Every angler knows that being able to get a visual of what’s in the water around you and just how deep it goes is the key to landing a good catch. When you’re in a kayak, you have a limited amount of space, so it’s important to mount the best kayak fish finder to your vessel.
Quick Top 5 Kayak Fish Finders:
*Keep reading for full reviews below
Why You Need a Kayak Fish Finder
A kayak fish finder is a gadget that has only become popular in recent years. What was originally thought to be an unnecessary piece of equipment has proven to be one of the most important factors in fishing success in a kayak.
Because the small and light water crafts are so versatile, as a fisherman it’s nearly impossible to know the depth, the bottom structure of where you’re paddling at any given time.
It’s also challenging to determine at what depth you’ll find fish, and how big they are, making it difficult to choose appropriate bait and lures.
It’s also important to have a fish finder if you want to plot routes to regular fishing holes, or you plan to travel outside of familiar areas and may need GPS to help you get back home. On a windy or choppy day, you could get blown off course, but the technology will keep you from getting lost.
Kayak fish finders come in a variety of sizes, prices, and installation options. Each one has their pros and cons, but they all will make it easier to catch fish when you’re out on the water.
A fish finder is the one guaranteed way to know where to find your catch of the day.
The Importance of Using a Good Kayak Fish Finder
Some people make do by using an app on their cell phone that offers some similar features to a good kayak fish finder.
While you will have some of the benefits, we recommend not using this option. Every time you take out your phone you risk it getting wet or falling overboard into the water.
Additionally, while you can find data on the depth and currents online, no app will be able to get you a reliable reading on where and how large the fish in your vicinity are.
You will want to choose a fish finder that is waterproof, mounted to your vessel for easy visibility, and that provides an accurate reading in any conditions.
Elements of Kayak Fish Finders
When choosing the best kayak fish finder, you want to get one with all of the features that are most important to you. There are many different models in the market, and there are several different types and brands that can work for your kayak.
The fish finder you choose will depend on what types of conditions and fishing you plan to use it for, as well as the budget that you have to spend.
Here are some of the most common options you have in the best kayak fish finders. Many models will have some version of these attributes as part of their design.
Being able to see the readings from your sonar on your fish finder display is crucial. You’ll want to look for one with a screen size that is easily visible for you. There are many different display options available, so remember that a higher resolution will display data more clearly and in more detail.
Choose a model with an appropriate level of power and a source that makes sense for you. Some are battery operated, while others need to be plugged in and charged before they’re mounted on your vessel. A higher wattage typically means the fish finder can display its findings on the screen faster.
There are two main types of sonar in the best kayak fish finders, down scan and side scan sonar.
Down scan sonar broadcasts a signal directly downward from your vessel. Because it is a focused signal, it can give you greater detail like showing the individual number of fish in a school at greater depths than a side scan sonar.
However, in shallow water, you might experience a glare with down scan technology, and it limits your ability to see what’s going on in the peripheral of your kayak.
Side scan sonar broadcasts out in a fan-like arc to give you a better picture of your entire surroundings. This technology will typically give you an accurate picture of 75 to 100 feet on all sides of your kayak. One major downside is that it does not provide clear data in deep water at 75 feet or more.
The component of the fish finder that goes in the water and transmits that sonar waves that locate objects, fish, and the bottom. Most models will come with a transom mount transducer which is easy to install and use.
Some units will come equipped with GPS, and some of the high-end models will have more advanced features including charting and route plotting options.
Believe it or not, not every kayak fish finder is waterproof. As a piece of technology on a small watercraft, there is a very high likelihood it will get wet from time to time so you’ll want to look for a model that can stand up to regular use.
Which Fish Finder Is Right for You?
Determining which fish finder is the best choice boils down to three main factors. You’ll want to choose one that can accommodate the depth of the body of water you plan to fish in, that is an appropriate size and has a quality display that’s easily visible on your craft, and that fits in your budget.
You’ll also want to determine what type of mount you’re most comfortable with, whether it’s a drill-down, suction cup, track base or clamp, and choose a model that allows for that method.
Selecting your fish finder is a personal decision, but there’s no doubt that it will be a good one. For more proof, check out this video below of what a day fishing on the water can look like with technology on your side.
The Best Kayak Fish Finder
This sleek fish finder has all the bells and whistles. The 3.5-inch screen offers a full-color display and is operated by a conveniently attached keypad.
The unit has a fully integrated high-sensitivity GPS and includes extra features like the ability to mark hot fishing holes, docks, and ramps for easy access and mapping.
The sonar history feature records your sonar stream and allows you to go back through your history to mark points you may have missed along the way.
The system comes with a CHIRP sonar transducer, the applicable mounting hardware, and a power source. You can upgrade your transducer for more power with another comparable CHIRP model.
You’ll love its intuitive design, easy installation, and accurate readings as just a few of the perks.
Sadly, this GPS does not include an actual map showing land masses and waterways but instead featured a simple white space that charted their path.
This GPS fish finder includes nearly all of the features of top-end models at a fraction of the cost.
This high-end fish finder is the most advanced of the bunch, offering a full-color high definition screen that is easily visible in high and low light conditions.
With a sensitivity adjustment that goes up to 100, multi-level depth ranges, and the ability to use auto-zoom bottom tracking to more accurately target prey, you have an extremely accurate device. The display will show the various fish sizes and depths, and runs off of AAA batteries.
The unit is handheld, but you can buy a separate suction cup mount to secure it to your kayak. It offers two different operating frequencies that make it possible to fish in both shallow or deep water reliably.
It also has an audible alarm with both depth and fish settings so that you’re alerted to changes without needing to watch your screen at all times.
You’ll love how sleek and portable, accurate, and user-friendly it is The full-color screen gave the data dimension and most found it simple to mount, install and use.
You might have trouble mounting the transducer due to its unique shape and size.
If this happens to you, simply tie it off on a fishing line and throw it in the water to get the data.
Another commonly mentioned drawback is the number of batteries required to operate. For long fishing days of 4 hours or more, it’s recommended you bring along an extra set or two of 4 AAA batteries to change out if needed.
This bargain fish finder is a great model for a new angler who is looking for the basics and wants to stick to a budget.
The wired sonar sensor transducer comes with a 25-foot cable, so it can be tossed in the water or mounted to the bottom of your kayak to produce readings up to depths of 100 meters from the sensor.
This model will give you an idea of the water depth, approximate location of any fish and marine life, weeds, sand, and rocks on the bottom of the body of water.
It will not show you the size and number of the fish, though if you turn the sensitivity reading up to high, you will be able to see both smaller and large fish in the water.
Also important to note about this model is that while the transducer is waterproof, the fish finder unit itself is not. It’s important to keep the unit dry and stored in a water-tight location.
You’ll love the portability of this model. When comparing it side by side with more expensive fish finders, you'll find that it has comparable results.
However, this fish finder might not have sensitive enough settings to always differentiate fish from other objects.
There is more than one account of a log, weeds, and even trash or debris showing up as a fish on this unit.
For fishermen looking for a great option in a shallow and relatively debris free body of water, this model is a great option.
This mid-priced fish finder features a 3-inch full-color display with a high resolution that makes the detail on fish, the bottom, structures, thermoclines and more viewable in bright sunlight.
The sonar transducer produces 60 degrees of conical coverage for up to 75 feet beneath the boat giving you a clear picture of the fish in the surrounding area.
Two separate settings make it equally as accurate in shallow and deep water, and it also has a user-friendly zoom feature that allows you to expand up to 4x on a targeted object.
The fish finder can be used as a handheld or mounted with the quick-release bracket. The battery and charger on this model are sold separately.
You’ll love the accuracy of the device at low speeds, and the color contrast of the display. This fish finder isn’t as accurate at speeds over ten mph, which isn’t a problem for most kayak fisherman.
This budget-friendly fish finder gets you many of the high-end perks of other full-color display models at a fraction of the cost.
This completely wireless, portable fish finder provides lots of user-friendly fishing options. The unit displays water depth, the bottom contour, depth range, depth scale, and fish icons for the different sizes around your craft.
The wireless transducer can be attached directly to your line or the bottom of your craft and broadcasts at a 90-degree angle at depths up to 131 feet.
The unit comes with the wireless remote sonar sensor, the wireless transducer, and two charging power cables.
You’ll appreciate that it’s portable and easy to charge and there is no installation required. The LED backlit screen was readable even in bright, direct sunlight.
One common complaint is that the battery plate on the back of the device is very hard to remove. As it is recommended to store the unit without the battery, this could be troublesome for some fishermen.
The best fish finders for kayaks are portable, affordable and preferably designed to go with a kayak. If not, most fish finders adapt well and thanks to wireless transducers fishing finders on kayaks are now a lot more angler friendly.
What do you think is the best kayak sonar? Let us know in the comments below!