Ever kayak out into the river, ready for some serious fishing? And you come away with a whopping zero fish?! Nothing like heading home only to tell your partner you completely struck out!
Some anglers will say this is due to a lack of skill, but that’s not always the case. A fish finder will be a huge help to any fisherman, tipping the odds in your favor.
Fish finders can be used to help detect fish underwater and know the difference between fish and rocks. This makes it easier to find fish within your location and mark locations to help you get better results.
In this review, we’ll show the top 10 kayak-friendly fishfinders to help you get your fishing journey on the way. Also in this article is a buying guide that goes in detail through all the aspects to keep in mind while determining the right fish finder for your needs.
We’ll start with the best fish finder for kayak, the Humminbird HELIX 5.
- 1 Best Fish Finder for Kayak
- 2 Our Top Pick: Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
- 3 Our Runner Up: Lowrance HOOK2 5X
- 4 Best Budget: LUCKY Portable Fish Finder
- 5 Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
- 6 Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer
- 7 Fish finder for Kayak Buying Guide
- 7.1 Who Should Buy a Fish finder for Kayak?
- 7.2 Important Features to Consider
- 7.3 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Other Products We Looked At:
- 9 Conclusion
Best Fish Finder for Kayak
Our Top Pick: Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
Key Points at a Glance
- GPS Mapping
- High-Resolution Display
- Temperature Alarm
- Upgradable Internal Software
- Multiple Angle Imaging
- Item Weight: 2 pounds
- Display Type: Color TFT
- Dimensions: 1.13 x 7.55 x 4.28 in
The Humminbird Helix 5 Fish Finder is our top pick on this list due to its performance, durability, and accuracy. It allows you to use one of the two sonar beams. The wide beam is used when scanning large areas in a short amount of time. The narrow beam allows you to see the world underneath your fishing kayak with high detail. And can be used for imaging the deep-water structure and lake bottom.
Also, the SwitchFire Sonar technology allows you to customize how the data is presented on the screen. The Clear Mode setting filters out most noise that’s found in sediment-filled or choppy waters. With the Max mode, it gives you increased detail.
It can even show the fish on the screen and its relative location near your lure.
The HELIX 5 allows fishermen to take images at multiple angles such as: 16, 28, 45, and 75. This helps manage the coverage to meet the required angling and depth requirements to achieve the best returns. This makes it easier for serious kayak fishermen to scout the fish they need and cast the lure accurately.
The Humminbird Helix 5’s UniMap cartography gives you access to maps of waterways within the US without any problems. In addition, using its MicroSD card comes in handy because it helps with saving multiple viewpoints.
After reaching a depth level of 20 ft, the device stops accurately marking the fish in the water. Still, its function and form make the Huminmin Bird Helix 5 the best fish finder for kayak use.
- 5-Inch Color WVGA Display
- CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar. Power Output RMS : 500...
- Precision Internal GPS Chart plotting with...
- Micro SD card slot for optional maps or for saving...
- Target Separation - 2.5 Inches
Our Runner Up: Lowrance HOOK2 5X
Key Points at a Glance
- Splitshot Transducer
- Wide Sonar Coverage
- Automatic Mode
- IPX7 waterproof protection
- MicroSD Slot
- Item Weight: 2.65 pounds
- Display Type: SolarMAX
- Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.5 x 4.3 inches
The Lowrance Hook2 5X is a great choice for kayak and small boat fishers. Its built-in GPS system provides 5x-speed over the ground and waypoint navigation. Thanks to its intuitive phone-like menus, users can spend more time fishing and less time having to remember settings.
For Ice Fishing, it comes with an Ice Fishing mode that has its own set of options. This makes it an attractive, versatile device. If the user desires to make any adjustments, they can switch to a Custom mode where they have full adjustability over this fish finder.
However, there have been some reported issues with its power. Some fishermen complained that the unit would work for only 10 minutes before shutting off. Because of this issue, it is our runner up choice as its power operation could use some work.
If you run into this issue, be sure to reach out to Lowrance as soon as possible to request a replacement.
With any fishfinder, the main factor is performance. The Hook2 5X’s SideScan and DownScan functions consist of an auto mode which allows the user to fish without worrying about the fine-tuning settings.
The Lowrance Hook2 5X is our runner-up choice among the best fish finders for kayaks.
- EASIEST TO USE: The Lowrance HOOK2 5x Fish Finder...
- WIDER SONAR COVERAGE: The HOOK2 5 offers a...
- EASY SETUP: A single transducer can be mounted on...
- MORE SONAR VIEWS: The Lowrance HOOK2 5x comes...
- FISH FINDER & GPS: The HOOK2 5x provides basic...
Best Budget: LUCKY Portable Fish Finder
Key Points at a Glance
- Fish Alarm
- Adjustable Sensitivity
- Underwater Contour Display
- Can be used for Ice Fishing
- Item Weight: 14.1 ounces
- Display Size: 2.9 inches
- Dimensions: 5.3 x 2.8 x 1.1 inches
For those wanting a fish finder that’s light on the finances, the LUCKY Portable Fish Finder is a great option. It consists of a 25-foot cable and a simple rubber float which can be easily attached to a fishing kayak. Due to its versatility, it can be used for fishing environments such as lakes, creeks, rivers, and ponds.
The LUCKY Portable Fish Finder gives out reading within a 3-330 feet range. An important thing to remember is that this unit measures from the sensor down when it comes to depth measurement. It has a single beam design, creating a beam angle of 45 degrees.
It gives a fairly precise location of fish targets. However, it won’t show you how large the fish targets are. You can adjust the sensitivity in the menu. On the high setting, it shows both big and small fish nearby. When the sensitivity is on a low setting, it will only pick up larger fish targets.
If you’re going to use the LUCKY Portable Fish Finder in cold water, be aware that it will read slower. That’s why you should use it when the temperature is above freezing.
Another thing that impacts the reading is the level of water turbulence. Things such as murky water, floating debris, and stronger waves will interfere with your readings.
But for the best budget option, you can’t go wrong with the LUCKY Portable Fish Finder.
- ☀ The portable fish finder, with updated 2.4inch...
- ☀ Lucky fish finder portable provides you 26FT...
- ☀ The fish finder portable is rechargeable. Come...
- ☀ Various features settings: Lucky portable fish...
- ☀ Go fishing with the fish depth finder in...
Key Points at a Glance
- CHIRP Sonar Transducer
- Fish Symbol ID
- High sensitivity GPS
- Adjustable Depth Line
- Intuitive Keypad Operation
- Item Weight: 8 ounces
- Display Size: 3-5-7 inches
- Dimensions: .6 x 1.6 x 5.9 inches
The Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer is the best fish finder for location sharing. It allows you to share your favorite waypoints and routes with other Striker devices. The unit’s GPS capabilities are accurate and give depth readings by tenths of a foot accuracy.
With an IPX7 waterproof rating, it can withstand being submerged in water for around 30 minutes. Outstanding!
However, it should not be used for high-speed watersports. Since it has a keypad operation, beginners will find it easy to get around the functions of the device. Even if you’re using gloves, the keypad is simple enough to control.
Some users find that the screen is difficult to read in sunlight. The head unit is insecure when attached to the pivoting base. This means that it’s hard to install the head unit to the base without detaching the holder from the base.
This can make attaching the Garmin Striker 4 to a kayak a bit dicey. It can be done, but you’ll likely have to fiddle with it somewhat.
The Striker 4 comes with a GPS feature for hotspots and docks. This feature is great for navigation, especially of rivers. It uses a CHIRP Sonar transducer that helps the device produce a smooth and clean image of the fish. Plus, it can show the boat speed and temperature, giving you more detailed information when you’re out fishing.
- Clear Vu scanning Sonar shows you more of what is...
- The power of simple offers a keyed interface with...
- Waypoint map: Use the way point map to easily...
- Chirp Sonar sends a continuous sweep of...
- Built in flasher: View your sonar data in the...
Key Points at a Glance
- Built-in GPS
- Tilt Mount
- Unique symbol ID
- Auto Gain Feature
- IPX7 Water Rating
- Item Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Display Size: 3.5 inch diagonal screen
- Dimensions: 3.9 x 1.8 x 6.9 inches
The Garmin STRIKER 4cv uses CHIRP Technology to create high-quality images when trolling for fish. Unlike previous designs that used a small range of frequencies, the CHIRP sonar frequencies are transmitted through a wide range of frequencies and can create detailed images with great separation.
In addition to the CHIRP Sonar technology, the Garmin Striker 4cv has scanning sonar capabilities. This sonar type creates better detail on the objects under the boat. Users will be able to appreciate the finer details such as substrates, shipwrecks, and sunken trees.
There are some issues with the power cable’s size. Since it is at 4-5 feet, it can be limited to certain boats and kayaks. The instruction manual consists of only 3 pages with limited information. This makes it difficult for those that need detailed information to fish more effectively.
Also, the Garmin Striker 4cv offers a fishfinder and a flasher in one unit. The flasher is built-in with the device and can show you how the fish are swimming towards the gig and where your gig is being picked up and dropped.
- Includes transducer for built in Garmin CHIRP...
- Built in Garmin Quickdraw Contours mapping...
- Built in GPS lets you mark waypoints, create...
- Bright, sunlight readable 4.3” display and...
- Rugged design for every fishing...
Fish finder for Kayak Buying Guide
In this buying guide section, we’ll look in-depth at all the issues you want to keep in mind while shopping for a kayak fish finder.
Who Should Buy a Fish finder for Kayak?
Fishfinders offer a lot of advantages for both casual and professional anglers. If fishing is your hobby, you can use a fishfinder to help you become more precise while fishing. Just attach it to your kayak (whether inflatable, folding, or hardshell) to receive accurate results the next time you go outdoors.
Professional anglers will find even more utility out of fishfinders. High-quality fishfinders will send an alarm when fish are detected. And if you’re fishing at night, you can use a backlight to help improve your vision. No matter what your skill level, fishfinders are helpful in catching more fish over time.
Important Features to Consider
An important feature to consider before buying a fish finder is power. Power is measured in watts and will determine its efficiency and accuracy. Fishfinders with a higher wattage give you more usable depth, better display reading speeds, and are more effective.
So if you’re planning to fish in deep waters (saltwater bodies or Great lakes), look for a powerful unit. For shallow water, look for units that have a lower wattage. Use a fishfinder with 600 watts if you’re planning on fishing in shallow water. Get a fishfinder of 1000 watts or higher if you’re a professional angler wanting to improve your results while fishing.
Most kayak fishers aren’t likely to need ultra-high power devices.
Fish Finder Transducer
The transducer is the main part of the fish locator. It transmits and delivers sound waves and shows you what is under the water’s surface. The sonar signal made by the transducer bounces off the objects and is then picked up via the transducer.
When looking at the transducer, the first thing you need to understand is the cone angle. If you want a bigger perspective on what’s underneath, get a cone with a larger angle degree. The wider beams give you more coverage within a large space and allow you to receive more fish with it.
However, the issue lies with its loss of strength. Because of this, it is unable to penetrate the water as deep as the narrow cone. Narrow cones help with adding more detail in shallow water and more information on what’s going on in the bottom of the water.
Look for dual beam transducers to get the most out of wide and narrow bands. They are also called dual-frequency and is designed to combine both features into one device. Other fishfinder transducers are more advanced and can have multiple beams (up to 4) at once.
These high-end transducers can cover large areas underwater and can create a 3D image on display. Another option is a side beam transducer that shoots out signals from the side to increase the search accuracy for fish.
Fixed or Portable Mount
There are fixed fishfinders that can be installed on your boat or fishing kayak. For more serious anglers and watercraft owners, a better option would be to get a fixed unit because they can be mounted on a precise location on the boat. According to your needs and type of craft, you can mount the fishfinder’s transducer on the hull, trolling engine, or the stern.
However, many kayak fishers likely don’t want a fixed unit — especially if their kayak is inflatable, folding, or otherwise collapsible.
Also if you’re into fly-fishing or ice fishing, then a portable unit is a good choice for you. They come with a battery power supply and a carrying case. Most fishfinders have a transducer that’s installed to the transom with the help of a suction cup.
If you’re trying to mark locations accurately, look for a Fishfinder with GPS capabilities. It gives you the ability to mark frequent fishing spots so you can go back to them in the future. With waypoints, you’ll be able to mark hundreds to thousands of fish, improving your chances to leave home with more fish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you troll with a Fish Finder?
You have to check the waterproof levels before taking the fishfinder out for trolling. If its IPX7 is under at 7 rating, chances are it won’t be able to be underwater for more than 30 minutes.
Does the Unit Give Depth Readings of the Water?
Yes! Most fishfinders will show the temperature, movement speed, time of day, depth. When buying your fishfinder, look for its depth readings and specs to ensure that it performs to your standards.
Is Down Imaging Important?
Down imaging means that the fish finder works on a larger frequency signal. It gives you a more detailed picture. Before buying your fishfinder, check to see if it has down imaging available. It will help you view fish accurately.
Other Products We Looked At:
Next on our list is the LUCKY Portable Fish Finders Wired Transducer. It detects and shows fish location, water depth, rocks & sand, and tall weed. The color display of the kayak fish is visible in the sunshine. The backlight allows the fishing sonar to be used for night fishing.
There are a few minor issues that prevent it from being in our top 5. For instance, it has a hard time determining the difference between large and small fish. Because of this, make sure that the device is placed at least 10ft underwater to ensure that it works properly.
If you’re looking for fishfinder with strong battery power, then look no further. This depth finder uses 4 AAA batteries and has an operating time of 4-5 hours. If you choose the battery saving mode, it extends the battery span to 8 hours.
Key Points at a Glance
- 328ft Depth Capability
- Fish Alarm
- Battery Save Mode
The JOYLOG Portable Wireless Bluetooth fishfinder is a cool smartphone design that skips the dedicated screen. Instead, you just use your phone as the display, and connect it up to the JOYLOG transducer.
It has a depth range of approximately 2 to 131ft. The frequency is at a 125 kHz with a 30-degree detection angle. For a simple fish finder for everyday fishing, this is the right device for you.
It comes with a 3.7V battery that’s 1000 mAh of power and has a rechargeable USB cord. Most anglers have found that they can use the device without having any issues. Even with the battery size, this device comes at a compact size of .19 pounds.
On the other hand, you’ll have to worry about the detection angle. Also, the device tends to have issues when attempting to connect to your iPhone. If it is unable to connect to your Android or iPhone, consider getting a replacement.
Key Points at a Glance
- Compact Weight
- 131ft Depth Range
- 123 kHz Sonar Frequency
The Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is a high-quality piece of portable fish technology. WiFi and GPS have worked each time when tested outdoors. On average, the battery lasts for at least 5.5 hours during continuous use. It connects to your smartphone (IPhone or Android), and provides effective fish-finding without the need for a dedicated display.
There are some issues with the Deeper PRO+. Some anglers stated that they are unable to work for the iPhone. The quality of the pictures was low, making it difficult for users to get an accurate description of the fish swimming under their boat.
It is a dual-band sonar transducer that helps with getting better signals. The first band transmits frequencies at 90 kHz through a 55-degree cone. It’s second band pings at 290KHZ over in a 15-degree angle. The first band helps with getting a general range while the second band is used to give more detail to the fish nearby.
Key Points at a Glance
- In-Built GPS
- 260ft Depth Range
- Accurate scanning and powerful connection
The battery alarm makes a notification sound when the battery is equal or under the desired setting. The Fish Alarm rings when the fishfinder notices fish of a specific size. As for the depth alarm, it rings once the depth is lower or equal than the selected value.
However, it doesn’t have a DualBeam Plus sonar or the SwitchFire function. But it still comes with the Fish ID function that creates a picture of fish and their depth shown next to it. Hence, you must check if the device detects objects or fish.
The Humminbird 410060-1 uses dual-band frequencies. One is at 200 kHz and the other is at 455 kHz. Since its DualBand, it’s only able to use one band at a time. It works to create a good target separation, which helps with identifying fish targets under the boat.
Key Points at a Glance
- Selective Fish ID
- Waterproof fish finder
- Three alarms
To conclude, there are myriad of fishfinders available for kayaking. The Best fish finders for kayak use are Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finders. They are easy to use, powerful, and effective.
But if you’re looking for something that’s more midrange in terms of price, try out the Lowrance HOOK2 5X.
For hobbyists that want something affordable, you’ll get a lot of utility from the LUCKY Portable Fish Finder.
No matter which one you’ll choose, each of these devices will make your fishing life enjoyable.