Whether you’re a commercial or a recreational angler, weighing your fish after you catch them can yield a plethora of benefits. From a commercial standpoint, weighing the fish allows you to keep track of important data about the different species, such as their diet, well-being, and size. Weighing them also provides conservationists with useful information on the population statistics of endangered fish species, better enabling them to conserve those species in the long run, while allowing recreational anglers to remain within the required size restrictions when competing in certain events.
To benefit from weighing fish, one has to use accurate weighing instruments that provide precise information, which can then be scaled to serve many purposes. Due to technological advancements, fish scales have evolved and anglers now have access to digital scales that feature some pretty convenient and impressive features. Whether you opt for a digital or spring (analog) fish scale, below we’ve got useful info on how you can choose the perfect fish scale for your application, as well as a selection of some of the best ones on the market.
Digital fish scales are relied upon to provide accurate information on how much fish weigh during recreational angling competition events, and the readings from these scales are then used to supply point scores for the competing anglers.
The digital scales used in competitive environments are known as ‘catch and release scales’ and come with weighing nets that help to reduce the risk of mortality and injury to the fish.
On the other hand, there are stainless steel hanging scales with hooks to hold the fish in place, which is easy to clean and come with a waterproof casing for added convenience, while providing different size options to suit various applications. So you can get compact ones that are lightweight and easy to travel with on a private excursion.
Lastly, spring scales are an accessible and relatively reliable option for anglers, in that they don’t use batteries, so you don’t have to worry about them dying out while you’re still busy using them. Spring scales are typically constructed from plastic, and the only downside to them is that they won’t give you an accurate reading right away, if at all.
Digital scales are preferable because they weigh each fish according to the species average, instead of just using one measurement average for all the different species, which results in more accurate reading and deductions.
As with any purchase, one has to make certain considerations before choosing a particular fishing scale, whether digital or analog. Here are a few suggestions on what you should think about when shopping for yours.
Different fishing scales are suitable for various purposes and applications. For example, a recreational angler fishing out on a lake will require a more compact and practical scale, whereas a commercial angler whose purpose is to determine monetary value through weight, will need a slightly larger scale that can handle large amounts of fish at once and still be able to provide useful weighing data.
The type of scale that you purchase will also be determined by how often you’ll be using it. If you’re an occasional angler, then you can get away with buying a cheaper and more accessible scale, whereas a busy commercial fisher will want a resilient and more sophisticated scale that can handle frequent use.
You also need to consider how much you’re willing to spend, vis-à-vis your requirements for the scale, to determine whether or not you’ll be able to afford the type of scale you require.
Quality scales are typically constructed from hardy materials like stainless steel, and although carrying a higher price tag, will offer you more accuracy and efficiency.
Some of the tell-tale signs of a good quality scale will be its handles. Your fishing scale handles should have durable grippers to help you weigh unusually large fish without breaking or slipping.
The screen display on your digital scale should be easy to read, whether in direct sunlight or rainy conditions. An LCD or large screen is usually the best option, as they make it simpler to read and analyze data regardless of weather conditions or time of day.
A good digital fishing scale will usually come with a ‘weight range’ feature which tells you the maximum weight capacity that the scale can handle. So for example, if you intend to fish for Blue catfish you need to get a corresponding scale which can accurately handle and weigh a 12-pound catch, yet a commercial angler will require a scale that can weigh up to 50 pounds worth of fish to suit their application.
You also have to consider the type of apparatus used by the scale to hold the fish in place during weighing. Most digital scales typically feature a fish grip or round hook to keep the fish in place without causing harm or injury. There are also digital scales with a circular hook that easily slides into a fish’s gill plate; however, this type of hook can cause injuries when the fish struggle in an attempt to get back into the water.
Look out for the waterproof or water resistant sign when considering the features on your digital scale. It’s always a good idea to get a waterproof one just to be on the safe side. Ideally, the scale should be corrosion resistant as well.
If you’re getting a digital fishing scale, check to see if it comes with batteries, because if it doesn’t, you’ll have to purchase them separately. It also helps if a scale has a battery meter to gauge how much battery power you still have left, as well as automatic shut-off to preserve battery life when the scale is not in use.
Below is a list of the our top 5 picks of some of the best fish scales on the market, tested and rated for your shopping convenience.
Best Budget Option
With its lightweight design, LCD screen display and a weighing capacity of up to 110 pounds, this handy scale from Dr. Meter provides accurate reading and convenient features at a steal of a price. Said features include a 1metre built-in tape measure, a metal hand strap to keep it from getting lost, and a durable stainless steel hook which is effective but not sharp enough to cause harm to the fish. To preserve its AAA batteries, the scale comes with auto-off and data lock functions, and can easily switch from one weighing unit to the next without hassle.
Best Multi Function
With stainless steel construction, a rust proof Ticoze gripper with TPR coating and a wrist wrap to prevent it getting lost, this all-in-one scale is the ideal companion for a busy angler that requires a tool for both saltwater and freshwater conditions. It's super lightweight and portable, making it easy for you to operate this using just one hand, while the scale screen makes for easy and accurate reading. The gripper’s strong jaws are expertly created to hang on to fish without causing injury.
Most Accurate and Best for Difficult Fish
This Boga grip scale is specially designed to handle difficult to catch fish in both saltwater and freshwater conditions, by providing superb catch and release action through its durable construction from acetal and stainless steel. It has a weighing capacity of up to 60 pounds which it can achieve in ¼ increments. The scale is carefully constructed with a rotating grip, to make for smooth operating with one hand, and it feels balanced and solid while weighing with it.
This convenient and versatile digital fish scale can weigh fish of up to 50 pounds in weight and comes with a gripper and a battery that can run for 400 uninterrupted hours. It’s quite a reliable and accurate scale, and the gripper is easy and straightforward to use, which makes it ideal for novice anglers.
This digital fish scale from ReelSonar features a built-in 39-inch tape measure, a stainless steel hook and a removable fish lip grabber. While the batteries can last for up to 500 hours, the scale has an auto-off function to help you preserve it for longer, and the LCD screen makes it easy to read and accurately record weight measurements. It’s worth a mention that this scale is very lightweight and easy to carry around, making it ideal for a number of applications and the weighing of different species.
One can never underestimate the benefit of having a good quality weighing scale when angling, and it’s even better when the scale can offer you features that enable flexibility, versatility, and durability. The benefits of an accurate scale could mean the difference between getting an accurate weight reading or losing an important catch due to being 'difficult.' So the quality of a good scale is non-negotiable, and we hope that this article has helped you to find the perfect one for your preferred application.