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If you’ve ever been fishing on a kayak or in the rain, you’ve probably asked yourself, are fish finders waterproof? While there is not a definitive answer to that question that covers all fish finders, you’ll usually find that most of them are water-resistant to an extent.
We’ve put some information together to help you identify a waterproof fish finder as well as tips on how to keep water from damaging your fish finder and accessories.
In general, most fish finders are waterproof, or at least water-resistant. Let’s face it, if you need to use a fish finder, you’re probably going to be pretty close to water. So, by design, fish finders are made to withstand a certain amount of the wet stuff.
However, not all fish finders are waterproof or water-resistant. So you may need to take extra precautions with some of them, especially if you plan to fish from a kayak or small boat, which tends to be more exposed to the elements.
Most waterproof or water-resistant electronics have an IPX rating. This is an Ingress Protection rating, which is an industry standard measurement for electronics. The higher the number on the rating, the more resistant to water the device will be.
The ratings start at IPX0 and go up to IPX8. Electronic devices that have a rating of IPX0 are not water-resistant at all. Devices rated as IPX8 are completely waterproof and can be submerged in water deeper than 3-feet.
The manufacturer will usually specify the length of time that a fish finder with an IP rating of IPX8 can be kept under water without damage.
Most good fish finders will tend to have a rating of IPX7 or IPX8. The rating of IPX7 means that it is resistant to dust, sand and water. It can withstand splashes and rain, as well as being able to handle submersion in up to 3-feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
However, it’s probably not a good idea to keep your fish finder in water for too long, even if it is rated for complete water-resistance. Fish finder devices are designed to be used out of the water and not under it.
Transducers, on the other hand, are designed to be used in water, as they need to be in the water in order to send signals back to your unit and screen. Transducers are usually completely sealed to prevent water from entering and damaging the components.
Most of the well-known brands of fish finders, such as Garmin, Lowrance, and Humminbird, are made to be water-resistant. Most fish finders from these famous brands can withstand splashes and rain, and can even survive being submerged for a short time. Most have an IPX rating of 7 or 8 so are considered fully waterproof for the purpose of fishing.
Some fish finders from cheaper brands may not always be waterproof, so you might want to keep this in mind if you tend to fish in rough conditions or rain.
Transducers on fish finders are generally always waterproof, even with fish finders from cheaper brands.
If you’re fishing from a kayak with a fish finder, chances are, your fish finder will probably get wet. Anything you take on a kayak is likely to get wet.
Because kayaks sit low and close to the water, there’s a chance that water from spray or splashes from your paddle will end up on your deck. If your fish finder is mounted to your deck, then it’s likely to get wet.
Additionally, kayak anglers should always prepare to capsize. So anything that can’t get wet safely should be stored inside a waterproof container. This includes fish finders, if they’re not already waterproof, and batteries.
Depending on how small your small boat is, you might find there is a chance that your fish finder will get wet. If you plan to be handling wet fish or wet gear and then plan to touch your fish finder, your fish finder will probably come into contact with some water.
Spray can also hit your fish finder if it’s mounted on an exposed deck, so a waterproof fish finder would probably be a good idea in this case.
If you have a larger boat, you will probably tend to be a greater distance from the water, compared to if you were in a small boat. This means there is probably less of a chance of your fish finder getting wet in a large boat, especially if your fish finder is inside a cabin or cockpit.
For example, if you fish from a large boat with an enclosed or covered cabin, you may not need to opt for a waterproof fish finder, as the chances of it getting wet are probably pretty low.
Even if you’re not fishing from a vessel, there’s still a chance that your fish finder will get wet. If your hands get wet from handling wet gear and fish, your fish finder is also likely to get wet.
This could also apply to ice fishing and, similarly, if you fish in the rain.
If you fish from the shore with a portable fish finder, you can usually find cases with mounting points inside. This can let you keep your fish finder protected from the rain and sheltered from spray while providing a hands-free platform for ease of use. You could also use this type of portable case for kayak fishing.
Saltwater can damage fish finders if water manages to get into the internal components. Saltwater is naturally corrosive so it can damage your fish finder as well as other gear it comes into contact with.
It can leave behind salt and a residue that can build up over time, causing additional damage to your gear. This can be a problem for both electronic and non-electronic accessories, including fabrics.
Because saltwater can be so damaging to most of your gear, it can be a good idea to rinse off all of your equipment with clean freshwater after every saltwater fishing trip.
Video: How To Clean Your Fish Finder
This means rinsing off your waterproof electronics, including your fish finder, with clean water to get rid of any remaining salt.
Even if you think your fish finder has not been in contact with saltwater, if you’ve been fishing in a saltwater environment then there is likely to have been salt in the air. Salt can also come into contact with your fish finder from the sea spray or splashes from your kayak paddle.
The best way to do this is by using an old toothbrush or a cotton swab (Q-tip) and some vinegar or isopropyl alcohol.
First, you should remove all the cables and disconnect the fish finder from the power source.
Next, dip the Q-tip or toothbrush into the rubbing alcohol or vinegar and brush it over the fish finder. Make sure you brush it over the parts that have started to corrode.
Do the same for the cables and wires, and anything else that may be starting to corrode from saltwater.
Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your fish finder and the cables using the isopropyl alcohol, you can rinse the fish finder with distilled water. This can get rid of any of the alcohol or vinegar residue that may still remain.
Once all the separate parts are completely dry, you can reassemble them and you should be ready to take them back out for a fishing trip.
You can use rubbing alcohol to clean most electronics.
It is possible to use a dielectric grease to give an added layer of waterproof protection to your fish finder. A dielectric grease (or tune-up grease) is a waterproof silicone-based substance that provides a waterproof barrier for electric connections.
This is sometimes used on cars, for example, on battery terminals, lights, and spark plug boots.
By adding dielectric grease to the connection points on your cables and power source, you can help prevent corrosion at those points. This allows electrical currents to pass through freely, so your fish finder can work properly and show you accurate data.
It can also protect your connector cables from dirt as well as water and corrosion.
This can be used on all your connection points, including the cables that connect to the transducer.
If you really wanted to add an extra layer of waterproof protection to your fish finder unit, you could theoretically use a waterproof case. A clear case made for phones and other gadgets will often be large enough for a small fish finder.
Whether you can use a clear case or not will probably depend on the type of fish finder you have and how big it is. Because phones are so big now, many waterproof phone cases may be suitable for a compact fish finder.
You may even be able to use the touchscreen on your device while in the case, if your fish finder has that feature.
One of the most important things you will want to keep dry is the battery for your kayak fish finder. Batteries and water are usually not best friends, so you should make sure your battery is stored in as dry a place as possible with the terminals protected.
Battery boxes can be the ideal solution for storing a battery on a kayak. Many anglers use a battery to power an electric trolling motor but you will also usually need a separate battery to power your fish finder.
So you may need more than one battery box if you want to run multiple electronics at the same time. Battery boxes are designed to be watertight to prevent water coming near your battery. Some battery boxes also have additional features, such as battery charge indicator lights and external charge ports.
After your fishing trip it can be a better idea to remove your fish finder from your boat and keep it safe inside at home or in your garage.
This can be more important if you normally store your boat or kayak outside. It can also be important if you don’t plan to go fishing again for a while.
Make sure you clean your fish finder after you remove it. Make sure it’s completely dry before you store it. And remember to also remove the battery from your kayak or boat.
By storing your electronics indoors you can help to prevent moisture from getting in and doing any damage to your equipment while you’re not using it.