Best Fish Finders for Kayaks

Technology has gone so far that now it’s foolish not to take advantage of these advanced products. They have made our lives faster and easier than ever before. In the case of fishing, Fish finders are the best example of modern technology. So bye-bye to old kayak fishing and where you don’t know what’s beyond the kayak or what’s going to pop out with your bait.

Following the trend, I have listed some of the best fish finders for kayaks because finding an appropriate fish finder is a tricky task as plenty of them with various features and sizes are out there. So you should pick one that best fits your kayak as there is not much space on the kayaks and the one that satisfies your requirements because being a modern kayaker buying a good kayak fish finder should be a top priority.

Top 3 picks for best kayak fish finders

No.1
Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 Inch Fish Finders
Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 Inch Fish Finders
4.3
  • Triple shot Transducer
  • Auto-tunning Sonar
  • Waterproof Screen
  • GPS available
No.2
Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 73sv with GT56UHD-TM Transducer
Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 73sv with GT56UHD-TM Transducer
4.7
  • Transducer provides ClearView, SideView, and, traditional CHIRP sonar
  • Preloaded g3 US inland maps
  • Includes Panoptix LiveScope Sonar
  • 7” touch screen
No.3
Garmin Striker 4 , GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
Garmin Striker 4 , GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
4.7
  • ClearVu Scanning Sonar
  • Chirp Sonar
  • 3.5-inch screen
  • Keypad Controls

Best fish finders for kayaks

1- Lowrance Hook Reveal Fish Finders

best kayak fish finder overall

FEATURES
  • Triple shot Transducer
  • Auto-tunning Sonar
  • 7-inch Display
  • Waterproof Screen
  • GPS available

One of the main reasons to select Lowrance Hook reveal as the best kayak fish finder overall is its perfect screen size, this 7 inches screen presents a clear and wider downside view that locating a fish easier than ever before. Its waterproof screen offers excellent visibility even in bright sunlight.

Now here is good news for kayak anglers that a single long triple shot transducer is added in this package that adds high-resolution SideScan imaging along with DownScan and Chirp Sonar. Where Chirp improves the 2D sonar resolution so the fish appears distinguishable and SideScan allows scanning a larger area frankly speaking it covers the left and right side of the kayak. So no more missed targets.

For an easy and quick finding, 4000 US inland Lakes maps are installed into it or you can highlight your own path on your custom map using a GPS plotter. GPS plotter isn’t available in every model so pick the one where it is mentioned in the description.

Overall, a flawless fish revealing technology at this price where it offers the same premium features as other expensive fish finders offer.

Pros
  • Includes both DownScale and SideScan Imaging
  • C-mapping with Genesis live
  • Affordable price range
Cons
  • The unit does not have a custom contour mapping feature

2- Garmin ECHOMAP UHD with Transducer

best GPS fish finder for kayaks

FEATURES
  • 7” touch screen
  • Preloaded g3 US inland maps
  • Includes Panoptix LiveScope Sonar
  • Transducer provides ClearView, SideView, and, traditional CHIRP sonar

What I like about Garmin ECHOMAP is its LiveScope system which presents a high-quality 360-angled view that it was so easy for me to detect fish with clear bottom structure. Its 7 inches touch screen offers a high-resolution display without glare.

Often users find these fish finders difficult to use due to the complex program, but that is not the case with Garmin ECHOMAP, it has a user-friendly system, and parallel aligned buttons that make it easier to operate.

The included transducer covers traditional plus CHIRP sonar features which present the three-dimensional image. In case, you don’t want to spend much, you can go with only the down scanning transducer type.  

No more lost kayaking with updated US inland maps with GPS features. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity so you can share your custom maps with others. Moreover, you can upgrade your chart plotter with g3 charts which adds additional cost. You can also update charts with a smartphone app.

Overall it is one of the best Garmin fish finders due to its quick-release bail mount. Top of all its size perfectly fits into your kayak, a perfect moderate size which you can also upgrade to a wider big so it’s up to your personal preference and your kayak or boat size.

Pros
  • Offers Wi-Fi connectivity and map sharing
  • Quick Release bail mount
Cons
  • Updating g3 charts add additional cost
FEATURES
  • ClearVu Scanning Sonar
  • Chirp Sonar
  • 3.5-inch screen
  • Keypad Controls
  • Preferred for Ice fishing and vertical Jigging

One of the portable and size-friendly options in fish finders is the Garmin Striker series. It is available in 3.5, 5, and 7 inches display with a portable kit that perfectly fits into your kayak and adds extra protection to the fish finder.

Personally, I am a big fan of Garmin striker, it’s so easy to use, and displays each and every necessary detail from water depth, and battery voltage to even the speed of your boat. I strongly recommend this one to beginners because of its easily operated system.

You can utilize its split screen options over and above that you can mark your waypoints and navigate your location easily. This feature not only adds ease of use but also speeds up the process.

Two transducer options i.e. GT8 or G15 are available where GT8 is an ideal option for shallow water. The striker has ClearVu scanning sonar and high-resolution CHIRP sonar which creates fish arches for better tracking of your catch. This fish finder is a good option when you don’t have enough room in your kayak as it fixes on the kayak’s wall.

You also have GPS and battery options in this model but it adds extra cost.

Pros
  • Despite the smaller screen, it offers a high resolution
  • User-friendly fish finders recommended for those who are not familiar with tech gadgets
Cons
  • Problem with transducer setup

4- Humminbird 410950-1NAV HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI 

best kayak fish finder for the money

FEATURES
  • 7-inch screen
  • Two display modes
  • Keypad controls
  • Transducer with Dual Spectrum CHIRP 2D Sonar

Now if you are tired of spending too much time finding fish or setting up your fish finders, so here is a big relief for you. Humminbird Helix 7 with a dual spectrum CHIRP 2D sonar creates long and prominent fish arches for a quick catch and with two searching ways i.e. wide mode and narrow mode a more detailed coverage is delivered.

This offers high-quality side-plus-down imaging. The side imaging covers 125 feet on both sides of the kayak so a wide area is covered using powerful sonar signals which presents a much clear picture of fish and structure. Up to 150 feet down scanning is all that a high-quality fish finder an angler should be demanding for.

The GPS feature with 21,000 lake maps coverage and you can upgrade your maps for more detailed coverage. The vibrant colored displays distinguish the fish from the background. The only downside to this is that you have to buy an extra fuse and a wire to run into your battery. Humminbird is one of the most widely trusted and popular fish finder brands. It was quite obvious to add one of its products to the list of best fish finders for kayaks, the only reason I didn’t add it to my top 3 picks is its price. It is an expensive fish finder but I think the quality features that it offers, balances its price. Because you can’t neglect that advanced and upgraded features come at bigger prizes.

Pros
  • It is easy to install as compared to other fish finders with a solid mounting base
Cons
  • Expensive fish finder

5- ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

 best portable fish finder 

FEATURES
  • Patented sonar fish identifier technology
  • Chargeable battery
  • iOS and Android apps are available
  • Sonar readings
  • Up to 135 feet deep sonar readings
  • GPS features are supported 

Trends just change so fast and portable small gadgets are always preferred by the users. Today, portable fish finders are now gaining the attention of the kayakers who don’t want 3 to 7-inch displays mounted on their kayaks but rather the smaller ones that also make their place in the tackle boxes. The easy Bluetooth connectivity with your smartphone or tablet just makes these portable fish finders’ go-to fishing gear.

ReelSonar Wireless fish finder is a high-quality fishing gadget that connects to the smartphone and displays underwater scenes on your screen.  Just fix it with a hook as two snap swivels are there on it for easy connection with a fishing line. It may sound strange to you to tie a transducer with a fishing line but it is actually equal to a small-sized ball obviously it is recommended to use a heavy line test when casting iBobber. All you have to do is buy it, install its app on your mobile or tablet and enjoy underwater imaging.

It has patented sonar fish identifier technology which sends fish signals and accurate readings up to 135 feet when connected with Wi-Fi and with Bluetooth it works up to 100 feet distance. Both iOS and android supported apps are available.

I wouldn’t say that it can compete with the above-mentioned fish finders that come with display screens. But the biggest advantage of a portable fish finder is that it is a versatile product. It can be present in shore  fishing, it supports dock and pier fishing, ice fishing, and night fishing as well as best portable fish finder option for kayak fishing.

Pros
  • Perfect for every type of fishing
  • Supports both methods of casting as well as dragging
Cons
  • Not a good option for serious fishing
  • Bluetooth signals interrupt
  • Much dependent on Wi-Fi signals

What qualities should your best kayak fish finder have?

You can take this as a quality factors list or a buyer’s guide for finding a suitable fish finder for the kayak because as I mentioned before selecting a fish finder is a bit different from finding the fishing rod as many factors should be considered before buying a fish finder, your location, your type of fishing, space on the kayak, your ability to use technology, transducers, price factor, installation process and top of all personal preference.

Screen Size

Today fish finders are available in different display sizes from 3.5 to a maximum of 9 inches screens. Widescreen displays more detailed information and with split screen options you can view maps, GPS and down imaging at the same time.

Although 3 inches display also offers a split screen but with a congested display, so one view at a time is preferred. You also may have issues if you do stand-up fishing on the kayak. So if you want a small fish finder that stays out of the way of your casting, then a 3 to 4 inches display is the best option for you.

On the other side, if you want a wider display, and have enough room in your kayak, then there is no reason not to spend money on them.

Sonar Type

Two popular fish-finding sonar types are available today, actually, it involves using high frequencies to achieve underwater details on the screen. These are

1- Down Imaging

2- Side Imaging

2- CHIRP sonar

Down Imaging Sonar

This one gives detailed information right below your kayak, the transducer vertically sends the sonar signals. Down Imaging sonars are usually preferred for deep water, they are good at finding depth range.

Side Imaging Sonar

If you are interested in wide area coverage, the rays scan both sides of the boat i.e. left and right. The transducer sends out the sonar signals and scans a wider view quicker than down imaging. Along with the coverage feature, you can apply filters to the images, and contour maps just to enjoy the advanced imaging.

Side imaging just offers vertical range coverage while down imaging offers horizontal area. Side scan sonars are the best options to adopt when it comes to shallow water conditions. They are also recommended for trolling fishing.

The latest fish finders offer both types of imaging via a single transducer. The kayaker can view down plus side imaging at the same time on the same screen using split screen features. That’s why dual beam sonars are getting popular day by day.

CHIRP Sonar

Your best kayak fish finder may have many qualities but one high-standard feature that is only available in some high-quality fish finders is Chirp Sonar Technology. This feature takes the sonar-ranging capabilities to the next level. Rather than sending a single frequency, it sends out the multi-dimensional range of frequencies for more authentic results as it shows better results than down imaging when it comes to revealing fish structure to the screen.

Depth Finder

A good fish finder for kayaks should have a depth-finding feature. When it comes to shallow and deep water fishing, depth finders are really important as certain fish lie at a certain depth of water moreover it is also recommended for safety purposes, as the kayaker will be fully aware of certain water conditions.

Waterproof Fish Finders

This may sound strange to you but adding to your knowledge, all fish finders are not fully waterproof, and the LED screens may get damaged by water splashes. So, it is recommended to go with sealed or waterproof fish finders. You can also cover your screens with a case or many kayak fish finders also comes with a protective zipper bag.

Many brands mention this feature in their product descriptions, so give this point piece of attention.

User Friendly

Many kayakers are not much familiar with the advanced technology or touch screens, so the fish finder should be easy to use with an easy operating system. Keyed panels are also available in contrast to touch screens so it’s totally up to personal preference what you pick.

Ease of use isn’t just bound to the operating system, the best fish finder should also be easily mountable.

GPS

GPS mapping is a very important feature in a fish finder, it tells you your current spot, and you can mark your spot for the next time and the right track back to your destination. I think it’s a must have feature, especially for kayak fishing but unfortunately, this feature isn’t present in every model or it adds additional cost for installing the feature.

When it comes to portable fish finders which connect to your smartphones or tablets GPS is free, as your mobiles are by default integrated with this feature. So portable ones are a good option in this case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better down imaging or side imaging?

Side imaging is best for fast-moving kayaks, once you found the structure you can then use down imaging for more in-depth details.

Which fish finder is kayaker or angler friendly?

As many kayakers found it difficult to operate the touch screen with wet hands, so keyed fish finders can be an easier choice because the software is almost the same with the difference in feature options.
But here is the point, if you don’t want to switch to professional fish finders, portable fish finders are the best option for you, just install the app on your own smartphone and fish in your comfort zone.

What part does the transducer play in the process of fish finding?

The sonar signals are sent and received via the transducer.

What is the right place to mount the transducer on a kayak?

The transducer needs to be positioned just above or slightly below the boat’s bottom it should be saved from placing too low in the water.

What is the right position to place the fish finder in the kayak?

There isn’t any fixed or specific position in the kayak, you can fix it in the hull, on your deck, to the right side of the arm, or left just fix it where it’s an easy exposure to its screen. Mostly it depends on the space on the kayak.

Is fish finders necessary for kayak fishing?

Obviously, it’s not necessary for the anglers, you can do your normal kayak fishing without a fish finder, they just add ease and fast the fish-finding process and moreover make you aware of hurdles underwater.
Using its advanced features, you can mark your winning spot and return right there next time, you will be aware of water depth and much more. Still, it’s up to you not necessarily required.

Final Thoughts

Fish finders are a wonderful addition to the fishing gear. Modern technology just made it easier ever than before so enhance your kayak fishing experience and find out the best kayak fish finder for yourself. The plus point of these fish finders is that you will be fully aware of any obstacles down there in the water. So just go through the list, read the guide, buy it and be ready for the big catch that you are going to win in your next kayaking tour.

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