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best finder for kayak

Best Fish Finder for Kayak

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If you’re reading to take your fishing 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 features to consider when choosing which model to buy. Getting the right fish finder will improve your fishing trips a lot. But you’ll quickly see that there are a wide variety of options and features on the market when it comes to power, accuracy, and technology.

With this guide, choosing the best fish finder 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 for fly fishing around.

Top Pick
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS...
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder, Handheld...
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS…
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder, Handheld…
Top Pick
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS...
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS…
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder, Handheld...
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder, Handheld…

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 features to look out for before buying. Here’s our list of the most important things to look for when shopping for the best fish finder for kayaks:

Sonar Reading

If you’re looking for the best fish finder for kayaks, it’s essential that the model you choose has technically advanced features. 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. You want to catch more when out fishing, so this accuracy is essential.

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

However, if you’re into deep water fishing in the depths of the river or lake, you’ll need to look for down-imaging instead. The best fish finders offer both for an incredible clear experience, but they might come with a premium price to match. Look up the depth in feet that the sonar can reach before purchasing.

Transducer

The transducer is the key to how well your fish finder 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. A powerful transducer will easily mean a better fishing experience!

You really want to look for a model that features an included transducer, 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 to mount on your fishing kayak, it will serve no purpose at all. So one of the first things to look at is whether you have space for the model you’re looking at.

Also, find out what battery it takes and whether you’ll need to have a power supply on board. Check whether you’ll need to mount it to your kayak, float tube or pontoon boat (and how to mount it), plus how the transducer attaches to your fishing kayak. Some models are harder to mount, while you can mount others quickly and easily.

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 is one of the essential features, and it can vary vastly in different models. You can often choose between black and white vs. color display, too. This is partly down to personal preference – black and white can be easier to view when fishing 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 fishing kayak. If you want to be able to view it and read it easily with a quick glance, a bigger size will work best. 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 fishing experiences, but you don’t want to waste too much time out on the water studying the different features in 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 fish finders have buttons or a keyboard, as this is less finicky and fiddly when you’re out fishing on the water, for an overall better experience.

best kayak fish finder

GPS Features: Yes or No?

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

Portability

Another of the top features to look for in a fish finder for kayak. How portable a fish finder is can really vary from model to model. Some are very easy to attach and remove from your kayak while remaining sturdy and durable for lots of use. However, some fish finders do require more intensive installation that cannot be removed easily without some planning and effort.

The advantage of having a fully portable fish finder is that it’s not just limited to kayaking. You can easily 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 fish out from the shore or from a pier with most models these days.

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

Battery Power

Some fish finder 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 isn’t as easy and 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 fish finder 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 for fishing, 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. These features can make a big difference to your fishing experience, so check what’s included (or what’s not!)

For example, one of the top features is the CHIRP sonar. This new technology is being offered on certain high-end fish finder models, and allows you to get a better picture of the bottom of the river. CHIRP stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse, and is a big step up from the regular brief pulses that cheaper fish finders use.

portable fish finder

The Best Fish Finder for Kayak: 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 search for and find the perfect item with no stress. Time to narrow down your search with our handy buying guide! 

Lowrance has long been a popular name for fish finders, but we’ve checked out the most popular fish finders right now on the market for our reviews. From the Garmin Striker to the Deeper Pro+ Fish Finder, here are our top recommendations!

Garmin Striker 4

The Garmin Striker 4 fish finder is definitely one of the best options on the market for finding fish, and at such an affordable price. The Garmin model is a good size, it’s simple and easy to use and can reach the depth of 120 feet. Another bonus is that 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 Garmin model, which allows you to see much more detail than black-and-white screens. It’s also very easy to use and mount – 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.

When it comes to finding fish, the Garmin sonar transducer feature provides a strong, clear idea of where the fish are in murky shallow water or deep water. The screen is easy to view and read from anywhere in your kayak for a smooth experience.

But it also comes with other features and technology that will improve your day on the lake by far. You can mark and add hotspots like docks using the waypoint map and GPS, making it easier to return. The Garmin Striker 4 can also track your kayaks speed and measure the depth and temperature of the water, and it comes with a rechargeable battery.

The Garmin Striker 4 fish finder unit does offer a CHIRP sonar feature, but at an extra cost. If you want to access the premium CHIRP features for improved bottom tracking, you’ll need to factor the price for the CHIRP technology on top of the fish finder price.

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
  • Clear display screen
  • 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 affordable option, perfect if value for money is a high priority, or when you’re just learning how to fly fish 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, reaching an incredible 328 feet in depth. You’ll have no trouble finding where the fish are with this device.

The simple display has a larger size and is easy to read in any lights, while 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 a pier or you can mount it on your kayak, making it very versatile.

If you’re into angling at night, you’ll love that the Venterior VT-FF001 comes with a backlight feature for better view at night. Even in low lights, you’ll be able to locate those fish more than 300 feet deep in the water, 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 compare 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 depth of 328 feet
  • Saltwater and freshwater compatible
  • Includes a 2-Year warranty
  • You can use it from a boat, shore, or pier with the 25 feet 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 for kayak is designed to create 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’s also designed to give you a clear image of any structures deeper in the water. You’ll have no problem knowing how deep the water is from your boat or kayaks at any time with this feature.

If you’re looking for a portable device, the Vexilar might not be the best choice as it has to be mounted to your kayak/boat semi-permanently.  Mounting takes time and you won’t be able to swap it from kayak to kayak or fish from the shore instead. You’ll also need to add a 12-volt battery power supply, so if you’ve got limited space, you might be better off with a rechargeable device.

Otherwise, this unit 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 glance at your phone display at any time
  • Available in 17 different languages
  • Great value
  • Excellent fish detection accuracy

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 kayak fishing device, as you can cast it up to 330 feet away and scan down to a depth of 260 feet under the surface.

There’s no need to use up your data plan when fishing, as the Deeper Pro+ produces its own WiFi signal to transmit data instantly to your smartphone. This feature is smart and innovative, making sure you can get the data, wherever you are. There’s no screen on this device – you can see all the info right on your smartphone. You’ll always have a clear and up-to-date view of what’s going on around you.

The Deeper Pro+ unit is designed with GPS technology and can create bathymetric maps of lakes, rivers, or the ocean, in shallow or deep water. Use the free app to store your maps and data so you can access them again quickly whenever you need them.

The Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar kayak unit is a great choice if you’re looking for a small, portable model that you can link directly to your phone when fishing. The only downside is the short battery life, but that doesn’t outweigh the advantages of this awesome kayak fish finder.

A handy little device, the Deeper Pro+ 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 the market right now. 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
  • Includes GPS technology
  • Can be used in both saltwater and freshwater
  • Create maps of your fishing locations

The Bad

  • Short battery life - just 5.5 hours at full charge
  • Works best only if you have a smartphone to link it to
  • No CHIRP feature

Humminbird Helix 5 Fish Finder

Humminbird has really raised the bar with the Helix 5 fish finder, 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 fish finder 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 Humminbird Helix 5 unit, thanks to the crystal clear Side and Down Imaging capabilities.

By shooting high-frequency beams, this unit creates a perfect image on your screen of the water around and below you, allowing you to pick out both fish and other structures. The screen has great definition and detail for both shallow and deep water. It’s never been easier to identify the best angling spots and discover where the trout or bass are lurking, making it an epic fishing experience.

If you can afford the Humminbird Helix 5 fish finder, 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 screen
  • GPS and CHIRP 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! It’s easy to use with an included transducer, perfect for kayak fishing.

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

While the screen isn’t as detailed as the high-end versions, but it’s easy to read and you’ll get all the essential info you need for effective fly fishing. The bright color isn’t for everyone, but that’s just a minor complaint. 

We think this fish finder unit by LUCKY is a good choice if you’re after a budget fishing option or a super portable model. You can save space on your kayak by keeping the display screen around your neck,. With just a glimpse, you’ll  know where to throw those flies to hook more trout on your next fishing trip!

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 tool 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, for the best fishing experience.

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 and reviews should help you search for 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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