ReelSonar isn’t one of the biggest players in the fish finding game—the iBobber is their only fish finder (though they do have some other nifty, non-fish finder products available to anglers). The iBobber is a castable fish finder; instead of using a control head, the unit is controlled via an app on your phone.
That means you can take the iBobber anywhere you want to fish—shore fishing, kayak fishing, and anywhere else you could bring your phone and an incredibly small fish finder. This thing is tiny—we’re talking 45 grams, 3” x 3” tiny. You can probably fit it in your pants pocket.
In terms of features and technical specs, the iBobber is definitely missing a few things. ReelSonar has made up for the iBobber’s lack of oomph with a spectacular price point. This is one of the most portable fish finders on the market and one of the most affordable. It’s also the only Bluetooth castable we’ve found on the market.
- Highly portable - can fit in your pocket
- Very inexpensive
- Connects via Bluetooth
- 10+ hour battery life
- Technically unimpressive
- Can't connect via Wi-Fi
|Max Depth||135 ft|
|Memory Card Slots||N/A|
Display and Interface
Talking about the display of this unit is pretty tricky—after all, the quality of the display will depend entirely on the device you connect to your iBobber! Have an iPad Pro? The display will be incredible—though we highly encourage you to avoid taking your iPad Pro fishing with you. Have a Galaxy S8? The display will be a little less exciting.
Interfacing with the iBobber happens entirely through the iBobber app. The app is ridiculously easy to navigate—kudos to ReelSonar on this one. You’ve got a home screen featuring six options:
- Trip log
Simply press on the icon to navigate to any of the six functions you want. There’s always a little “home” icon on every view if you want to navigate back to the home screen—the only exception is the Waterbed portion of the app, on which you have to tap a fish to return to Sonar mode, followed by the Home icon.
There’s no split-screen function on the device, so you can’t, for example, use the Waterbed Mapping and Sonar functions simultaneously (more on those later). All in all, however, the streamlined functionality of the device makes it extremely easy to learn how to navigate and quite beginner friendly.
The iBobber is really easy to start fishing with. All you have to do is put it in the water—if it’s charged, it will immediately power on. That’s about as simple as it gets—compare that to how much effort it takes to install most fish finders, and you’ll understand why we rate the design of the unit so highly. Indicator lights on the unit will tell you that it’s on.
Finally, there’s an icon available on every screen to verify the status of your iBobber. In this menu, you can check things like battery life and temperature at a glance, and you can toggle alarms and lights.
The iBobber has an easy-to-use interface, and its display depends on the device you pair it with. Not much more to say than that—onto the next topic!
To be kind, we’ll describe the iBobber’s sonar as rudimentary. There are a lot of features you might expect in a high-quality sonar system, including:
- Ice fishing charts
- Interference rejection (IR)
- Surface filters
- Variable color schemes
- Multiple cone angles
- Adjustable depth
- And a whole lot of other features
The iBobber has…none of these things. You can adjust the settings on the device to match the speed of your vessel, which is useful for trolling. That’s about it.
Now, you may be wondering, “How do I even use the sonar if I can’t access the most basic sonar features?”. A good question, dear reader. The answer?
Yes, the iBobber uses fish icons to show you the approximate location and depth of fish. The sonar chart looks like this:
Not the most impressive thing we’ve ever seen. In this view, large fish (over 15”) are tagged with light green depth tags, while smaller fish (under 15”) are tagged with orange depth tags. For anglers who prefer a traditional sonar chart, they offer something similar:
This view is the closest to traditional sonar charts you’ll get with the iBobber—to be honest, this is one of the few times we prefer fish icons.
That all being said, the ReelSonar’s transducer isn’t the worst we’ve ever seen. It offers a maximum depth of 135’ with a minimum depth of 4’. The transducer is also incredibly easy to use—it activates immediately when you put the iBobber into the water. There’s also a 42° sonar angle, which gives you pretty decent coverage.
The sonar is altogether unimpressive, but you can use it in shallow or deep water, and you get a decent sonar angle.
Do you consider icons of fish to be imaging? They are images, and that’s…something.
That’s all you’re getting, though. We hope you weren’t expecting imaging after the review we just gave of the unit’s sonar.
Onto the next thing.
The iBobber has an internal GPS. In a better, more enlightened universe, that might mean that you could download charts for your iBobber. Even if you couldn’t, you might be able to make your own charts, like you can with certain castables at a similar price point.
Sadly, you cannot. We’ll talk about what the GPS does in the “Other features” section—it’s not there for nothing—but it doesn’t actually help you create maps.
The only mapping “feature” this device has is Waterbed mapping. Here’s the kicker—Waterbed Mapping is closer to an anti-feature than it is to being a feature.
With most fish finders, the waterbed is mapped pretty instantly—when you load up your sonar screen, you’ll see bottom right there on the screen. Not so with the iBobber—you have to go to “Waterbed mapping”, start mapping, and slowly reel your iBobber in. By doing so, you’re able to see the waterbed on your sonar screen, with all of its peaks and valleys.
We honestly find it pretty mind-boggling that the unit cannot display the layout of the column’s bottom without manual user intervention. This is a pretty huge knock against the unit, in our view.
One of the biggest selling points of the iBobber is that it connects to devices via Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi. Connecting the device is relatively straightforward. All you need to do is:
- Place your iBobber in the water (connected to your line)
- Download and open the iBobber app
- Ensure that Bluetooth is enabled on your phone
- Go to the app’s Settings and press “Bluetooth Sync”
Once your device is synced, you’ll be able to name it—nicknaming the device makes it easier to connect to if you and all your friends happen to have iBobbers and you all go fishing with them together.
The iBobber is fairly easy to connect to—though ReelSonar advises you to always connect to it via the app and never through your device’s Bluetooth menu. Fair enough—Bluetooth connections can be a pain to manage.
Here’s the real (the reel?) question: Is Bluetooth better than Wi-Fi for connecting to devices?
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are both wireless communication standards. We recommend that the nerds among you read this comparison of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (and if you’re anything like us, we know you’re a bit nerdy).
The short answer is that Wi-Fi is better for practically everything. Bluetooth is less expensive (that factors into the extremely low price of the iBobber, we’re sure) and offers a higher bitrate. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, offers better range and lower latency.
Generally, we prefer Wi-Fi as a wireless protocol because it offers greater range—we’ve also had to troubleshoot Bluetooth connections more often than Wi-Fi connections.
Nonetheless, the iBobber is the only Bluetooth fish finder we can find. That makes it the only choice if:
- You prefer the Bluetooth protocol
- You have a device that only connects via Bluetooth
- You have a device that’s connected to another Wi-Fi device, and you want to stay connected to that device while remaining connected to your fish finder
Aside from Bluetooth, there’s no real networking on the device, though the app does allow for some social sharing (more on that later).
The “other features” that we’re about to describe are features that take advantage of the unit’s GPS.
First up is the “Weather” portion of the app. You’ve probably got a pretty good idea of what this does: It tells you:
- The current temperature
- The daily high/low
- Chance of precipitation
- Wind speed/direction
- Moon phase
- Barometric pressure
The weather view is simple and clean—not much more to say!
The second GPS-based feature is the “Global Plotter”. With this feature, you can see everyone else who is currently using an iBobber! That’s…well, we’re not sure how you could use this feature to improve your fishing in any way, but it’s cute?
The final feature is the iBobber app’s social sharing functionality, known as Trip Log. With Trip Log, you can save all of the details of your fishing trip, including your location, water temp, and more. This makes it easy to upload images of the fish you catch with the precise details of the conditions you caught them in—pretty handy if you’re into sharing your catches!
The Bottom Line
The ReelSonar iBobber is a solid castable fish finder. It’s missing a lot of the core features we’d like it to have, and it’s technically weak. That being said, it’s small, it’s portable, and it can be used for ice fishing, shore fishing, and more.
We’re going to be honest with you, though—there is (in our opinion) a better castable fish finder out there at the same price point. The FishHunter series by Lowrance, including the FishHunter 3D, offers better sonar, more features, and even a degree of imaging—all for around the same price. Though the unit is a bit bigger than the iBobber, it’s otherwise better in almost every way.
There’s one exception, though: The iBobber connects via Bluetooth. For people who absolutely need a Bluetooth castable, the iBobber is your best (and only) option. You’re also better off with the iBobber if you want something smaller than the FishHunter.
Looking for a very small Bluetooth castable? The ReelSonar iBobber is for you. Are you okay with Wi-Fi and a slightly bigger model? There are better options on the market for the same price.