The Best Kayak Fish Finders Reviewed
A kayak can be one of the best possible ways to see the outdoors. You are truly free on the water and can even sneak up on unsuspecting fish and wildlife that you would never be able to encounter if you were on a traditional fishing boat. If you are going to have any success fishing, though, you’ll have to have the right tools at your disposal. A fish finder tailored specifically for kayak use will be perfect for you. These will come in all shapes and sizes, but the fact remains that there are a few that stand out as far superior to all of the others that you might find online.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 15 hrs of research
Ability to image the sonar on phone or tablet
Easy to install
Easy to navigate
- Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro
- Lowrance Hook 2
- Humminbird Helix-5 Chirp
- HawkEye Fish Trax 1
- Garmin Striker 4
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro
Ability to image the sonar on phone or tablet
Easy to install
Easy to navigate
Mount doesn't provide a full range of motion
For almost any type of fisherman, whether you are a weekend warrior or a professional fishing guide, this offering from Raymarine is one of the best. To start with, this model features a 7” color display that is designed to still be highly visible even in the brightest light.Read more
Powering this device is a system of two sonars in one, called Dual Channel CHIRP. One is a high-resolution fish targeting channel, while the other is an ultrahigh-resolution DownVision Channel that will develop a perfect look at the floor of the body of water. You won’t have to adjust this sonar either, thanks to the high-tech design. The CPT-DVS transducer is easy to install and has tilt and swivel features. Each device has built-in wifi so that you can easily share your favorite spots or images with friends.
Unfortunately, the dimensions of the device are not listed, but the screen is 7-inches. Reviewers have mentioned that the approximate size of the device is 7.7” by 7.7”. The included mount is short and can be placed almost anywhere. This a great device to use anywhere.
Enjoy high-resolution tracking down to 600-feet thanks to Ultra Wide Chirp DownVision. The LCD screen delivers a sharp picture and is guaranteed to never fog up. The colors are always bright and the contrast is high.
For your kayak, this is built to both IPX6 and IPX7 waterproof standards so that you know it is one of the safest for you.
2. Lowrance Hook 2
Easy to install
Easy to navigate and use
Great price value
Initially, some customers had a difficult time adjusting to the software
Lowrance is one of the least talked about brands that you should know when you are in the market for a fish finder on your kayak. This newer model also comes with a new and brighter display that measures to 5” and is full color with LED backlighting.Read more
This fish finder is great for any and all use. It features a high-resolution SolarMax display in full color. Additionally, it boasts not only DownScan, but SideScan technology as well, thanks to the TripleShot Transducer. This technology allows you to see underwater 300-feet in each direction. Like many other models, it also has CHIRP technology to catch the sonar waves and give you a more accurate reading of what is going on underneath you.
This finder is ready to use right out of the box. It has an auto-tuning sonar system that requires no adjustments nor guesswork. It functions similarly to a smartphone and the screen is easily read, even in direct sunlight. This device comes equipped with mapping of the inland U.S, including 4,000 lakes. If you need something more, there is an SD slot that you can use to upgrade or integrate new maps.
This particular model, with a 5-inch screen, weighs 3.68-pounds and is very portable. The dimensions of this product are 9” x 7.5” x 7.1”. You could easily use this finder on a kayak, small boat, or even for ice fishing.
The screen of this model is impressive. It delivers a very clear photo of the oceans and is visible in the harsh sunlight and the darkness of early mornings and/or nights. You can rely on this screen to not fog up, also. If you prefer a larger screen, this device is also offered in 7”, 9”, or 12”.
This finder has an IPX7 waterproof rating. This is the industry standard and should be enough for a trip on the kayak.
3. Humminbird Helix-5 Chirp
Easy to use
Doesn't work as well in shallow waters
Humminbird has created yet another high-quality fish finder with their latest Helix-5 model. This is one of the highest resolution screens on the market, with 800H x 480V and a 256 color display.Read more
This is another model that features CHIRP digital sonar. This, paired with down imaging, gives you an incredible view on what is going on underneath you. With the added Switchfire technology, you can choose from “Max Mode” or “Clear Mode” to decide how much detail and thermoclines you would like to see.
There is a basic mount included that sticks well to flat surfaces. However, many customers have upgraded to a RAM mounting system for more flexibility.
Right out the box, this device is ready to go. With a built-in base map, this fish finder already knows where the buoys and marinas are.
The dimensions of this product, as listed on Amazon are 15” x 10” x 5”. The rechargeable battery lasts for about 16 hours, which is more than enough to get you through the day. This device is easy to mount and dismount, which makes it ideal for kayak use.
With a 5” display, it is easy to see the screen. It features a 1,500NLT-brightness, which protects you from glares and makes the screen easy to see, even in the bright sun.
This product is rainproof but we don’t recommend purposely taking it for a swim.
4. HawkEye Fish Trax 1
Helpful and clear instruction manual
Numbers on screen are small and difficult to read
Doesn't work well in shallow waters
No mount included
HawkEye brings an affordable option to this list. However, because of the price, you will be giving up a few features. For a minimalist, this is the perfect kayak fish finder.Read more
Dual Beam Sonar technology is included with all FIshTrax devices. This is an adjustable system that allows you to tweak the system to your needs. You can use this technology in two different frequencies. 200 kHz brings you 200,000 sonar pulses each second, while 83 kHz brings you 83,000 per second. While some people have trouble reading the screen, there is an audible alarm that goes off to tell you when there are fish below you. The screen tells you the water depth and water temperature so that you always know what kind of conditions you are in and can drop the proper lure. The finder features a beam angle of 14-degrees and can detect fish down to 240-feet. This device uses 4 AAA batteries. There is no mount included with this fish finder, but there are a plethora of additional accessories for sale.
This handheld fish finder is one of the most portable devices on our list. It weighs only 10.2-ounces and the dimensions of the product are 6” x 3” x 2”. This is a great device to use on the boat, kayak, or even on the dock.
The backlit screen is easy to see in the day or night and the device itself is simple to operate. As mentioned above, the HawkEye FishTrax 1 features a beam angle of 14-degrees and can detect fish down to 240-feet.
This model boasts an IPX7 waterproof rating, which keeps it safe from rain or big splashes. If it were to be submerged, it would last no longer than 30 minutes, in less than 3 feet of water.
5. Garmin Striker 4
Easy to use
Some have issues with the depth finder when cruising at higher speeds
These little gadgets have become incredibly powerful over the years, but all of the new features and functionality that we've gotten has beefed up these devices more than ever before. So, as a result, these once small and compact gadgets are now big and beefy devices that can often take up more space on our boat than we would like. But you know what? All those features that the big and clunky fish finders include are pretty great. If only there was a way to get all these features in a clean, compact, and small form factor. Lucky for you, the Garmin Striker 4 makes all of that possible.Read more
Here we have another great contender that features CHIRP technology, taking advantage of sonar frequencies and bringing you more accurate information. More than just a GPS, this Garmin features WayPoint Maps, where you can mark points that you have favorited, be it as guidance on your way home, or the dock of your favorite waterfront restaurant, or a shallow area to avoid. You will be able to see a great map, speed, arrival time, direction, distance, and depth all on one screen. The resolution of the display is an impressive 480 x 320.
This finder features a suction cup transducer which is great for travel and portability but may be more a handheld item in your kayak. It weighs only 8-ounces and has dimensions of 3.6” x 1.6”x 5.9”.
The display of the finder measures 1.9” by 2.9” and 3.5” diagonally. The colors are always bright and this device is great to use in sunlight or in the dark.
As for water visibility, it has a maximum depth view of 1,600 feet or 750 feet in saltwater.
This device has a water resistance rating of IPX7. This makes the device waterproof, with minor stipulations. However, a couple of reviewers have noted that the screen fogs up at times.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
One of the most important features of a fish finder is the display. The resolution, pixels, size, and technology all come together to deliver you an, ideally, clear image of what's going on underneath you. You will want to look into how to colors appear on the screen and how well it functions in rough conditions.
Another important aspect of the screen is the backlighting. This is important at almost any time of day. If the sun is blaring down on you, it may be difficult to see the screen. Also, if you are out on the water at dawn or dusk, you may have the same problem if the screenisn't backlit or bright enough.
Having a portable fish finder is vital to success on a kayak. Some of these devices are small and portable enough to be held in your hand. This way, you could even use the device on a small boat or canoe. In a kayak, you won’t have the space to hold a large unit that requires bulky sonar units. A portable unit will also make it lightweight, allowing you to find all of the most elusive fish without having to add any additional weight to your kayak, which will help you row farther and faster in the long run, no matter how little weight you think you are adding at the time.
When kayaking, you are going to be able to reach places that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to without spooking the wildlife. With that in mind, it is easy to see why it is so important to be able to see everything that is going on underneath your kayak. In some places, you will end up getting somewhere that lets you reach depths that few people have, but you’ll have to be able to see that deep. The most impressive depth visibility on our list comes from the Garmin Echo, with 1,750 feet. This is quite impressive for such a small machine. Most of the other devices on our list have a depth-visibility of around 700 feet.
It should go without saying, but on a kayak there is a good chance that you will get wet, as well as your equipment. A good kayak fish finder will have the ability to stay waterproof through all of your excursions, no matter how intense they might get. Even if the device is waterproof, it is also important to check up to what depth it is waterproof. As with many things, it may only be waterproof up to 50 meters. After that, the water pressure becomes too strong and makes its way into the device and possibly ruins it. If you would to be extra cautious, some fish finders come with the option of a waterproof case, similar to those of a Go Pro.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
It is a great defense mechanism of fish to group together and either camouflage themselves with something else in the ocean or to look like a big scary fish. Many of these finders come equipped with a zoom feature. Make sure you take advantage of this to get a better look at what lies beneath.
Knowing the habits of the fish you are going after will make fishing much easier. Most finders list the temperature of the water on the screen. If you research the customs of the fish you're after, you will know if you will be able to find it in this certain location or if you should keep moving.
Other Factors to Consider
If you have ever sat in a kayak, you know that once you're all packed in, there's not a lot of extra room. For this reason, it is important that the device is small in size and weight.
Even when you are looking at the dimensions or photos of the finder, remember that there are more accessories that are necessary, such as the mount, cords, and cables. You can expect the total package to take up about double the space of just the screen.
Speaking of the screen, you want a small device, but still a big enough screen. This can be a difficult medium to find. You don't want to sacrifice the resolution for a bigger screen, but you also don't want a great, clear small screen that is too small to see. Amazon has a pretty great return policy, so it may be a good idea to order a couple of different finders and compare them side by side.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you set out to research possible fish finders to buy, you’ll quickly notice as to just how many different screen size options that are available. Although they all used to be about the same general size, screen sizes for fish finders are now more varied and different than they ever have been. There are options out there for average sizes, super compact, and ones that are as big as they can possibly get. However, when it comes to getting a kayak fish finder, what’s your best bet for the ideal screen size that you want to have?
Although it can often be tempting to go for the biggest screen size out there to get as much information on the screen as you possibly can at once, smaller screens are much better suited when using a fish finder on a kayak. The ideal size that you’ll want to look for is around 4-inches or less. This might seem a bit too small, but you are still able to get an ample amount on info on the screen at one time. Plus, when you consider the general small size of kayaks, you’ll greatly appreciate the extra space you have when you decide to opt for a fish finder that has a screen size of 4-inches or less. Choosing one that has a screen of around 5 -inches will definitely be pushing it and get your cramped up while you’re on your kayak, and anything that’s larger than 5-inches will absolutely require some sort of ram mount if you want to take something along these lines with you.
It should go without saying that fish finders require some sort of power source in order to operate. There is so much technology being used in these gadgets nowadays, and they need a steady and reliable source of power in order to power up and deliver you the information that you want to see. When it comes to powering a fish finder in a kayak, there are actually a couple different ways that you can go about this. First of all, you can decide to go the DIY route and construct your own type of power source. In order to do this, you’ll need to get your hands on a marine battery and a waterproof box in which you’ll store it in. Once you have these items, you will then need to find a way to run the wires from the marine battery to the transducer and display of your fish finder. This will power and sort of normal fish finder that you buy or have, but it definitely does require a bit of work on your end in order to make it happen.
If that sounds like too much hassle for you, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a much easier way to get power to a fish finder when using it on a kayak. The answer? A portable fish finder! Portable fish finders are actually quite common nowadays, and they get their portable nature from the included battery back that they come equipped with. Just like your smartphone or tablet, portable fish finders have internal batteries that are built directly into the unit. And, just like your smartphone or other portable device, get juiced up once again by simply plugging it into a wall outlet and recharging it. Additionally, there are other portable fish finders out there that simply use standard batteries that you can buy at any convenience or dollar store around you. These options come equipped with waterproof battery storage areas so the batteries you put in won’t be facing any potential issues with water leaking in and wrecking your entire system. Either option here is a great way to go if you don’t want to go through the time and effort that is required when constructing your own power source. However, both options are effective for getting power to your fish finder when using it on a kayak.
Kayaks are limited in room and storage, and that is easily one of the most unattractive things about them that so many people don’t like. When you go out on a fishing trip, it can be easy to try and take as many items with you as possible to make sure that you don’t forget anything at all that you might possibly need during your trip. With that said, some people genuinely appreciate the lack of space and storage that kayaks come with. With our busy and constant working lives, it can be easy to carry that same mindset with you when you’re moving from the office to the water. With a kayak, that mindset simply won’t work. Fishing on a kayak requires you to downsize, take it easy, and only take the bare essentials with you. However, this can pose a real problem when trying to figure out where to store or mount your fish finder if you take one with you out on a kayak. Thankfully, there are a couple different ways to go about this that are actually quite effective.
First of all, you can take the transducer of the fish finder and mount it to the inside of the hull of your kayak. From here, the rest of the fish finder will easily be able to shoot out through the plastic it comes into contact with without any problem at all – allowing you to get precise and accurate readings of all the fish that may or may not be in your area when out on your kayak. Additionally, there are other fish finders out on the market that come equipped with suction cup mounts that allow you to stick the fish finder directly to the side or back of your kayak. If you are able to find a fish finder like this, it can often be the most effective and most convenient option in regards to mounting it to your kayak. Not all fish finders come with this, and the ones that do are often tailored specifically towards ones that are meant to be used with a kayak. However, with a little savvy shopping, it shouldn’t take you too long at all to locate one of these if that is the route that you want to take in regards to mounting it to your kayak.
Ah, the age old question as to whether or not you should get a fish finder that comes equipped with a GPS radio. GPS-enabled fish finders are incredibly nice for getting the most precise and accurate readouts of your location, and can often be absolutely necessary if you’re out fishing on a big, wide, expansive body of water that you’ve never been out on. However, when we’re talking about fishing on a kayak, you’re more than likely going to be using it in your backyard lake, river that runs through your neighborhood, or other small or medium-sized body of water that you’re pretty familiar with. If this happens to be the case, it’s usually best to save a few bucks and opt for a unit that omits the use of a GPS. While there’s no denying that they’re nice and fun to have, if you’re on a bit of a budget, a kayak fish finder is perfectly fine without having a GPS unit baked in. You can certainly go for one that has a GPS in it if money isn’t an object, but it really isn’t necessary if you want to save as much money as possible.