Fishing can be a very relaxing and invigorating activity, provided you actually have a haul at the end of the day! Which is why a successful fishing expedition is incomplete with a kayak fish finder. Fish finders are basically top-of-the-line technology devices that aid you in finding the best spots for angling and ensuring a good catch. The best, top kayak fish finders with excellent reviews have a slew of features. Even the most basic devices today have advanced features such as Wi-Fi, GPS, a backlit screen for reading it better in bright conditions, and even smartphone connections! All you need to do is mount the device on your kayak, and you’re good to go. With fishing made a whole lot convenient and easier, who wouldn’t;t want a fish finder?
Ever since they were first introduced in the 1990s, fish finders have gone on to become one of the most indispensable gear when it comes to fishing. Since then, they’ve evolved continuously, gaining many useful features that enable anglers all over the world to increase their catch and better their fishing experience. To that end, here are the 13 top best kayak fish finders, all with first-rate reviews for their performance.
How To Choose The Best Kayak Fish Finders?
Accessories that contribute to a good kayaking expedition such as the Best Kayaking GPS Units, the Best Kayaking Compasses or even the Best Kayaking Bimini Tops and Canopies need to be chosen carefully. The same goes for fish finders, especially since they’re indispensable for you to have a successful fishing expedition. So, what do you need to watch out for when it comes to the best fish finders? Read on.
Size of display
If you’re fishing from a kayak, obviously you’re limited by the size since it’s smaller than a standard fishing boat. Thus, you will want a fish finder that has a display size of ideally less than five inches. That’s because anything that’s larger than that will be too bulky, a challenge to mount, and simply get in the way of your fishing. Plus, a larger display doesn’t translate to more features, so you’re better off with one that has a display smaller than five inches.
No matter whether you’re fishing or recreational kayaking, you’ll want a fish finder that’s portable. So, avoid going for devices that are too large and heavy or need hooking up to external batteries to work. Also, thanks to all the updates in technology, you can now hook fish finders to your smartphone too. Going further, there are even smaller fish finders that are handheld or need to be carried in the pocket. Since fishing requires both hands, we’d advise you to not go for those.
Transducer compatibility and style
Transducers are that part of fish finders that reads the underwater using an echosounder system. Typically, transducers are mounted near the rudder, with a suction cup, in the scupper hole, or in the hull. How you mount it is completely your personal preference. In fact, a few kayaks specifically feature transducer mount areas that are compatible with fish finders. While this is a bonus, it shouldn’t be the critical deciding factor either.
We come to one of the most critical parts of finding top kayak fish finders with good reviews – the GPS or Global Positioning System. GPS units are indispensable if you’re going to be scouring uncharted waters and unexplored fishing grounds every time. They not only allow you to explore new grounds but also help you discover new routes by pinning your newly discovered spots to the unit’s memory.
Sonar vs. 3D sonar
All fish finders come with the basic traditional sonar for catching fish, but some of the better ones use 3D SONAR, which shows an extremely detailed view of what lies underneath the surface. When you’re fishing off your kayak in shallow waters, the 3D sonar is particularly useful. However, the range of the traditional sonar is much better, especially when you want to fish in deeper waters.
Finally, some of the excellent fish finders even have CHIRP technology, which is a high-intensity, powerful radar pulse that produces clearer images and allows you to spot fish easier.
Which brand makes better kayak fish finders, Garmin or Humminbird?
Garmin has created many kinds of wearable tech, and has adapted its GPS units to work with everything from aviation to marine to automotive needs. Plus, Garmin’s fish finders are amongst the most versatile and advanced on the market. Perhaps their only downside is that they have lesser number of choices., but their quality is unparalleled. Humminbird, on the other hand, was the first to used 360-degree sonar technology, LCR screens, and waterproof depth sounders. While their product line is equally as good as Garmin’s they don’t have many smaller-than-5 inches fish finders. So, while we’d choose Garmin for its superior quality, if you’re someone who loves larger screens, then we’d recommend Humminbird.
If the best graphics is what you want, then the Humminbird 410210 is one of the best kayak fish finders, which is all about the display and graphics. The device boasts a 5-inch WVGA display with 800 x 486 pixels resolution. That, coupled with the 256 colors in the TFT display is what makes this screen easy to read, no matter the time of day or night. If that wasn’t enough, the device even comes generates high-quality pictures from its down imaging sonar, complete with Beam Plus and CHIRP sonar. So, the output of this high-quality fish finder is top-notch and helps you enjoy the success of having caught a large haul at the day’s end.
Going further, the unit even comes with an inbuilt SD card and GPS which allow you to store a lot more of your newly discovered spots and routes. What’s more, it even features the landscape orientation, enabling you to use the five-inch display very efficiently. Finally, the down imaging and CHIRP frequencies are transported via a transducer with a maximum depth of 1500 feet.
- Beam Plus.
- TFT display.
- Landscape orientation.
- CHIRP sonar.
- No mounting bracket.
Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder
Accuracy and sensitivity is the high point of the Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder, which takes detection to a whole other level. Besides the position of the fish on the water column, it even tells you whether the fish is large, mid-sized or small! Since it’s castable due to two drilled holes as well as wireless, you don’t need to worry about mounting the device anywhere. Furthermore, the exceptional LCD screen that we spoke about comes in two varieties – white/black and a color one. So, both these options allow you to read the screen clearly both at night and during the day.
Besides being easy to use, the fish finder is covered by a two-year warranty. Lightweight, portable, rechargeable, and affordable at just $80, this is one fishing gear that should definitely be in your kitty.
- Castle and wireless.
- Great detection ability.
- Screen easy to read during the day and night.
- No GPS.
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder
Not only is the Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder a marvelously built device but it’s also one of the Best Kayak Fish Finders Under $200 with excellent reviews. If you’re just starting out fishing and need a portable device, then look no further than this easy-to-use, simple fish finder that’s perfect for beginners. To begin with, the compact yet sturdy device features a simple LCD screen that’s easy to read all times of the day. Thanks to the anti-UV coating, it offers superior protection from harsh conditions such as bright sunshine. Furthermore, the Venterior unit can work reliably in depths ranging from 3 to 330 feet.
Even though it doesn’t have CHIRP, it can read and find fish quite reliably. Since it’s a castable device, it’s connected to a 25-feet cable and provides accurate readings for casting it correctly. As long as the sensors stay above 0 degrees celsius, this Venterior fish finding device can work even in cold climates, such as for ice fishing. Thanks to its battery saver mode, the device will last you a long while for a single use before you need to change your batteries. All this is available for a price of just $42, making it a great value-for-money device.
- Easy to use and simple.
- Uses AAA batteries with battery saving mode.
- Works in colder climates too.
- UV coating.
- Muddy waters and waves affect display.
- No GPS or CHIRP.
If you’re a tech geek, then you’ll love the incredible Deeper Pro Fish Finder that’s one of the most unique ones on this list. That’s because it’s wireless and can be operated using Wi-Fi only! So, all the data that the device gathers will appear on your smartphone, whether Android or iOS, via the “Fish Pro” app. It even comes with a diary, a fishing log, maps, and even GPS. So, you can store literally any and all information you want about paths, routes, and fishing grounds and spots so as to visit them again. Hence, it even makes sharing data with your fellow anglers very easy too.
Thanks to the transmission power of 90/290 kHz, the device can transmit incredibly sharp images while covering vast distances at the same time. That, and a maximum depth of 260 feet and a battery life of 5.5 hours makes this one of the best devices on the market today.
- Comes with maps, diary, and a fishing log.
Garmin Striker 4
There are few kayak fish finders with good reviews that make it to almost all lists, and one of them is the Garmin Striker 4. The ultimate fish finder comes with a bevy of amazing features, including advanced GPS and CHIRP sonar technology. To begin with, the ClearVu scanning sonar and CHIRP transducer work well to provide the clearest underwater images you’ll ever see. The dual-display screen allows you to keep an eye on the GPS as well as receive images from the powerful transducer. Moreover, you can switch between the different screens with the straightforward and simple keypad.
The 3.5-inch HVGA display might be on the smaller side, but the exceptional 480 x 320 pixels resolution certainly makes up for it. Furthermore, this device has a maximum depth of 750 feet in saltwater and 1600 feet in freshwater, along with a robust IPX7 waterproof rating. Finally, when you activate the built-in flasher, you can see everything from the fish you want to catch and everything surrounding it that you want to avoid.
- Easy to use keypad and interface.
- In-built flahser.
- CHIRP sonar.
- No maps.
Lowrance Elite-7 Ti2
In terms of sophistication, accuracy, and value, none can match the style and class of no one can meet the class and style of Lowrance Elite-7 Ti2. If you don’t mind a slightly larger fish finder, then this mountable fish finding gadget is one of the best you’ll find on the market. It boasts a seven-inch full-sized display which, when coupled with the SolarMAX technology makes everything as visible as if you’re seeing it with your own eyes. It also boasts a whopping 4000 preloaded maps that are further marked with various locations to make it easier to find fish hotspots in different bodies of water.
But, that’s not all. The most popular and beloved feature on this device is the FISHREVEAL target feature. Combining CHIRP sonar and DownScan imaging, this feature allows you to see the underwater environment with immense visibility and clarity. All-in-all, the wireless fish finder makes for an exceptional buy.
- Preloaded with more than 4000 maps.
- Seven-inch enhanced display.
- “Fishreveal” allows you to see and hunt fish more clearly.
- Sturdy and durable.
- Quite expensive.
Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4
One of the best portable kayak fish finders for inflatable kayaks with rave reviews is the Humminbird PiranhaMax 4, a compact device loved for its portability. Costing no more than $100, this high-quality fish finder from Humminbird has a lot to be liked. To begin with, the device boasts a minimalist 4.3-inch completely coloured TFT display that makes reading even in bright sunny conditions easy. Secondly, the sonar plus dual-beam technology provide crystal clear pictures for anglers, especially in deep waters.
In addition to the above, the control panel of the device is easy to use, with all buttons being soft and super-responsive at the same time. So, you can easily manage and edit the preferences given the type and depth of water you’re angling. Finally, the fish finder allows you to easily see images up to a depth of 320 feet, making it an excellent buy.
- Suitable for inflatable kayaks.
- Responsive buttons.
- Compact and portable.
- 4.3-inch colored TFT display.
- No GPS.
RICANK Portable Fish Finder
If you want an absolutely affordable fish finder, then look no further than the RICANK Portable Fish Finder that costs all of $40! Even then, don’t be fooled by the low price tag on this device, for it boasts a whole bevy of features. Firstly, the device features a compact 2.4-inch display that’s extremely clear and readable. While it’s not as good as some of the other ones on this list, it’s very accurate and easily shows up large fish clusters. What’s more, the fish finder is very versatile, which means that you can use it for everything from ice fishing to sea fishing.
Despite costing so less, the device offers an in-depth analysis of the surface underwater. It can easily measure and catch images up to depths of 328 ft.. rounding up the features are the five different modes that can be changed depending on what kind of water you’re fishing in – saltwater, freshwater, deep water, or more.
- Intuitive user interface.
- Compact LCD screen.
- Very affordable.
- Not mountable
Garmin Striker Vivid 4cv
Another rather wonderful kayak fish finder from Garmin is the Striker Vivid 4cv. The compact and portable fish finding device produces images which are as good as seeing beneath the surface with your own eyes. With this purchase, you won’t be disappointed as the device boasts a plethora of features. Firstly, it comes with both a transducer and in-built CHIRP Sonar technology that scans perfectly to offer accurate readings. What’s more, you can even create and store your own maps of the water body you’re kayaking in. In addition to that, you can even pin different locations which are fish finding hotspots.
Despite being so compact and portable, the fish finder features an in-built GPS tracking feature, which is especially helpful for exploring larger areas of water. Rounding up the features are the four-inch colored display and the intuitive control panel. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most popular kayak fish finders with excellent reviews from beginners and experts alike.
- Helps you create and store your own maps.
- GPS included.
- Rugged and durable.
- Portable and compact.
Humminbird Helix 5 Sonar G2
You’ll find no fault with the Humminbird Helix 5 Sonar G2, one of the best five-inch fish finders on this list. The screen on this device has three times the number of pixels as any other unit on this list, thanks to the five-inch screen and 800×480 pixels resolution. What’s more, the sonar looks fantastic on the widescreen display, which is what makes up for the absence of GPS on this device. You’ll also find an XNT9 20 T transom-mounted transducer with Dual Beam sonar output.
In addition to the above, the Helix 5 Sonar features something known as target separation of just 2.5 inches, making the fish stand out separately from other marine debris. Rounding up the features is a solid gimbal mount bracket which is a premium feature found in expensive fish finders and allows for easy mounting. All this is available for a price of just $190, making this device greatly value-for-money.
- High-quality color image with a bright screen.
- Powerful CHIRP sonar.
- Strong and durable Gimbal mount.
- No GPS.
LUCKY Portable Fish Finder
The Lucky brand is famed for making some of the most portable kayak fish finders on the market, and the Lucky Portable Fish Finder is no different. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that this tiny fish finder comes with a 2.4-inch TFT colored display. So, it can show you accurate underwater readings without any hassles. What’s more, the fish finder can not only operate up to a distance of 26 feet, but also up to an underwater depth of 328 ft. Plus, the gadget doesn’t locate just fish structures, but even other underwater structures such as grass, weed, and marine debris.
The extremely portable and lightweight device also boasts a vivid control panel with an easy to use and read interface. Above all, this is a versatile fish finder that you can take for fishing in the sea, lake, or even ice fishing.
- TFT colored screen.
- Good water depth and distance.
- Compact and portable.
- Some users mentioned that readings aren’t accurate always.
Lowrance Hook2 4x Bullet
The Lowrance Hook2 4x Bullet is one of the most powerful kayak fish finders for its compact and lightweight size and under-$100 price, which is why it gets such wonderful reviews. The fish finder boasts a 4.3-inch screen, complete with a 16-bit color display, LED backlighting, and 480×270 pixels resolution. Designed for speed, the smartphone-like fish finder features an easy-to-read and intuitive interface. However, the highlight of this device is the CHIRP sonar with DownScan Imaging.
What’s more, it can be viewed both in the exclusive DownScan Overlay mode or in split-screen. Plus, the DownScan Overlay is handy as it blends the best qualities of 2D sonar and DownScan. Rounding up the features are the accurate GPS plotter and side-scan beam that allows to fish in larger areas of waters.
- GPS plotter.
- CHIRP sonar with 2D imaging.
- Side-scan beam.
- Features a backlight for nighttime fishing.
- Only one screen size available.
Boblov IR Fish Finder
The Boblov IR Fish Finder is one of the best kayak fish finders with good reviews that’s perfect for fishing in clear waters. technically it’s less of a fish finder and more of a fishing camera, which means that it doesn’t have sonar. Even then, this device works beautifully in clear waters. In fact, the picture is so clear that you can even watch the fish biting underwater. If that wasn’t enough, the 7-inch monitor is better than the rest for seeing a clear picture.
Besides the above, the fish camera has a ton of amazing features. To begin with, there’s a high-quality carry case that the camera comes with, which makes it easy to transport from place to place. Secondly, the night vision feature is great for fishing after the sun goes down. During the day, the sun visor is indispensable for reading the screen on bright, sunny mornings. Finally, the cold-resistant coating that helps fish in colder waters too.
- Excellent, high-quality picture.
- Works well in shallow, clear waters.
- No sonar.
- No GPS.