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The Kayaker's Secret Weapon: A Fish Finding Tool

Fish Finder Kayak

Fish Finder Kayak

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 1/28/2023

Fish finders are an essential piece of equipment for any angler, but they can be particularly useful for kayak fishing. Fish finders allow you to locate fish by detecting their presence and movements in the water beneath your kayak. This can help you to find the best fishing spots, identify the species of fish in an area, and even target specific types of fish.

Fishing sonar is a type of fish finder that uses sound waves to detect fish. This technology works by emitting a sound wave into the water, which then bounces back to the device when it hits an object, such as a fish. The time it takes for the sound wave to return is used to determine the distance to the fish, and the strength of the return signal can indicate the size of the fish.

One of the best types of fish finders for kayak fishing is the side imaging fish finder. This type of fish finder uses high frequency sound waves to create a detailed image of the structure and fish in the water to the side of your kayak. This can be extremely helpful for identifying structure, such as drop-offs and weed beds, where fish are likely to be hiding.

Kayak Fish Finder Features To Consider

Fish Finder Kayak

Fish Finder Kayak

When looking for the best fish finder for your kayak, there are a few key features to consider. Firstly, you'll want to look for a device that is portable and easy to use. Many fish finders are designed specifically for kayak use, and are compact and lightweight enough to be easily carried on a kayak. Secondly, you'll want to look for a fish finder that has a high resolution display and a wide range of frequencies. This will allow you to see a detailed image of the underwater environment and target specific types of fish.

Another great feature is having a fish finder that is GPS enabled, this will allow you to keep track of your location, mark fishing spots, and even create routes.

You may also want to consider budget fish finder options. There are many affordable fish finders on the market that are suitable for kayak fishing. These devices may not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive models, but they will still be able to provide you with valuable information about the fish and structure in the water beneath your kayak.

Another important consideration is the power supply of the fish finder, you should look for a device that is battery-powered or has a long battery life to ensure that you can use it all day without having to constantly replace or charge the battery.

When it comes to the best fish finders for kayak, it ultimately comes down to personal preferences and specific needs. For example, if you're looking for a fish finder that is easy to use and provides a clear image of the underwater environment, a budget-friendly fish finder may be the best option for you. If you're looking for a more advanced fish finder with a wide range of features, such as side imaging and GPS capabilities, you may be more interested in a more expensive model.

It is the type of sonar that the fish finder uses. The best sonar for kayak is one that is well-suited to the specific conditions that kayak anglers often find themselves in. For example, a fish finder with a narrow beam angle may be better for fishing in shallow water, where a wider beam angle may be more appropriate for deeper water.

Famous Fish Finder Brands

One of the popular brand for fish finder is Garmin, their fish finders have a reputation for being reliable, user-friendly and precise. A great option from them is their GPS enabled fish finder.

Humminbird is another reputable brand, they offer a wide range of fish finders that are suitable for kayak fishing, including compact, portable models with high-resolution displays.

Lowrance is also one of the best options, they offer a range of high-quality fish finders, including portable and GPS-enabled models, that are specifically designed for kayak fishing.


What Is The Best All-Around Fish Finder For Kayak?

Modern fish finders can see what is below, to the side, and even 360 degrees around the boat. A CHIRP camera uses signals at various frequencies to create a more detailed picture of fish and structures, and Bass can be distinguished from bluegill by these signals. The GPS-equipped ones allow you to navigate, place markers, track your route, and provide a measure of safety. If covered in slime and salt in direct sunlight, the best kayak fish finder for kayaks will do all of this and give a clear image of the fish and structure below the boat.

HOOK Reveal 5x SplitShot Fish Finder Lowrance Overall

Years of kayak testing have gone into the design of Lowrance's Hook Reveal 5. The five-inch waterproof screen is easily visible from the kayak seat and out of the way. You can push large buttons using a paddle or rod tip. In direct sunlight, the screen is visible due to a special coating.

Hook Reveal 5 can take a beating and packs a punch. The sonar adjusts its settings according to the bottom and water conditions. Kayak split-shot transducers provide CHIRP and DownScan signals and fit in kayak scupper. CHIRP's target separation and DownScan's detailed images are used in Fish Reveal. Lowrance offers an easy installation kit that provides a solid mounting solution and takes only five minutes to install.

Hook Reveal 5 uses a GPS plotter to find fish quickly and stay on the bite. The GPS plotter allows you to mark waypoints, monitor speed and distance, and navigate home confidently.

Would You Like A Kayak Fish Finder With GPS?

A fish finder is a navigation tool for kayak anglers and a fish-finding device. Combining a fish finder with a GPS lets you keep an eye on the fish and structure below the boat while plotting a course and tracking speed. By using split screen mode, you can do both simultaneously.

Fishfinder and GPS combos come with screens as small as four inches, but larger screens are more visible from the seat. High contrast displays with large numbers improve visibility while adjusting colors and brightness is possible on the best models. A map is an essential feature. GPS with detailed maps is available on kayak fishing fish finders. Anglers can edit maps with notes and transfer depth information from a fish finder into some units.


With a GPS-enabled fish finder, you can track drifts, set waypoints, monitor speed, and measure distance to a destination. You can also navigate on a course to save time and energy. The GPS and fish finder combo is also a valuable safety tool, keeping the paddler from getting lost and, in an emergency, providing rescuers with a location. A kayak fishing GPS is essential for anglers fishing large lakes, wilderness areas, or the ocean.

Kayak Fishing GPS: Garmin ECHOMAP UHDCV 73CV Fish Finder

You get two valuable tools in one package by adding a GPS to a fish finder. The best sonar fish finder for kayaks can also double as a high-powered GPS unit. Fish finders differ significantly in their signal technology and display quality; not every GPS unit is the same. One of the best Garmin fish finders is the ECHOMAP UHD 74/Cv. It combines a high-powered, full-featured fishfinder with a high-quality, detailed navigation chart.

An easy-to-read, glare-resistant touch screen and push buttons come on the ECHOMAP 74/CV. You can still use a touch screen or buttons if your hands are covered in fish slime or swamp muck. Despite its seven-inch screen, the ECHOMAP 74 remains small enough to be out of the way while large enough to see split screens.

There is a transducer for high-definition traditional sonar and CHIRP sonar on the 74cv. With traditional sonar, a single beam produces detailed images of fish and bait and provides the best results in deeper water. CHIP creates a stereophonic, almost three-dimensional image of the structure by shooting multiple signals at different frequencies. The display is vivid and clear, with colors and contrast adjusting to provide a clear view of fish swimming beneath.

This GPS uses Garmin's Bluechart G3 maps for navigation, which are always up-to-date. It is easy to navigate backwaters using high-contrast bathymetric readings, and you can add more data to the map for even better navigation. In addition, ECHOMAP has a smartphone app for updating charts and adding notes. If you're not on a kayak, you can use the app to plan your fishing trip while you're away.


Related Best Kayak GPS

Would You Like A View Of The Kayak's Side?

A side view fishfinder sends a signal to the transducer to capture images of fish and structures to the right and left of the boat. A fish finder with a 360-degree transducer shows a live view of fish swimming in all directions.

Installing a side-imaging sonar in a kayak is difficult because of the size of the transducer. Several kayaks have a special scupper that can accommodate a side-imaging transducer. Even if the kayak isn't built for side imaging, anglers can mount the transducer on an arm that hangs over the side. Attach the transducer to a trolling motor or a pole dangling in the water to rotate the live-view sonar.

Kayaks make excellent platforms for side-view fishfinders. The shallow draft and minimal turbulence allow the transducer to see the surroundings.

Humminbird Helix 7 Chirp Mega SI GPS G3 Nav Fish Finder+: Best Kayak Fish Finder With Side Imagery

The Helix 7 MEGA SI GPS G3 uses high-powered signals to display fish and structures in the most detailed manner possible. Using the most potent sonar signal available, the Mega Side Imaging fish finder for kayaks creates high-definition images of structure and fish clear enough to distinguish between individuals and even different species. The MEGA Down Imaging system uses the same technology to display a three-dimensional image of designs and fish. Humminbird's Dual Spectrum CHIRP shoots two sonar signals at different frequencies for a more detailed sonar response.

Signal cones can be vast for excellent coverage or narrow for better detail. The SwitchFire sonar image uses high-contrast, bright colors to distinguish bait schools from fish schools for the ultimate target separation. The Helix 7 includes a navigation map, a bathymetric chart, and high-quality sonar. You can upgrade the base GPS with more advanced mapping software to set a course and monitor speed and track.

Does Your Kayak Have Limited Space?

A fish finder should never hinder paddling and fishing. You may want to consider a compact fish finder if you don't have a lot of space on your kayak. They have four-inch screens, and the footprint is small enough to fit inside your palm. Displaying the fish finder in full color, and mounting it near the seat, will enhance visibility. In addition to GPS, some compact units feature dual-beam transducers for high-resolution CHIRP sonar, giving you the best technology in a small package. Furthermore, a close fish finder requires less power to operate, allowing the angler to choose a lighter battery and still fish throughout the day.

Fish Finder For Compact Kayaks: Garmin Striker Vivid 4 CV

Garmin's Striker Vivid 4cv fishfinder fits a four-inch fish finder with high-quality sonar and an editable GPS plotter. CHIRP ClearVu and traditional dual-beam CHIRP sonar are included in the Striker Vivid 4cv. Switch from the CHIRP to the ClearVu sonar when searching for fish and structure, then examine the hot spot in detail using the ClearVu down scan sonar.

Garmin also provided a high-sensitivity GPS with Quickdraw Contours mapping to complement the powerful sonar. The user can mark waypoints and track speed and course. Create a custom map covering up to 2 million acres using the GPS and the fish finder. With the bright, high-contrast color screen, you can get a clear view of maps and sonar images, and you can select one of the seven color schemes depending on the conditions.

What If You Didn't Have To Mount The Fish Finder On Your Kayak?

Fish Finder Kayak

Fish Finder Kayak

If you don't have space for a fish finder, don't want to install a mount for one, or don't want to set up and remove the fish finder before and after every trip, a portable fish finder is a good option. With wireless fish finders for kayaks, you eliminate the cord and replace it with a wireless connection and smartphone app.

A portable fish finder system consists of a sphere slightly larger than a golf ball, which houses the transducer. Please place it in the kayak, or cast it out of it. When the signal is received, the app on your phone displays images. Some apps even include a GPS plotter. A new generation of portable fish finders allows anglers to log fishing trips and connect with other users through social networks.

Fish Finder For Kayak: Deeper Chirp Castable And Portable

Deeper's portable fish finder concept is simple: The angler ties a golf ball-sized transducer to a fishing line and casts it away from the boat. Using Wi-Fi, the transducer transmits images of the bottom and fish to a smartphone app. More profound CHIRP technology creates a more detailed image by using signals at different frequencies. The device has three beam angles, allowing for a broad view of an area or a close-up view of a target.

It takes accurate measurements in water up to 330 feet deep, and its wireless signal works up to 330 feet away from the boat. Adapters enable you to connect the transducer to the kayak instead of casting it, so it works like a traditional bottom machine without cables or batteries. Through the Deeper network, users can store and search information in the fishing log and share pictures and stories with other anglers.

Kayak Fish Finder: What Do You Get For $100?

All the advances in fish finder technology have resulted in lower prices. Anglers can get powerful features in today's best fish finder for under $100.

To get the most bang for your buck, budget fish finders for kayaks should have fewer features but retain top-quality components. Color displays with high resolution and glare-resistant screens are standard. In addition to the fish finder features, these units have dual-beam transducers for producing detailed images of fish and structures.

Budget-conscious anglers are seeking a cheap kayak fish finder. These fish finders are built tough with durable push buttons and housing, so a low price doesn't mean cheap. Although low-cost fish finders offer limited features, the quality of the sonar and display ensures a clear image.

Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4 Fishfinder Is The Best Fish Finder For Low Price

As fish finder technology advances, anglers can now buy the latest features for a great price. With the Piranahmax 4 from Humminbird, you can still capture high-definition color images of fish for less than $100. When fish and bait are in high contrast, a 256-color display makes it easier to differentiate them. Users can also distinguish between hard and soft bottoms using various colors.

Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4 Fishfinder has a bright, 4.3-inch color display powered by a powerful, dual-frequency transducer. With a power output of 2400 watts, the transducer can simultaneously detect small baitfish and slight changes in bottom contour.

Shopping For The Best Fish Finder For Kayak

It is easy to find the best fish finder for a kayak. The variety of electronics packages available can meet every budget and need. Find a fish finder that fits your budget. Higher-priced models usually have better connections, a more brutal display unit, and a more detailed transducer signal. The addition of a GPS lets you stay on course and monitor your speed with the fish finder. It also may include portable depth finder for kayak.

The GPS is used with the fish finder to mark waypoints for fish and structure, allowing the operator to repeat a drift. A simple four-inch fish finder will provide kayak anglers with valuable information about depth, fish, bait, and water temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Possible To Attach A Fish Finder To A Kayak?
Fish Finders Can Get Wet, But How?
What Is The Function Of A Fish Finder On A Kayak?