Best Fish Finder For Kayaks
You have your new kayak. A shiny new paddle. A life vest with every pocket filled with your fishing essentials.
You may even have splurged out on a trolling motor. Great!
But what's missing?
A fish finder.
Well, for some of you at least...The old guard among you probably don't care much for tech in fishing. But the chances are that if you're here now, then you're at least a little curious about them - so welcome aboard!
In this article we will drill down what features you should be looking at. Then we'll look at and compare some of the best kayak fish finders that are available right now.
Ok, let's go hunting!
Top Choices: Popular Fish Finders
What Is A Fish Finder?
You may want to know what a fish finder is and what exactly it does before you decide whether or not you need one. First of all, a fish finder is a device that allows you to locate fish that you'd never see with the naked eye. It uses sonar technology to detect the pulses of sound and movement from fish under the water.
Fish finders feature a screen that lets you see where in the water your fish are. Some of them will allow you to see deeper into the water than others, but they will all give you a location that is best for fishing. This basically prevents you from casting into empty water.
Why Do I Need One?
If you’re planning on using your kayak to go fishing it might be a good idea to invest in a fish finder, as it will not only save you time in searching for fish but it will improve the likelihood that you’ll actually make a catch.
By showing you on a screen where the fish are located, you may have a more enjoyable and productive fishing trip. A fish finder will also give you the extra technology to be able to determine where there are underwater grasses or weeds, so you can avoid getting your fishing line or paddle caught.
Fish finders give you a better understanding of the underwater world and allow you to navigate through the water better. The technology also means you are able to locate and catch fish that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.
With a fish finder you have an advantage over the fish, as you are able to see them before you cast your line, meaning you can see them before they are made aware of you.
The transducer on a fish finder is the part that determines what is under the water, be it fish, vegetation or landscape. It is this part that sends signals to the display unit to let you know where the fish are and how deep the water is, so it needs to be under the water.
It uses sonar technology to communicate what it can detect under the water. This means when you’re mounting it, consider that it can detect bubbles and movement from a trolling motor or pedal drive. So it should be positioned away from these.
Fish Finder Features To Look Out For
When you’re choosing a fish finder for your kayak, you’ll notice that they are available in many different shapes and sizes. But for a kayak you’re going to need one that is more compact than the types you might see on larger boats.
Many of the fish finders will require some type of mounting to your kayak but it’s also possible to get a fish finder that can be held in your hand. This uses floating sensors to send the signals back to the handheld screen.
With the advancement of technology there are now fish finders that you can pair up with your phone. Many of them connect via Bluetooth to an app on your phone, so instead of having a separate screen, the signals and fishing data are sent to your phone.
There are fish finders available that will let you catch fish in all sorts of underwater environments, from lakes and rivers to the open ocean. So, when you’re choosing a fish finder for kayaking you should take into account where you’ll be using it.
There is no point having a fish finder that can detect fish 220 feet under the water when the lake you’re fishing in is only 40 feet deep. For sea kayaking, a fish finder with a deeper depth may often be of better use than when fishing in rivers or shallow lakes.
A fish finder will be able to tell you the depth of the water that you’re currently in and the various depths of the underwater landscape in your immediate vicinity.
With fish finders you need to keep in mind the power of the sonar and the frequencies that it can operate between. The higher the frequency, the shallower the water you can fish in.
This is because the higher frequencies are more accurate, so when you’re in a shallower area of water, the high frequencies will allow you to potentially catch more fish.
A lot of fish finders can operate on dual frequencies, giving you a balance of low and high frequencies for a wider range that can help you locate more fish in more environments.
Another thing to look out for is the wattage of the transducer. The transducer is the part of the fish finder that essentially finds the fish. It is the device that uses the sonar technology to receive signals and then send them on to your screen.
One way to mount a transducer!
If the fish finder has a transducer with a higher wattage it will be able to work quicker and locate fish faster. A higher wattage also means it will be quicker to transmit the data to your screen as you move through different depths of water.
You’ll notice when you’re looking for fish finders that there are a range of products that are aimed at different environments. There are some that are only for freshwater fishing or only for saltwater. So you need to decide where you’re more likely to use it.
However, there are fish finders out there that can be used in both saltwater and freshwater, giving you more flexibility over where you fish. Some fish finders will also be able to do more than just tell you where the fish are hiding.
There are various features on fish finders that will make for an easier fishing trip when you’re out kayaking, lessening the need for other equipment and letting you save some space.
Most fish finders will be able to detect underwater hazards, as well as fish, as the sonar technology bounces off of rocks and lets you see the structure of the land underneath the water. They will also be able to show you underwater plants and grasses.
Some fish finders will tell you the temperature of the water you’re paddling in, so you have a better idea of what the conditions are like to improve your chances of catching fish. Some are also designed for ice fishing, so you are able to see the fish beneath the surface of the ice.
You will find that there are a lot of fish finders on the market that have additional selling features, such as high definition color screens that you can easily see in bright sunlight or low light. Having built-in GPS can also be a good feature to look for.
Best Kayak Fish Finders
1: Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder
This Garmin fish finder features a 3.5 inch screen and a color display that makes it easy to read the data. It also features built-in GPS so you can track and mark your location.
Another feature of this fish finder is that it has a 200 watt transducer that can be mounted to your kayak and it can operate on dual frequencies. A benefit of the Garmin is that it can work in both salt and freshwater, with a depth range of up to 750 feet in saltwater and 1600 feet in freshwater.
Note that you need a 12 volt battery to operate.
2: Deeper Smart Sonar Pro
This is a versatile little fish finder that can be a good choice if you’re planning on fishing in a lot of different types of water. The best thing about it is that it can connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth, so it doesn’t require an additional screen or any wires, and it’s a handy size.
It comes with a GPS, Maps, a fishing log, and a diary. This means that you can store all the information you want about the spots, routes, and paths you intend to paddle to. Consequently, you’ll be able to visit them again or even study them at home, all from your smartphone.
It can be used in extreme temperatures, ranging from -4 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit and works on dual frequencies. This fish finder will also show you the water temperature as well as the depths and structure, and can help you find fish in waters up to 130 feet deep.
Downsides are the battery life isn't great (only 5.5 hours), so make sure you bring a power bank for longer days on your kayak.
Also, the Deeper Pro fishfinder is not the most lightweight device on the market, but for those looking for an affordable solution in this space it is definitely worth considering.
3: Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar
This fish finder has a clear 3.5 inch LED color screen, which also has a backlight for low light conditions. The dual frequency operation means you can target fish in both deep and shallow water and you’re able to manually switch between the two as you’re paddling.
The Lowrance also has the benefit of a wide conical coverage that can give you up to 60 degrees of coverage at the lower frequency of 83 kHz. Another feature of this fish finder is that it lets you target and track fish while they’re on the move.
A lot of users report that it just doesn't work when paddling/trolling over 5 mph. It also has its limitations with regards depth. Bear in mind this is a budget fish finder, so don't expect it to work wonders in all conditions and environments.
4: HawkEye FT1PXC Fishtrax Fish Finder
Featuring dual frequency sonar, this fish finder can be a good choice for fishing in different depths of water up to 240 feet. It’s super portable and can be handheld for convenience or mounted if you prefer.
Another feature of the Hawkeye is that it has a clear color screen that can show you the water temperature as well as fish targets. It also benefits from a fish alarm that will alert you to the fish without you having to check, which can be helpful when you’re kayaking.
5: Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2
If you’re looking for a fish finder for deep water then this one could be a good choice. It has a depth of up to 1500 feet and a powerful 4000 watt transducer. It also has built-in GPS and works on dual frequencies.
With the down imaging sonar, CHIRP, and Beam Plus Fishfinder you know what a high quality fish finder is supposed to look like.
A CHIRP sonar frequency of 50-200 kHz is sent through a transducer with 1500 ft max depth.
This fish finder benefits from having a micro SD slot so you can even put in your own maps or save your waypoints. It also features a large 5 inch color display screen with a backlight.
The negatives with this fish finder is that it needs to be mounted close by your kayak, but because of its size, mounting it can feel a little difficult. Additionally, the display may take some time to get used to because not all of the information on the LCD is easy for beginners who haven’t been introduced fish finders before.
6: Garmin Fishfinder ECHOMAP Plus 45cv
The Garmin Fishfinder ECHOMAP Plus is among the best and most expensive fish finders on this list.
It offers great signal, as well as important features like GPS that make it worth every penny of its hefty price tag. The sonar frequency is 100 kHz, which provides a strong enough connection for you to see where all the schools are even if they’re at 328 ft deep (though we don’t recommend going down there).
It also comes with a 25 ft cord that allows you to use it from shore or kayak alike, so no need to worry about running out of power while waiting for your battery life to charge up again before heading back home.
The problem with this device, is its screen is small—though this may be an advantage for people who want to use their phone screens instead of carrying around another device for all their activities.
This is a great alternative to the Lowrance Hook-3X further above.
7: Venterior Portable Fish Finder (Budget Choice)
The next model on this list is also by Venterior. Just like its sibling, the VT-FF001, this one offers great sensitivity. Yet it takes accuracy and detection to a whole other level as it tells you whether the fish is small, middle or large along with its position in relation to the water’s surface
This fish finder can be a good choice if you’re looking for value or just getting started. It features a wired transducer and an LCD display screen. It can be a good choice for kayak fishing as it will only work at slow speeds, no faster than 5 mph.
This fish finder features 5 different sensitivity levels which range from seeing the small details of the bottom to ignoring smaller scenery. It also includes a battery saving mode that can be turned on during your last half hour or so of fishing, extending your time on the water.
It is a handheld fish finder that has a simple display and will alert you to the location of the fish but not the size of the fish. It will only detect fish that are larger than 4 inches in length. Battery life of up only to 5 hours and no GPS don't help as a selling point - but this is a budget fish finder after all.
It also has a depth range of between 3 feet and 328 feet and will work in a range of temperatures.
- Sensitivity settings
- Good for the budget conscious
How To Power A Fish Finder In Your Kayak?
To keep your fish finder running in your kayak you will likely need to consider using a 12 volt battery. Depending on the amp hours on the battery, you can power your fish finder for several hours.
If you plan on having your fish finder on all day you might want to think about a higher amp hour rating. For a typical all day fishing trip, a 10 to 20 amp hour battery might be ideal. But if you plan a shorter trip of just a few hours, you may be able to use a battery with a lower amp hour rating.
What’s The Recommended Way To Mount It?
Your kayak may already have a dedicated spot to mount your fish finder. But if not, you can mount the display unit to your gear tracks or you can mount it elsewhere on your yak in your preferred spot where you’ll most easily be able to see it.
When you connect it to your battery, you’ll probably want to make sure the wires are out of the way. One way is to have the wires running through the hull, which may require drilling a hole into your yak but you may want your battery to be stored inside the hull too, which can help keep it safe and dry.
How Do I Connect And Mount The Transducer?
The transducer needs to be in the water and one of the ways you can mount the transducer in through a scupper hole. Depending on your yak, it may have a dedicated transducer mount, especially if it’s a fishing boat.
There are certain products that can attach to your gear tracks to let you mount your transducer, meaning you shouldn’t need to drill any holes in your hull.
You will have to connect the wires from the fish finder to the connector points on your battery.
You can also mount the transducer through the scupper hole using PVC pipe and drilling holes through the pipe in order to secure the transducer. However, you would need to make sure the wires are running through the pipe before you secure it.
Video: Installing Transducer Using Scupper Holes
Now that you have read about the different types of fish finders and what they can do for you, you should have a better idea of what you might want from your own fish finder.
As you can see, there are fish finders for all types of environments and levels of fishing. The type of fish finder you choose will be based on your personal preference as well as the locations you plan to go fishing in.
Having a fish finder on your kayak will be a technology boost that will help you better navigate lakes, rivers and seas when you’re searching for fish. It will also give you a clearer view of what’s under the water you’re paddling in, so you can avoid weeds and other obstructions.
You may even find you get a better understanding of the underwater landscape, which may also help you in your future fishing trips, as you begin to understand the fish and their habitats.
Just remember that when you’re choosing a fish finder you consider where you’re planning to use it and how often. Keep in mind the extra features and whether they’ll be of benefit to you in your kayak and make sure you choose one that will fit with your kayak.
Do you have a fish finder? Tell us about it below...