Three Things To Consider When Buying Digital Fish Scales

Fish scales have come a long way over the past few decades, and the newest digital models are extremely accurate.

Man holding fish on boat
A digital fish scale lets you accurately weigh your fish. (You can still pretend it was bigger).Flickr

How many times has your best fishing buddy called to brag about catching a 7-pound bass, only to send a picture that looks like a 4-pounder?! Face it, many anglers aren’t all that believable, whether purposely or accidentally, when they start reliving the glory of their day on the water. A good digital fish scale can go a long way to restoring their perceived integrity and giving them valuable information about their catch. To pick the best digital scales for your purpose, consider three important factors—how you will use the scales, power source and readability of the display.

Expected Usage (including weight range)

Dr. Meter fish scale
This digital scale weighs fish all the way up to 110 pounds, and is accurate to within 5 grams.Amazon

There are as many different kinds of digital scales as there are kinds of fish. That's a good thing, since the way you plan to use your scales will determine what model you choose. If you're solely a bass fisherman, scales that weigh fish up to 20 pounds will suffice. However, if you also fish for catfish, a unit that will accurately weigh fish up to 100 pounds is preferable. For saltwater anglers who might catch even bigger fish, look for scales with the highest maximum weight you can find. Depending on your specific usage, scales offer a number of handy features that might fit your needs, including built-in tape measures, pounds/kilograms option, waterproof housing, and taring, a function that allows you to weigh an empty bucket or net, then reset the scale to zero before weighing the container again with live fish in it.

Power Source

Kast King fish scale
Powered by two AAA batteries, this digital scale features an auto-off function to lengthen battery life.Amazon

Probably the only thing that could be considered better about analog scales over the new digital ones is they didn't require a power source that could run out. Digital scales run on a number of different battery types, and all have their ups and downs. The majority of top models run on two AAA batteries and have some kind of power-saving function that ensures long battery life. Others run on one 9-volt battery, while still others utilize two AA batteries. Regardless of which power source you choose, look for a model that automatically turns itself off so you won't have to change batteries as often. Remember to check your batteries every time you head out on the water. When you have your biggest fish ever in the boat is not the time you want to discover your scales are dead and you don't have extra batteries.

Display Readability

Rapala fish scale
This model features a reverse image LCD screen for enhanced readability.Amazon

If you can't read your fish scales in dark, cloudy conditions and on bright, bluebird days, you're not going to be happy with them. Many manufacturers have addressed this issue quite well. Large LCD screens with backlit functions are featured on many units and are perfect for optimal reading under a variety different lighting conditions. Whether you get a black, dark blue, light blue, green or gray background is largely a matter of choice and what you can see better.