Wondering what the best kayak fish finder is for you?
We'll help you figure that out. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best kayak fish finders on the market and help you decide which one is right for you. We'll also provide some answers to the questions kayak anglers ask all the time, in a buyer's guide to help you make your decision.
A good kayak fish finder can make all the difference when it comes to catching fish. With the right one, you'll be able to locate fish quickly and easily – even in murky water. The technology keeps getting better and better, the fish finder manufacturers are jamming more and more features in each fish finder they make.
You'll need to ask yourself a few questions, like where will you mount the display, transducer and battery? And how should you run the cables? And you should think about making the fish finder easy to take in and out—something you'll be doing quite a bit. Do you want a castable fish finder? Or just a small portable one, like a Lucky Fish Finder?
So don't wait any longer – check out our list of the top 5 fish finders for your kayak and get started today.
How We Choose
We know that the only thing better than having a quality fish finder for your yak is the peace of mind that comes with it, knowing you'll have another set of eyes helping you.
Our team has read through thousands of user reviews and star ratings to come up with a list that makes it easier for you to decide what is the best kayak fish finder. Don’t bother spending lots of time reading over many many reviews, we’ve done it for you and have come up with the top 5 kayak fish finders.
Our team was able to whittle down the list to a couple of Garmins and a couple of models from Lowrance. We didn't mess with the handheld ones, or the ones you throw overboard like a bobber, known as castable fish finders. We maybe will look at those in a future review.
We liked one the Garmins as the best of our review, and one of the Lowrance models as the best value. You can read more to find out why.
What are the 5 best kayak fish finders? Here's our top 5 list.
1. Lowrance Hook Reveal 5
Best Reasonably Priced Fish Finder
Lowrance Hook Reveal 5
Why It's Great
The Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 is the perfect midrange fish finder for your kayak. The 5 inch screen is big enough that you can see it, and is nice enough in that it doesn't hog valuable space. The sonar capabilities of FishReveal system are great - with one screen you get CHIRP-like scanning and high resolution images from Downscan that can identify fish with perfect accuracy.
If you've spent time fussing with tuning your sonar, you'll love the Autotuning Sonar. It ensures you get a clear image every time by automatically adjusting itself based on changes in conditions. No messing around tuning when you move spots, you just concentrate on the fish.
With the SplitShot transducer, you get a fish finder with the best views below. It has wide angle high chirp sonar and detailed images of structure from down scan imaging.
We like this unit because it's very capable and is reasonably priced at about $300.
Things You Should Know
FishReveal combines Lowrance CHIRP sonar and high-resolution images of structure from DownScan Imaging to make fish light up on your display
GPS plotter: (HOOK Reveal "x" models do not include a map or support add-on mapping)
Autotuning sonar automatically adjusts settings as fishing conditions change
5-INCH SolarMAX display gives clear views in direct sunlight
2. Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv
Best 7 Inch Color Screen Fish Finder
Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv
Why We Like It
The Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv fish finder makes it easy to see what’s beneath the surface. We like the high contrast color palettes and the 7 inch screen, and how you can easily identify structure and get an accurate reading on where you are in relation to your target location.
This unit also has a bit of a smaller footprint and takes up less room, important always for a kayak.
The Garmin STRIKER series are not chartplotter/mapping devices. These units do come with a detailed map database preloaded, but it's fairly basic information. However they can also connect wirelessly via Wi-Fi to your smartphone so you could use apps such as "Active Captain" which lets users transfer waypoints from their computer onto the unit itself.
Things You Should Know
7” color screen
Sonar color palettes easily distinguish fish and structure
Supports Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar
Supports CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars (requires compatible transducer)
High-sensitivity GPS to mark waypoints and create routes
Built-in Quickdraw Contours mapping
Wi-Fi connectivity to connect to the ActiveCaptain app with compatible smartphone to transfer waypoints, receive smart notifications (including software update notifications) and access the Garmin Quickdraw Community
What's included: STRIKER Vivid 7sv fish finder; Genuine Garmin Protective Cover, GT52HW-TM transducer; Power/data cable; 12-pin to dual 4-pin transducer adapter cable; Tilt/swivel mount; Hardware; Garmin bumper sticker; Documentation
3. Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 93sv
Best Fish Finder For A Kayak
Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 93sv
Why We Like It
The Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 93sv is on the higher end price-wise of the best fish finders. BUT, this finder is the cat's meow. It's big, yes, but that means it packs more features.
We like the bright, sunlight readable 9” touchscreen and keyed assist in this kayak fish finder. The GT54 transducer, which is included, provides Ultra High-Definition & SideVü scanning sonars for super clear images of what's around your yak as well as below it. This fish finder will help find those targets fast thanks to its enhanced target separation capabilities found only in this model. It's easy to set up plus the preloaded LakevuG3 inland map data makes navigation easy.
The integrated Navionics data covers more than 17,000 lakes with up to 1’ contours. There's a quick-release bail mount and thus makes it easy for you remove your screen. We love this because it helps give this fish finder more flexibility.
The network support also includes NMEA 2000®, which enables compatibility between various devices such as engines and motor controllers, alongside Echomap™ UHD 93sv's ability to route to waypoints. Echomap™ UHD 93sv is even compatible with the force™ trolling motor so you can control the motor from the screen plus route to waypoints, follow tracks and more.
Quite simply, it's a great fish finder.
Things You Should Know
Bright, sunlight-readable 9” touchscreen with keyed assist
Includes GT54 transducer for ultra High-Definition clearer and Ultra High-Definition SideVü scanning sonars and Garmin high wide CHIRP traditional sonar
Preloaded LakeVü G3 inland maps with integrated Navionics data cover more than 17,000 lakes with up to 1’ contours
Supports Panoptix all-seeing sonar, including Panoptix live Scope sonar
Sonar sharing capabilities with other ECHOMAP Plus, ECHOMAP UHD and ECHOMAP Ultra units
Quick-release ball mount
4. Lowrance HOOK2 4x Fish Finder
Best Selling Kayak Fish Finder
Lowrance HOOK2 4x Fish Finder
Why It's Great
The Lowrance HOOK2 4X fish finder is a great small, inexpensive fish finder that will take up very little room in your yak. It makes things easy with the compact, phone-like menu screen. With this type of interface, it works just like your own mobile device so you should spend less time adjusting settings on the unit itself.
The wide-angle sonar cone of this fish finder offers broadband coverage, which is twice what you'll find on most traditional models. It makes it perfect for those who want to see everything around them or have a tough time deciphering what they're seeing. It's more of a traditional 2D imaging so you'll see "fish arches" like other devices. This does include built-in mapping.
The Hook 2 4x automatically adjusts sonar settings as water conditions change so you don't have to fiddle around with it. It's also an easy mount. The transducer can be set up through a scupper hole, inside the hull, on the transom, or on your trolling motor. And the GPS Plotter is simple and accurate.
Lowrance calls this the world's easiest to use fish finder, and they're right, it is simple. For the price it's hard to beat but some may want a finder with a bigger screen. It's a budget fish finder, but still, this is one of the best-selling kayak fish finders on the market.
Things You Should Know
Auto-tuning sonar with easy to navigate phone-like menus
Wide-angle CHIRP sonar
A single transducer can be mounted on the transom, inside the hull, on the trolling motor or through a scupper hole
Provides basic navigation with a GPS plotter that allows you to add waypoints, follow trails, and navigate
Included Bullet Skimmer transducer for traditional 2-D CHIRP sonar (fish arch) views
5. Garmin Striker Plus 5cv
Best Fish Finder For The Money
Garmin Striker Plus 5cv
Why It's Great
The STRIKER Plus 5cv fish finder is one of Garmin's base models. It has a bright 5” display and the built-in GPS features Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar, Garmin CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar and Quickdraw Contours map drawing software, which stores up to 2 million acres of content with 1’ contours. The GPS lets you mark and navigate to waypoints.
The STRIKER Plus 5cv fish finder includes Garmin CHIRP technology combined with Garmin ClearVü scanning sonar for a nearly photographic, wide images of what passes below. You clearly see structure, submerged objects and fish. Paired with Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar for remarkable target separation, this transducer will help you catch more fish.
Be aware that this is Garmin's base model. It has clear view technology that is about the same as the Garmin GPSMAP units that go for three times the price. The screen display is good for the price point. The spilt screen and dual-frequency display of the traditional system seems a bit much because most people won't even use it. Still, it's nice to have.
This unit does not include pre-loaded maps, which some people don't like. But the Quickdraw feature almost takes away the need for maps. Quickdraw Contours mapping software allows you to create HD fishing maps of the places you fish. No special knowledge is required - you just use your fish finder to record data as you fish, and Quickdraw Contours will do the rest.
This model, for around $300 is one of the best fish finders for the money, and includes a transducer.
Things You Should Know
Includes transducer for built-in Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar plus CHIRP scanning sonar
Built-in Garmin Quickdraw contours mapping software lets you create and store maps with 1’ contours for up to 2 million acres
Built-in GPS lets you mark waypoints, create routes and view speed
Bright, sunlight-readable 5” display and intuitive user interface
Things You Should Consider About A Kayak Fish Finder
The best way to see what fish you are catching is with an LCD display. A fish finder with a color display will be better if it's within your budget.
You'll want the clearest display you can afford, one that is also readable in bright sunlight. And you have to consider screen size in a kayak. A bigger screen gives you a better view, but in fishing kayaks where space is limited, you have to look at what fits best.
If you're trying to figure out what fish finder is best for you, it's important to understand the different ways fish finders work.
Standard fish finders use sonar to detect fish in the water. Down imaging or side imaging fish finders use slightly different technology, but the end result is the same: You get a better idea of where the fish are and what kind of structure they're hiding in.
Down imaging is when the sonar points down from the transducer, and shows you an image of what’s directly beneath the kayak.
Side imaging will send sonar pulses horizontally away from the transducer, which helps you pick up structure as well as catch fish.
CHIRP sonar is also referred to as FishID or FishARC technology. For CHIRP, the transducer sends out sonar pulses periodically, giving you an image instead of a live picture.
Some of the more expensive fish finders have all three of these types of imaging, and some have combinations of the three. Side imaging tends to be more expensive and less common than down-imaging and CHIRP.
As a general rule, a fish finder with a color display is going to be better because they provide more information than black and white displays. This will help you see more, and ultimately is the best way to find fish.
What type of mounting system do you want for your fish finder? Some are designed to be permanently mounted on the stern, bow or gunwales. Mounting options can also depend upon what kind of kayak it is that you're using. Some units don't need any special scupper plug, others do.
It's best to find portable fish finders with multiple mounting options. This gives you flexibility, and many times a kayak angler will change the placement of their fish finder mount after using it for a while.
One convenience is to have your unit on a mount with a quick-release so you can remove the fish finder when not in use. We get that it's not hard if you have to remove screws, but if there's a latch or a wingnut, it makes it easier.
Some fish finders come with basic maps, with no way to add any additional maps. It's best to find one that has the option of adding additional upgraded maps because of the portability of a kayak, people take them to different bodies of water. And then some of the higher end fish finders will have app capability, and sharing capability for personalized fishing maps and data.
Kayaks can get into some tight areas, which is part of the beauty of kayak fishing. On the flipside, you need to find your way back! Having the right maps truly can be a safety issue too.
The navigation functionality of fish finder can vary greatly. The best fish finders give you the greatest flexibility, which is always your best option. And of course you have to consider price.
The more "goodies" the better, right? There are tons of different things you can look for when buying a new fish finder like a castable transducer, different types of mounting devices, Bluetooth capability, pre-loaded maps and GPS mapping.
Since a kayak is naturally closer to the water than in a fishing boat, or even a bass boat, you want to pay attention to whether or not your fish finder is waterproof, or water resistant. We're not sure if one can actually be waterproof, but if it's sealed properly and has a protective cover, that's a win. You don't want your finder dying because you accidentally splashed it with a paddle.
Also consider corrosion resistant electrical connections.
Best Kayak Fish Finder FAQ
Kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing segments of fishing in America. There are all sorts of options for fishing kayaks on the market now. But one of the most important tools a kayak angler can have is a fish finder and mapping capability.
The problem is that there are so many different models on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
Here's a list of the most commonly asked questions about most portable fish finders so that you can make an informed decision today. Our goal is to do the research so you don't have to.
What is a good kayak fish finder?
Here's the top 5 on our best kayak fish finder list:
Do fish finders work on Kayaks?
Yes! It's a tool for a kayak fisherman for navigation and finding fish, just like it is for a professional bass fisherman or an offshore charter captain. For a kayak, the navigation is important given that many times a kayak fisherman will be navigating through tight areas such as mangrove tunnels in the flats, and just as important as it is for you to know where to go, it's important to know how to get back.
What is the best fish finder to use?
Lowrance says the world's easiest fish finder is their HOOK² 4x Bullet. It offers simple menus, easy access to key functions and Autotuning sonar. Lowrance is a proven brand of fish finder. The HOOK² 4x features wide-angle, Broadband sonar coverage. Their are also other brands, depending on your needs. Be sure to do some research before you choose a fish finder.
Where do you mount a fish finder on a kayak?
Many kayaks come with mounting rails where a fish finder can be mounted easily with a bracket and a wingnut or several wingnuts. Most fish finders will come with their own mounting hardware. It's important to choose the right location for a fish finder on a fishing kayak.
Do I need side imaging on kayak?
Side imaging is a big benefit to a kayak angler. A side imaging fish finder will show structure off to the side of a kayak (obviously). And most kayak anglers will operate in shallow water. So once the side imaging is dialed in, the fish can’t hide.
Which fish finder has the best maps?
The Garmin Echomap UHD is generally said by kayak anglers to have the best mapping and GPS in a fish finder.
Is down imaging or side imaging better?
It depends on your tactics. They both have their benefits. If you're targeting specific structures or fish holding the bottom, a down imaging fish finder and its sonar technology will help you locate these fish more efficiently. On the other hand, a side-imaging sonar is super handy for quickly scanning an area and can be especially helpful when trolling or moving through shallow water.
What does CHIRP mean on fish finders?
CHIRP stands for “Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse.” It's a better way of seeing fish that other 2D sonar can not.
Do I need maps on fish finder?
The map on a portable fish finder is important. Most electronics come with a map built-in. Adding a specialized map card to your fish finder will add more detail and help find more good fishing spots.
In Conclusion On Best Kayak Fish Finders...
Well, I think you're much smarter now than you were a few minutes ago. Everything you really need to make an informed decision about purchasing your kayak fish finder is here. We've chosen our top 5 fish finders for you.
Our choice for the best fish finder?
Our choice for the best value fish finder?
There you have it.
A fish finder can be a kayaker's best friend – or worst enemy. If you're serious about catching fish, then you need to invest in a good quality fish finder. Otherwise, you'll be wasting your time – and your kayak fishing trip. Once you've considered all of these factors, you'll be able to narrow down your choices and find the perfect fish finder for your needs.
Before you go, don’t forget to click the button below each photo to search for the best prices on the best fishfinder for kayak fishing – after all, a successful trip requires the right gear. Thanks!
Cheers to the outdoors,
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