Best Fish Finders for Kayaks
Best Fish Finders for Kayaks Comparison Chart
Saltwater: 750 ft
Size: 3.5 inches
Resolution: 480 x 320 pixels
Size: 2.4 inches
Resolution: 240 x 960 pixels
Size: 2.6 inches
Resolution: not indicated
Size: 4.3 inches
Resolution: 480 x 272 pixels
Beam 2: 90 kHz
Beam 2: 55 degrees
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Fish Finders for Kayaks
- 1.1 Best Fish Finders for Kayaks Comparison Chart
- 1.2 How We Chose the Best Kayak Fish Finders?
- 1.3 Top 5 Best Kayak Fishfinder
- 1.4 What to Look For When Choosing the Best Kayak Fish Finders?
- 1.5 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A fish finder is one of the most reliable arsenals you can take with you while kayak fishing. However, with so many brands and models offered in the market, all with different functions and features, it can be difficult to choose which one to get. More so, if it’s your first time buying one.
To help you make an informed decision, we have created this comprehensive guide on choosing the right fish finder for you. We have also put together 5 of the best fish finders for kayak to help make your search faster and easier.
How We Chose the Best Kayak Fish Finders?
As the leading online marketplace in the country and where most of the top brands and models are offered, we turned to Amazon to find the best fish finder for kayaks. We looked at every product and listed down all those that are suitable for a kayak. After hours of research, we were able to create a shortlist of all those we liked and those with the highest rating and most recommended by other kayak anglers.
From there, we sorted the products according to their category. We then had to determine which ones were the best in each category. We looked at their features, functions, price, and overall quality. After much discussion within our team, we were able to narrow down our list to only the top products you see below.
That said, all the products we have included in this list are carefully chosen and are guaranteed to be of the highest quality and most reliable kayak fish finder models on the market. So whether you fish competitively, for leisure, or for fun, you’re sure to find the right one for your needs here.
Why we love it:
- Waypoint mapping
- Has built-in flasher
- Tracks speed
- Transom and motor mounts
Our top pick for the best kayak fish finder is the Garmin Striker 4. With a CHIRP sonar transducer and high power, it is the fastest with the deepest readings on our list. Not only that, but it also provides the clearest and most-detailed representations of fish, objects, and structures in the water. So you’re able to know what’s going around your kayak better.
What’s great about this fish finder is that it also has a built-in, highly sensitive GPS. This allows you to see where you are on the waypoints you have marked. You can also use it to easily view, mark, and navigate to docks, stumps, and brush piles. Moreover, you can use it to find your way back to a boat ramp and hot spots.
By helping you find fish and guiding your way around the water, the Garmin Striker 4 is a perfect addition to your fishing gear. It even has a built-in flasher and the ability to track your speed. Overall, this is a convenient and reliable fish finder at a price that’s hard to beat.
- ZGives detailed images
- ZOffers navigation options
- ZEasy to use and install
- QThe required battery can take up a bit of space in your kayak
Why we love it:
- Long battery life
- Castable and offers multiple mounting methods
- Readable at night and day
- Transom, thru-hull, trolling motor, and castable
The Lucky HJY1108-CT is our next pick for the best fish finder for kayak – and it’s the cheapest on our list, too. It’s portable, so you can easily take it on all of your adventures. More than that, it can help you fish better by providing details on water depth, underwater contour, water temperature, and fish size.
This fish finder is rechargeable, and it can last up to 5 hours on a full charge. The display’s brightness is also adjustable. So you can read the data easily during the day or night. Now, this is a simple unit with no advanced features. But if you’re looking for something easy to set up and use, one you can take from boat to boat and on different fishing adventures, this is a great choice.
- ZEasy to set up
- ZEasy to use
- QNot very waterproof
Why we love it:
- The handheld unit and sonar sensor are rechargeable
- The screen can be read under bright sunlight and at night
The Venterior VT-FF005 is the next best fish finder kayak model on our list. It can detect and show you how big or small the fishes around you are. Plus, it’ll let you know the depth, bottom contour, and temperature of the water. That said, it’s a great tool for helping you find the best places to fish.
This fish finder is castable, so you don’t have to worry about using mounts and drilling holes in your kayak. You can just connect the transducer with a fishing line, cast it onto the water, and you’re good to go. It also has a fish alarm, which lets you know when there’s a group of fish near you.
Now, this isn’t the most advanced or feature-heavy fish finder in the market. However, it is simple, easy to use, occupies very little space, and is reliable in detecting fish movement on a kayak. As a bonus, it’s affordable, too.
- ZEasy to set up and use
- ZLightweight and portable
- ZLong battery life
- QNot waterproof
Why we love it:
- High-resolution display
- Has GPS
- Automated sonar settings
- Transom, trolling motor, scupper hole, and inside the hull
Here’s another best fishfinder for kayak with GPS capabilities. The Lowrance HOOK2 4x can detect fish while at the same time providing you with basic navigation. So unlike regular fish finders, you can use it to add waypoints and follow trails. Take note, however, that it can’t give you real map details.
One of the best things about this particular model is its wide sonar coverage. Compared to traditional fish finders, it can cover more area. Thus, you’ll have a better idea of what’s happening below your kayak. Furthermore, it’s fairly easy to use with its auto-tuning sonar and menus that are similar to phones. This means that you can focus more on your fishing and spend less time trying to figure out the right setting.
The Lowrance HOOK2 4x has a great display, too. With it, you’ll get crisp and clear views of fish and fish-holding structures no matter the time of day or night. Overall, with its compact size, it’s perfect for kayaks and small fishing boats with limited console space.
- ZWide sonar coverage
- ZEasy to use
- ZEasy to set up
- QNo real map details
Why we love it:
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- GPS mapping
- Does not need drilling, cables, or wires
Can’t seem to find a fish finder with a screen and display that you like? Well, you may want to check out the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro. Compatible with iOS and Android, this is a unit that you can pair with your phone to receive its sonar feedback. So you’ll have the best possible view of the water depth, bottom structure, vegetation, consistency, and of course, the fish below you.
This fish finder is incredibly easy to install. It’s castable, so you can just attach it to your kayak or fishing rod. Furthermore, it has GPS mapping. You can create bathymetric maps directly from your vessel.
Sure, the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro is quite pricey. It also needs your phone to function, so it will be at risk of getting wet. But with all things considered, this is a great fish finder that you can use and transfer from one kayak to another. It’s also very versatile and suitable for any type of fishing during any season.
- ZEasy to install
- ZLightweight and portable
- QRequires your phone to work
What to Look For When Choosing the Best Kayak Fish Finders?
Adding a fish finder on a kayak can do wonders in your fishing game. It can give you a glimpse of what is going on below your vessel. Thus, allowing you to skip water where there is no bait and active fish. It will also allow you to locate fish that are swimming and see if there are large bait schools or if there are feeding fish near you. Furthermore, a fish finder can show you what depth the fish are, which will then help you figure out what baits and methods work best.
Now, to get these results, you will need a reliable fishfinder kayak model that suits your style, preference, and vessel. You also have to choose the right one according to where and how you fish. To help you do just that, here are all the things you need to look out for and consider:
One of the first things you have to look for in a fish finder for kayak is power – which is expressed in wattage RMS (root mean squared). This will give you an idea of how fast and deep its readings are. Of course, the lower the wattage, the shallower its reach is, and the fewer details you’ll get.
A device with less power will also be less reliable as its waves will be slower. On the other hand, if it has more power, its waves will be much faster. Thus, providing you with more accurate readings.
So how much power do you need? Here’s the general guideline to help you figure that out:
- Every 100 watts of power will give you 400ft of added depth on a 50Hz frequency
- A 200Hz frequency will give you 100ft of added depth for every 100 watts
Too complicated? Well, a kayak fishfinder with 200-300 watts of power can show you the bottom and fish in inland lakes and shallow waters. A 500-watt fish finder is enough for coastal fishing and 600-watt for nearshore fishing. Just make sure you don’t go too deep. For offshore fishing, however, you’ll want more power (around 1000 watts or more) for the best results.
Every fishing kayak fish finder has a transducer, which sends out and receives sonar waves. It can operate on a single frequency, dual, or multiple frequencies. It can also use the CHIRP system, allowing it to transmit a wide range of frequencies.
Generally, a higher frequency will provide the best detail resolution, the best view from fast-moving vessels, and the least background noise. However, they can’t go as deep as those with lower frequencies. This is why most anglers that fish in shallow waters choose higher frequencies, which are 200kHz and more. If you’re heading out the ocean, best stick with lower frequencies, such as 50kHz or 80kHz.
Furthermore, there’s really no need for more than a single frequency for inland fishing. That said, many mid-range fish finder kayak models already use dual frequencies. This will allow you to use both low and high frequencies at the same time. Readings from each frequency will then be shown through a split-screen mode.
Some devices utilize CHIRP technology. With it, a fish finder will send a signal that moves upward linearly. For instance, it can transmit frequencies from 130-210kHz, 40-75kHz, and others. This means that it can transmit both high and low frequencies simultaneously. So it will have greater depth penetration, be able to return highly detailed images, and operate with less noise.
Transducers also have cone angles, which refer to the width of the beam produced by the fish finder to the water from your vessel. As the cone angle goes wider, the larger area it can cover. The cone angle also expands as the beam goes down.
Typically, transducers have cones ranging from 9 to 60 degrees. Most devices on the market offer around 16 to 20 degrees. For beginners who want to go kayak fishing in different depths of water, then a cone with a 20-degree angle is already a good choice.
It’s also worth mentioning that more advanced units can emit multiple beams. Thus, have more than one cone from a single point. Some have two beams, others have triple, and some even have side beams. Naturally, the more beams, the more area you can cover. This is ideal for big bodies of water, like lakes.
Take note, however, that the more beams there are, the more expensive it will be.
The screen is a vital aspect of a fish finder for kayak. Ideally, it should be easy to read even under direct sunlight or cloudy weather. To see and understand what’s underneath your vessel better, you’ll also need a screen that will give you more details and, thus, clear images.
When it comes to a fish finder’s screen, there are 3 things you need to consider:
It wouldn’t do you any good if you have to keep squinting at your screen just to make out what it is showing. That said, pay close attention to a fish finder’s screen size. The wider the screen is, the more information you’ll see and the easier it is to read.
There’s a wide range of fish finder display sizes. You’ll find screens as small as 3.5 inches for kayak portable fish finder units, while bigger units for bigger boats can have as much as a 12-inch screen. But there’s really no need – and space – for a device that’s as big as a Macbook in a kayak, right?
So in terms of screen size, you also have to consider the space in your kayak and where you plan to put it.
Black and White VS. Color
Fish finders come in two displays. You can either go with a colored one or a black and white one. Of course, devices with black and white screens are cheaper. But if you have the budget, best buy one with a colored display. It’s more capable of giving you information that’s easy to read and understand. Having colors will also allow you to see what is going on in the water better.
As for resolution, more pixels equals better details, clearer images, and better representation of the things around you. This will also give you a better idea of what’s happening underneath your kayak. As a guide, devices with 240 x 160 pixels will make you feel like you’re playing Brick Game or Tetris. So if you can, aim for something with a higher resolution.
Unless you’re buying something portable, you also have to think about how you’ll set up your kayak with a fish finder. To do this, you can choose from either the following transducer mounting styles:
- Transom: The most common way to setting up a fish finder on your kayak is by mounting the transducer to the transom or rear. This is ideal for vessels 30 feet and shorter as it is easier to do and offers great results. On the downside, the bubbles produced by the propeller can get in the way of the signal sometimes.
- Trolling Motor: If you have a trolling motor, you can also mount the transducer directly on it. This will allow you to change the signal’s direction by controlling the motor. Take note, however, that not all transducers can be mounted on a motor. So if you prefer this method, make sure to check the fish finder’s compatibility.
Now, there’s also thru-hull mounting, but it is more for bigger boats. This method also requires drilling a hole in the hull of your vessel. There’s in-hull mounting, too, which is best suited for vessels with thin hulls.
On a kayak, you’ll likely get splashed by water and get wet once in a while. So when choosing a fish finder, make sure to check its water resistance. This is typically represented by JIS or IPX ratings.
Good fish finders – and what you need to look out for – have a water rating of IPX7. With this rating, the device can withstand water splashes and rain. It also means that it can be submerged up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. So if your kayak temporarily capsizes, it’s still able to work. For more expensive devices, you’ll see a higher water rating.
Some fish finders offer other functions beyond just letting you see what’s going on below you. Some have side imaging, which allows you to see everything that’s moving around your vessel. If you’re fishing in shallow waters where fish do not swim underneath you, then this is a great feature to have.
Modern devices have chart plotting capabilities as well. This will help you avoid and navigate your way around reefs and other hazards that can damage your kayak. It also allows you to save routes and record your favorite fishing spots. For bodies of water that you’re not familiar with, this can be quite handy.
That said, try to look for fish finders with extra features to make your time on the water more convenient and comfortable. Some can even help you catch fish better. Keep in mind, however, that more extras mean a higher price tag.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Do fish finders work on kayaks?
A: Yes, all fish finders work on kayaks. However, some are better choices as they are easier to mount and don’t require any drilling or modification.
Q: Where is the best place for a fish finder on a kayak?
A: The best place for a fish finder on a kayak depends on the model’s transducer. Some are designed to be mounted only on the transom of your kayak or the trolling motor. Some can also be installed through scupper holes or the hull of your boat. On the other hand, there are also castable fish finders, which don’t need any mounting. These models can simply be attached to a fishing line or any part of your kayak, placed on the water, and you’re all set. As for the display, best to keep it close to your deck’s hatch or scupper as this will make it easier to run wires.
Q: What is the best size fish finder for a kayak?
A: The best size fish finder for a kayak is around 4 inches (display). This is easy to fit in tight spaces and draws less power while making sure you’re still able to see the details properly.