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best finder for kayak

Best Fish Finder for Kayak

If you’re reading to take your angling hobby to the next level, investing in a fish finder for your kayak might be a wise choice! This clever little tool makes it easy to locate where the fish are lurking, increasing your casting efficiency and meaning you’ll catch more fish! What fly angler could say no to that?!

This guide to the best kayak fish finders sums up the most important things to consider when choosing which model to buy. You’ll quickly see that there are a wide variety of options on the market when it comes to power, accuracy, and technology.

But with this guide, choosing the best fish finder for you should be easy. We’ve reviewed the top fish finders for fishing kayaks for you, so you can be sure you’re getting one of the best models around.

Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS...
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder,  Handheld...
Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder, Black
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar - GPS Portable Wireless...
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder Portable Fishing Kayak...
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS…
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder, Handheld…
Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder, Black
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar – GPS Portable Wireless…
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder Portable Fishing Kayak…
$99.98
$39.99
$171.06
$225.87
from $180.00
$39.99
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS...
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS…
$99.98
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder,  Handheld...
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder, Handheld…
$39.99
Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder, Black
Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder, Black
$171.06
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar - GPS Portable Wireless...
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar – GPS Portable Wireless…
$225.87
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
from $180.00
LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder Portable Fishing Kayak...
LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder Portable Fishing Kayak…
$39.99

best fish finder for kayak

How to Choose the Best Fish Finder for Kayaks

When you’re picking out the best fish finders for kayaks, there are certain factors to consider and a few different things to look out for before buying. Here’s our list of the most important things to check for when shopping for the best fishfinder for kayaks:

Sonar Reading

If you’re looking for the best fishfinder for kayaks, it’s essential that the model you choose is technically advanced. Look for a minimum sonar reading of 83/200 kHz to ensure that your chosen fish finder is accurate enough to pinpoint where the trout, bass, or bluegills are.

Another thing to consider is whether you need down-imaging or side-imaging, which depends largely on what you hope to catch. If you go for bass and bluegill, you’ll be casting on or just below the surface so side-imaging will be most useful for you.

However, if you’re into deep water angling, you need to look for down-imaging instead. The best fish finders offer both, but they might come with a premium price to match.

Transducer

The transducer is the key to how well your device will work. It’s the transducer that actually creates the sonar waves and sends them out to pick out where the fish and other objects in the water are. The transducer picks up the echo and uses this to form an image of what’s happening below the surface.

You really want to look for a model that has a transducer included, as the best fish finders and the larger brands all do.

Compatible with your fishing kayak

You might be looking at the best fish finder – top brand and all – but if it’s not compatible with your kayak, it will serve no purpose at all. So one of the first things to check is whether you have space for the model you’re looking at.

Also, find out what battery power it takes and whether you’ll need to have a power supply on board, whether you’ll need to attach it to your kayak, float tube or pontoon boat (and how), plus how the transducer attaches to your fishing kayak. Once you’ve ticked these questions off and got suitable answers, you’ll know if you’re looking at a winner or not!

 

Display Size

The display size can vary vastly and you can often choose between black and white vs. color display, too. This is partly down to personal preference – black and white can show up more easily in bright sunlight, for example. However, a color screen can give much more detail than a black and white screen can.

The size of display you go for depends on how much space is available in your kayak. Some of the best brands offer a range of sizes, which is handy as it allows you to pick out your favored size.

Ease of Use

The best fish finders for kayak are simple and easy to use. You want a kayak fish finder to enhance your angling experiences, but you don’t want to waste too much time out on the water studying the manual!

Some models operate on a touchscreen, while others have a keyboard or buttons to control the device. We generally find that the best kayak fishfinders have buttons or a keyboard, as this is less finicky and fiddly when you’re out on the water.

best kayak fish finder

GPS: Yes or No?

GPS or not? If you go kayaking further from home, you might benefit from having a combined GPS and kayak fishfinder, all in one. You can also combine two devices into one and save some space on your kayak – always a bonus!

Portability

How portable a fish finder can really vary: some are very easy to attach and remove from your kayak while remaining sturdy and durable for lots of use. However, some do require more intensive installation that cannot be removed easily without some planning and effort.

The advantage of having a fully portable version is that it’s not just limited to kayaking. You can switch things up and fish from different boats (for example, if you decide to team up with a buddy and spend a day out on the water together). You can even choose to cast out from the shore or from a pier with most models these days.

The most portable devices are small and lightweight, and many can link right up to your phone rather than having another device in your kayak.

Battery Power

Some models are rechargeable, while others take normal batteries that you can replace when needed. You’ll find that some fish finders will need to be connected to a large power supply source like a marine battery. This can take up valuable space on your kayak, but it does mean that your fish finder won’t run out of battery halfway through the day!

Weigh up how much space you have available and compare this with how long you need the battery to last on your angling trips. Some high range models do have a good, long-lasting battery, so if this is important for you, make this a priority when you’re shopping around.

Optional Extras

A good kayak fish finder will also offer extra features like the ability to measure the temperature and depth of the water and the speed you’re traveling at. You can also look out for functions like tracking the river bottom and more. This really varies, with basic fish finders for kayak offering fewer extras, while the best fish finders for kayaks will have a whole range of functions.

portable fish finder

The Best Fish Finders for Kayaks: The Reviews

Let’s take a look at the reviews now of the top fish finders for kayaks! Our aim, as always with our buying guides, is to help you find the perfect item with no stress. Time to narrow down your search with our handy buying guide!

Garmin Striker 4

The Garmin Striker 4 is definitely one of the best options on the market at such an affordable price. It’s simple and easy to use: when you first receive it, there’s no tricky set-up. You could get started no problem, even if you’ve never so much as seen one of these before.

You get a decent-sized, full-color display on this model, which allows you to see much more detail than black-and-white screens. It’s also very easy to use – the interface is intuitive and user-friendly. You control the Garmin Striker 4 by pressing keyboard buttons, so you don’t have to fiddle about with a touchscreen out on the water.

Not only does the sonar transducer provide a strong, clear idea of where the fish are, but the other features will improve your day on the lake by far. You can mark hotspots like docks using the waypoint map, making it easier to return. The Garmin Striker 4 can also track your boat’s speed and measure the depth and temperature of the water.

The Good

  • One of the best fish finders for kayak on a budget
  • A choice of sizes depending on your needs: 3.5 inches, 5 inches, or 7 inches
  • Intuitive interface that is easy to use
  • Includes GPS
  • Rechargeable and portable
  • No initial set-up: Comes ready to use

The Bad

  • You have to upgrade for the premium CHIRP sonar technology
  • The display screen isn’t water-resistant
  • Hard to see the screen in bright sunlight

Venterior VT-FF001 Fish Finder

This model by Venterior is another budget option, perfect for you if value for money is a high priority or for when you’re just learning how to cast from a kayak. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles and fancy features that more expensive models offer, but it gets the job done.

The simple display is easy to read in any light, and the transducer performs well in any type of water and at a range of temperatures. This is a great portable option which can also be used from the shore or from a pier, making it very versatile.

If you’re into angling at night, you’ll love that the Venterior VT-FF001 comes with a backlight. Even in low lights, you’ll be able to locate those fish and come home with an impressive catch thanks to the Venterior VT-FF001. And all without making a large dent in your savings account, as this model comes in at just $40! (But don’t forget to check the latest price before buying).

The Good

  • You can use this at night thanks to the handy backlight
  • Amazing water depth imaging, right down to 328ft
  • For both saltwater and freshwater
  • Includes a 2-Year warranty
  • You can use it from a boat, shore, or pier with the 25 ft transducer cord

The Bad

  • Can get confused at times and think anything in the water is a fish
  • Cheap construction - not built to the same durability as other models
  • Not water-resistant
  • Only works at speeds of less than 5mph

Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder

Vexilar has used the most recent technology to come up with a clever, accurate device that will link right to your smartphone. The Vexilar SP200 T-Box creates its own WiFi hotspot which you can link to as many devices in the immediate area as you like. You’ll need to download the free app (compatible with both iPhones and Android) to get all the sonar info right on your phone.

The excellent concept of the Vexilar T-Box allows more people to potentially have a top-range sonar system without spending upwards of $500. The T-Box l compares favorably to much more expensive fish finders. It’s so handy to just use your phone instead of needing to invest in an expensive display/control system.

Not only does the Vexilar SP200 detect fish, but it also gives you a clear image of any structures in the water. You’ll have no problem knowing how deep the water is at any time, too.

If you’re looking for a portable device, the Vexilar might not be for you as it has to be mounted to your kayak semi-permanently. You also need a 12-volt power supply, so if you’ve got limited space, you might be better off with a rechargeable device.

Otherwise, this model is perfect if you want high-quality sonar detection at a good distance, right from your phone.

The Good

  • Links right to your smartphone for a high-end sonar system - takes up less space
  • Includes a neoprene armband for your phone, so you can check your phone display at any time
  • Available in 17 different languages
  • Great value for money
  • Excellent accuracy for detecting fish and structures below the water

The Bad

  • Less portable - must be mounted semi-permanently
  • More expensive - not a budget option
  • Needs a 12-volt power supply
  • Not useful if you don’t have a smartphone
  • You need to download the app to use it

Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar Fish Finder

The Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar is an innovative little device that is completely wireless. This is a huge bonus as you can attach it with fishing line, cast it out, and receive a full picture of the water between you and the Smart Sonar. You get a wide coverage with this device, as you can cast it up to 330ft away and scan down to depths of 260ft under the surface.

There’s no need to use up your phone data, as the Deeper Pro+ produces its own WiFi signal to transmit data instantly to your phone You’ll always have a clear and up-to-date view of what’s going on around you.

The Deeper Pro+ also has GPS technology and can create bathymetric maps for lakes, rivers, or the ocean. Use the free app to store your maps so you can access them again quickly whenever you need them.

The Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar is a great choice for anyone looking for a small, portable model that you can link directly to your phone. It’s a handy little device which makes it so easy to cast right to where the fish are, which almost pushes us to say that this is the best overall model on our list. You’ll also love that there are no wires to get tangled up, combined with the clear readings you’ll get from this model.

The Good

  • Very lightweight and portable
  • Completely wireless
  • Allows you to see clearly what’s in the water in casting distance
  • You can use it both with and without your smartphone
  • Can be used in both saltwater and freshwater

The Bad

  • Short battery life - just 5.5 hours at full charge
  • Works best only if you have a smartphone to link it to

Humminbird Helix 5 Fish Finder

Humminbird has really raised the bar with the Helix 5, incorporating the best new technology. With CHIRP Digital Sonar and Imaging Sonar, it will be hard to find a clearer and more accurate image below the water surface. You’ll never get lost with the GPS mapping and the Humminbird Basecamp to help you navigate.

The accuracy and efficacy of the Humminbird Helix are hard to match. Some models have the tendency to detect ‘fish’ when it’s really some other object in the water, which can be incredibly frustrating. You won’t need to worry about this with the Helix 5 thanks to the crystal clear Side and Down Imaging capabilities.

By shooting high-frequency beams, this model creates a perfect image of the water around and below you, allowing you to pick out both fish and other structures. It’s never been easier to identify the best angling spots and discover where the trout or bass are lurking.

If you can afford the Humminbird Helix 5, we think it’s well worth the investment – it comes close to being the best overall product we’ve reviewed here! You definitely won’t regret your decision and we can guarantee that it will take your fly angling to the next level.

The Good

  • Large 5 inch, clear, color display
  • GPS technology included
  • Very sensitive
  • Faultlessly accurate depth readings and fish detection

The Bad

  • The most expensive model on our list, the Helix 5 is a big investment
  • The clips for the transom are not very durable

LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder

The LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder is a small, portable, and affordable model that is perfect for fly anglers who are still learning or anyone on a budget. While it doesn’t offer the variety of functions, features, and modes that the more expensive models do, it will still help you detect those fish and improve your experiences on the lake, creek, or river!

You’ll be wowed by everything you get from this LUCKY model for the bargain price of $39.99. You can use it for ice fishing as well as from a kayak, boat, or the shore, so there’s great versatility.

The detector searches the water all around at 45 degrees with an alarm to let you know when any fish are in your reach. This is a great little feature which means you don’t need to be watching the screen all the time but you won’t miss any good catches either.

We think this model by LUCKY is a good choice if you’re after a budget option or a super portable device. You can save space on your kayak by keeping the display screen around your neck and with just a glimpse, you’ll always know where to cast to.

The Good

  • Portable - you can hang it around your neck
  • 1-year warranty included
  • A great choice for beginner anglers

The Bad

  • Only works below 5 mph
fish finder for kayak

The Wrap Up

The ultimate took for fly anglers who want to understand what’s going on below the surface, a top fish finder will allow you to cast more effectively and make more catches.

Once you invest in one of the best fish finders for kayak, you won’t waste any more time out on the water. Gone will be the days when you head home frustrated after casting again and again without a single bite.

Our buying guide should help you pick out the best kayak fish finder for you – these tried-and-tested models are all safe bets. Combining the most important factors such as accuracy, portability, and strong and effective sonar detection, you won’t go wrong with our suggestions.

Have another model you’d recommend to other anglers? Let us know in the comments! And as always, I’ll do my best to answer any questions that spring to mind!

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