Tired of casting your rod out of your fishing kayak, praying to get even the slightest hint of a bite? Luckily, there’s a handy little tool you may know about, aptly named the “fish finder”.
It would be easy to think that all fish finders work the same; however, with a recent rise in fish finding technology, there are many different options for finding fish to suit your fishing habits.
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- 1 Top 5 Best Kayak Fish Finders (Summary)
- 2 11 Best Kayak Fish Finder Reviews 2020
- 2.1 1. Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder
- 2.2 2. HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder
- 2.3 3. The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+
- 2.4 4. Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder
- 2.5 5. Lowrance Hook-4
- 2.6 6. Lucky
- 2.7 7. Venterior
- 2.8 8. Deeper
- 2.9 9. Anysun
- 2.10 10. Garmin Striker
- 2.11 11. Humminbird Helix 5
- 3 What Is a Kayak Fish Finder
- 4 Benefits of Using a Kayak Fish Finder
- 5 Pros and Cons of Using a Kayak Fish Finder
- 6 Pros
- 7 Cons
- 8 What to Look For in a Kayak Fish Finder
- 8.1 Mounting Space
- 8.2 Portability
- 8.3 Display Size and Resolution
- 8.4 Transducer Style and Compatibility
- 8.5 Side Imaging vs Down Imaging
- 8.6 Frequencies
- 8.7 GPS
- 8.8 Depth
- 8.9 Power
- 8.10 3D Sonar
- 8.11 Color vs Black and White
- 8.12 Cone Angles and Beams
- 8.13 Software
- 8.14 Batteries and Battery Life
- 8.15 Temperature and Speed Sensors
- 8.16 Versatility
- 8.17 Extra Features
- 8.18 Installation
- 8.19 Brand
- 8.20 Weather Resistance
- 8.21 Price
- 9 How to Install a Fish Finder on a Kayak
- 10 Top 5 Kayak Fish Finder Brands
- 11 Does More Spending Mean More Quality
- 12 Do’s and Don’ts To Do With a Kayak Fish Finder
- 13 FAQ About Kayak Fish Finders
- 13.1 Are fish finders waterproof?
- 13.2 Why do I need a kayak fish finder?
- 13.3 What is the transducer?
- 13.4 What’s the recommended way to mount a kayak fish finder?
- 13.5 How should you power a fish finder in your kayak?
- 13.6 How do I connect and mount the transducer?
- 13.7 What is the ideal screen size for a kayak fish finder?
- 13.8 Where is the best place to mount my fish finder when I take it out on a kayak?
- 13.9 Should I get a GPS with my fish finder?
- 13.10 What scanning depth should a kayak fish finder have?
- 13.11 What is a Chirp Sonar and which one should I use?
- 13.12 What is a Chartplotter fish finder?
- 13.13 Conclusion
Top 5 Best Kayak Fish Finders (Summary)
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|The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+||
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|Vexilar SP200 T-Box||
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For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
To help narrow down the options, we’ve compiled a list of the best kayak fish finders. We’ll help find the one for you, so you can focus on landing your big catch!
11 Best Kayak Fish Finder Reviews 2020
While the Garmin brand name is enough to earn a second glance, their Striker 4 Fish Finder lives up to all the brand hype and more.
It features an extremely user-friendly interface, with a full-colored 3.5″display screen, CHIRP sonar, and sharp 77/200 kHz transducer. It also comes with a built-in GPS, which allows you to set waypoints, navigate routes, and mark different structures such as dropoffs, rock piles, or any underwater obstructions.
The Striker 4 fish finder comes with a dual display ability to set two screens side-by-side. This allows you to easily view your waypoint map and reader in the same display, or to view both the 77 and 200 kHz signals together for a fuller underwater reading.
At an extremely low price point, the Striker 4 steps up to the plate and delivers most of the features we loved in the higher priced options. This is one of the most popular models for beginners and seasoned anglers alike, and we can easily see why.
The HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder has recently become a popular option for fish finder, and is one of our personal favorites. About the size of a smartphone, this fish finder easily fits in the palm of your hand, and comes with floatable, troll-able, and boat mountable transducer, making it ultra portable.
The Hawkeye Fishtrax 1C is comparable to the Garmin Striker 4 in size, function, and metrics. It features an 83/200 kHz transducer, 100-level sensitivity adjustment, and auto-zoom bottom tracking for you to fine-tune your reading to either shallow or deep waters.
The key to this fish finder is in its simplicity: it has 3 user-friendly modes that give you a quick and concise reading for when you need it. Specifically, Ice Mode’s digital flasher makes this product perfect for multi-season use, including ice fishing.
If you’re still not convinced, HawkEye stands by a 2-year warranty to assure that you love their product as much as they do.
The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ is the perfect option for those who want a superlight, portable, and wireless (yes, wireless) option. The Deeper Smart fish finder seamlessly weaves fishing into a smartphone/tablet interface, without being tied to it. And for those without an iPhone/Android, don’t count yourself out – they work on all platforms.
The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ is truly a portable fish finder. While the battery life is not ideal – 5.5 hours on continuous use – its other features make this a strong contender for the best fish finder. It floats easily in fresh and saltwater and gives a strong layout of the bottom.
At its core, the Deeper Smart fish finder was made to help find the best fishing spots. The most unique feature about this is your ability to tie the fish finder with fishing line, cast out, and receive a scan of the whole area between you and the end of your line. This will allow you to see in what direction to cast, how far out, and how deep the fish are in a certain vicinity. This feature alone absolutely makes the product worth it for us.
For those looking for smaller add-ons, the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ app comes with a fishing log, diary, and maps.
Overall, this is a great option for those looking for a newer take on fish finding. It uses technology to its advantage to enhance the fishing experience, and functionally operates just as well as any of the traditional fish finders on our list.
Vexilar had a great idea when they developed the idea for their product: turn your smartphone into the fish finder. The SP200 T-Box follows through on this idea, creating its own Wi-Fi hotspot to turn your smartphone or tablet into a fully operational fish finding sonar.
This fish finder comes with pre-drilled holes, offering many accessories or options for mounting on any kayak. The Wi-Fi hotspot ensures that the Vexilar will work anywhere in the world, and the app is very simple to use.
The main draw in this fish finder is surprisingly not the internal features, but rather in the portability of it. It comes with a neoprene arm-band for your phone to spare you the headache of mounting and securing your fish finder every use. With the sonar reaching a depth of 240 feet, water temperature and depth indicator, and audible alarms for fish, the specs aren’t bad either.
The Vexilar ultimately is made for quick and easy use, and finds its home with customers who are looking for a very portable smartphone-synced option.
The Lowrance Hook-4 has all the features we love in a fish finder. With a 4-inch display, simple interface, and split screen functions, finding fish with this model is very easy. It features a CHIRP sonar plus downscan, giving it a full picture and stunning resolution on its color display. It has both a 83/200 kHz and 455/800 kHz transducer for ultra sharp image processing, and can reach 1000 feet deep on 83/200 kHz.
The Hook-4 also boasts an Advanced Signal Processing (ASP) function, which reduces the need for manual adjustments while trying to find fish. This ultimately allows you to focus on the finding, instead of the fine-tuning.
The transducer is extremely easy to mount, and with a display of 4-inches, the Lowrance Hook-4 is large enough to split into 3 screens at a time, without being too bulky to mount in a small fishing kayak.
With the built-in GPS and pre-installed maps, this unit is ultimately perfect for those looking to step up their fishing game with a super reliable and very technical fish finder.
Lucky Kayak Fish Finder is a handheld device that helps fishing lovers of all skill levels to locate fish accurately. You can use it for a wide range of fishing environments such as ice fishing, sea fishing and kayak fishing.
This device displays the water depth in meters or feet and the location of fish, weeds and rock. It can give alerts when it detects schools of fish passing through its range of functions.
Its depth detection ranges between 1m and 100m with a sensor range of 45°. You can fix this device to the side of a kayak at below 5 mph. It can also be hung on the neck for easy use.
This device has five modes of sensitivity function, which make it useful for all kinds of fishing. It operates with 4 AAA batteries that can last up to four or five hours.
- Can detect the depth and location of fish
- Wide sensor range
- Can be used in different fishing environments
- Might provide inaccurate depth readings
Venterior is a portable device that proves very useful for people who love fishing. It is suitable for boat fishing, ice fishing or shore fishing.
This device can function properly in temperatures as low as -20°C. It detects and displays the location of fish, weeds and stones. It also reads the depth of the water and displays this data on the LCD screen.
A 25ft cord is attached to the sonar transducer with a detachable transducer float. This allows you to fish from different locations without having to get on the water.
This device has five sensitivity modes for controlling how much clarity to display. It also has a backlight mode that makes it very useful at night.
- Can function in low temperature
- Sensitivity can be easily controlled
- Provides accurate readings
- Might be subject to battery damage
Deeper Fish Finder for Kayaks uses the Wi-Fi network to display readings on the Deeper app. It requires no expert knowledge to use as it switches on when it comes in contact with water and connects to the app easily.
With a connection range of 165ft and a 40° sonar beam, you can easily cast out without having to worry about losing the connection. The app displays fish sizes using three fish icons and their location in the water. It also displays the vegetation and depth of fish activities. All the readings have time stamps and can be saved on the app history.
This product uses a battery that requires just 2.5 hours of charging to obtain a full charge. The battery can stand up to six hours of continuous usage.
This device is lightweight and small enough to fit in a pocket or tackle box. It has a night light sensor and night fishing mode, which makes it useful in low lighting. It is compatible with android and iOS devices.
- Long battery life
- Dep connection range
- Lightweight and portable
- Might not connect easily to the app
Anysun uses a video camera to detect fish movement and depth location. A rechargeable battery can work for up to 12 hours of continuous usage.
Its 7-inch color monitor features a protective visor for bright environments. The HD camera provides a high-quality and very clear picture that will let you know the exact location of schools of fish.
The camera has 12 highlight night-vision lights that can provide sufficient light during low light conditions. The night vision light can be controlled by the user with a switch.
This device is made of metal, which is durable and anti-corrosive. It is fully waterproof and can be immersed in water for a long period of time without getting damaged.
- Battery is long-lasting
- Can work in low light conditions
- Image quality might be low in murky water
Garmin Striker Kayak Fish Finder is made to make tracking easy for both amateur and expert anglers. It provides necessary data that will help you navigate any body of water easily.
This product comes with a unique Clearvu technology that allows you to see high-quality visuals of fish locations and underwater terrains.
It features a 5-inch display screen with a resolution that’s enough to make out water features easily and quickly. With this product, you can note your favorite fishing spot and easily navigate to it at another time.
It operates at a high frequency and enables you to measure the depth of fish, temperature and bottom contour of the water. It can be easily mounted on any kayak.
- Screen with a high resolution
- Can mark specific spots for future purposes
- Easy to use
- Does not feature maps
Humminbird Helix 5 Fish Finder is packed with a lot of features that will make fishing an easy and enjoyable experience. It does all the work while you sit back, relax and fish.
It is equipped with an internal precision GPS chart plotting and an in-built Unimap cartography. It has a micro SD slot, allowing you to download maps of your choice and also save points.
On its 5-inch display screen with a backlight, water temperature, fish depth, vegetation and other things underwater are displayed with high clarity and in full color.
It features a down imaging and dual beam plus sonar, combined with a 4000 watts power output. It is easy to install, as it has a gimbal mounting system.
- Features a GPS and down imaging
- Displays high-resolution images in color mode
- Easy to install
Display screen might not be waterproof, making it prone to water damage
What Is a Kayak Fish Finder
When you’re out in the water in your kayak and you aim to take home a fresh catch, a kayak fish finder is what you need. Basically, it is a device that utilizes sonar technology to detect and locate fish and hence, optimizes the range where you should start casting. While it minimizes the time for guesswork and increases the possibility of catching fish, you’ll also get to enjoy navigating the waters!
Benefits of Using a Kayak Fish Finder
If you’ve been working on making your fishing trips more productive, you probably have considered getting a kayak fish finder. At this point, what you know might just be a sneak peek of how it works. A kayak fish finder takes you to the best fishing spots and helps you find fish. Simple as that.
But if you were to invest in a fish finder, how will you benefit from its features? What else can it do? Take note of the following benefits:
In-Depth Fish Searching
Innovated with intuitive presets and programs, a kayak fish finder has the ability to gather data about the perfect fishing locations, where the fish are and the depth of the water. These fish finders increase the chances of catching fish and many units also unravel comprehensive information that can help you identify the temperature of the water and distinguish any potential hazards underwater. This allows you to determine what the water conditions might turn out to be and evaluate whether the route or spot is safe for fishing.
Utilization of Sonar Technology
The transducer is the pivotal part of a fish finder. Equipped with sonar technology, it does the main job to unveil the conditions beneath the waters. It can determine where most fish are, the depth of the water, landscape and plant life, thereby giving you a much clearer view of the environment underwater. It relays all the in-depth details to the device which you can view through the LCD screen display or your smartphone and hence, let you know where you should be fishing.
What also makes fishing much easier with a fish finder is the navigation feature. Many of these devices have a GPS that allows you to brave the waters and paddle across multiple spots like brush piles, stumps and docks.
While it helps you to navigate the waters seamlessly, you can also use the GPS feature to mark your waypoint locations so you can identify the trails you need to follow and remember the previous productive fishing spots. If you also want to check out some lakes for fishing, some fish finders have preloaded maps that can guide you throughout your fishing trip.
Detailed Perspectives Below and the Side of the Kayak
Whether you’re prepping for fishing with your powerful rod and reel fishing combo or working on casting a bass fishing rod and get home with a nice catch, fish finders make it possible and a lot easier with its detailed perspectives and images of the kayak. You can visualize the structure underneath and on the side of the kayak and hence catch more fish.
There are units that feature Side Imaging that scans the side of the kayak and shows you readings of the terrain points, mainly along the shoreline and if you are fishing close to the bank.
Some fish finders, however, have Down Imaging feature that renders a view of what is happening below the kayak. These picture-like images are an advantage if you are fishing far from the coast and you are in deep waters.
Fish finders are usually lightweight and they also come in compact sizes, highlighting its portability. Do know that kayaks have limited space for gears and other equipment. That’s why it is imperative that you mount devices or gears that are portable, such as a fish finder.
Whether you’re venturing out in the waters alone or going on fishing trips with your friend on a premium tandem kayak, you can take your fish finder anywhere you go. There are also devices that enable access to your device like Smartphones or tablets that provide seamless and fast operation.
Display of Underwater Environment
With the transducer as the core, you can get an overview of the environment under the water. The ultrasonic waves from the transducer cover the areas underneath and translate these signals into comprehensive readings.
You can easily locate the fish through the structure details in form of arches and bars that you will see right on your device. Apart from locating the fish, you can also get a better layout of the condition beneath the waters, allowing you to avoid any obstacles while paddling in the water or casting your line.
Pros and Cons of Using a Kayak Fish Finder
Equipped with stunning features, you may consider a kayak fish finder as one of the reliable fishing tools you can use. While it stands out with its technology and other promising notes, a kayak fish finder also has a few downsides that you should take note of.
Saves Time and Effort in Locating Fish
Because the fish finder does all the guesswork for you, it won’t cost you so much time and effort in finding where the fish are. You can skip paddling in the waters and not knowing where to go.
A kayak fish finder optimizes the searching range, especially if you’re targeting the deep parts of the water. You can easily find the perfect fishing spots and get all the advantages over the fish.
Detailed Fishing Statistics
Every fish finder is programmed with multifunctional features that render in-depth fishing statistics. It isn’t just all about pinpointing where to stop and cast your line. It collects data through the signals that the transducer sends out and interprets them into elaborate statistics.
With the help of sonar technology, tracking the fish and finding the hotspots become a lot easier. There are images and structure details that will serve as your basis on where you should find your catch and cast your line.
Programmed with Down Imaging and Side Imaging features, a kayak fish finder will have the ability to scan and capture images of the sides of the kayak. With such technology, you’ll get a fish-eye view and determine where you should be going. This can also save you from potential hazards or any other trouble that you might encounter as you navigate the waters. No doubt you can make the most out of your fishing trips!
Hassle-free navigation is probably what every angler wants when fishing. Some fish finders have built-in GPS feature that can help you out when you’re taking the vast waters for a fishing trip. You can check out the spots for fishing, mark your waypoints or find the trails back to the ramp.
While GPS might be one of the highlights, other manufacturers tweaked the navigation tool with preloaded maps of thousands of lakes. So as you wear warm heated socks and suit up for kayak fishing, you can take this reliable guide to set out a route, sail across multiple lakes and find some great catch!
While kayak fish finders are solely designed to provide intuitive and comprehensive details for fishing, they also offer a lot of additional features that can make kayaking more enjoyable. Whether you go kayaking for recreation and fun or just want to spruce up your fishing skills, there are devices that can maximize your activities.
Some fish finders are programmed with a temperature reader while other designs have multifunctional features that can help you detect fish even when you’re ice fishing. Adjustable color display and definition settings are also available so you can view the display under low light or bright sunlight.
A kayak fish finder also works as a navigation tool that finds a better route not only for fishing spots but also for a seamless and more enjoyable kayaking ride.
It isn’t always easy to set up a device or equipment on a kayak due to its size and tight spaces. As they are often used for recreational water activities and adventures, kayaks are relatively smaller compared to usual fishing boats.
That’s why kayak fish finders are a holy grail to many seasoned fishermen and anglers. They are designed to be more portable compared to other designs in order to fit in a kayak. This promotes better and hassle-free installation. If you want to use it on another comfortable fishing kayak, you can just switch these portable devices and put it up with ease.
Have Issues With Device Integration
While its use of modern technology is one of the topmost features of a fish finder, it can make or break the overall function. Contemporary designs make use of different kinds of technologies to enable access to the maps and preset programs and conduct readings underwater.
Some fish finders encounter issues with the connection where they find it difficult to establish a connection between devices through WiFi or Bluetooth. There are also devices that can’t easily detect fish which may result in inaccurate signals and readings.
Expensive Price Range
Fish finders fall in a vast price range. You may find some that come at a fairly cheap price, but those units that feature GPS, Wifi, Bluetooth and other additional features can cost a lot.
There are products that are not specifically designed for kayaks, making them much harder to install. If it’s your first time to use a fish finder or you’re planning to move to a different kayak, there is probably a struggle setting it up and this has also been a problem for some users. You may need to purchase a mounting kit separately to complete the installation.
When it comes to the transducer, it needs to be carefully mounted to make sure it functions properly. It is sometimes hard to set it up because the transducer is also sensitive and may detect other movements underwater such as bubbles.
Another problem with kayak fish finders is accuracy. It is quite impressive how they are innovatively designed to send out signals or waves underwater to detect where the fish, but sometimes this is where a kayak fish finder falls short.
As much as you want to make use of your kayak fish finder, there are those brands that may relay inaccurate readings. Whether it is because of improper installation or the fish finder itself is defective, this can be really inconvenient and pretty frustrating.
What to Look For in a Kayak Fish Finder
If you are all up for more productive fishing, a fish finder is what you need to set up a route and find the best fishing spots. Especially when you’re riding in a kayak to embark on fishing trips, you have got to delve into the features to figure out which kayak fish finder works for your needs, preferences, and fishing skills.
Considering the limited space on a kayak, it is important that your fish finder includes a kit that allows you to set it up on your rig. The gear tracks can be a good spot to mount the fish finder on, but you may also mount it somewhere on your kayak where you can easily view and access it.
You may want to invest in a larger screen to give you a comprehensive layout of all the details you need. But when you’re choosing a fish finder for your kayak, make sure to consider the mounting space to determine whether it has enough room to accommodate the unit. This will help you decide on which format and size you should go for, especially if you have a small kayak.
Fishing becomes a lot easier and fun to do when a fish finder is portable. It adds up to the convenience, thereby allowing you to check the details and features with ease. Especially when you’re riding a kayak, you have limited space and getting things done in a snap is essential. You’d probably agree that there’s a hassle in checking your fish finder on one hand while you’re casting your line or paddling with the other.
A lot of manufacturers added a few tweaks with their lineup of fish finders. Engineered with modern technology, there are fish finders that you can integrate with your Smartphone or tablet through Wifi or Bluetooth and lets you access the features and settings seamlessly. There are also fish finders that allow you to navigate the waters with the GPS of your device.
The size of the unit is also what makes the fish finder portable. You may opt for ultra-portable units that are compact and some with sizes that can fit in your pocket, although it still depends on your preferences on which size is ideal for you. Other users go for fish finders with larger screens but still find them portable because they are easy to detach and mount on the kayak.
Display Size and Resolution
Although a screen display with a large interface will lend a better view, clunky and wide fish finders won’t be the best option for a kayak. Choosing a display size that’s larger than 5 or 6 inches can take up a lot of space on your kayak and eventually, will just get in your way. Typically, 3.5 to 4 inches of screen display will do on small kayaks. But if you have a larger kayak, a fish finder with a 5-inch screen display will suffice.
When it comes to the resolution, it is measured by pixels and the higher the number, the better. Optimum resolution delivers sharper and defined details and images, thereby giving you a clear coverage of the underwater environment, especially where the fish are. Lower than 240×160 won’t be clear enough, but fish finders with a screen resolution 640×640 and higher than that would be better. Also, keep in mind that fish finders that feature higher resolution tend to be more costly.
Transducer Style and Compatibility
If you’re going to mount the transducer on your kayak, identifying the compatibility of the unit with your kayak is imperative. The transducer is the focal part of your fish finder as it works to emit signals and locate where the fish are as well as to recognize the potential hazards. Without proper installation, it may result in lapses and inaccuracies with the signals and readings.
Most fish finders are relatively a lot easier to set up on a kayak rather than on a boat, thereby minimizing any hassle with the installation. It saves more time and effort. However, the ideal mounting spot of the transducer depends on the type of your kayak as well as your preferences. There are also kayak brands that provide a custom spot for specific brands of fish finders, making the installation easy-peasy.
There are different ways that you can mount a transducer on your kayak: in the hull, near the rudder, through the scupper hole, and with suction cups.
In the Hull
It is the most common way to mount a transducer and most people prefer. On your hull, you should find a flat spot where you would put the transducer. Once you keep this spot spotlessly clean, you can create a housing, which many users make it in a DIY process using a pool noodle, a small foam, or a sponge. This is to secure the transducer and keep it intact.
With a marine goop or silicone, you can place the transducer in the hull. Just make sure you leave out any bubbles. Otherwise, it might affect the signals and readings. While you’re keeping it dry, put down a duct tape on the transducer and take it off when it’s completely dry after 24 to 48 hours. Make sure you’ll also have a hole where you can get the cable up which should be near your fish finder.
With the transom mounting, the transducer would be affixed at the rear end or at the stern of your kayak. It will be submerged in the water, but this may compromise the position of your transducer, making it vulnerable to damages if ever you come across huge rocks or stumps.
Through the Scupper Hole
Another method to mount your transducer is through the scupper hole. There are kayak brands that provide custom scupper spots for transducers and therefore, keep the device secure. However, the scupper is responsible for draining the water from your kayak. And if you plug your transducer through one of these scupper holes, your kayak might not be able to drain the water as fast as it should be.
With suction cups and portable mounting kit: This is probably one of the most convenient ways to set up your transducer. It comes with a portable mounting kit and suction cups that you can use to mount the transducer wherever you want to. It’s also portable, allowing you to mount it on and detach it from the kayak when you are done with the transducer. However, this custom kit comes with a more expensive price tag which may not be a practical option if you’re on a tight budget.
Side Imaging vs Down Imaging
Having the ability to check and see what’s beneath the waters truly is a fascinating sight. The transducer does this amazing job. With a wider and more optimized coverage, the transducer can relay in-depth readings and interpretations to your fish finder, allowing you to find the best fishing spots and avoid possible dangers. This can be viewed from the Side Imaging and Down Imaging features.
If you usually work on shallow waters or along the shoreline, you can get a wider coverage of view with Side Imaging. It focuses on the sides of your kayak, but if you are working on getting a deeper view of what’s below your kayak or if you are fishing in the deep, Down Imaging would be very useful.
The transducer of a fish finder can offer different ranges of frequencies. Some units are designed with single, dual, and multiple frequencies. Just take note that when considering the frequency range of your transducer, you also need to determine whether you are fishing in the shallow waters or in the deeper parts of the water.
The common frequencies range from 50, 83, 192, and 200 kHz. The higher frequencies are ideal for shallow waters while the lower frequencies work best with the deeper parts of the water.
If you use a compass for navigation, it’s probably the GPS feature you are talking about. There are fish finders that have built-in GPS that helps you navigate the waters more easily. You can avoid getting lost while sailing across the water to find the perfect fishing spots. Streamlined with updated features, some fish finders allow you to mark your waypoints, the hotspots for fishing, and even help you find your way back to the ramp.
The GPS feature can be a great and reliable route assistance, especially if you are trying to set out a new route or you are not confident enough to go kayak fishing in the parts of the waters you haven’t been before. A fish finder with GPS would be a worthy investment, although you may expect a higher pricing mark compared to those units that only have preloaded maps or don’t have any GPS features.
Every fish finder is designed with a certain depth range. That’s why it is also important to consider where you will be fishing in, may it be in a lake, river, or open sea. Depending on the depth rating of the unit, you can delve into the deep parts of the water and get access to the vegetation and aquatic life.
Typically located at the upper left corner of the screen, you can determine the depth of the water below your kayak. While you can take advantage of this feature to visualize everything beneath the waters, this also depicts the fishing spots where you should go and hence, increases your chances of catching more fish.
The overall performance and function of your fish finder are pretty much reliant on how much power the unit has. If the fish finder uses a lot of power, you can expect a high-definition resolution and fast display of results and readings, although higher power isn’t always necessary. Also, take note that fish finders that utilize more power are the ones that often fall in a high pricing mark.
On the other hand, considering the power is significant when you’re fishing in different water conditions. You may need a lot of power if you’re planning to go in the deeper parts of the water for fishing and probably, that’s when you should consider investing in a high-powered fish finder despite the hefty price tag.
However, you will only consume less power if you are kayak fishing in the shallow waters, so a high-powered fish finder won’t be necessary. That’s why it is important to consider the water conditions you’ll be fishing in, especially if you want to save more on the cost.
One of the most impressive features of a fish finder is the 3D SONAR. You won’t have to settle with low-quality, grainy, and blurred details when you locate where the fish are. This provides high-quality details and fish structure, thereby allowing you to see a much clearer view of the environment and condition underwater.
Some fish finders, however, are engineered with the conventional SONAR through the transducer. Although a 3D SONAR might seem like a good deal, it does not render as much coverage as conventional SONAR does. Its beam also does not reach a deeper range. Therefore, a 3D SONAR feature will work best if you are fishing in shallow waters.
Color vs Black and White
The clarity of structure and other fishing details may also depend on which display you prefer. Fish finders are available in color and grayscale or black and white and it is all up to your preferences which display is much easier to read for you.
You may consider getting a fish finder with a colored display if you want to get a better look at the structure, bottom transitions, bottom types, and arches of the fish. When the sun is bright or even when the clouds get gloomy and dim, color screens would be a great advantage.
Grayscale will also do and would be a lot easier to read if the fish finder offers an excellent resolution. Otherwise, your eyes have to put up with grainy and blurred images. When you go with a colored display, you may also take note of the resolution of the fish finder. It will probably not be very easy to read and decipher the icons and details if the resolution isn’t good.
Cone Angles and Beams
Imagine an ice cream cone that’s upside down. That’s how a cone angle looks like. The pointy or the narrowest space is where the transducer is. And as it emits a signal to the water, the beam or the cone angle gets wider and as it gets wider, it covers a larger area below the water even more so when it goes deeper.
Every fish finder has a transducer that features a certain degree of angle that defines the coverage of an area. The degree range may vary between 9 to 60 degrees, although most fish finders offer 16 and 20-degree cone angles. If you often go fishing on multiple types of waters with different depths, a 20-degree angle would be a great option.
While some stick with a single beam, you can shift to more advanced transducers that have more than one beam. There are units that can deliver dual beams, triple beams, and multiple beams and more with more advanced units. These beams can cover a wider area, allowing you to reach further and wider parts of the water and maximize its efficiency. However, as you go further and deeper, the transducer becomes less sensitive.
You can give your fish finder a revamp with additional beams. Just take note that advancing to multiple beams or cone angles will cost a hefty price tag.
If you want to get the most out of your fish finder, a reliable software can make a lot of difference. The size, portability, and design might some of the features you need to look for, but the software of your fish finder can ramp up its function and overall performance.
This may refer to the technologies that manufacturers utilize to make the fish finder easier and more convenient to use such as GPS, sonar technologies, and more. You can find which software best suits your needs and preferences and if you haven’t decided which works best, you might want to start with reputable brands.
Batteries and Battery Life
Without question, the longer the battery life, the better. You don’t want your fish finder to die out while you’re fishing. You definitely don’t want to miss a nice catch! That’s why it is highly imperative to keep your 12V battery fully charged before you set out to go kayak fishing to make sure you’ll have just enough battery to keep your finder going. However, most fish finders are specially designed for power boats. You might feel bummed with this fact, but you still have many other options to go for, particularly portable and more compact fish finders, which is actually ideal for a kayak. Just keep in mind that a 12V power source is what these fish finders need.
Temperature and Speed Sensors
Determining the temperature of the water would be a great advantage if you want to catch specific species of fish. There are fish finders that have a feature that can detect the temperature of the water which then gives you a much better overview of the condition underwater and which types of fish settles in a certain habitat. There are species that thrive in warm water, while other types survive in cold water
Speed sensors, on the other hand, resemble a speedometer that works to detect how fast your kayak is as it moves. The speed sensors along with the temperature reader can help you optimize your fish searching as well as navigate at the optimal speed.
If you want to maximize the efficiency and function of your fish finder, you should consider the versatility of the unit. There are fish finders that can work both on saltwater and freshwater and therefore, provides a larger area to cover. While this increases your chances of taking home a nice catch, a versatile fish finder can also give you more than just pinpointing where to cast your line.
Aside from finding a kayak paddle that fits your needs, you might want to give your fish finder an upgrade with some extra features. As mentioned, there are units that can detect the temperature while some fish finders are customized to let you find fish beyond the ice.
The GPS feature would also be a significant add-on if you want to track new routes for fishing, although some prefer to use a fish finder without it.
Do know that these supplementary features may come with an extra cost. There are fish finders that showcase loads of additional features, especially the advanced models. While some may find them significant, you have to carefully consider if these extra features are truly essential or just an unnecessary cost.
Complicated installation is probably the last thing you have to worry about. It is best to opt for a fish finder that offers hassle-free installation, thereby allowing you to save more time and effort and spend more time fishing! You have to check the unit more carefully to make sure it is compatible with your kayak. There are kayaks that can’t accommodate certain types or brands of fish finders and some may require installation kits and DIY procedures to keep the fish finder intact and fully functional at all times.
If you are not sure which kayak fish finder to choose, considering the brand is one way to start with. As these brands have established a good reputation throughout the years, they can reassure reliable and durable products that will function the way they are designed to be. These trustworthy brands offer a vast lineup of fish finders that utilize technologies that are proven to be effective.
Since you’ll be out in the water all the time, it is reasonable to know whether a fish finder is resistant to certain conditions. The weather could be really unpredictable at times and you don’t want to risk your fish finder and end up with a faulty device. It would be wise to invest in a heavy-duty fish finder that can withstand rugged conditions, particularly water and dust.
You may also consider purchasing a protective case or gear for your fish finder to keep it secure and safe at all times.
Fish finders come in a vast range of prices. The total cost may reflect based on the features, brand, and other additional features that you may have opted for. That is why it is imperative to determine what features would be beneficial when you go kayak fishing and which ones would just be a burden on your budget.
The price usually varies from $50 to $300, although you may still find fish finders that are below or higher at this pricing point. Fortunately, there are units that affordable, but do not compromise the overall quality and performance. While some fish finders could be more expensive, they ensure heavy-duty quality that can last for years which then saves you more money for replacements or repairs in the long run. Other brands, moreover, offer excellent warranty period that makes up for the costly price.
How to Install a Fish Finder on a Kayak
Installing a fish finder on a kayak could be a struggle, especially if it’s your first time to use this device. Once you find the ideal spot for your fishfinder, you need to work on the proper installation to make sure the unit will work efficiently. Some fish finders include an installation kit for quick and easy set-up.
To help you out, you may refer to the following step-by-step installation process.
Step 1 – Find a suitable spot
Find a suitable spot where you want to set up the fish finder. We recommend you opt for a space that you can easily reach or access and somewhere that won’t be in your way as you paddle. Kayaking in a beginner’s kayak increases muscles and you don’t want to miss your momentum because a device gets in your way.
The next thing to consider is where you would put the transducer. Look for a flat surface at the bottom of the boat and make sure it is an ideal spot for the transducer.
Keep that spot clean and free from any dirt and debris. Use sandpaper to rough it up. This will keep the transducer pad intact on the bottom of the boat.
Step 2 – Put the install pad
Using a thin layer of the install pad, apply it to the nether part of the setup pad. Make sure to get the install pad lined up in parallel to the direction of the transducer or it should be heading towards the front of the kayak.
Use glue to apply the install pad to your designated spot. Leave it to dry for up to 24 hours. When the install pad is completely dry, the next thing to do is mount the transducer at the bottom of the kayak.
Step 3 – Position the transducer
Use a Goop or silicon to position the transducer. Make sure to leave out the bubbles to deter any miscalculations in readings and signals. After this application, leave the transducer to dry completely. This will take 24 up to 48 hours.
Step 4 – Mount the fish finder
When you’re all done with the transducer, it’s time to set up the fish finder on your kayak. Find the ideal spot where you want to mount the fish finder. Make sure it is flat to keep it secure and somewhere where it will keep you comfortable when kayaking.
Using a power drill, make a hole on the surface where you would position the base of the fish finder. Get the mount screws and check if they would fit.
Step 5 – Strengthen the screws
When the screws go through, you can use a washer to strengthen or tighten the screws, keeping them intact at all times.
Remove the basic head of the fish finder. Place the head unit of the fish finder on the top part of the mounting spot. Secure them with the mounting screws.
Step 6 – Keep the cables and wires organized
Move to the base of the fish finder and reassemble it to the head unit. Look for a convenient spot where the power cables and wires of the transducer would go through. Put them through a grommet to keep the cables and wires neat and organized.
Step 7 – Install the grommet
Use a power drill to make a hole and then install the grommet. This is where the cables or wires would go through. To run the device, you have to set up the power line first and the battery connector.
There are two positive leads or red wires. You need to strip the ends of these wires and connect them to the battery. Do the same with the black wires or negative leads.
Step 8 – Let the fish finder run
Plug the wire into the back of your fish finder and let it run! You’re all set!
The installation process mentioned above is one of the ways you can try to install your kayak fish finder. The best way is to refer to the manufacturer’s manual and use the installation kit included if there’s any.
Top 5 Kayak Fish Finder Brands
With the overwhelming options available on the market, finding the best fish finder can be a bit difficult. But as mentioned, you can narrow down your options and start with the reputable brands of fish finders. The following brands are some of the popular options you should check out.
Garmin is probably one of the popular brands you often hear about when you’re looking for kayaking gear and equipment. Not only for kayaking, but they have also established a good reputation with their vast lineup of navigation tools such as the fish finders. They have manufactured a wide range of fish finders that are suitable for beginners and professionals. The high pricing mark might be an issue for some, but the cost counterbalances its durability and optimum performance; Garmin is a reliable brand.
Lowrance stands out with its HOOK series that unveil fish finders between basic to high-end or advanced features. They have available fish finders for every skill, allowing everyone to keep up with their pace in fishing. This reputable brand is also popular with its HDS and Elite lines that exhibit features for Chartplotter or finder.
Humminbird keeps up with the popular brands with their vast range of devices that function exceptionally on certain conditions like if you’re braving the cold weather and fishing in the ice. They’ve got the ICE series that support this activity. The PiranhaMAX series and HELIX line are also some of their flagship navigation tools that showcase advanced features and deliver remarkable performance. It is probably one of the brands that can offer a fish finder for any task and available in any pricing mark.
If you’re all into advanced sonar technologies and advanced features, Raymarine might just be the ideal brand you should try. They’ve knocked it out of the park with their Dragonfly series that carry out these upgraded sonar features. GPS Charplotter, self-steering gear, and many other types of gear that you can use to spruce up your fish finder. With these modern technologies, they make fishing a whole lot easier and more enjoyable, too!
If it is heavy-duty performance and durable make you’re after, Marcum is a trustworthy brand you can try. Although they are popularly known for the best ice sonar systems across the globe, their military-grade build and structure define exceptional durability that both amateurs and professionals can benefit from.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to fish finders, spending more doesn’t always mean you get the best quality. Sometimes, it’s just all about the add-ons and other unnecessary tweaks on your fish finder. They come in a wide range of price tags and you can always find one that fits your needs without breaking your bank.
However, there are manufacturers that ensure premium quality and superior performance which makes up the costly price of their fish finders. That’s why you have to sift through the features of the device very carefully and make sure that every feature is significant and not just useless junk.
Do’s and Don’ts To Do With a Kayak Fish Finder
To keep your fish finder in its good quality and condition, there are the dos and don’ts that you have to keep in mind.
- Install the fish finder on a safe and secure spot where you can easily see and access it.
- Keep the wires away in a neat storage to prevent any accidents.
- Consider purchasing a waterproof protective cover for your fish finder to prevent any damage.
- Refer to the manufacturer’s manual for the proper installation and battery specifications.
- Consider running the wires through the hull to keep them secure and dry at all times.
- Check your fish finder regularly for damages and if there are any lapses with the software.
- Use soap and water to clean the transducer. If there’s any marine growth, you can use a fine-grade sandpaper or emery paper to carefully remove it. Wash the dirt off with water.
- Use dish soap and water to clean the screen of your fish finder. Put the soap and water solution in a spray bottle and spray it on the screen. Use a soft cloth to wipe any dirt off. You can also spray it first onto the soft cloth and wipe the screen.
- Don’t set it up on a spot that will distract your view.
- Fish finders are not waterproof. Do not let the unit be fully submerged underwater.
- Do not install the transducer where it would be prone to huge rocks or other obstacles.
- Do not use harsh materials or tools like screwdrivers, sheets of metal to clean the transducer.
- Do not clean the transducer with a high-pressured water.
- As much as possible, do not operate the transducer out of the water as it may overheat and eventually get damaged. However, if the air temperature is low, you can let it run but only for a few minutes.
FAQ About Kayak Fish Finders
Are fish finders waterproof?
The transducer of a fish finder is guaranteed waterproof, but the fish finder itself is not waterproof but rather water-resistant. They are not designed to function in full water submersion, although fish finders can resist water splashes. As you’ll be out in the water all the time as you go fishing, there are manufacturers that modify their fish finders with the optimum level of water resistance. You may also purchase a waterproof cover to protect your device.
Why do I need a kayak fish finder?
Because it uses modern technologies and features intuitive settings that minimize the guesswork, allowing you to spend more time fishing rather than navigating the waters and not knowing where to go. While it focuses on searching for fish, this device also has the ability to render comprehensive details that help you understand and see what’s beneath the waters.
What is the transducer?
It is the integral system of a fish finder that uses sonar technology and sends out sound waves or signals that bounce back to relay details to the fish finder. The fish finder then evaluates and interprets the collected data that will help you know where the fish are and the condition of everything that’s below the surface of the water such as vegetation and aquatic life. As this system helps you determine the best fishing spots, it can also help you avoid any potential hazards.
What’s the recommended way to mount a kayak fish finder?
You should set the fish finder up on a spot where you can easily see and access it while keeping your arms and hands at ease while paddling. Just be careful not to place it somewhere that would distract your view. You should also put the wires away and keep them neat in a secure spot at all times to prevent any accidents. One way is to let the wires run through the hull to keep them dry and secure.
How should you power a fish finder in your kayak?
Just like how most devices function, you need a reliable power source to run a kayak fish finder and keep it functional throughout your fishing trip. Using a rechargeable battery is one way to do so. You can consider this if you’re planning to go fishing over the weekend and you need some backup power source that won’t easily wear out. You can use a charging port and simply plug them into your car charger or cigarette lighter port in your car to recharge the batteries. If an electric outlet is available, you can also recharge through this.
On the other hand, you can power up your kayak fish finder through a direct current (DC) using 6V and 12V batteries, although 12V is the most common power source for fish finders. This type of battery lasts longer than portable rechargeable batteries. They can provide reliable power for several hours. But if you want to keep the fish finder functional throughout the day, you should consider getting a battery with a 10 to 20 amp hour battery, which is the optimum rating.
But to make sure you get the power source for your fish finder, you may refer to the manufacturer’s manual for the specifications.
How do I connect and mount the transducer?
There are different ways you can mount the transducer in your kayak: in the hull, transom mounting, through the scupper hole, and with the use of suction cups and portable mounting kit. Whichever you choose, you just have to make sure to set up the transducer to a safe and secure spot where it can function efficiently.
You may refer to the guidelines and step-by-step procedure mentioned above for the details. These are the recommended options you can consider, but it’s all up to you which way you prefer and the most convenient.
What is the ideal screen size for a kayak fish finder?
Any fish finder with a screen size of over 5 inches is not recommended. It would be too clunky for a kayak that has limited space. The ideal screen size for small kayaks is 3.5 to 4 inches while 5 inches will do on large kayaks.
Where is the best place to mount my fish finder when I take it out on a kayak?
Considering the space in your kayak, setting up a gear or device on a designated spot can somehow be critical. You’ve got to provide your fish finder a firm base and keep it at bay at the same time. Don’t let it get in the way as you navigate the waters and search for routes. That’s why you should find a convenient spot where you can access the finder and relax your arms at once. Somewhere within your arm’s reach would be ideal but on a side where you can keep your arms at ease and free to move when you paddle in the water.
The transducer, on the other hand, is usually installed at the bottom of your kayak to send out signals and collect data efficiently. To keep it secure and safe while kayaking, others install it in the hull of the kayak.
Should I get a GPS with my fish finder?
It is all up to you. Not all fish finders have built-in GPS and you may consider getting one for your fish finder if you think you need it like when you need to set out a new route or you’re fishing in unfamiliar fishing spots. This would also be useful if need to plot your waypoints or the hotspots or find your way back to the ramp.
What scanning depth should a kayak fish finder have?
It depends on where you’d be fishing, although the highest scanning depth is 500 feet. This is also a common depth measurement among fish finder, but might not be enough to reach or cover deep waters. But if you’re navigating through shallow waters, this scanning depth would be fine. Any depth range higher than that would do great in the deep. Some units have a range of 750 feet. Just take note that every fish finder features a certain depth range and you can take advantage of this feature if you determine where you would be fishing (lakes, rivers, open water, etc.,).
What is a Chirp Sonar and which one should I use?
It’s safe to say that CHIRP is a vital feature for deep water fishing. CHIRP or Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse utilizes enhanced sonar technology that sends a continuous range of sonar frequencies from low to high. In a nutshell, CHIRP sonar interprets and displays more data compared to a traditional sonar that emits a single frequency.
The display provides in-depth details, clear and better definition of images, incredible target separation, and great precision. It has better sonar readout that makes fish finding a lot easier.
There are 3 CHIRP frequencies to choose from:
- High CHRIP (150 to 240 kHz) is ideal for freshwater and inland and water depths less than 600 feet
- Medium CHIRP (80 TO kHz) is ideal for scanning larger areas, although it may provide less details than high CHIRP. It also works best in waters with a depth range of 600 and less
- Low CHIRP (below 80 kHz) is preferably used for deep waters with a depth range of 600 feet and higher.
What is a Chartplotter fish finder?
A Chartplotter is an advanced navigation system that delivers GPS data that is a lot easier to read and understand. With the use of visual presentation of charts and maps, it helps the user to track the movement and position of the kayak with the analysis of the environment and what’s underneath and above the water.
Ultimately, we enjoyed using all these fish finders on our kayak, and feel that with a bit of skill, any one of these could help you nail the perfect catch.
Investing in a kayak fish finder is investing in a convenient and more productive fishing. Fish finders have superb features that deliver comprehensive details and sonar technologies that will do the fish finding job for you. Fishing becomes a lot easier but finding the best unit for your kayak might get a bit tough at times.
Considering this, it is imperative to determine your needs, where you would be fishing, your fishing activities, and if you’re planning to go fishing in the deep or shallow waters, to know which fish finder you’re exactly looking for.