Ultimate Guides

Best Kayak Fish Finders – Top 10 in 2020 Reviewed

Disclaimer: fishinggearx.com is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Kayak fishing is becoming one of the more popular ways to fish. There’s nothing better than enjoying a day in your kayak while casting the bite. And one of the ways to make your trips on the water more fruitful is by investing in a kayak fish finder. It can make a huge difference in the outcome of your day fishing, helping you find a lot more fish. And to help you find the best kayak fish finder for the money, we’ve created this article. Below, you can find kayak fish finder reviews and a comparison of the top 10 best rated products in 2020.

Best Kayak Fish Finders Comparison Table

kayak fish finder reviews
  • Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MDI GPS G3
  • Display: 7"
  • Sonar: CHIRP/Mega Down Imaging
  • Max depth: 1,200 ft
  • Power output RMS: 500W
  • GPS: yes
top rated kayak fish finder
  • Lowrance Elite-3X
  • Display: 3"
  • Sonar: Dual Beam
  • Max depth: 600 ft
  • Power output RMS: 200W
  • GPS: -
best kayak fish finder
  • Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4 DI
  • Display: 4.3"
  • Sonar: Dual Beam/Down Imaging
  • Max depth: 600 ft
  • Power output RMS: 300W
  • GPS: -
good inexpensive fish finder for kayaks
  • Deeper PRO Smart Portable Sonar
  • Display: -
  • Sonar: Dual Beam
  • Max depth: 260 ft
  • Power output RMS: -
  • GPS: -
kayak fish finder and gps
  • Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4cv
  • Display: 4.3"
  • Sonar: CHIRP/ClearVü
  • Max depth: 600 ft
  • Power output RMS: 300W
  • GPS: yes
kayak fish finder comparison
  • Vexilar SP200 T-Box
  • Display: -
  • Sonar: Dual Beam
  • Max depth: 240 ft
  • Power output RMS: -
  • GPS: -

Top 10 Kayak Fish Finders Reviewed

Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI

best kayak fish finderThe top rated kayak fish finder in 2020 is the Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI. It’s an excellent sonar unit that offers some of the best features for a reasonable price. And it’s a good choice for temporary mounting and small vessels, such as kayaks.

This unit comes in a stylish design with a 4.3 inch display, which makes it easy to see and distinguish fish and underwater objects. And the color and high pixel resolution give an even better perspective of what’s happening below your boat.

Moreover, it features a user-friendly interface, which makes adjusting settings, such as Fish ID+, alarms and zooms, a simple process.

The kayak fish finder comes with the transducer. It integrates water temperature and supports dual beam and down imaging sonar.

The dual beam sonar allows you to choose between narrow and wide sonar. They operate at two different frequencies. The narrow beam with a 16 degree cone operates at 455kHz and the wide beam with a 28 degree cone operates at 200kHz. Using these two sonar beams, you can get a wide coverage area and see the underwater world in greater detail.

As for down imaging, it allows you to see what is directly below your boat. It operates at a 455kHz frequency and provides a picture-like view, helping you to identify brush, rocks and other underwater structure.

This device is also equipped with both fish and depth alarms. You can set them to go off whenever the sonar finds a certain fish or whenever you reach a certain depth.

Another great feature of this kayak fish finder is the Fish ID+, which is designed to help you interpret the sonar readings. It uses an advanced signal processing algorithm to locate specific fish. You’ll be able to view fish icons of different sizes and depths that they are at.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • 4.3 inch display.
  • Dual beam sonar.
  • Down imaging.
  • Fish ID+.
  • Fish and depth alarms.
  • IPX7.
  • Easy to use.
  • 1 year warranty.
CONS
  • No CHIRP.
  • No GPS.

Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MDI G3

kayak fish finder reviewsIf you have a higher budget and you’re looking for a more advanced kayak fish finder, then we recommend checking out the Humminbird Helix 7 G3 model. It offers more features and capabilities than the Piranhamax 4 DI, which can really help you up your kayak fishing game.

One of the advantages of this kayak fish finder is the 7 inch display, which is the biggest size on our list. On one hand, it might be a bit too bulky for a kayak, but on the other, it provides an ultra-wide view of the sonar readings and the option of viewing it split screen.

Moreover, this fish finder comes Low Q CHIRP transducer, which uses two types of sonar. These are Dual Spectrum CHIRP and Mega down imaging.

For Dual Spectrum CHIRP, there are three modes that you could use. There’s a Wide mode (140-200kHz), Narrow mode (180-240kHz) and Full mode (150-220kHz). While the Narrow and Wide modes are fixed, the Full mode is adjustable. This means that you can set yourself the start and end frequency within the available range.

Due to the full spectrum capability, this CHIRP sonar provides maximum fish detail. As a result, it’s easier to identify fish arches and you get better target separation.

As for Mega down imaging, it provides three times the output of standard down imaging sonar. It emits high frequency sonar in ultra-thin slices, which provides incredible underwater clarity. It creates a portrait down to 125 feet below your boat, showing brush, rocks and structure that pop with a lot of detail.

This is also the best kayak GPS fish finder. It includes Humminbird’s standard basemap, which offers the view of underwater terrain, as well as different points of interest in the area. This basemap covers over 10,000 lakes and coastal waters in the U.S., showing buoys, marinas, hazards, contours and more.

For even more map options, you can upgrade this fish finder with Humminbird’s Lakemaster or Navionics, which provide more detailed cartography. However, they might be more important for ocean fishing than kayak fishing.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • 7 inch display.
  • Split screen viewing.
  • Dual spectrum CHIRP.
  • Down imaging.
  • Up to 1,200 feet depth capability.
  • Sonar recording.
  • Internal GPS.
  • Track Plotting and waypoints.
  • IPX7 waterproof.
  • Includes a gimbal mount bracket.
CONS
  • Expensive.

Lowrance Elite-3X

top rated kayak fish finderAnother high quality kayak fish finder is the Lowrance Elite-3X. It’s a great compact device that will perfectly fit on a kayak and will provide you with all the features to help you spot more fish.

The first feature to note is the LED-backlit color display. The detailed 230×240 resolution makes it easier to see the prey in full sight. And the bright and colored screen makes it easier to see the details in direct sunlight or from different viewing angles. There are also different backlight levels, so you can choose the more suitable one for the situation.

This kayak fish finder is equipped with a broadband sounder, which offers a lot more sensitivity compared to competing analog models. As a result, you get better fish and structure detail with less clutter.

It operates on two frequencies that are 83kHz and 200kHz. The 83kHz emits a 60 degree cone-shaped beam, which is perfect for scanning larger areas of shallow waters and searching for the largest fish arches. And the 200kHz frequency emits a 20 degree cone, which is more suitable for scanning deeper waters and getting more detail for target separation.

The unit features a keypad that provides simple menu navigation. There are also a few quick keys that are added to help you reduce time adjusting settings. It includes zoom buttons for when you need to get a closer view of a targeted area. It also includes frequency buttons, which allow you to quickly switch between the 83kHz and 200kHz frequencies.

Moreover, through the menu button you can access other useful settings. You can adjust the sensitivity, noise reduction, ping speed, fish ID and more.

When using this fish finder, you have two options of how to view the sonar readings. You can have the fish displayed as either arches or fish icons. Arches are usually more accurate, but they take some time getting used to. And fish icons are very easy to read and they’re perfect for beginners.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • LED backlit display.
  • Broadband sounder.
  • Dual frequency.
  • Fish ID feature.
  • Depth finder and water temperature.
  • IPX7 waterproof.
CONS
  • Small screen.
  • No GPS.

Deeper PRO Smart Portable Fish Finder

good inexpensive fish finder for kayaksFor a portable kayak fish finder, the top recommendation is the Deeper PRO Smart. It’s designed for pairing with your smartphone in order to view the sonar readings through the provided app.

Since the device only includes the compact sonar unit that is the size of a tennis ball, there’s no hassle installing a transducer and a display. And you can use this sonar device as either a castable unit or as a unit trailing behind your kayak.

The fish finder is compatible with both smartphones and tablets. This way you can choose yourself whether you want to have a small or big screen.

Once you’ve set this fish finder up, it will send sonar readings to your phone through a wireless connection. Due to this, you don’t even need to worry about cell service. Moreover, the WiFi connection ensures fast data transfer, ensuring that you get uninterrupted relaying of information.

The device uses dual beam sonar with frequencies 90kHz and 290kHz. The 90kHz provides a 55 degree wide scanning beam, which is more suitable for scanning larger areas. And the 290kHz results in a narrow 15 degree beam, which provides more detailed returns.

To view sonar information on your phone, you need to download a free app. Except for sonar reading, this app also offers plenty of other features.

In the app, you can also review your entire fishing history to see where you’ve cast your Deeper Pro and what it saw underwater at the time. Other features include a fish alarm that gives you a notification when it sees a fish of certain size criteria and a depth alarm that notifies you when you reach a certain depth.

Another great feature of the app’s GPS function is mapping. By casting out and reeling in the sonar unit, you can create detailed maps of the world beneath the surface of the water.

This smart kayak fish finder can read up to 260 feet deep and you can cast it as far as 330 feet. It’s also a rechargeable unit that lasts about 4 hours on a single charge.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • Pairs with a smartphone or tablet.
  • Connects through WiFi.
  • Dual frequency sonar.
  • Ice fishing mode.
  • 330 feet casting range.
  • 260 depth range.
  • GPS mapping.
  • Compact.
CONS
  • Isn’t ideal on a boat.
  • The battery lasts only about 4 hours.

Garmin Striker Plus 4cv

kayak fish finder and gpsGarmin is another leading brand in the industry and one product that stands out in their line of fish finders is the Garmin Striker Plus 4cv. It’s a good portable option that is great for kayak or canoe fishing.

It features a 4.3 inch display that offers a high color count and good resolution. It provides sharp images, making it easier to distinguish fish and other details when viewing the sonar returns. The display is also easily readable in different light conditions, even in direct sunlight.

The device includes a transducer that offers traditional CHIRP sonar and ClearVu scanning sonar. CHIRP sonar uses a 77/200kHz range of frequencies, which provides a high level of clarity. And the ClearVu sonar can be used for getting nearly photographic images of the underwater world below your boat. It shows easily identifiable fish, structure and submerged objects. This provides crisper fish arches and better target separation.

Most anglers use the Striker Plus 4cv on a kayak or small boat. However, it can also be used for ice fishing. It offers the flasher function that scans a vertical column of water.

To help you reach the full fishing potential, this kayak fish finder also includes a GPS function. It will not only help you navigate around the waters, but will also help you keep track of speed and will allow you to save waypoints, so later on, you can easily return to your successful fishing locations. Moreover, the unit also features the Quickdraw Contour software that allows you to create fishing maps of the places you’ve been.

This unit also comes as a complete kayak fish finder kit. It includes a display, transducer, tilt-swivel mount and protective cover.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • 4.3 inch display.
  • CHIRP and ClearVu sonar.
  • Split screen capability.
  • Fish symbols feature.
  • Flasher.
  • High sensitivity GPS.
  • Allows to save waypoints.
  • Contour mapping.
  • Includes a protective cover.
CONS
  • Doesn’t offer any map upgrades that would offer more detailed charts.

Vexilar SP200

kayak fish finder comparisonThe Vexilar SP200 fish finder is another model that is designed for use with a smartphone or tablet. It’s a good choice for kayaks, canoes and smaller sized boats that have 12 volt power supply. However, it does require a permanent installation.

The device is operated through an app that you download on your smartphone. In the app, you can view and control the information that the sonar collects.

Since you’re using your own tablet or phone, you can choose the size of the screen. A bigger screen will make it easier to view the information, while a smaller screen will fit more conveniently on a kayak.

The sonar unit uses WiFi to connect to your smartphone. Since it’s not using cell service, you don’t need to worry about lost signal and you can use it anywhere in the world.

This fish finder emits dual beam sonar with 20 and 40 degree angle cones. It lets you see down to 240 feet in freshwater, which is more than enough for kayak fishing.

The transducer is fairly accurate, showing fish and your lure. You can even see the fish coming up to your lure, making your fish catching more successful.

You can also adjust the settings to get more out of this fish finder. For example, you can zoom in on areas that you think might need a closer inspection. You can also adjust the sensitivity depending on the fishing situation.

Additionally, you can purchase a Navionics app for GPS capabilities. It will allow you to navigate and follow maps. With this app downloaded, you can also view the sonar and GPS readings simultaneously on a split screen.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • Works with smartphones and tablets.
  • Uses dual beam technology.
  • The sonar reaches down to 240 feet.
  • Can be used with Navionics.
  • 2 year warranty.
  • Easy to set up.
CONS
  • Doesn’t work at speeds over 10mph.
  • Requires a 12 volt power supply.
  • Requires permanent mounting.

Lucky Portable Fish Finder

portable fish finder for kayakAnother fish finder that is great for kayak use is the Lucky model. It’s a simple, yet functional fish finder that provides good sonar data.

This is a castable fish finder. However, unlike the above mentioned castable models, this one comes with its own display unit. It also connects wirelessly to the sonar float and the maximum depth that the wireless sensor can reach is 328 feet.

It comes with a small display that is 2.8 inches in size. It’s small, but on a kayak, you don’t really need a large unit. The display has good resolution, color and adjustable backlighting. You can see everything clearly even when you’re viewing it in bright sun conditions.

The sonar float emits a 90 degree angle cone in 125kHz frequency. All the readings from the sonar sound wave are converted into easy-to-understand icons. When it detects fish, it shows fish icons. And it can also distinguish fish size, which is shown in the size of the fish icons. Each fish icon comes with a depth tag, telling you how deep the fish is suspended. Moreover, it shows the shape of the lake’s bottom, whether there are any structures, such as holes or drop-offs.

You can also set a fish alarm, which will ensure that you never miss fish. It will provide you with a notification if the sonar marks a fish.

This fish finder is powered by a rechargeable battery, which lasts about 5 to 8 hours of continuous use. And it can be charged with the provided USB cable.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • 2.8 inch display.
  • Easy-to-read icons.
  • Works wirelessly.
  • 90 degree sonar beam.
  • Lightweight.
CONS
  • No GPS.

iBobber RealSonar

kayak fish locatorFor a more affordable kayak fish finder, we recommend checking the iBobber RealSonar unit. This fish finder is easy to set up and use and you can carry it anywhere you go.

You can hook the iBobber to your fishing line and either cast it with your lure or use it from your kayak. From there, you can connect it to your smartphone or tablet in order to view the sonar returns.

It uses Bluetooth Smart connectivity, which is less draining on the battery than WiFi and standard Bluetooth. Thanks to this feature, the device’s and your phone’s battery will last longer compared to other similar fish finders. It boasts up to 10 hours of continuous use. And when it comes to recharging, it offers a convenient USB charging stand.

To use this fish finder, you’ll need to download an app. The sonar provides accurate returns down to 135 feet. It features patented sonar fish identifier technology, which is very effective at locating fish and structures, such as holes, ledges and drop-offs. It also marks the fish and their depth.

This fish finder is also great for night fishing. It’s equipped with an LED light that you can turn on or off at night.

The app offers a lot of other useful features. It allows you to map waterbeds and structure, mark points of interest and create a trip log. In the trip log, you can add photos, time, location and what you’ve caught.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • Compact.
  • Connects through Bluetooth to your phone.
  • Uses patented sonar technology.
  • Offers an LED beacon light for night fishing.
  • The app offers various useful features.
  • Easy to use.
CONS
  • Tends to misread depth.
  • Not suitable for ocean fishing.
  • Shallow depth range.

Venterior VT-FF001

best fishfinder for kayak bass fishingVenterior VT-FF001 is the cheapest kayak fish finder on our list. It’s perfect for those who are looking for the best value on a budget or those who are just getting started. This is a basic fish finder that will provide you with fish identification but it will not be as accurate as with more advanced units.

This fish finder features an LCD display with LED backlighting. It’s not a multicolor display. Instead, it uses simple colors and icons for displaying sonar information. It displays fish and its location, weeds, sand and rocks. The unit also has a sensitivity setting, so it can detect smaller and larger fish. Moreover, on the display, you can also view depth reading and battery level indicator.

The device also offers an alarm feature, which gives an audible sound when a school of fish passes by. However, you can also turn this function if you don’t want to be distracted with the noise.

It includes a transducer and a 25 feet cord. You can use it fixed to your kayak or canoe. Alternatively, you can use it with the removable float from shore or boat. Also, if you find the 25 feet cord too long, you can coil it to the desired length. And the transducer’s sonar can reach down to 328 feet.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • Simple to read display.
  • Offers 5 sensitivity settings.
  • Shows fish, depth and bottom structure.
  • Depth range down to 328 feet.
  • Runs on 4 AAA batteries.
  • 2 year warranty.
CONS
  • No GPS.
  • Batteries are not rechargeable.

HawkEye Fishtrax 1C

budget kayak fish finderThe HawkEye Fishtrax 1C is another great fish finder that is designed with a beginner angler and a kayaker in mind. It’s a portable unit that is perfect for shallow water scans.

One of the advantages of this system is how versatile it is. You can use it trollable, floatable or mounted onto a kayak or other vessel. It’s also easily portable, so you can bring it with you anywhere you go.

This fish finder offers a full-color display, which provides a better user experience. The display has a compact size that can easily fit in the palm of your hand, which makes it convenient to use on a kayak or canoe.

The device uses dual frequency sonar with 200kHz for a 16 degree beam angle and 83kHz for a 26 degree angle. So, you can choose between the wide and narrow beams. It provides both good coverage and great detail of the waters under your boat.

On the screen, it displays fish icons, their depth and bottom landscape imaging. It also offers 100-level sensitivity adjustment, so you can modify the affectability of the sonar, allowing you to fine tune the sonar readings.

You can also set fish and depth alarms on this fish finder. With this feature on, the device will give you a notification when it marks target fish or when you reach a set depth.

If you want a cheaper alternative, this HawkEye model is also available with an LCD greyscale display. The color does provide better readability but it’s up to your preference.

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

PROS
  • HD color display.
  • Dual frequency.
  • FishArc and FishID features.
  • Fish and depth alarms.
  • 100-level sensitivity adjustment.
  • Ice mode flasher.
  • Portable.
  • IPX7 waterproof.
CONS
  • No GPS.
  • Works on 4 AAA batteries, so it’s not rechargeable.

What Is a Kayak Fish Finder?

A kayak fish finder is a device similar to regular fish finders. And it uses the same sonar technology that transmits sound waves into the water and then translates the returned information into an image that you can view on a monitor.

What sets apart kayak fish finders from those used on boats is that they are usually more compact and portable. And since most kayak fishing is done in shallower waters, they don’t have very deep depth capabilities.

Benefits of Using a Kayak Fish Finder

If you’ve been considering getting a kayak fish finder but still not sure if it’s worth it, here are a few reasons that might persuade you. With these kayak fish finder benefits, you’ll be able to get a lot more out of your day fishing.

Finding Fish

First of all, a kayak fish finder will help you get information about where the perfect fishing spots are. Locating fish with just a naked eye is difficult. A fish finder will eliminate the guesswork, helping you identify schools of fish. This can significantly increase your chances of catching fish.

Locating Bait

A skilled angler won’t go after just any fish, but will go after what the fish are going after. For example, you might go after bass, catfish or other, which usually follow the bait. And if you know what the prey is looking for, it will be easier for you to locate the target fish. For example, if you see a large school of bait, it could be a sign that a feeding fish is nearby.

Targeting Specific Species

A fish finder might not be able to show the actual species of fish, but you can get an idea from sonar readings. For example, when you see a big round blob on the fish finder’s screen, it usually means that it’s baitfish. And a single strong arch usually means a lone predator. A long, drawn-out arch is usually a fast predator, such as kingfish or Spanish mackerel. Or short, deep arches is often an indicator of bass lounging in deep waters.

Viewing Water Temperature

On most fish finder transducers you’ll find a temperature sensor. And knowing how temperature impacts the movement of the fish can contribute to a great fishing experience.

Knowing Depth

A fish finder will also help you keep track of the depth. It will show you both the depth below your kayak and the depth that the fish is swimming at.

Knowing Bottom Structure

With a fish finder, you can also find great underwater structure, which can also lead you to feeding fish. Being able to see the bottom can be a huge advantage. For example, you could find drop-offs, holes or channels that could be holding fish. All this you wouldn’t be able to see without a fish finder.

Navigation

A lot of the fish finders today are also equipped with a GPS. It allows you to plot a course, explore new backwater areas and find a way back to the launch area. On top of that, it allows you to mark waypoints, so you can easily go back later to your most successful fishing locations.

Portability

One of the advantages of kayak fish finders is their portability. They usually come in compact lightweight units that don’t require any permanent installation, which is important for use on a kayak.

How to Choose the Right Kayak Fish Finder? – Buying Guide

A good start to choosing the best kayak fish finder is understanding what features to look out for. By knowing which features make a good fish finder and which features are important to you, you’ll be able to narrow down your options, making it easier to choose the best one. So, if you’re looking to buy a fish finder for your kayak or canoe, here are the most important factors to consider.

Display

The first feature to consider is the display quality since if you can’t clearly see what’s going on on the display, your new fish finder will be pretty much useless. And when considering the display quality, there are three things to take into account.

  1. Size. You want to be able to view all the sonar information at a glance. That’s why a tiny screen might not be that convenient to view, especially from a distance. However, bigger isn’t always better either. If it’s too large, it might get in the way too much and it might be difficult to find a proper support for its mounting. So, if you’re planning on using a fish finder on a kayak or canoe, a 4 or 5 inch display should be just fine. With this size, you’ll have a good balance between compactness and viewability.
  2. Resolution. Another thing to take into account is the resolution of the display. With better resolution, it’ll be easier to differentiate between the elements on the screen. We recommend choosing a display that has a resolution of at least 320 x 240. And the higher you go, the more accurate the displayed information will be. However, at the same time, the higher will be the price.
  3. Color vs black/white. Most modern fish finders come with a colored screen. It offers more detail, making it easier to see what’s going on in the water. They are also easier to view under the intense glare of the sun. However, black and white screen can be a good option if you’re looking for a low budget fish finder. Though, keep in mind that you’ll be compromising on the quality.

Portable or Fixed

Next thing to consider is whether you would like to have the fish finder mounted or used as a portable unit. Some of the kayak fish finders require mounting the transducer and the display. Others include only a sonar unit and requires you to use your smartphone as a display.

The second option is more portable since the sonar unit is usually so small that it can fit inside your pocket. And this sonar unit can be castable or trollable, so you don’t need to install it. However, you’d still need some mount to hold the phone since holding it in one hand while casting the line is not very convenient.

Transducer

transducerThe transducer is the most important part of your fish finder. It’s what emits the sound waves and receives the sonar readings. So, it makes sense to pay attention to this unit.

When choosing the transducer, how easy it will be to install or whether you will need to install it at all. There are different ways that you can install it, such as in the hull, through the scupper hole, near the rudder and using a suction cup. So, when choosing the transducer make sure that it’s suitable for your installation.

Alternatively, you can choose a fish finder transducer that requires no installation and instead, just dangles behind the kayak or canoe. These are the most portable units and it’s the easiest way to use a fish finder on a kayak.

Frequencies

There are also different transducer features that you should consider. One of them is the frequency or frequencies that it operates at. The most common range of frequencies includes 50, 82, 192 and 200 kHz.

As a rule, lower frequencies are better at scanning deeper waters and high frequencies are better at covering a larger area in shallow waters.

In most cases, you wouldn’t have to choose between the two. The majority of fish finders offer dual frequency or multiple frequency capability.

Dual beam fish finders can emit both frequencies at the same time, so you get the benefits of both low and high frequencies. However, some fish finders don’t end there and add CHIRP capability, which offers a wide range of frequencies. It provides better accuracy and improved performance.

Cone Angles

Cone angles are closely related to frequency. It refers to the imaging angle since the sonar starts narrow at the transducer and gradually expands as it travels down.

The cone angle typically ranges from 10 to 65 degrees. However, more commonly it’s in the 15-25 range. And if you’re buying a dual beam fish finder, it will have both a narrow and a wide cone, which will provide a deeper reading and a wider coverage reading.

Side Imaging vs Down Imaging

Some of the fish finder models also offer down and side imaging. Down imaging provides a more detailed view of what’s happening beneath the boat. And side imaging gives you a sonar view to both sides of the boat.

Maximum Scanning Depth

When choosing a kayak fish finder, also think about the depth of the water you’ll be kayak fishing in. Fish finders offer different depth capabilities. So, if you plan kayak fishing in deep seas, make sure that the fish finder can actually reach those depths.

When checking the scanning depth limit, keep in mind also that even if a fish finder states has a maximum scanning depth of 1200, it will be more accurate at lower depths. The deeper you go, the less sensitive the transducer’s return will be.

It’s also important to consider whether you’ll be fishing in a lake, river or sea. The sonar signal travels less through salt water due to its salt and other content. So, in this case, the maximum depth capability would be lower.

Depth, Temperature and Speed

Depth, water temperature and speed are also important features offered by a fish finder. While most fish finders come with sensors for these readings, some of the older models don’t. So, check that the fish finder that you’re thinking of buying for your kayak does come with these features. Knowing the water temperature and the depth can help in finding habitats of certain species. And knowing your speed can help to further optimize your fish searching.

GPS

A built-in GPS can add to the functionality of the fish finder. It will help you keep track of your location and will help you find your way back to the launch dock if you get lost. It can be especially useful if you frequently kayak in new waters.

Another useful function of GPS is the ability to save waypoints and create contour maps. By saving waypoints, you can create a collection of your favorite fishing spots. And by creating contour maps, you can map out the structure of the bottom.

Wattage

The performance level of your fish finder is closely related to how much power it uses. A unit with high wattage will have a high resolution display, faster return and more accurate sonar readings.

However, when kayak fishing, there’s usually no easy way to power a high wattage device. Moreover, kayak fishing is more focused on shallow waters, so high power is not that necessary.

Power Source

power sourceOne more thing to consider in your buying decision is how you will power your kayak fish finder. Most kayaks don’t have enough space for an on-board battery. That’s why a good alternative is a fish finder with a rechargeable battery. In this case, a battery can last about 5 to 10 hours on a single charge. After that, you can recharge them by either plugging them into an outlet or a USB charging port.

Some portable fish finders also come with disposable batteries. The advantage of these is that you can bring a spare set of batteries and have enough power for an entire fishing weekend. But the downside is that you’d have to constantly buy new batteries and the drained batteries will be creating waste.

Also, keep in mind that fish finders that work with your smartphone will be draining the battery of both devices. So, you’ll need some battery backup for your phone as well.

Waterproof Rating

The transducers are obviously always waterproof. However, the display isn’t, though it is important for it to be 100% waterproof as well. Even if your kayak won’t tip over, the display can still get some splashes on it. And since fish finders are mostly quite expensive, it’s important to make sure that the device is protected.

If you’ll be using a smartphone for viewing fish finder readings, consider getting a protective case, so it will also stay safe from the water.

Ease of Use

The device you buy should also be user-friendly. This would allow you to spend more time fishing and less time trying to figure out how the fish finder works. So, look for a unit that is easy and straightforward to use with an intuitive interface and easy to adjust settings.

Installation

When going out fishing on a kayak, you don’t want to deal with a frustrating installation process. Instead, you want to set it up in a snap and be out catching fish. For this reason, it’s better to invest in a kayak fish finder that is easy to install. That is if the fish finder does require any installation.

Most fish finders are not designed for kayak installation, so you might have to invest in a separate kit for its mounting.

Price

Fish finders are available at a wide range of prices. Typically, the price reflects the quality, features and the popularity of the brand. That’s why it’s good to start by determining the features that you’d like the fish finder to have and then searching a model with those features that would fit your budget.

Manufacturer

Buying from a reputable manufacturer, you usually get good quality and good warranty. So, if you want a good kayak fish finder, consider the following most popular brands in the industry: Raymarine, Garmin and Humminbird.

Top Kayak Fish Finder Brands

  1. Garmin. Almost everyone, especially in the marine world, has heard the name Garmin. They are a pioneer in the industry of navigation products. They also have a good lineup of fish finders that make a perfect choice for kayak or canoe fishing. The brand’s products offer quality and performance, so you really can’t go wrong with them.
  2. Lowrance. This is another popular name in the industry as they have been in the industry for a while and they have been providing high quality products. They offer a range of fish finders that are available for both lower and higher budgets. And they offer a lot of advanced features that can really help you up your fishing game.
  3. Humminbird. This brand also offers a range of marine products, from GPS units to fish finders. They also have a few fish finders that can fit on a kayak and help you spend more time catching fish than just searching for it.

Kayak Fish Finder Tips

  • Consider adding a waterproof cover if you’re using your smartphone for viewing sonar.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in order to ensure proper installation.

Kayak Fish Finder Frequently Asked Questions

Can you have a fish finder on a kayak?

Yes, you can definitely have a fish finder on a kayak. There are a few relatively easy ways to mount it, whether you would prefer to have it mounted permanently or temporarily.

How does a fish finder work on a kayak?

Fish finders use the Sound Navigation and Ranging technology, or shortly sonar. The system uses a transducer that acts as the transmitter and receiver of the sound waves. These sound waves are emitted into the water and once they strike an object they return the signal to the transducer. The returned signals are then converted into an image that can be viewed on your kayak fish finder’s display.

Is a castable model better than a traditional fish finder?

Both castable and traditional fish finders have their advantages, so it all depends on your needs. With a castable model, you can either cast it or have it trailing behind the kayak. This allows you to get a sonar view both further away from the kayak and right under it.

Traditional fish finders, on the other hand, are more accurate and they come in units equipped with more advanced sonar technologies. So, if you’re serious about fishing, then you would probably benefit more from a traditional unit.

How to install a fish finder on a kayak?

Installing a fish finder on a kayak can be more difficult compared to installing it on traditional boats. While some kayaks are designed with an installation point for fish finders, most do not. On top of that, fish finders require an external power source, which is usually 12 volt, and this power source is not readily available on kayaks.

However, with the right information at hand, installing a fish finder in a kayak will not seem like rocket science anymore. Start by deciding where you would like to mount it and then follow the instructions. In a kayak, there are four ways that you can mount a transducer. You can mount it through the hull, through the scupper hole, near the rudder or using a kit with a suction cup.

Different transducers will have different needs. So, make sure to read the provided booklet with the installation instructions in order to ensure proper setup.

The first thing to think about is where you will install the transducer. Its location will determine if you’ll get a clear sonar image or not. So, it’s important to mount it in the right location.

Ideally, you want to find a flat spot on the bottom of your kayak. Then, before installing the transducer, clean it and then lightly sand it to rough up the mounting area. Next, apply an adhesive to the bottom of the transducer and make sure that there are no air bubbles inside. Now, you can stick the transducer to the prepared area and then move it side to side a bit, so it’s mounted all the way down against the hull.

Another option is installing the transducer through the scupper hole. However, not all kayaks have scuppers. If this is your case, you will have to install the transducer inside the hull instead.

One more thing to consider is the installation of the display. Preferably, you want it mounted directly in front of you within an arm’s reach. It should be close enough for you to easily read the displayed information and close enough to touch, so you could easily adjust settings whenever you need to.

At the same time, the display should be away enough to give you room to change lures or bring the caught fish into the kayak. Moreover, it should be placed in a location where it would stay out of your paddling area.

Consider also a mount type that swivels or pivots. This would allow you to adjust the angle of the screen for better viewing, which can be especially convenient when you need to get the screen out of the glare of the sun.

Lastly, you should also decide what power source you will be using and how you will set it up. Some kayak fish finders use a rechargeable battery. If this is your case, then you can just skip this step. However, most of the units require a 12 volt power supply, which means that you’ll also need to install a battery in your kayak.

For a 12 volt power supply, a good option is a sealed lead acid battery (SLA), which provides safer operation due to the sealed design. This ensures that there’ll be no acid spilled as you kayak on the sea.

You should also consider the battery size that you would need. If you’ll be spending no more than five or six hours on the water, you’ll probably find a seven amp battery enough.

On the other hand, if limited space is a concern in your kayak, consider getting a portable fish finder, which would eliminate the need for the big battery.

What is the best place to mount a fish finder on a kayak?

The display of the fish finder should be mounted within an arm’s reach, so you could conveniently operate it when you’re on the water. As for the transducer, it depends on your preference, your fish finder model and your kayak’s configuration. You can attach to a flat spot on the bottom, thread it through a scupper hole, use a suction cup or just leave it trailing behind your kayak.

What scanning depth should a kayak fish finder have?

This depends on where you plan on fishing. If you’ll be fishing in deeper waters, you’ll need a fish finder with deeper scanning capabilities. And if you’ll be fishing in just small lakes, lower depth capability might be enough for you. So, think of the depths of the areas where you fish and find a fish finder with a suitable depth capability.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from our buying guide, there are quite a few things to consider when choosing the best kayak fish finder. However, taking all those factors into account will not only help you find the highest quality fish finder but also the best one for your needs. This will make it easier to choose among the top 10 products we’ve listed in these kayak fish finder reviews.

Comments are closed.