3 Best Fish Finders For The Kayak

Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. As some of you may know, kayak fishing is one of my favourite fishing past times where again on the weekend I was out there on it trying to get amongst the big ones. This time, one of my friends who comes with me started saying things like “4 metres”, ” 3.2 metres” and “Oh, I didn’t know that it was that deep here?” which after a while, really started to get annoying – anyway, I digress. I realised that he had purchased himself a fish finder for his kayak. His is a bit longer than mine (I use a smaller sit on top model) and as it turns out, there is a space for it to be wired into his vessel.

I have used fish finders in a boat a number of times but to be honest, I had not thought about them much for a kayak. That was until he kept giving us information that was so helpful to where we were fishing that we actually caught fish in places that we had never expected to in the past. So of course I just had to do some research and as such, have come up with the 3 best fish finders for the kayak that I have found. Let’s check them out below…

My 3 recommended fish finders for the kayak

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:

 Fish FinderPriceGet it
kayak fish finder - option 1LUCKY Portable Handheld Fishfinder$CURRENT PRICE
kayak fish finder - option 2Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 Fish Finder$$CURRENT PRICE
kayak fish finder - option 3Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish finder$$$CURRENT PRICE

How do fish finders work?

Ok, let’s see if I can keep this as simple as possible (mainly so I can write it without confusing myself haha). Fish finders work via the transmission of ultrasonic waves from the transducer/sensor mounted on the bottom of the boat. These waves then bounce off of the bottom (for depth) as well as structures and fish which is then viewed via the screen mounted on top of the vessel.

Some models also incorporate CHIRP (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse) technology which is able to provide greater accuracy than standard single sonar options by sweeping through a range of frequencies as it scans. That is a very basic explanation and there is obviously a lot more to it which can be viewed here.

What should you be looking for?

If you have ever looked into fish finders for any type of vessel, you will know that there is quite a range of options out there to choose from. And obviously we need to add to that the portability and transportation differences between a boat and a kayak as well (such as the fact that kayaks are often transported up side down). So as you do your own research, there are some things to keep in mind as you look into getting yourself a good fish finder for your kayak as per below:

Types of Kayaks

In terms of kayaks, there are three main types that will definitely affect the type of fish finder that you may look at. These are:

1. Sit on Top kayak

As the name suggests, these are the style that you sit on top of as you paddle along. They can range in size from around 8 to 13ft in length meaning that for some of the shorter options, there may not be the space available to permanently attach your equipment.

2. Sit in Kayaks

10% off on all Piscifun Fishing Gear,use code:EST10

These are the ones where you site inside the kayak (via the little ‘hole’ at the top). This can mean that again within the smaller models there may not be the space inside the ‘cockpit’ to place a finder. These models also do not tend to be able to have holes in the hull like the sit on top models meaning sensors may need to hang over the side.

3. Inflatable Kayaks

Again as the name suggests, these kayaks inflate for use and come in both sit on or sit in options. Some of the more expensive models do provide fixings for fish finders however there is the blow up and let down aspects to consider as well.

That all said however, there is absolutely no reason that if you choose the correct option that you can’t use a fish finder with any of the types of kayaks listed above. And of course, cheaper kayaks may simply not be designed to equip a fish finder meaning that they will either have to be attached via different methods or a portable option chosen.

kayak fish finder - stripe

Location

In simple terms, location is all about where you will be planning to use your kayak based fish finder. Think about:

  • Water type – Will you be on a lake, in an estuary or on the open sea? The bigger the body of water, the more likely it is that you would want to choose a model with GPS included so you can keep yourself above known fish hangouts and more importantly, keep a track of where you are.
  • Current – Estuaries generally are susceptible to tidal currents – if these are strong then a higher grade finder with enhanced sonar/ultrasound capabilities may be warranted.
  • Hazards – Some water locations (especially lakes) contain hazards such as rocks and fallen trees etc. as well as coral reefs, gullies and other submerged objects that may be evident if you are using your kayak in the ocean. And whilst generally most of this can be identified quite easily by most fish finders, the deeper the water, the higher the quality of the device again may be needed.

There is more to this but from the point of view of fishing from a kayak, as long as none of the above are too extreme, then you should be ok with most base models. At the end of the day, the main question to ask yourself is whether you are going to be traveling far enough, or need to relocate specific spots to warrant GPS capabilities for your finder as well.

kayak fish finder - stripe with phone

Mounting space

Another consideration to account for obviously is mounting space for your finder. As mentioned above, there is only so much space on a kayak meaning that many of the shorter models may just not have the space for them – especially as there is also the batteries, wiring and under boat sensors to consider as well.

Most sit on top models do have holes in the hull already which can be helpful and many are commonly attached to the top of the centre dry storage lid keeping the finder in eye line and the battery etc. nice and dry inside the storage well. Sit in models may also have units attached directly to the top of the vessel with the batteries etc. inside the vessel itself.

Ultimately, if there is not a pre designated space for your finder then ensure that the chosen spot allows for simple viewing as well as somewhere that will not get in the way as you paddle and fish. This may mean that a smaller size model is needed as well.

Other functionality

There are also a number of other options to check out as you look into your best suited fish finders. Some of these will be determined by some of the factors listed above and others will be based purely on personal preferences including: .

  • Screen colour – I like the colour models myself but there are some more cost effective options that come in a grey or sepia only screen. The latter models can be ok if you are drifting around in shallowish water and just want to know depth and basic fish identification whilst the more advanced models can show the bottom in clear photo like imagery.
  • Screen size – This one will probably be determined by the amount of real estate available on your craft – larger screens can be easier to see but also can get in the way of paddling and fishing movement whilst in use.
  • Card slots – If your fishing ventures require location memory or you are trying out new waters, then a micro SD card slot within your finder can assist with information storage or upgrades.
  • Bluetooth/WiFi – This functionality allows for map upgrades, known location coordinates, safety warnings and, in some models, the ability to manage and view via a smartphone app as well.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following options for under $1000:

1. LUCKY Portable Handheld Fishfinder

I have chosen this one based on the fact that, for a kayak it is portable with a good range of operations and specifications. Its portability means that it can be used on all kayak types without the need for mounting (or at the very least, quickly removable options). Specifications as follows:

  • Screen: 2.4″ three-colour display
  • Sonar: 200kHz
  • CHIRP: No
  • GPS: No
  • Depth: Up to 328ft
  • Fish alarm: Yes
  • Micro USB Slot: No

Other inclusions:

  • A/C USB Charger – 5 hours battery life
  • Mounting brackets
  • Neck strap
  • 45 degree sonar

Why have I chosen it?

This is a great base model for a kayak for a good price. It is perfectly suited to many locations such as estuaries and lakes where simple drift fishing is the preferred option.

Free shipping on Piscifun

 

2. Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 Fish Finder

My second sounder is another good option for those looking to get some good quality on a budget or for the beginner who is planning to do a little more fishing and hence wants something that will do the job with a little more functionality. A bit more robust than the portable models, this one is small enough to be mounted onto smaller vessels with options to make it suitable for ocean and larger lake use as well. Its specifications include:

  • Screen: 3.5, 5 and 7″ LCD display options
  • Sonar: 200kHz
  • CHIRP: Yes
  • GPS: Yes
  • Depth: Up to 1600ft (fresh), 750ft (salt)
  • Fish alarm: Yes
  • Micro USB Slot: No

Other inclusions:

  • Transducer upgrades available
  • Ability to view, mark and navigate to locations
  • A/C USB power and data cable
  • Mounting brackets for sounder unit
  • Suction cup mount for sensor/transducer

Why have I chosen it?

I like this one as it is a good, feature rich model for a decent price. It has the ability to function in a good number of waterway types and can be easily mounted to all kayak types (the suction attached sensor is also a plus).

 

3. Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish finder

The third unit I have chosen is a little more expensive however for those who venture far and wide in their kayak fishing exploits, it has everything you could possibly need to be successful. This one is probably better suited to larger kayaks or for those heading out into the larger bodies of water with full imagery and GPS capabilities for optimum fish location and personal safety. Its specs include:

  • Screen: 57″ colour WVGA display
  • Sonar: 200kHz
  • CHIRP: Yes
  • GPS: Yes
  • Depth: Up to 1500ft +
  • Fish alarm: Yes
  • Micro USB Slot: Yes

Other inclusions:

  • Transducer upgrades available
  • GPS Chart plotting with built-in Anima cartography
  • Imaging technology to reveal structure, cover and contours with photo like display
  • Side imaging
  • A/C USB power and data cable
  • All wiring and mounting brackets included

Why have I chosen it?

This is a great one for beginners and avid fishermen alike who a looking for a little quality over price. It provides full functionality to cover absolutely anything that a kayak fisherman could possibly need.

Note: some reviews highlight slightly differences in functionality (such as imaging quality) with different models so just check that prior to purchase.

 

Conclusion

And there it is – my 3 best fish finders for the kayak. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

Note: If you make a purchase from this page, there is a very good chance that I make a commission from it – these commissions do not increase your sale price. This may include sales made via Amazon, Piscufun or Fishing Booker.

 

3 best fishing finders for the kayak

Leave a Comment

Before You Go!Check Out My YouTube Channel For More Stuff

Beach and fishing - us at the beach

Click below for more information, instructional guides, recommendations and anything else I can come up with in my fishing exploits.