilt your phone so the white line matches the angle of your downrigger cable as it heads toward the water. The depth on the phone changes to match the angle of the cable; this is a better representation of the cannonball’s depth.

The app also helps set the rigger line to a desired depth. When you select the depth you want to fish, the app displays the amount of line necessary to let out. Match the angle of the cable to the center white line on the app; the amount of line required to hit that depth shows on your phone.

The DownRigger app is $2 (iTunes, Google Play).

Fish Rules

Fish Rules app
Fish Rules by Fish Rules LLC. Courtesy Fish Rules

The Fish Rules app lists recreational saltwater fishing regulations for state and federal waters from Maine to Texas. Enable location services to filter regulations for your actual location. Look up bag limits, seasons and size limits in just seconds while on the water. In so many places today, regulations are complex (as in Florida, where rules differ when fishing in the Gulf or Atlantic); this app removes the guesswork.

Manually set your location if you want to check regulations for an alternate fishing spot. For common fish species, the app offers species identification via photos.

The app is free (iTunes, Google Play).


FishBrain app
FishBrain by FishBrain Courtesy FishBrain

The FishBrain app brings social media to angling. Users of the app share images and details of their catches, including size, weight and bait used. It’s more fun to brag about a catch with people who fish. Of course, fishermen can also share tips to help others catch fish.

Top features include a FishBrain Forecast, which predicts the optimal time, place and bait to catch particular fish in any given location. The “Teams” option allows users to compete against friends, family and fellow fishing-club members in species-specific leagues.

FishBrain Premium is $5.99 monthly (iTunes, Google Play).

iAngler Tournament

iAngler Tournament app
iAngler Tournament by iAngler Tournament Systems and Elemental Methods Courtesy iAngler

The iAngler Tournament app is a virtual fishing-tournament hosting system that allows anglers to catch, photograph and release their fish and submit the competitive information in real time to the tournament directors. Because the app sorts fish as they are entered, anglers no longer need to cull fish; they just log all of them, and the longest fish are automatically calculated.

Further, the data is housed in the Angler Action database, owned solely by the Snook & Gamefish Foundation. The data collected is used directly in stock assessments in Florida. It has also recently been used for functional habitat mapping to help researchers with habitat and restoration projects.

Tournament directors interested in using the app should contact Brett Fitzgerald (mailto:brett@snook​­foundation​.org) at the Snook & Gamefish Foundation. Fitzgerald can better explain app details and even provide support for tournament setups.

The price for the app is $5 per angler (iTunes, Google Play).


iSnapper app
iSnapper by Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi Courtesy Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi

Recreational fishermen can help build Gulf of Mexico red snapper fish stocks with the iSnapper app. The app allows anglers to easily and securely report their red snapper catches, providing researchers with access to accurate harvest data. The data gathered from anglers by iSnapper will ultimately provide anglers with a longer season.

Collecting timely and accurate catch data from recreational fishermen is a major challenge to fisheries management. Because of these problems, the red snapper quota for the recreational sector includes a 20 percent buffer. With more accurate data, directly from fishermen in real time, this buffer could be reduced or even eliminated.

The iSnapper app is free (iTunes, Google Play).