Best Fishing Watches – Which One to Get for Your Next Fishing Trip?

Gear Watches

If you’re looking for a guide to the best fishing watches, you’ve come to the right place.

Of all the fishing equipment you might think of – rods, lines, hooks, weights, floats, a good waterproof jacket, a decent backpack – a watch might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But a great fishing watch could enhance your next trip.

The question is, what should you look for? And which fishing watch is the best?

The bottom line up front: We really like the Suunto Traverse Alpha. It’s robust, waterproof, and has a barometer and GPS included.

We also like:

We’ll be looking at:

  • What to look for in a fishing watch
  • 5 of our favorites, including their key features, pros, and cons
  • Some of the most frequently asked questions
  • Which ones we like the best and why

Keep reading – hopefully, we’ll be able to find the best fishing watch for you!

Table of Contents

  1. Best Fishing Watches Compared
  2. What to Look for in a Fishing Watch
    1. Water Resistance
    2. Durability
    3. Band Material
    4. Battery Life
    5. Ease of Use
    6. Barometer
    7. GPS and Compass
    8. Extra Features
  3. Top 5 Fishing Watches
    1. Garmin Instinct
      1. Key Features
      2. Pros
      3. Cons
    2. Suunto Traverse Alpha
      1. Key Features
      2. Pros
      3. Cons
    3. Timex Expedition Shock XL
      1. Key Features
      2. Pros
      3. Cons
    4. Casio Men’s AQW101
      1. Key Features
      2. Pros
      3. Cons
    5. G-Shock G-Rescue Series G-7900A
      1. Key Features
      2. Pros
      3. Cons
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. Do I really need a barometer for fishing?
    2. Do all fishing watches come with a warranty?
    3. Is tidal information useful for a fishing watch?
    4. Can I use a normal watch for fishing?
    5. What other equipment can you recommend for my next fishing trip?
  5. To Sum Up … Which Fishing Watch is the Best?

Best Fishing Watches Compared

Feature
Best for Extra Features
Good All-Rounder
Best for Basic Features
Best for Lunar Cycle Watching
Most Robust
Model
Garmin Instinct
Suunto Traverse Alpha
Timex Expedition Shock XL
Casio Men’s AQW101
G-Shock G-Rescue Series G-7900A
Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS, Features GLONASS and Galileo, Heart Rate Monitoring and 3-Axis Compass, Flame Red
Suunto Traverse Alpha - Stealth
Timex Men's T49950 Expedition Shock XL Vibrating Alarm Black Resin Strap Watch
Casio Men's AQW101-1AVCF Active Dial Multi-Task Gear Sport Watch
Casio Men's G7900A-4 G-Shock Rescue Red Digital Sport Watch
-
-
-
14,645 Reviews
674 Reviews
812 Reviews
635 Reviews
1,773 Reviews
Feature
Best for Extra Features
Model
Garmin Instinct
Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS, Features GLONASS and Galileo, Heart Rate Monitoring and 3-Axis Compass, Flame Red
14,645 Reviews
Feature
Good All-Rounder
Model
Suunto Traverse Alpha
Suunto Traverse Alpha - Stealth
-
674 Reviews
Feature
Best for Basic Features
Model
Timex Expedition Shock XL
Timex Men's T49950 Expedition Shock XL Vibrating Alarm Black Resin Strap Watch
-
812 Reviews
Feature
Best for Lunar Cycle Watching
Model
Casio Men’s AQW101
Casio Men's AQW101-1AVCF Active Dial Multi-Task Gear Sport Watch
635 Reviews
Feature
Most Robust
Model
G-Shock G-Rescue Series G-7900A
Casio Men's G7900A-4 G-Shock Rescue Red Digital Sport Watch
-
1,773 Reviews

What to Look for in a Fishing Watch

A good fishing watch can be a really handy tool – here’s what to look for.

Water Resistance

Waterproof sport watches underwater on hand

Water-resistance is a big deal for obvious reasons – your watch needs to be able to hold up to the elements. You won’t see a watch advertised as being ‘waterproof’ – this is to do with advertising standards – but if you see ‘water-resistant’, it stands to reason that your watch won’t break if exposed to water.

If a watch says it is water-resistant up to 100 meters (or 328ft), that means exactly that – if you’re diving, swimming, snorkeling, or anything that involves being underwater, it should be able to resist water up to 100 meters deep. Any more than that, and you risk water getting into the watch and breaking it.

Water-resistant watches usually have features like rubber, nylon, or Teflon gaskets, which create completely watertight seals at the joints where water could otherwise leak through. They’re usually lined with sealant, giving them an extra measure of water resistance.

You might see a rating of ATM (atmospheres). This refers to the amount of pressure on a watch as it sinks lower into water. As the water pressure increases, it becomes more difficult for the watch to resist water from seeping into it. Each number adds the equivalent of 10 meters (32.80ft) of pressure. For example, 1 ATM is equivalent to water pressure at sea-level, while 3 ATM is equivalent to 30 meters (98.42ft) of pressure. ATM ratings can range from 3 ATM all the way through to 20 ATM, with 20 being the most water-resistant.

For fishing, we’d recommend a measurement of 10 ATM or higher just to be on the safe side – any less than that, and you risk water damage. Not all watch manufacturers will advertise this, however.

The jeweler Ernest Jones has a guide to water resistance in watches if you’d like more detailed information.

Durability

G-Shock tough watch

A good fishing watch should be durable – it should be able to withstand a few knocks and bumps without breaking. Look for a watch with shock-resistance, as this means it should be protected even if you drop it or knock it against something accidentally. You may also see the words ‘thermal resistance’ – this means that the watch can withstand extreme heat without melting or breaking. Not something you may think of worrying about in terms of fishing, but if you were to leave it out in the sun for a long time, at least you’ll know it shouldn’t fade or break.

Band Material

Black colour sport wrist watch replacement bands

Band material is another key factor in fishing watches. The last thing you want is to look for materials that absorb odors, for obvious reasons! It’s better to look for a watch that you can wipe down after use, like stainless steel or silicone.

Also, take a look at the way the watch is constructed – if there are lots of small nooks and crannies, it’s going to be harder to get in there to thoroughly clean it. Look for a simple design, as it will be easier to take care of.

Battery Life

watch battery replacement, watchmaker replacing watch battery on quartz watch

Battery life is another thing to take into consideration, especially if you’re planning a weekend away. The more features your watch has, the quicker the battery levels will drop. Look for a watch with a battery that will last all day long.

Ease of Use

The more features you watch has, the more complex it may be to learn how to use it. Look at how easy it is to switch between modes.

It’s also useful to look at the display. Is it bright enough to be seen in both bright sunlight and at night?

Barometer

Hiker or traveler on mountain trail checking direction on electronic compass

A barometer measures air pressure. This is a very useful feature, as it can help you to figure out where there are more fish, saving you time and hopefully increasing your chances of catching some! Whether you think that high pressure or low pressure is better for fishing is a matter of opinion but knowing that the air pressure is changing is a vital tool to have.

GPS and Compass

A compass may seem a little outdated, but it’s useful to know how to use one, and even more useful to have one in your watch ready to go. A GPS can fail, but a compass can always be relied upon to help you find your way.

Having said that, it is useful to have a GPS too, especially if you’re exploring new fishing spots. You can mark waypoints as you go which is incredibly helpful if you’re fishing in an unfamiliar place. Some watches offer ‘breadcrumb navigation’, essentially tracking your route. If you do accidentally take a wrong turn, you should be able to retrace your steps and figure out where you went wrong.

Our guide to the best hiking watches has more watches that can help you find your way when exploring a new place.

Extra Features

Running man with smartwatch on the wrist

There are a few extra features that fishing watches may have:

  • Estimated heart rate – working a little like a fitness watch, this will keep you updated on your heart rate as you go
  • Alarms – if you often lose track of time, setting an alarm can help you out. Plus, some watches have vibrating alarms, so you don’t have to worry about not hearing it beep.
  • Moon/tide information – some watches offer lunar and tidal information, which (depending on your school of thought) may have a big impact on your fishing success rate. (If you’re not convinced, Sport Fishing Magazine has more details on the moon and how they believe it can impact fishing.)
  • Sunrise and sunset information – as fish tend to be more active at sunrise and sunset, this could help you to plan your trip, so you arrive at just the right time.

Top 5 Fishing Watches

Let’s have a look at 5 of our favorite fishing watches. We’ll be looking at their key features, pros, and cons, which will hopefully help to find the best one for you.

Garmin Instinct – Best for Extra Features

Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS, Features GLONASS and Galileo, Heart Rate Monitoring and 3-Axis Compass, Flame Red

Key Features

  • Band Material: Silicone
  • Water Resistance: Up to 100m (328ft)
  • Barometer: Yes
  • GPS/Compass: Both
  • Battery Life: 14 days (smartwatch mode), 16 hours (GPS mode), 40 hours (battery saver mode)
  • Dimensions:
    1.8 x 0.6 x 1.8 (in)
    4.57 x 1.52 x 4.57 (cm)

If you want more of a smartwatch, the Garmin Instinct is a great choice. It’s a super-robust, rugged watch, constructed to U.S Military standard. It has thermal, shock, and water resistance (up to 100 meters). It’s definitely a watch that can withstand tough conditions.

It’s a comfortable watch to wear, with a silicone band (great for easy cleaning) and two removable keeper loops, which will help to keep your watch secured to your wrist.

It has a great GPS, which includes a TracBack feature to help you find your starting position if you were to get lost. You can plan your journeys in advance, too. However, where it falls slightly is the compass, which can be slightly off depending on your altitude.

It has a lot of great extra features, including a barometer, a storm alarm, sunrise/sunset times, and moon phases, but it doesn’t have any tidal information. It has a lot of other technology, including a monitor to estimate your heart rate, activity, and stress throughout the day, and the ability to live upload your data.

Pros

  • Water-resistant up to 100m / 328ft
  • Shockproof
  • Comfortable and secure to wear
  • The GPS is very useful
  • Has a lot of extra features

Cons

  • The compass could use some improvement
  • It doesn’t have tidal information
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Suunto Traverse Alpha – Good All-Rounder

Suunto Traverse Alpha - Stealth

Key Features

  • Band Material: Nylon
  • Water Resistance: Up to 100m (328ft)
  • Barometer: Yes
  • GPS/Compass: Both
  • Battery Life: 14 days (time mode), 10 – 100 hours (in GPS modes)
  • Dimensions:
    1.97 x 0.59 x 1.97 (in)
    5.03 x 1.49 x 5.03 (cm)

The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a great fishing watch. It’s robust, with a scratch-resistant face, and it’s water-resistant up to 100 meters. It has been tested against military standards.

The strap is comfortable to wear and easy to wipe down and clean. It has a very simple design, which makes it simple to look after in terms of removing any grime.

In terms of finding your way, it has a built-in digital compass that works well, as well as a GPS to help you track your route, with an automatic breadcrumb trail. You can also save points of interest, and you can plan routes with topographic maps or even keep a diary of your fishing trips using the Suunto web app.

It has a barometer, as well as a location-based moon phase calendar with sunrise and sunset alerts. It lacks tidal information, however. The downside is that, while it has a temperature sensor, that sensor is set against the skin, meaning the readings can be unreliable.

Pros

  • Water-resistant up to 100m / 328ft
  • Tested against military standards
  • Compass and GPS works well
  • Includes a moon phase calendar and sunrise/sunset alerts

Cons

  • Lacks tidal information
  • Temperature sensor can give unreliable results
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Timex Expedition Shock XL – Best for Basic Features

Timex Men's T49950 Expedition Shock XL Vibrating Alarm Black Resin Strap Watch

Key Features

  • Band Material: Plastic
  • Water Resistance: Up to 200m (660ft)
  • Barometer: No
  • GPS/Compass: No
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 years
  • Dimensions:
    4 x 3 x 2 (in)
    10.16 x 7.62 x 5.08 (cm)

The Timex Expedition Shock XL is a good watch with basic features. It has great water-resistance of up to 200m (660ft), and it’s pretty rugged and durable, with good shock resistance.

It’s a comfortable watch to wear, with a basic plastic strap that is easy to clean.

It lacks a lot of features that the other watches on this list have – for example, a GPS or a compass. It also lacks a barometer, and a moon phase calendar. However, it does have a 24-hour countdown timer, vibrating alarms, and a month, day, and date calendar. It also has a 100-hour chronograph. This means it essentially acts as a stopwatch – you can find out more about chronographs in the Gentleman’s Gazette.

The reason why we chose to include this watch, despite the lack of fishing-specific features, is because it comes at a great price. You might be looking for a watch that acts, essentially, as a basic watch would, but with improved waterproofing and durability. If you don’t have a bigger budget to work with, we’d recommend this one.

Pros

  • Water-resistant up to 200m (660ft)
  • Great shock resistance
  • Includes a chronograph, timer, a calendar, and alarms
  • Good price

Cons

  • Lacks information that is useful for fishing
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Casio Men’s AQW101 – Best for Lunar Cycle Watching

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

Key Features

  • Band Material: Plastic
  • Water Resistance: Up to 200m (660ft)
  • Barometer: No
  • GPS/Compass: No
  • Battery Life: Can last several years
  • Dimensions:
    3 x 3 x 4 (in)
    7.62 x 7.62 x 10.16 (cm)

The Casio Men’s AQW101 is a good watch if you’re into the lunar cycle and how it impacts fishing. It has water resistance of up to 200m (660ft), and it’s durable, able to withstand some bumps and scrapes with no issues.

It’s comfortable to wear, and the plastic strap is easy to clean.

It won’t help you to find your way, as it lacks a GPS or a compass – so if you do want a watch for that reason, you’re better off looking at the Garmin Instinct  or the Suunto Traverse Alpha as mentioned earlier in this article.

However, it has a very handy fishing mode. It indicates the suitability of fishing in a certain area by the lunar cycle. If you believe that the lunar cycle has a big impact on fishing, you’ll like this – and it’s so easy to use. Just click a button, and you’ll see a helpful graphic which will predict how successful you’ll be. It also has 30 time zones, a city code display, a stopwatch, and a thermometer. However, the thermometer is unreliable as the sensor sits too close to the skin.

Pros

  • Water-resistant up to 200m (660ft)
  • Robust and durable
  • Includes an easy to use ‘fishing mode’
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Lacks a barometer or a GPS/compass
  • The thermometer is unreliable
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

G-Shock G-Rescue Series G-7900A – Most Robust

Casio Men's G7900A-4 G-Shock Rescue Red Digital Sport Watch

Key Features

  • Band Material: Plastic
  • Water Resistance: Up to 200m (660ft)
  • Barometer: Yes
  • GPS/Compass: Both
  • Battery Life: 2 years
  • Dimensions:
    1 x 1 x 1 (in)
    2.54 x 2.54 x 2.54 (cm)

The G-Shock G-Rescue Series G-7900A is a very robust watch that would suit all kinds of outdoor pursuits. It has water-resistance of up to 200m (660ft), and it’s durable and shock-resistant, able to withstand some good knocks.

It’s very comfortable to wear, so you won’t get annoyed with it after hours of use, and the plastic strap is easy to wipe down. It runs on the larger size, so those with smaller wrists might find this doesn’t suit them.

It doesn’t have a compass, or a GPS, unlike some of the others on this list. So, if you want more of a smartwatch that tracks where you are or where you’ve been, this won’t be the one for you.

It lacks a barometer, which is a shame, but it does have moon and tide graphs, and the durability makes it a good choice for fishing at sea, as it can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

Pros

  • Water-resistant up to 200m (660ft)
  • Very robust and durable
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Has moon and tide graphs

Cons

  • Lacks a barometer or a GPS/compass
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions

G-Shock watches black color forest background

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about watches for fishing:

Do I really need a barometer for fishing?

It really depends. Barometric pressure can cause fish to behave in different ways (this article by Weather.com has more information about fish and how they respond to changes in pressure), so it may be worth knowing how it works. However, people have been fishing for generations without a barometer, so it’s not exactly necessary.

Do all fishing watches come with a warranty?

It depends on the manufacturer. Many watches by larger manufacturers, like Garmin or Casio, come with a warranty – it’s worth checking before you buy.

Is tidal information useful for a fishing watch?

Moving water can make a big impact on the fish under the surface. Knowing tidal times can really help youmake the best strategic decisions, so it’s worth knowing this. You don’t necessarily need to have this information within your watch, but it could be a handy extra to look for. You can find out more about tide times and how it impacts fishing in this article by Fishing Booker.

Can I use a normal watch for fishing?

You can, but you might run into two major problems. One is the lack of water resistance, as you’ll obviously be close to water. You may find that being so close to water may cause your watch to rust after a while. It’s also useful to have a watch that is easy to wipe down after fishing.

Also, you’ll lack all the features (like a barometer, GPS, and moon/tidal information)  that a fishing watch can give you – which are really useful to have.

What other equipment can you recommend for my next fishing trip?

Portable shower bath tent on norwegian nature

A privacy tent can be a really useful thing to have. Small and lightweight, it can provide a safe place for your gear as you fish, as well as a handy place to get changed if you need to. You can see our favorites in our guide to the best pop-up privacy tents.

Orca orange hard cooler at lake

You could also look at investing in a decent cooler. YETI is a great brand, and you can see more about YETI cooler sizes in our guide. You can find more about coolers in our ORCA vs YETI comparison. A good cooler will be able to withstand knocks and scrapes, so it’s worth investing in one.

Finally, you might want a good supply of coffee or tea to keep you going. You can find two great ones in our Hydro Flask vs YETI Rambler comparison.

To Sum Up … Which Fishing Watch is the Best?

view from behind of sailing man in blue t-shirt and a cap and a wrist watch on hobby boat at sea

Which one do we like best?

The Suunto Traverse Alpha has to be our favorite. It’s water-resistant, it has a good compass and GPS, and it has extra features like a barometer and lunar cycle information.

If you want something really robust that will be comfortable even after a lot of use, you can try the G-Shock G-Rescue Series G-7900A. Or, if you want something more akin to a traditional smartwatch, you could try the Garmin Instinct, which will give you a lot of tech to play around with.

If you’ve used any of these, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!