man preparing for kayak fishing trip

TOP 8 Best Fish Finders for Kayaks Reviewed 2019 to Always Land a Fish

What’s the worst thing about fishing?

Well, apart from losing or dropping a catch, the way you smell at the end of the day or falling into the water.

The worst this is not landing any fish, right?!

Well, for the fishing purists among you – you should turn away now. No doubt you’ll think this is cheating.

But for the rest of us, fish finding technology has become more and more accessible and affordable as kayak fishing enjoys skyrocketing popularity.

So, if you want to significantly improve your chances of catching a whopper, check out my guide to the best fish finder for kayaks in 2019.

And for more information on these useful gadgets, a buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow.

TOP 8 Best Fish Finders for Kayaks 2019

Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder

Review: Casting off is this cheap kayak fish finder from Venterior. The LCD display enables you to take a reading even in bright sunlight, while the yellow backlight allows you to read it in the dark.

It’s a super-compact and portable device that can read the water depth, approximate fish location, short & tall weeds, sand & rocks on the seabed.

It’s a versatile unit for any type of water and it comes with a round transducer with a 25 ft cable and removable transducer float. Detectable water depth range is from 3ft to 328ft.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Versatile uses.
  • Backlight.
  • Removable Transducer.

Cons

  • Requires 4 x AAA batteries.
  • Not as accurate as more expensive devices.

Takeaway

One of the good inexpensive fish finders for kayaks, this is a great option if you want to up your fish-hunting game without spending a fortune.

Lucky Portable Fish Finder

Review: Another compact and portable device, the Lucky fish finder comes with a 2.4 inch TFT color LCD screen and can detect and display underwater contours, water depth, and temperature as well as fish location and size.

It has two modes, offering simulation or transducer, while providing a 26 ft wired operating distance and 328 ft depth detection.

It has a has 45° beam angle with 200Khz in detection. An alarm sounds when it detects fish corresponding to the chosen setting. The screen has multiple display options for a more professional look and feel.

Pros

  • Affordable price.
  • Versatile.
  • Rechargeable.

Cons

  • Not good in colder weather.

Takeaway

Another solid budget option, this kayak fish finder is ideal for casual anglers or those just starting out with the activity.

Probably the best kayak fish finder for the money.

HOOK2 4X Fish Finder with Bullet Skimmer Transducer

Review: Lowrance invented the first consumer sonar device back in 1957 so they know a thing or two about marine electronics.

This Hook 2 model is possibly the best kayak fish finder for the money, offering an extra-wide sonar, displaying larger fish arches to help you remove the guesswork from fishing.

It’s super easy to operate, fully automated and with a user-friendly interface and at-a-glance menu system.

It’s child’s play to install, too. Less time setting up – more time actually fishing.

Pros

  • Ease of use.
  • Solarmax display.
  • Great price for what you get.

Cons

  • More mounting options would have been useful.

Takeaway

For the price you really can’t go wrong in picking up this easy-to-use Lowrance fish finder.

Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer GPS Fishfinder

Review: With a 3.5 inch color display and clear scanning sonar, this is a small but powerful fish finder from Garmin – the GPS company. It provides near-photographic imagery with highly detailed representations of what’s under and around your yak.

The CHIRP sonar technology sends more regular sweeps that identify and separate targets sharp and crisp.

It’s ideal as an ice fishing device, too – in fact, it’s highly versatile in almost any angling scenario.

Pros

  • Compact and durable.
  • GPS.
  • Can create and store maps.

Cons

  • Difficult to read in bright sunlight.

Takeaway

A small, powerful offering from Garmin that packs a punch at an affordable price.

Humminbird 410060-1 Fishin’ Buddy MAX DI Fish Finder

Review: Among regular or pro anglers, Humminbird is a company that needs little introduction. For the rest of us – they specialize in fish finding technology making some seriously high-end electronics.

This compact and portable fish finder has a 3.5-inch screen, down imaging and dual-frequency sonar for generous coverage.

It comes with a clamp and telescopic mount for easy installation anywhere while being powered by AA batteries with no other wiring or rigging required.

Pros

  • Down imaging.
  • Super compact and portable.
  • Easy to install rig.

Cons

  • No side scanning.
  • Needs 8 AA batteries.

Takeaway

The best portable fish finder for kayak fishing with a super-easy setup and operation.

Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder

Review: Moving into some serious waters now with the Humminbird Helix fish finder. It offers a precision internal GPS chart plotting system with built-in Uni Map cartography with a micro SD card slot.

A large, 5-inch color WVGA display makes it super-easy to take your readings, and it boasts CHIRP dual beams plus sonar with 4000 watts PTP power output.

For the money, it’s the best down imaging fish finder for kayak fishing around. Top-quality stuff from Humminbird.

Pros

  • Down imaging.
  • Built-in basemap.
  • Upgrades available.

Cons

  • Not the easiest to set up.

Takeaway

A great option if you really want to take your fishing to the next level. Just make sure you know which version you’re getting when you make your purchase.

Lowrance HOOK2 7 Fish Finder

Review: Another entry from Lowrance at the higher end of the fish finder market sees this 7-inch Hook version. It packs in more sonar views offering TripleShot transducer which gives you down scan, side scan and CHIRP sonar readouts.

An accurate GPS plotter allows you to find waypoints, follow trails and navigate your fishing waters.

It’s highly upgradable, with an SD card slot for extra software and mapping, future features and third-party maps.

A single transducer can be mounted on the transom, inside the hull, on the trolling motor or through a scupper hole, offering an easy, user-friendly set up.

Pros

  • Triple shot – down, side and CHIRP sonar.
  • GPS plotting.

Cons

  • Might be a little challenging to figure out for some.

Takeaway

Possibly the best side imaging fish finder available. Having down imaging and CHIRP sonar is a big plus, too.

Garmin Echomap Plus 73SV with CV52HW-TM Transducer

Review: As far as looking for the best kayak fish finder goes, the buck might well stop here.

Our last entry in our fish finder review is this Garmin Echomap Plus – a 7-inch key assisted touch-screen device that is jam-packed with features.

It comes with a transducer for high and wide CHIRP traditional sonar plus down and side scanning, as well as being compatible with Panoptix all-seeing sonar – which is sold separately.

It’s preloaded with over 17,000 HD lakes, and Quickdraw Contours mapping software to instantly create personalized fishing maps on-screen with 1’ contours as you fish.

Pros

  • Everything you need in a fish finder.

Cons

  • Exorbitantly expensive.

Takeaway

You could say it’s a pretty good fish finder for kayak fishing, but that would be an understatement. But for this price – it needs to be top-drawer.

What to Look for in the Best Fish Finder for Kayaks

man preparing for kayak fishing trip

Fish finders are a complicated technology and to the uninitiated, they will seem very daunting devices indeed. Here’s some jargon-busting advice and what to look for when purchasing your first fish finder.

An FAQ section will follow.

The Transducer

You might notice this word coming upon more than one occasion when it comes to fish finders – but what exactly is it and what does it do?

Simply put, a transducer is a device that converts one unit of energy into another one.

On a fish finder, it is the part that will send signals to your electronic display to tell you what is going on under your craft, be it water temperature, depth, terrain, and – most importantly – locations of and size of fish.

As such, it needs to be placed under the water – and where and how that happens depends on the type of fish finder and transducer you own.

Make sure you check the transducer’s wattage, too – you want something that is going to be powerful enough to get the job done.

Sonar Types

You need to have a good understanding of the types of sonar that will be offered in your chosen fish finder.

Unfortunately, to explain this in detail, it would take a lot of time and a lot of words. Thankfully, in this day and age we also have access to online guides.

Check out the excellent video below to learn more about the types of sonar available in fish finders.

Then, it’s up to you to decide what type of sonar you need for the style of fishing you do.

Generally, to get to deeper fish, you need imaging that pings down beneath your kayak.

For shallow fishing, side imaging is more useful.

Of course, it’s much nicer if you manage to have both.

Portability

As you can see, fish finders come in all shapes and sizes and the size that is right for you will depend on how much space you have on your fishing kayak.

Make sure you thoroughly check the dimensions of the device and that you have somewhere to mount it/use it from on the craft.

More powerful fish finders will need larger battery packs or power sources – so you’ll need to take that into consideration.

Some fish finders can be castable – and they float in the water while transmitting data back to your phone or device.

Just make sure the product you choose does everything you need it to do and is a manageable size.

Depth

Just as much as fish finders vary in size, so do they vary in how deep their pings will reach.

Therefore, you need to consider where you’re going to be fishing as it will impact how successful a fish finder is going to be.

Handheld devices aren’t going to be any use in deep ocean water.

Likewise, the more impressive and expensive units are often superfluous in the shallows and won’t actually give a very good reading.

Make a note of the fish finder’s depth limitation and go from there – and try to get a device that will tell you how deep the water is where you’re kayaking.

Bear this in mind before making your purchase.

Frequency

As a rule of thumb, the higher a device’s sonar frequency, the more accurate it will be in locating your intended targets.

Higher frequency fish finders are better in shallow waters, increasing your chance of success.

But certain models will be able to utilize both high and low frequencies, which will significantly broaden your horizons.

Just another factor to consider when selecting the best fish finder.

GPS

If you think you’re going to be fishing in larger bodies of water or straying far from your usual stomping grounds, GPS might be a really good investment.

More expensive fish finders will come with the tech build-in, helping you plot your way through waters, as well as having thousands of HD maps detailing the underwater terrain at your fingertips.

CHIRP

You might have heard this phrase being tossed around whenever people are discussing sonar and fish finders.

It’s a new technology that is excellent at locating fish at lower depths.

It basically stands for Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse.

In layman’s terms (because it can get very complicated) CHIRP sends out a continuous and powerful range of frequencies from low to high, which a single frequency fish finder is more limited.

As a result, with a CHIRP device, you have a much more accurate and detailed reading of what is going on beneath you in the waters below.

If you want this significant benefit included with your fish finder – make sure the model you choose as it incorporated.

Cost

The actual price of your fish finder really needs to be taken into consideration. As you can see, they increase significantly in the higher-end models, pushing close to $1000 for some.

Again, keep in mind what you’re going to be using it for and how often you’re going to be using it.

Buy the best you can afford wherever possible.

FAQs

man fishing in kayak at evening

Why Do I Need a Fish Finder?

I never said you did!

You don’t actually need a fish finder at all. As I previously mentioned – for some people it’s cheating and takes a lot of fun out of the pastime.

But if you really want to catch more fish – then it’s absolutely essential that you use one of these devices to maximize your chances.

Used correctly, it’ll pretty much guarantee you a catch – providing you’re even a half-competent angler.

How Well Do Fish Finders Actually Work?

Depending on the quality of the fish finder – the technology is available for you to hunt fish incredibly accurately with a high percentage of success.

But as ever, the more cash you part with, the better this technology will be. Sometimes, the high-end stuff can be exorbitant, but the accuracy is astounding.

That’s how they found the Titanic, after all.

For most casual anglers, this is likely to be a little out of their reach.

Can I Use a Smartphone As a Fish Finder?

Yes, you most certainly can – but you’ll need some extra bits and bobs to do so.

You’ll need to purchase a portable transducer and connect it up to your phone with the right app.

However, they are not going to be as accurate as the more expensive, kayak mounted models – but it’s still a super-portable, practical device that you can set up in seconds.

A smartphone fish finder is ideal if you have limited space.

How Do You Power a Fish Finder in a Kayak?

Smaller, more portable fish finders are powered by AA batteries and are sometimes much more suitable for use with a kayak than larger, more expensive models.

Many fish finders will use a 12v battery and so you need to make sure you have the space for that in a waterproof battery box.

Check out this informative video below for a more visual guide to setting up and powering a fish finder in a kayak.

How Long Does a Kayak Fish Finder Battery Last?

It will depend upon many factors, such as the make and model of the fish finder, the strength of the battery and how long you’re using it for.

But with continuous use and a 12v battery, expect it to last somewhere between 8-12 hours.

Plenty of time for you to get a good haul.

How to Mount a Fish Finder on the Kayak?

Again, it will depend on the type of fish finder and the type of kayak you have. But please refer to the video above for more information.

Mounting your fish finder on your kayak for the first time might take a bit of getting used to – it’s best to learn from the pros.

Alternatively, have a look at this video below for another approach/perspective on installing a kayak fish finder.

Is a Fish Finder Worth it on a Kayak?

It’s entirely up to you. As mentioned above, if you want to catch more fish, then it will definitely be worth it.

If you are something of a technophobe and you just want to get out and enjoy nature without any gadgets or gizmos – then you should give a fish finder a wide berth.

But it most certainly can enrich your fishing experience if you’re willing to take the time to learn how to use the device properly.

Many kayak anglers swear by their fish finder and say it’s the best accessory they could have possibly bought for their yak.

Can a Fish Finder Identify the Type of Fish?

Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet with that technology as a fish finder will only show its readings in the form of a graph.

However, it is possible that the user – with a good knowledge of fishing and types of fish – will be able to make an educated guess.

Anyone with experience could make a decent guesstimate.

And if you study the habitat and movements of the creatures in the waters you fish, you’ll soon have a better idea as to what you’re looking at on the sonar’s graph representation.

Then you’ll just have to catch one to find out if you’re right.

Are Fish Finders Fafe to Use?

Yes.

They’re not going to harm the fish in any way nor are they going to do you any harm unless you use them irresponsibly.

Which Company Makes the Best Fish Finders?

It’s a question no too dissimilar to “which company makes the best DSLR cameras?”

Your flag is either in the Nikon or Canon camp. (Nobody else comes close, I’m afraid).

And it’s usually personal preference and which operating system you prefer. Garmin, Humminbird, and Lowrance are the big fish in this game, and they’re all excellent, reputable companies to go with.

But there are other makes that will be just as good if not better (or at least more suitable for you).

As ever, do your research well, watch some videos on the brands and make an informed choice.

Summary

It’s a complex subject that is hard for beginners to process, but selecting the best fish finder for kayaks deserves time and effort.

Ultimately, you want to be able to maximize your enjoyment out on the water – and only you know if a fish finder is going to help with that.

Let me know your thoughts on my chosen devices – and which one you’re interested in and why.

Happy fishing!