Whether you're a serious competitor or you just like to keep track of your catches on the weekend, a fish scale is always a useful tool to keep in your tackle box. We compared 15 different models in search of the best fish scale, considering things like accuracy, long-term durability, weight limit, and more. With all aspects considered, we think the Dr. Meter ES-PS01 offers the best value. Although this hook scale wasn't specifically designed for fishing (that's just one of its intended purposes), it's well-built, can weigh fish up to 110 lbs, and is surprisingly accurate (+/- 0.02 lbs) considering its low price. Article Summary
Fishing is one of the most popular activities all across the world, and it has been for thousands of years. What started out as a means of survival has developed into a fun family pastime and even a way to make a living. Now more than ever, fishing is also popular as a sport, and there are many who compete and try to land record fish of all species. While there are several ways of measuring a winning fish in competition, one of the key methods is by weight. However, weighing fish takes more than just a trained hand. The best way to accurately weigh your catches is to use a good fish scale.
Just like your regular bathroom scale at home, fish scales are a dime a dozen, and models vary widely in style, accuracy, features, and price. By general comparison, the most accurate fish scales are usually digital (sorry analog fans, technology just continues to prove superior), but from there the options start to pan out in terms of quality and durability. The important thing to remember here, though, is that price doesn’t necessarily determine the level of quality and accuracy – in other words, just because a scale is expensive doesn’t mean it offers any better quality or accuracy than a model that’s half the price.
To find the best fish scale, we compared 15 different models from a wide spectrum of prices (some under $20, others over $100). Our top priority in rating scales was accuracy, so we not only checked manufacturer specifications, but we also double-checked user feedback to make sure each product was truly measuring as intended. Another aspect we heavily weighed (pun intended) was build quality and durability to see which models were built to last, as a lot of scales have problems with consistency or literally falling apart over time after weighing so many fish. After considering these attributes of each scale, as well as several others which we’ll go over later, we believe the three options below are the best fishing scales.
(weighed in 1/4-pound or 1/2-pound increments)
The best fish scale for most fishermen
Of all the scales we looked at, even the ones over $100, we don’t think any model can offer a better bang for your buck than the Dr. Meter ES-PS01. It offers extremely good accuracy (within 5-10 grams), an impressive high weight limit (110 lbs), and a low price that anyone can afford.
As soon as you pull the Dr. Meter ES-PS01 out of the box, the first thing you’ll notice is the bright LCD display with a blue backlight that make the numbers easily readable no matter what the weather conditions or time of day. There’s also a stainless steel pop-out handle and a stainless steel hook for both strength and aesthetic, making this a fairly durable hook that can stand up over time. The scale overall measures about 5.5″ by 3.5″, so it’s relatively small and won’t take up much room in your tackle box.
There are several buttons across the front of the scale which you can use to zero the weight reading, convert readings between grams, kilograms, pounds and ounces, and there’s even a data-lock option that locks your measurements on the screen. This, combined with the convenient 1-meter measuring tape built-into the scale, allows you to take the weight and length of your catch within the shortest amount of time so you can get your catch back in the water and get your numbers recorded.
Speaking of recording numbers, let’s talk about the most important part of any good scale: accuracy. Dr. Meter claims an accuracy level of +/- 0.02 lb (5-10 grams), making it one of the most accurate fish scales on the market. This isn’t just talk, either – there are several hundred customer reviews across various retailers which back up this claim. The user feedback also backs up the consistency of the scale, with many people saying they’ve tested it several times with the same fish and gotten nearly the same weight reading every time.
One of the greatest specs about the Dr. Meter is also its weight range: this scale is capable of weighing fish up to 110 lbs. As mentioned earlier, this particular scale was not specifically designed for fishing – weighing fish is just one of its many purposes. This is more of a “multi-purpose” model designed for weighing postage, bicycles, or anything else you can weigh from a hanging hook scale. While most people might argue that a multi-purpose scale isn’t as good as one that’s specifically designed for fishing, we disagree. The proof is in the numbers; if a scale can weigh fish accurately, who cares what it’s marketed purpose is? By comparison, a “fishing-specific” model that weighs up to 110 lbs would easily run over $200.
Overall, unless you’re a professional fishermen who competes for a living and needs more advanced fishing-specific features or functionality, the Dr. Meter ES-PS01 is the perfect scale for the average user or even amateur competitors. It’s highly accurate, easy to use, and its high weight limit makes it very versatile for any size fish you’ll be trying to catch.
A professional scale for more serious competitors
Rapala’s RTDS Touch Screen Scale is a true example of a scale that was designed specifically for fishing. It is considered by many to be the best fishing scale out there, and we can’t disagree. The only reason we’ve placed this as #2 on our list is because its price is on the higher end, and we thought most fishermen would prefer more bang for your buck (which is what Dr. Meter provides). With that said, if you demand the highest quality, you can’t beat this model from Rapala.
As you can see from the picture above, the body alone is much more fishing-oriented than our previous pick by Dr. Meter. It features a rubberized, textured handle that’s comfortable to hold and provides a solid grip that won’t slip, even when wet. The screen itself is moderately sized and backlit for nighttime conditions, and you have two options for hanging fish on the scale: a standard stainless steel hook, or a heavy-duty composite clamp that tightly clips onto the fish just beneath its lower jawbone. The clamp is usually preferable because it’s easy to use, creates a tight hold, and allows for quick catch and release with minimal handling and trauma.
The benefits of investing in this scale are proven through the technology it offers. Not only is it accurate within a single ounce, but it features an 8-piece culling system to help you keep track of multiple catches on the fly. The system tracks each fish’s weight individually, and it will also add them up to show you your total catch weight (which you can choose to display as pounds, kilograms, or ounces). There’s even a back-up memory that will save all your recorded data as you go – that way, if power is lost or you accidentally overwrite a piece of data, you can go back and restore it.
The only real drawback to this model in terms of functionality is its weight range: there are two versions, one of which can handle up to 15 lbs, and the other can handle up to 50 lbs. Of course, this is only a drawback to those who catch fish heavier than those limits allow, but it’s still something to note nonetheless. It’s also worth noting that the 50 lb version does not come with the culling system, which is why we personally recommend the 15 lb version over the 50 lb version (there have been some people who say to just go for the 50 lb version no matter what, but we’d suggest weighing your needs for the culling system before deciding which to go with).
There’s no other way to put it: the Rapala RTDS Touch Screen Scale is a truly professional-grade fish scale. Recommended by weekend warriors and pro’s alike, this is an accurate scale that is sure to last for years of use without a single issue. While its price is slightly higher than other models, the culling system can be invaluable in a competition when time and efficiency are crucial.
A highly-regarded spring scale
BogaGrip scales are considered to be the Rolls Royces of fishing scales – and trust us, they’ve got both the quality and the hefty price tag to back up that comparison. If you’ve ever visited any type of fishing forums asking about scales, you’ve likely heard the name BogaGrip before. Their scales are extremely well known for their superior quality, and they earn a solid 5-star-rating from nearly everyone who owns them. BogaGrips are spring scales, so don’t expect any fancy displays or technology here – but you can expect a tool that is tried and tested to last for decades, if you want to shell out the cash.
As you can see from the image above, the BogaGrip’s design is quite a bit different than your traditional digital scale. It features a solid stainless steel body that’s about 11 inches long and as durable as they come (and surprisingly light, weighing only one pound), and the top has a soft grip wrapped around the body for secure handling. At the bottom of the scale, there’s a clamp rather than a hook, just like the one that comes with the previous Rapala model. This clamp is designed to work exactly the same way, grabbing below the fish’s lower jawbone for simple catch and release with minimal handling.
There are three different versions of the BogaGrip available, with the only difference between versions being the weight limit the scale can handle. The three available limits are 15 lbs, 30 lbs, and 60 lbs. With each version, measurements are shown in 1/4-pound increments – but here’s where things get impressive for this brand. Despite not having the same precision as a digital scale (which can accurately measure with one-tenth or even one-hundredth of a pound), the BogaGrip has won the IGFA’s World Record Achievement Award in the scales category every year since 2004. Users have reported getting their scales individually tested by the IGFA, and their reports have shown the scales to be dead-accurate at every single weight up to its limit.
If you’re in competition and time and accuracy are critical, the BogaGrip might not be the best choice for you. Digital recordings and tracking systems would probably suit you much better. However, if you want an incredibly well-built scale that will stand the test of time, investing in a BogaGrip is sure to guarantee you a 5-star experience.
How we chose our top three
Fish scales come in a variety of styles. Some offer the bare minimum that you need to weigh your fish, others comes feature-packed with a host of other tools you may need while out on the boat. No matter what the style, there are several key aspects a scale needs to meet in order to be considered a top choice.
Fishing scales can be digital or mechanical, expensive or cheap – but at the end of the day, accuracy and efficiency are most fishermen’s top priorities. After all, what good is any piece of measuring equipment if it isn’t accurate? Because of this, only the most accurate scales made it onto our list. We started by checking manufacturer specifications, but knowing that these can be falsified for the sake of advertisement, we also checked hundreds of customer reviews to see what actual customers have experienced when weighing fish. Once we had notes on the proven accuracy and consistency of each model, we narrowed down the list to the most accurate models, and then continued scoring based on the next few pieces of criteria.
After accuracy, another important aspect is long-term durability. What good is an accurate scale that falls apart of a month of use? The best fish scale is one that can hold up throughout years of use, no matter whether you’re fishing one a month, once a week, or daily! To determine long-term durability, we looked closely at the build quality of each model. We wanted well-made products with good warranties, and we think we covered this aspect perfectly given our choices.
Since fishing scales aren’t only used for small lake fish, having a scale with a higher weight limit greatly expands the varieties of fish you can use the it for. Some fish, like the average largemouth bass, generally won’t climb over 20lbs, but saltwater fish can very easily weigh up to and over 100lbs. Having the versatility to weigh fish in both settings without getting an error due to a weight overload (or worse: literally breaking the scale) is a nice advantage. With that said, this wasn’t an absolutely critical point in our scoring, as we know there are plenty of people that just plain won’t ever have the need to weight a fish in the high-weight range.
Something that can add to a fish scale’s value, provided they meet the standards for our other aspects, is having a few extra features. Extra features such as a culling system or even a tape measure can make a big difference in the usability of a scale. These accessory features certainly aren’t a dealbreaker if all of the other aspects hold up, but if a particular model possessed one or more of these features it certainly put more marks in the “plus” column.
Things to consider before buying
Buying a fish scale is pretty straightforward, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider your circumstances before buying. Below are some questions to ask yourself that you may not have thought about already.
How often do you fish?
If going fishing is something that happens only once in a great while, yet you still want to weigh your catches for either novelty or a little bit of self-competition, this will factor into which model you get. Spending too much on a professional scale isn’t going to do you much good if it’s going to spend 4 or 5 months collecting dust in your tackle box. However, if you’ll be fishing a lot, investing a few more bucks in a better one will do you some good.
What time of the day do you fish at?
The best time of the day for fishing depends on a number of things, such as the season, temperature, and weather. So with that said, sometimes you might be going out during the middle of the day, whereas other times you may be out at sunrise, sunset, or even when the sun isn’t even out. If you plan to fish at any times where lighting conditions may be low, this may necessitate a backlit screen on your fishing scale for quick and easy reading. On the other hand, if you know you’ll never go out unless the sun is shining, a backlight isn’t going to be required. Making this distinction won’t make a huge difference in the price, but if there’s a model that you have your eye on that lacks a backlight, you won’t have to compromise if you do most of your fishing when the sun is up.
Is length an important measurement to you?
Measuring your catches comes in two main forms; the first is obviously weight, the other is length. While not used as frequently, length is still a metric that can come up in competitions, whether official or friendly. There are a few scales that feature a built-in measuring tape. Again, the absence of this feature doesn’t take anything away from a good scale, but it does add that little extra bit of versatility that make it a better deal.
Do you prefer digital or analog?
Fishing, although it has many slow-paced and traditional aspects, is an evolving sport. Sonar and several other advancements place fishing up there with the top sports for technological advancement. In that, digital scales have become the standard for weighing fish – even competitions use digital scales now. However, with that, there of course those out there who have a predisposition for tradition, and prefer other ways of doing things. Consider which type you prefer and make the choice from there.
How to properly weigh a fish
Although you might now have the best fish scale, it’s always possible to still get an inaccurate reading. There are several common mistakes made in the process of weighing fish, so we’re going to take a step-by-step approach to the process to make sure you’re covering all the bases for a successful weigh.
Step 1: Zero your scale
This step is extremely important for an accurate weigh, and many amateurs miss it. Whether you’re only using the standard hook or you’re using a more complex weighing bag, these things can add weight to the scale and give you a heavier reading because many forget to zero out the scale after putting them on. When everything is on the scale (except the fish) and it reads 0.0, you know you’re ready for the next step.
Step 2: Load up the fish
Now that the scale is zeroed out, take your fish and load it into the scale. Be careful and keep a firm grip of the fish until it is securely being held by the bag or clamp. Once the fish is loaded, you’re ready for the next step.
Step 3: Record the weight after the fluctuations stop
Once you place the fish onto the scale, it will likely flop around for a while – the more lively the fish, the longer you’ll have to wait. Once it is still and the scale stays in one spot, record the weight. Some scales have a lock button which allows them to lock in the weight of the fish and store it away for later recall, but otherwise it will be either pen and paper or your phone.
Step 4: Release the fish
Once you have your weight, the process is over. Remove your catch from the scale and either release back into the wild blue or put it with the rest of the catches you’re hanging onto to take home.
Wrapping it up
Weighing your catches is a fun way to see what kind of fish you’re landing and where you stand as an angler in terms of bait and location choices. Weigh-ins can also be used for both friendly and professional tournaments if you have a competitive spirit. We think the three scales we’ve chosen can cover any type of fishermen – from regular weekend warriors to professional competitors. Each model is more than capable of accurate measurements and long-term reliability, but to choose the best fish scale for you, always remember to consider your personal usage so that you don’t under- or over-buy.