Best Fishing Watches Reviewed: Time and Tide on Your Wrist

Anglers who are looking to have a closer connection with nature may prefer minimalism. For example, think about tenkara fans.

Others are gear hounds who seek out tech that will help them catch more fish and do so more efficiently. Anglers are among them and they’re always looking for the best equipment.

A fishing watch might be something you have thought of if you fall into this category. Modern fishing watches are more than just a timepiece. They offer a variety of useful features that can be used to aid anglers.

What makes a fishing watch a good one? And what are the benefits to you? Continue reading to learn the answers.

Here’s a quick look at the top fishing watches for 2019:

  • Suunto Traverse Alpha –Our Choice!
  • Casio AQW101-1AV
  • Casio Pro-Tech PRW2500T
  • Garmin Fenix 5

Table of Contents (clickable).

1 Best Fishing Watch Review

  1. Suunto Traverse Alpha – Our Pick!
  2. Casio AQW101-1AV
  3. Casio Pro-Tech PRW2500T
  4. Garmin Garmin Fenix 5

2 Buying the Best Fishing Watch: Some Considerations

  1. Ruggedness
  2. Water resistance serious
  3. Materials that are easy to clean and have no odor
  4. Brighten your face
  5. Moon phase and Tidal chart indicators
  6. A barometer
  7. GPS and compass
  8. Battery Life

3 Our Pick: Suunto’s Transverse Alpha

Best Fishing Watches Reviewed

Suunto Traverse AlphaOur Choice!

SUUNTO Traverse Alpha - Black/Red

Size 50mm x 15mm
Weight:75g
Water resistance10 ATM/100 Meter
Cas: Composite
Lens: sapphire crystal
Strap/braceletNylon with a silicone aftermarket choice
BatteriesRechargeable lithium-ion
GPS: Yes
Compass: Yes
Tidal chart: Yes
Moon phasesYes
BarometerYes

Suunto is a trusted brand for outdoorsmen. Their military-grade smartwatches have been tested in harsh conditions by soldiers, hunters, anglers, and other outdoorsmen. Although normal smartwatch purchasers aren’t as impressed by what Suunto has to offer, it’s difficult to find outdoor enthusiasts who aren’t.

The Traverse Alpha is, in our opinion, a solid choice and welcome addition. Although it is not perfect, the Traverse Alpha has a winning combination in looks, durability, features, and battery life which earns it our top ranking. While we’ll point out its shortcomings, we’d still choose this one for the money.

This watch is packed with smart tech. It features a variable accuracy, full-function GPS, weather updates and barometer readings, moon phase data, sunrise/sunset/moonrise/moonset info, a thermometer, a digital compass, and available tidal data, anglers won’t be disappointed by what this watch offers. This watch is the most feature-rich of all the options, which is quite impressive considering the Garmin Fenix 5.

The barometer readings can be viewed in increments of 1 hPa/.032 inch. A storm warning is also available to help you stay safe. The Traverse Alpha’s compass can be adjusted to adjust for declination automatically up to 5 degrees. This is more than enough to return you to your truck or launch.

The GPS is simple to use, and good enough to get you to the right place even at lower accuracy settings.

Like the Garmin Fenix 5 and the Suunto Traverse Alpha, the Suunto Traverse Alpha also offers “breadcrumb trailing” and a “find back”, which can help you return to your starting point. These extras are more useful for anglers than hunters, but they can be a great addition if you fish remote streams regularly or hike to your honey hole.

This watch is bomb-proof according to real-world users.

The Traverse Alpha is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. It also features a unique power system that draws electricity from a clip attached to the face. The battery is easy to use and lasts a good amount of time with the GPS set to low accuracy. It’s good enough to provide a 50m resolution and should last for at least three days in the real world. You can expect to fish for a full day on the high setting.

The NATO-style nylon strap is the only downside to this watch. The silicone replacement is recommended immediately as it will soon start to smell. It is also quite large, so people with smaller wrists might find it distracting.

Pros

  • Amazing looks
  • Bright
  • Extremely durable
  • Simple to understand
  • Amazing features

Cons

  • GPS enabled battery has an acceptable life expectancy
  • Bulky
  • Replacement of nylon straps is urgently needed

Casio AQW101-1AV

Casio Men's AQW101-1AVCF Active Dial Multi-Task Gear Sport Watch

Size 46mm
Weight:113g
Water resistance20 ATM/200 Meters
Cas: Resin
Lens: Resin
Strap/bracelet 26mm resin
BatteriesLithium ion
GPS: No
Compass: No
Tidal chart: No
Moon phasesYes
barometer

Casio’s fishing watches are a great choice for those on a budget. They offer fewer options than most of their competitors but still deliver quality and durability.

Don’t expect GPS, a compass, tidal charts, or a fancy barometer. Think rugged styling and real-world toughness. This Casio is water-resistant to 20 ATMs and can withstand years of fishing.

The watch has three specific fishing applications. It can display a thermometer and a moon phase indicator. However, the thermometer can also be adjusted to reflect your body heat. This watch is a great buy because of the fish indicator.

Four fish icons are used by the Casio to predict how well the fish will bite. The Casio does this by combining the moon phase and time. However, most anglers agree that this method works.

This alone is reason enough to spend the few dollars it will cost you.

The face is bright enough to read in full sunlight, well-illuminated to fish at night, and easy to read. It can be difficult to read some of its features due to the analog hands. There is also a lot of clutter that you need to get used to. When setting up this watch, it is important to read and comprehend the manual.

The battery life is great because it doesn’t have any intensive-draw features such as PS connectivity.

This is a great choice for anglers who can live without advanced features.

Pros

  • It’s affordable
  • Bright
  • Durable
  • Battery life is amazing
  • The fish indicator actually works!

Cons

  • GPS is missing high-end features
  • Dial clutter

Casio Pro-Tech PRW2500T

Casio Wristwatches (Model: PRW-2500T-7CR)

Size50.5mm x 15mm
Weight: N/A
Water resistance20 ATM/200 Meters
Cas: Resin
Lens: Resin
Strap/bracelet titanium
Batteriessolar rechargeable
GPS: No
Compass: Yes
Tidal chart: Yes
Moon phasesYes
BarometerYes

Casio Protech is a marked upgrade in price and function from its predecessor. This is Casio’s premium offering that’s both more expensive and more useful. It’s a great place to start if you want a product Casio designed specifically for anglers.

Contrary to other Casios we reviewed, this Casio has no analog features. Instead, it uses a data-rich liquid digital display. Several fishing-specific applications, in addition to the standard watch features, are also available.

Although this watch does not have a GPS, it has a digital thermometer, tidal chart, and moon phase indicator. These are all easy to read and access. We also appreciate the fact that the tide and moon data are right in front of you.

Pro Tech’s compass has 16 points. It measures 1-degree units and includes an automatic declination adjustment. This keeps it pointing north. The barometer measures pressure in increments of 0.05 inHg in increments of 260 to 1,100 HPA (7.65 to 32.45 in).

This watch has a liquid crystal display that is visible both day and night. You can also expect Casio’s ruggedness. It’d be a surprise if it could be broken!

Solar charging is another great feature of the Pro-Tech. The battery life is excellent and the watch can be charged by simply being positioned in the sun.

We have one criticism: the watch’s case is too big. This makes it bulky and heavy for those with smaller wrists.

Pros

  • Bright
  • Durable
  • Simple to understand
  • Solar recharging can extend the battery’s life by extending its lifespan.
  • Amazing features

Cons

  • GPS is not available
  • Bulky

Garmin Fenix 5

Garmin fenix 5, Premium and Rugged Multisport GPS Smartwatch, Slate Gray/Black Band, 47 MM

Size 47mm x 15.5mm
Weight:85g
Water resistance10 ATM/100 Meter
Cas: Fiber-reinforced Polymer with Stainless Steel Rear Cover
Lens: Chemically enhanced glass, sapphire, or sapphire crystal, also known as sapphire glass.
Strap/bracelet 22mm silicone
BatteriesRechargeable lithium-ion
GPS: Yes
Compass: Yes
Tidal chart: No
Moon phasesYes
BarometerYes

Garmin’s Fenix 5 smartwatch is equipped with all the necessary bells and whistles for any activity. Garmin has thought about what features anglers need and want, and the Fenix 5 fisherman’s tool is top-of-the-line.

The only thing an angler may miss is tidal chart information. This is something Garmin should address but we can live with it given Fenix’s other functions. Connect IQ is required for some features.

We are particularly impressed with Garmin’s TracBack safety system. Garmin explained that TracBack allows users to make a return on a previously traveled route or path without having to mark any waypoints. As it moves, the GPS device stores a tracklog. The device will analyze the tracklog points numbering in the hundreds of thousands and determine the most important and then create a route back to the original starting point.

It’s a great feature to have if you get lost.

Although not as water-resistant as Casio’s 10 ATM, the Fenix 5 is quite tough. The sapphire crystal, which is available with three levels of lenses (and the most expensive and robust), is the best option.

The silicone strap is a great choice. It provides all-day comfort and durability.

The Fenix 5 is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Garmin claims that you can get up to 24 hours of use from it with GPS enabled. In practice, a little less is better. However, a full day of fishing with GPS enabled is realistic.

Pros

  • Amazing looks
  • Bright
  • Durable
  • Simple to understand
  • Amazing features

Cons

  • GPS enabled battery has an acceptable life expectancy

Considerations When Buying the Best Fishing Watch

Ruggedness

Your watch might have to be able to withstand the occasional bump or knock, but fishing is a different story.

With enough force to smash most watches, a pike can smash your wrist into your boat’s gunwale. A fishing watch must be strong enough to withstand all kinds of abuse, from impacts to abrasions to constant sun and salt spray. This is not difficult if you have simple mechanisms. But a smartwatch can take a beating!

We recommend looking for durable sapphire crystal glasses, steel cases, and bracelets that are strong and durable, as well as protected controls and crowns. The proof is in the eating, and our real-world experience has led us to reduce the number of options.

We have had to remove a few watches that were otherwise great because we found out from actual field use that they don’t perform in the field. These watches are not recommended for use due to broken straps and easily cracked crystals.

Water-resistance is a serious matter

Good fishing watches must be prepared for all the elements. Water-resistance should be a top priority. Although this is obvious, it can be a little more difficult than you might imagine.

Many watches aren’t waterproof. They are instead equipped with features such as screw-down backs or gaskets that offer water resistance.

Watches sink deeper into the water. This happens regardless of whether they are worn on their own or connected to your wrist. The pressure created by the water column below creates more and more pressure. This pressure is measured by “atmospheres”, abbreviated as ATM. Each successive number indicates an additional 10 meters (30 feet) of water pressure rise.

One ATM equals pressure at sea level, while 10 ATM equals water pressure at 100m (about 330 feet). There are five common ratings for ATMs: 3 ATMs, 5 ATMs and 10 ATMs. Then there are 20 ATMs.

Watch cognoscenti will quickly warn you not to take a dip in the new watch yet.

These ratings are based on still water and no movement of the watch. This means your 3 ATM watch will withstand submersion to 30m/100ft if it is completely still.

According to a real-world standard, watches rated up to 3 ATMs are safe to use under the tap, while watches rated up to 5 ATMs are fine to use in the shower.

10 ATM is the minimum level of water resistance we want to see on watches that are susceptible to serious damage if they get in contact with water.

Material is easy to clean and has no odor

Although leather straps are great for looking good, they won’t be very useful on the water.

Leather is susceptible to moisture and salt, so make sure your watch is where it should be. Bracelets are more secure than robust straps.

Even though it might not seem like much leather and nylon can create perfect conditions for bacteria. This is a recipe for a stinky, smelly wrist.

Instead, choose stainless steel or silicone. These materials are strong and durable, easy to clean, and don’t smell like three-day-old fish.

Brighten up your face

Your watch will be used a lot in the sun. If you have difficulty reading them, your watch and features won’t be of any use. We recommend that you choose a fishing watch that is bright enough to see the full sun.

For night fishing, however, it is important to have an illuminated face.

In an ideal fishing watch, look for both types of brightness.

Moon phase and tide charts

Fishing in water affected by tides is a common practice.

Many fishing watches have accurate tidal charts that alert you to changes in the tides and turn fish on or off. This is a wonderful feature to have on your wrist, especially if you are fishing in areas without cell phone coverage.

Moon phases also affect fish behavior. Knowing what to expect can make a fishing trip great.

A barometer

Barometric pressure refers to the measurement of the weight of an air column over a sensor. Low pressure is often measured in millimeters of mercury, inches of mercury, or hectopascals. High pressure indicates clear skies and blue skies.

Anglers need to know how to change the barometric pressure. The relationship between rising and falling pressure is important for feeding behavior. A wrist-mounted barometer can help you know the exact atmospheric pressure and make sure you have great fishing.

This is something professionals know and will discuss with clients. You can do it too with the right watch

Terry Sullivan, a New Jersey fishing guide, said, “I have seen striped bass go wild before the barometer started to drop… The fish sense that there is a change in the weather and will feed heavily just before it happens. They know that they won’t have food for several days so they have to gorge on their own.

Ray Rosher, a Miami charter captain, explained a similar relationship between barometric pressures and hot fishing. Many people believe that it is all the wind direction that moves the sailfish and feeds them, but it can also be high pressure. The strong northerly winds that oppose the Gulf Stream northward force the fish to rise to the surface, where they use the wind direction and waves as a propellant against the current. These are the conditions that get them moving south. They burn more energy when they are tailing at the surface. They also need to eat more because they are more active. These are the times when they get those hot bites.

A barometer can help you determine when peak fishing is for whatever reason.

GPS and compass

A good fish finder will have maps and GPS, but you may not have one. Even if you do, it is always good to have a backup. A watch that is connected to a GPS can be used to mark points, hot fishing areas, or other potential hazards. It’s always with you, attached to your wrist.

Even though a compass might seem obsolete in an era of satellites and GPS, I have learned my lesson. A secondary method of navigation is essential. GPS connections can go down, batteries can explode, and they can also fail. If you get lost along the way, a hike to a trout stream can quickly turn dangerous. A salt marsh channel looks almost exactly like another.

Do yourself a favor and either wear or carry a compass.

Watches like the Garmin Fenix 5 and the Suunto Traverse Alpha have “breadcrumb navigation”. These watches keep track of your route and allow you to locate yourself if you do make a mistake. These systems allow you to go back to where you started by following the same route you used to get there.

Battery Life

The more features you have, the more drain your watch’s battery will be. It’s important to evaluate the battery life of any fishing watch that has GPS activated.

With the GPS-capable watches we recommend, you can expect all-day battery life. These devices run on small rechargeable batteries, which may not seem like much.

Our Pick: Suunto’s Transverse Alpha

It was difficult to choose a top choice, but Sunnto’s Traverse Alpha won us over.

The rugged design, bomb-proof toughness, and full-featured options make it a legend among outdoor enthusiasts. While it may not be popular with IT people in New York and San Francisco, the smartwatch has become the preferred choice for real-world anglers, hunters, and fishermen.

Expect features like a variable accuracy, a full-function GPS, weather updates and barometer readings, moon phase data, sunrise/sunset/moonrise/moonset info, a thermometer, a digital compass, and tidal data–all of which can be powered for at least a full day’s adventure. If you are far from an outlet, setting the GPS to lower accuracy can increase battery life by several days.

We recommend the Traverse Alpha to be used with caution.

The Fenix 5 is almost as good, but it has a few more useful features than the Fenix 5. The Fenix may be a better option if you don’t like the idea of having to change bands or want a more tailored look.

The Casio QW101-1AV is a great value for money if you have a tight budget.

These watches can track tide and time, so you have every advantage on the water.

Lewis
Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.