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Best Fish Finder For Kayak – Comprehensive Guide for 2021

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Fishing is fun and interesting…but only if you actually catch some fish at the end of the day. This makes a fish finder an important device that should always be among your fishing gear.

A fish finder points out the best spots for fishing and massively improves your chances of going home with a haul. And it’s easy to use a fish finder as all you have to do is mount it on your yak and you are good to go.

Fish finders also have other features like GPS allowing the device to serve as a navigational tool helping you stay on course and monitoring speed. There are fish finders with basic features while others have more advanced functions.

I’ve carried out extensive research and testing to compile a list of the best fish finders for kayaks available on the market today. You’ll find a fish finder that meets your budget and the desired features you are looking for in this article.

Below, you’ll find the best fish finders, their pros, cons, and a buying guide to help you choose the best one for your kayak. Here we go.

The 7 Best Fish Finders For Kayaks for 2021

Garmin Striker Plus 4 Fish FinderOur Top Pick

Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer, 010-01870-00

$139.99  in stock
21 new from $139.99
1 used from $127.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of July 25, 2021 3:11 am

Looks aren’t a priority when looking for fish finders but the Garmin Striker Plus 4 is attention-grabbing thanks to its matte-finished body and heavy-duty military standard materials that make it incredibly rugged and durable.

This fish finder is compact and lightweight making it easy to transport or store. The display is great and the backlighting allows you to use the Garmin Striker Plus even when it’s dark or the weather isn’t friendly. You get access to all basic information like cover, structure, species, and baits on the display.

One of the best features of this fish finder is its dual-beam transducer which along with Garmin chirp traditional sonar for crystal-clear images and remarkable target separation. The dual-beam transducer is temperature capable and can mark the very bottom of the ocean. This allows you to find fish with ease and locate the best fishing spots.

There’s a GPS receiver installed in this fish finder that can be used for navigation. And the quickdraw contours feature uses the GPS as well as basic sonar data to draw the depth lines of the water you are fishing on.

You get enough storage space as this device can save up to 5000 waypoints and the Striker Plus can also measure the speed of your kayak.

 Specifications

  • Screen size: 4 in / 10.2 cm
  • Depth range: 750 ft (saltwater) / 1600 ft (freshwater)
  • Frequency: 50/77/83/200 KHz
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Power: 12V battery

Pros

  • Dual beam transducer and chirp 2D sonar.
  • Capable of using four frequencies.
  • Sensitive and accurate GPS.
  • Easy to use.
  • Large display and storage capacity.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Other Buying Options:

Lucky Portable Fish Finder

LUCKY Portable Fish Finder Handheld Kayak Fish Finders Wired Fish Depth Finder Sonar Sensor Transducer for Boat Fishing Sea Fishing

$80.89  in stock
Amazon.com
as of July 25, 2021 3:11 am

Lucky is a very popular brand when it comes to fish finders as they’ve made some impressive products over the years. This Lucky Portable Fish Finder is one of the company’s best products thanks to its performance.

For starters, this fish finder is very small, compact, and portable. Despite the small size, the 2.4-in TFT colored display is easy to read. This fish finder is capable of showing you accurate underwater readings of up to 328 ft.

You’ll be surprised to know that this fish finder locates more than just fish structures as it can also locate grass, weed, and other marine underground structures. It’s possible to also set an alarm on this device to alert you when fish is detected.

Overall, the interface of this fish finder is very user-friendly and easy to use. All necessary information is displayed on the screen which is easy to read even in low light situations. And you can use this fish finder in different water bodies.

 Specifications

  • Screen size: 2.4 in / 6.0 cm
  • Depth range: 100m / 328ft
  • Frequency: 200 KHz
  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Power: 3.7V rechargeable battery

Pros

  • Compact and portable.
  • TFT colored screen.
  • Accurate readings.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No GPS.

Venterior Portable Fish Finder

Venterior Portable Fish Finder Ice Kayak Fishing Gear Depth Finder with LCD Display and Sonar Transducer

$41.99  in stock
2 new from $41.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of July 25, 2021 3:11 am

The Venterior Rechargeable Fish Finder promises sensitivity and accuracy. And it’s safe to say the fish finder delivered on that promise. It’s extremely easy to detect and determine the position of fish with this device. Even more, the Venterior fish finder will give you an idea of the size of the fish – whether they are small, mid-sized, or large!

The LCD display of this fish finder is great and comes in two varieties. There is the option of buying the color LCD display model or the black and white LCD display model. But whichever one you go for, you’ll be able to easily read the screen on brightest days or darkest nights.

Besides the ease of use, this fish finder is portable and lightweight. This makes it easy to transport and store. You already have a number of gear to take fishing and it’d be nice if your fish finder doesn’t add any significant weight.

 Specifications

  • Screen size: 2.6 in / 6.6 cm
  • Depth range: 100m / 328ft
  • Frequency: 200 KHz
  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Power: AAA batteries

Pros

  • Small and compact.
  • Exceptional display.
  • Versatile.
  • Great detection ability.
  • Durable and rugged.

Cons

  • No GPS.

Other Buying Options:

Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder

Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5x SplitShot - 5-inch Fish Finder with SplitShot Transducer, GPS Plotter

$299.99  in stock
17 new from $299.39
1 used from $387.92
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of July 25, 2021 3:11 am

The Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 is a quality fish finder designed with kayak fishing in mind. This fish finder is very tough and rubbed and can withstand the harshest kayaking conditions.

The superb 5-inch display won’t get in your way and is even to read from the comfort of your kayak seat. There are large buttons on this device that you can push using a paddle blade or rod tip. The talking point here is that you can operate this device from your kayak seat.

Thanks to the auto-tuning sonar feature, this fish finder can adjust settings to better suit the water and bottom conditions you are on. CHIRP and DownScan signals provide detailed images on the screen.

This device has GPS and you can easily mark waypoints, distance, monitor speed and navigate better.

 Specifications

  • Screen size: 5 in / 12.7 cm
  • Depth range: 200m / 656 ft
  • Frequency: Varies with Transducer
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Power: 12V battery

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Large display.
  • Easy to operate.
  • Details images and superb detection ability.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Rugged.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Other Buying Options:

Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder

Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder Wireless Sonar Sensor Fishfinder Depth Locator with Fish Size, Water Temperature, Bottom Contour, Color LCD Display

$80.79  in stock
Amazon.com
as of July 25, 2021 3:11 am

The Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder is a very portable fish finder thanks to its lightweight and compact design. You can easily toss this fish finder in your pocket and you won’t even know it is there.

The small display is easy to read and shows you essential information like water depth, temperature, fish depth, depth range, and so on. You’ll also find this fish finder very easy to use. All you have to do is tether the sensor with fishing line and cast it onto the water. No more long & heavy cable for transducer. No need to drill a hole in your boat hull to install the sensor.

You can adjust the sensitivity levels of this fish finder based on the region you are fishing. There are 20 levels of sensitivity setting with shallow/clear waters requiring lower sensitivities and deeper waters requiring higher sensitivities.

With this fish finder, the chances of you catching fish on your fishing trips will be massively improved. This device also shows a good level of durability and has proven to be able to withstand tough conditions.

 Specifications

  • Screen size: 2.6 in / 6.6 cm
  • Depth range: 40m / 131 ft
  • Frequency: 125KHz
  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Power: 2 Lithium Polymer batteries required. (included)

Pros

  • Small, handheld fish finder.
  • Screen displays important information.
  • Different sensitivity settings.
  • Good durability.

Cons

  • Battery life is good but could be a bit better.
  • No GPS.

Humminbird Piranhamax 4 Fish Finder

Humminbird 410150-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 Fish Finder,Black

$105.02  in stock
65 new from $99.99
Amazon.com
as of July 25, 2021 3:11 am

The Humminbird PiranhaMax 4 is one of the best portable fish finders on the market. I like that this fish finder can also be used on inflatable kayaks. The portability of this fish finder makes it easy to transport and store.

There are many things to like about the PiranhaMax 4. You have the minimalist 4.3-in completely colored TFT display that’s even to read in very dark or bright conditions. And all the information you need is easily accessible to you on the display.

Thanks to the sonar plus dual-beam technology, anglers are able to get crystal clear pictures even in deep waters. You’ll also be impressed with the control panel of the PiranhaMax which makes it easy to use. All the buttons on this fish finder are soft and very responsive.

It’s easy for anglers to manage and edit their preferences to the type and depth of water they are fishing on. And you will be able to see images up to a depth of 320 feet.

 Specifications

  • Screen size: 4.3 in / 11 cm
  • Depth range: 320 ft – 620ft
  • Frequency: 200/455kHz
  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Power: 1 Lithium ion batteries required.

Pros

  • Compact and portable.
  • Can be used on inflatable kayaks.
  • Soft and responsive buttons.
  • 3-inch colored TFT display.
  • Durable

Cons

  • No GPS.

Other Buying Options:

Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv Fish Finder

Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv, Easy-to-Use 7-inch Color Fishfinder and Sonar Transducer, Vivid Scanning Sonar Color Palettes (010-02553-00)

$499.99  in stock
19 new from $484.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of July 25, 2021 3:11 am

The Garmin 7SV is easily Garmin’s most advanced fish finder in the Striker series. Sporting a 7-in screen with a 800 x 480p resolution, it’s very easy to read the display of the 7SV and provides a great user experience.

This fish finder also comes with an all-in-one transducer that covers side-imaging, down imaging, regular sonar, and CHIRP. And what makes the 7SV so impressive is that the performs excellently in all the categories mentioned above.

The built-in GPS and maximum depth range of 1100ft in saltwater and 2300ft in freshwater is one of the highest on the market and makes this fish finder more enticing. Despite all the wonderful features of this fish finder, I like that it is reasonably priced.

There aren’t many cons as far as the 7SV is concerned. The main drawback is that this fish finder doesn’t have mapping functionality. That aside, the excellent combination of price, performance, and durability that the 7SV offers makes it a fish finder you should take a closer look at.

 Specifications

  • Screen size: 7 in / 11 cm
  • Depth range: 1100ft in saltwater and 2300ft in freshwater
  • Frequency: Traditional: 50/77/200 kHz CHIRP (mid and high) ClearVü: 260/455/800 kHz SideVü: 260/455/800
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Power: 12V battery

Pros

  • Great user experience.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • One of the best sonar technology on the market.
  • Superb functionality.
  • Very durable.

Cons

  • No mapping functionality (but you can link it to your phone).

Other Buying Options:

Best Kayak Fish Finders – The Guide 

Here, you’ll learn how a fish finder works, how to mount one, and the factors to put into consideration when shopping for a fish finder.

How Does a Fish Finder Work?

For one who doesn’t know what a fish finder is or what it actually does, you probably want to know what it is, likewise, what it does before deciding whether you need one, or going to buy one.

A fish finder, just as it sounds, is equipment capable of discovering the location of fish(es) in water. It uses what is known today as sonar tech. The device can detect reflected pulses in the form of sound which is a result of the movement of fish(es) from underwater.

A typical fish finder shows its readings on a screen from which the user would then interpret. These readings, if properly interpreted, would enable the user to locate shoals of fish(es). Some would even enable you to see very deep into the water, you’d be able to differentiate the fish(es) from normal underwater debris.

The fish finder gives you an edge, as with the knowledge of the location of where you can find shoals of fish(es), it prevents you from just casting your fishing nets into locations where there are little or no fish(es). Fishing is more fun and less stressful with the fish finder.

How To Mount a Kayak Fish Finder?

When trying to install your fish finder, your kayak design goes a long way in how you’d have to fit in the fish finder to your kayak. Some kayaks come with a spot ready-made for you to mount the fish finder. With this type of kayak, you’d have little or no problem installing the head unit, power source and the transducer of your fish finder.

In cases where your kayak doesn’t have a mount for fish finders, the display unit can be mounted to your gear tracks or you use your discretion to mount the fish finder anywhere you deem suitable. This should be where you’ll be able to comfortably see the screen.

In your connection to the power source, you most definitely want to keep the battery away from where it can get in contact with water to ensure it’s safe and dry at all times. Also, you probably don’t want the wires out of your way. The hull is a good place to put the battery. Also, the wires can be run through the hull although you may have to drill a hole in your kayak.

How To Power Your Fish Finder?

You need a power source to operate your fish finder and this means you need to bring a battery along on the fishing trips.

The most economical type of battery to be used for your kayak finder would be the Sealed Lead Acid Type(SLA). This is similar to a typical car battery, with both working on the exact same principle. As the name indicates, the acid is sealed into a case made of plastic and this helps to avoid any risk of spillage when kayaking or fishing as the case may be.

Another battery type suitable for your fish finder is Lithium batteries. These batteries, unlike the SLAs, appear to be lightweight and portable. In fact, the lithium battery of similar capacity with the SLA would offer you more time of use because, in the SLAs, the battery capacity shouldn’t be used below the 50% mark to ensure its durability.

Portable fish finders use AAA batteries or lithium batteries.

Side Image vs. Down Image

The direction in which a particular fish finder’s transducer emits its sonar waves determines the kind of image it produces on the screen.

Some direct their sonar waves downwards, beneath your boat and such transducers are said to produce down imaging. There are those that direct their waves towards the side of the boat and are said to produce side imaging.

Both types are very effective and can help you find fish. They both have advantages over the other. Your choice of selection should depend mostly on where you do your fishing.

When fishing in shallow water (or when you intend to scan for shallow diving fish) the more useful imaging system is the side image. As opposed to this, when fishing in deep water, the down image would come in handy, since the sonar waves are sent downwards.

Side Imaging

Pros

  • The side imaging enables quick scanning of more water since it can view two directions at the same time.
  • With the side imaging, you have a better picture of your environment, since they offer you a larger perimeter than the down image finders.
  • They are better at finding fish below small inlets and bays. Their orientation provides you a better view than the down imaging system.
  • They offer more clarity, providing you with a more distinct image compared to your down image finder.

Cons

  • They are more expensive than the down image finders
  • They do not give a clear view of what is below your kayak
  • Must be operated with your kayak moving at low speed, although the larger perimeter they cover subsidies for this.

Down Imaging

Pros

  • Very efficient when fishing in deep waters
  • They also offer clarity when used at high speed, making you able to quickly race across the lake when finding another potential fishing position

Cons

  • They provide you with much less information about your environment, especially when you compare them with the side imaging finders.

How to Choose Your Kayak Fish Finder?

Weatherproofing

One important thing to note when choosing accessories and gears for your kayak should be their durability, even when exposed to unfavorable weather conditions. Water-resistance should be the most paramount since your kayak and its accessories would be used on water and there is a high tendency for your accessories to come in contact with water.

The best fish finders are those made to survive constant exposure to water and sunlight. Before deciding your choice of fish finder to purchase, ensure it has a high IP rating. The IP means ‘ingress protection’.

Fish finders with high IP ratings are water and dust-resistant. Ensure that the fish finder you go for has an IP rating not less than IP67. That your fish finder is waterproof does not mean you should blast it with water from a high-pressure hose.
Also, ensure that the plugs are shielded from water and dust.

Supported Frequencies

As reiterated several times, fish finders utilize sonar (ultrasonic) technology in detecting the movement of fishes. Fish finders can utilize different range ultrasonic frequencies. Ultrasound frequency ranging from 15kHz, up to 200kHz can be utilized by most fish finders.
Although some special fish finders can use up to 400kHz.

The choice of frequencies to be used by the fisher depends solely on the purposes which could include finding a specific fish species, carrying out a wide search of the area, detecting shoals of fish, etc. The range of the fish finder is dependent on the frequency used. For example, a deep-water search would require a low frequency, though they are not the best for a well-detailed study of the environment whereas a search into shallow water needs a high frequency.

Experts and commercial fishers utilize the characteristics of the various frequencies of the fish finder in yielding the best fishing experience. In searching, they use a low frequency, say 15kHz, which can orientate them about the general location of the schools of fish. They then switch to the higher frequencies when they need to get an exact location and are ready to target a school.

GPS Included

The GPS is not really that important to be part of your fish finder. Some want their fish finder to be more than just a tool for finding fish. They want it to also serve as a tool for navigation.

The fish finder and GPS combo are actually a good one as it makes you able to monitor the fish and the structure below your kayak. Knowledge of what is below your kayak can help determine your direction through fishing and kayaking also helps you monitor your speed. The combo allows a split-screen that enables you to use both the fish finder and the GPS navigation system at the same time.

The GPS-enabled fish finder may serve as an important safety tool, especially in emergency conditions. They may be necessary for emergency conditions especially for anglers fishing in unfamiliar locations. Or in cases where users get lost, rescuers would be able to locate them.

When fishing in large water bodies, say an ocean or a sea, for example, the GPS-enhanced fish finder might be a must-have kayak fishing equipment.

Transducers

One important part of your fish finder is the transducer as it is what determines what is underwater. The transducer makes you know if what you are picking underwater is a fish and not just vegetation, or even a landscape.

The transducers are able to scan through the water under your kayak, and then send signals to the display unit of your fish finder. They don’t just tell you the location of the fish but also tell you how deep the water is.

Some new kayak designs now come with specially designed transducer scuppers. The scupper holes are made larger to contain the transducer which makes the installation of the transducer to kayaks very easy and quick. Also, they ensure that your transducer would always be in water providing the best view.

In older kayak models, the specially designed transducer scupper may be absent, which means you probably have to put your kayak in the hull of your kayak. All you need to do is just ensure that there are no air bubbles under your transducer as they may affect the image displayed.

Power Source

There are four main specs to look out for in deciding on a battery to choose for your fish finder. These are the battery construction, the power capacity, the size, and then we have the weight. All of these specs have to be considered carefully before making a choice.

  • Battery Construction

There are different kinds of batteries, but only two types are suitable for use for fish finders. The reason for this is not far-fetched, it is because of the marine environment, where the batteries are to be used. These two batteries, the Sealed Lead Acid batteries (SLA) and the Lithium Batteries (LIFEPO4) are designed in such a way that can handle the harsh conditions and the constant motion that would be experienced during use.

Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (SLA): These are the kind of batteries we found in watercraft, they can adapt well irrespective of their orientation. As the name indicates, they are sealed, with no risk of spillage. They come in very cheap, though they are somewhat heavy.
The SLA can function well irrespective of the temperature condition, although they shouldn’t be used past the 50% battery capacity, using the capacity past the halfway mark, you risk the durability of the battery.

Lithium Batteries (LIFEPO4): Lithium batteries are definitely the best choice of batteries you can use to power your device. They are lightweight, no worry of your battery being an added weight as in the SLAs, you can also use up the whole power without any risk of durability.
The only downside I can think of about this battery is the price. The LIFEPO4 is on the dear side.

  • Battery Size and Weight

As size and weight mostly go hand in hand, I decided to combine these two specs as one. Since these batteries are to be used in powering a fish finder on a kayak, you probably don’t want too much weight to paddle during your journey.
And since there are only two options available to us, I believe it isn’t a difficult one, especially if cost isn’t an issue. The Lithium batteries appear to be the smaller and lighter of the two options. They also have the great capacity as the SLAs

One thing to note is that these batteries like other battery types come in sizes, so what size would be the most ideal for your kayak? The size you will need for your fish finder depends on the current draw of your device. All you have to do is check through the specifications of your kayak, you should see a label indicating ‘current draw’, which is always measured in milliamperes(mA). For most fish finders out there, their current draw is 250mA, with this, identifying the size of battery most suitable for your fish finder becomes the least of your problems.

The battery capacity is usually measured in Amperes Hours(Ah), so for example, a battery rated 12Ah, should serve you at a rate of 1amps for 12 hours, or 12 amps for 1hour. As earlier stated, most fish finders have a current draw of 250mA. This means that if we planned on fishing for say 4hours using this type of fish finder, we would use up a battery of 1Ah for the 4hours schedule.

Final Thoughts

Fish finders can improve your fishing experience by directing you to the best fishing spots and this will massively improve your chances of catching fish. Fishing is only fun if you are able to catch fish and a fish finder might be what you need to redefine your fishing experience.

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