Say goodbye to going home after a long day of fishing with nothing to show for it. A sweet new system called ReelSonar just made catching fish a whole lot easier with a little help from your smartphone.

ReelSonar is a Bluetooth-enabled portable sonar fishfinder for your smartphone or tablet. It essentially tells you exactly where the fish are underneath the water.

Here’s how it works: The system comes with a battery-powered “smartbobber” that sends out sonar signals and is attached to the end of a fishing line. A proprietary circuit receives, filters and transmits the signals to a smartphone using Bluetooth. By tracking the time it takes for the sound wave to travel out and back, the system can calculate the distance to the object in the water.

The complementary app creates a single sonar image, and just like that, you know where the fish are with individual depth measurements for each one.

There are also some handy notifications: When you get a bite, a built-in bite alarm goes off. When fish pass below the bobber, an LED light on top of the bobber goes off to alert you.

The app, which works with iOS and Android devices, also lets users see water temperature, the distance from angler to bobber, view weather forecasts, see lunar calendars, watch instruction videos and tag locations to remember the good spots.

Alexander Lebedev

There’s certainly a customer base for this, as fishing expenditures are a $45 billion market in the United States. In this country alone, 46 million people fish annually, and 16 percent of those bring home more than $100,000 per year.

The company offers something similar to other portable and stationary fishfinders already on the market, but ReelSonar sells the package for under $100 — cheaper than most competitors — and is the only company that offers a sonar fishfinder as part of, or connected to, a smartphone app.

Seattle-based ReelSonar just launched its project on Indiegogo with a funding goal of $70,000. The company was founded by Alexander Lebedev, who came up with the idea last April after fishing in Lake Union and didn’t catch any fish.

This is his third startup in the ultrasound field, already having started Mirabilis Medica and JeNu Biosciences. Lebedev said the sonar part of the problem was pretty easy to figure out, but the mobile connection via Bluetooth was a bit more challenging. He’s also looking to raise outside capital for the idea, in addition to the crowdfunding effort. We’ll see if he can hook his own investors for this idea.

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  • saltchucker

    I bet it will catch a few fishermen, but it looks like a gimmick. No way that smart bobber has enough battery to pump out the frequency/wattage a true transducer needs to ping good echos.

  • David Niu

    Great piece Taylor…I’m interested in using this for bass and sunfish fishing!

  • Alex

    Actually you don’t need that much power, water has a relatively low attenuation to ultrasound if you keep the frequency low enough(NPL has some good info on this (… , and a fish provides a great reflective surface. So if you have enough sensitivity on your receive circuit and some signal processing smarts it would work fairly well.

    It’s not trying to compete with thirty thousand dollar Blue View ( and create an elaborate map of the seabed, its to help you find a good fishing spot, and it seems well priced for the technology.

    –Alex Lebedev

  • Seth

    Are you aware that the Youtube video is set to private? I am interested in how the waterbed mapping works, and if the idea is to use a fishing pole other than the one you use to fish with, to cast this device.

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