We all know that fishing is about patience and faith, but it’s not like every day is Christmas! You don’t want to live the frustration of coming home empty-handed. That’s why kayak fish finders are a blessing in the water. Combine the maneuverability and quietness of a kayak with the ability of a fish finder to spy on fish, and you’ll be rewarded with the best haul of your life.
When looking for a kayak fish finder, you’re generally searching for a gadget that’s portable, lightweight, and handy in every possible way. The problem lies in choosing the one with the most suitable features for your fishing habits.
We took the burden off of you and gathered a list of the best kayak fish finders available on the market. Read on to find out about their advantages and drawbacks and in what aspect each of them excels.
At a Glance:
- Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer – Our Top Choice
- Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar – Runner Up
- HawkEye Fishtrax 1C – Best Real-time Sonar
- Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 – Best Side Imaging
- Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar – Best Castable Fish Finder
- LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder – Most Portable
- Venterior VT-FF001 – Budget Choice
|Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer||3.6 x 1.6 x 5.9-in.||0.5 lbs.||1600 feet||77-200 kHz|
|Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar||3.8 x 1.9 x 6.5-in.||2 lbs.||100 feet||83-200 kHz|
|HawkEye Fishtrax 1C||6 x 3 x 2-in.||0.64 lbs.||240 feet||83-200 kHz|
|Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5||1.1 x 7.5 x 4.3-in.||2.5 lbs.||2500 ft||83-200 kHz|
|Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar||3 x 5.3 x 5.9-in.||0.21 lbs.||260 feet||90-290 kHz|
|LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder||5.9 x 3.9 x 3.9-in.||1.1 lbs.||328 feet||200 kHz|
|Venterior VT-FF001||9.6 x 2.2 x 5.9-in.||1 lb.||328 feet||200 kHZ|
The 7 Best Kayak Fish Finders in 2021
1. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer – Our Top Choice
There’s a reason the Garmin Striker 4 has been top rated on the market for a long time. It’s a portable fish finders GPS fishfinder combo that weighs no more than half a pound, which is everything a kayak angler would need. The compact design and multiple mounting brackets that come with this unit add to its versatility and ease of use.
The device uses a 2D CHIRP sonar and ClearVu that radiate a continuous sweep of frequencies that range from 50 to 200 kHz. Enjoy the detailed graphic returns of fish and floor structures that come from depth ranges that reach 750 feet in salt water and 1600 feet in freshwater. Also, it features a side-im
aging sonar that indicates what’s lurking on the sides of your vessel.
The 3.5-inch full-color screen integrated into this unit is big enough to amplify these returns and view the waypoint map in a horizontal split view. You’d think that a unit that incorporates all these ground-breaking features together would cost you a fortune, yet it comes at a very reasonable price.
An extra feature that can prove its worth is the speed log provided by the unit, which allows you to match your kayak’s speed with the type of lure you’re using. If we’d complain about one thing, it’d be that the device requires to be plugged into a 12V battery, which would require you to carry around a power source of that kind.
- Affordable high-end features
- High-sensitivity GPS
- CHIRP sonar
- Down and side viewing
- Checks the speed
- Portable and easy-to-install unit
- No maps
- No NMEA connectivity
- Pivoting base isn’t secure
- Must be plugged to a 12-volt battery
We can confidently say that this unit is flawless. Its cutting-edge CHIRP sonar, integrated GPS, and user-friendly interface render it the best kayak fish finder for novice and pro anglers alike. At a reasonable price point, the Striker 4 will help you step up your fishing game and award you with the best catches of your life.
2. Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X – Runner Up
You’ll like paddling your kayak and having this little buddy on board. It’s surprisingly one of the most affordable Lowrance portable units that fit a lot of revolutionary features in a 2-pound body and a transducer that can be mounted pretty much anywhere.
Its 3-inch LED-backlit screen shows what the dual-frequency sonar receives. With a cone angle that reaches up to 60 degrees, you can imagine how wide these beams can be. The 83-kHz beam reflects images of fish that swim at a depth of 100 feet while the 200-kHz waves guarantee a clear and sharp focus on targets.
Since fish arches can be hard to interpret for newbies, the unit displays the fish in icon forms that are easy to understand. Moreover, the fish alarm is an interesting feature that alerts you about the presence of schools of fish without the need for keeping an eye on the screen all the time.
We absolutely love the built-in temperature probe added by Lowrance here. If anything, you’ll be able to guess the type of fish you see on the screen based on the thermocline depth. On top of that, it features an advanced signal processing system that reduces the need to manually adjust the unit and expand your underwater horizon with crystal-clear imagery.
- Dual-frequency sonar
- Waterproof case
- Affordable for a Lowrance
- No GPS or maps
- No CHIRPS
- Disrupted signals at high speed
- Doesn’t work well in choppy water
Hook-3X sonar is a delight to use. In terms of portability and performance, this unit is hard to beat. If you’re not concerned about the lack of GPS and do most of your fishing in calm waters, then by any means, go for this product.
3. HawkEye Fishtrax 1C – Best Real-time Sonar
There are many reasons why we consider Fishtrax 1C one of the best kayak fish finders, most important of all is its versatility. The finder comes with three integrated modes that suit various settings: Fish Finder mode, Data mode, and Digital Flasher mode.
You can use the standard fishfinder mode to set its 83/200 kHz dual-beam transducer into action and display what the water obscures from up to 240-foot depth. The flasher mode is what keeps things interesting in this device. It’ll make you feel like you’re watching a live documentary of what’s happening below, thanks to its real-time view.
Fishtrax weighs only 0.64 pounds, so it’s easy to carry and move around. To add to its portability, the transducer can be fixed to your kayak, trolled from behind, or set to float in front of your vessel. Furthermore, it’s equipped with incredible Fish Arch and Fish ID indicators that show the type and size of the species.
We didn’t expect its screen to be any less impressive, and we were right. Although it’s only 3 inches in size, it’s backlit and has an amazing auto-zoom function, which allows you to fine-tune your readings to either shallow or deep water.
- Fish ID and audible alarm
- Ergonomic design
- HD colored screen
- Easy-to-use interface
- Precise readings
- Versatile modes
- 2-year warranty
- No GPS
- No CHIRP
- Short battery life
- Not for deep-water fishing
You can’t go wrong with Fishtrax 1C. It’s equipped with innovative features that can make your time in the water interesting and fruitful at the same time. Unlike Striker 4, it doesn’t offer GPS or CHIRP additions, yet it competes with it in terms of performance and effectiveness.
4. Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 G2 – Best Side Imaging
If you’re looking for something to expand your view horizontally as well as vertically in the water, then look no further than Humminbird Helix 5. The device uses a CHIRP dual-beam plus 2D sonar that works well in both fresh and saltwater.
The incredible 2500-foot depth range along with its perfect target identification and separation are made possible by its wide-angle 83- and 200-kHz beams. Not only does the beam move downwards, but it also scans the area to the left and right of your boat location.
To enhance the scanning capabilities of the unit, it features a Switchfire button. This allows you to either use the Max mode for an excellent view of small-sized species or switch to the Clear mode that can reveal the hideout of any big-game fish.
Helix 5 is equipped with the largest screen on our list, with a size of 5 inches. You’ll be able to identify underwater structures, intertwined branches along with lurking species at any level on its 800 x 480-pixel display.
What’s more, its GPS and Chartplotter are unbeatable. Also, the fact that it comes with an AutoChart program is a huge plus, considering the fact that you’ll be able to draw your own maps.
One possible drawback is that the device is quite heavy for a kayak with a weight of 2.5 pounds and has few mounting options.
- Premium features at a fair cost
- For fresh and saltwater
- Down and side imaging
- CHIRP technology
- Integrated GPS
- Image snapshotting option
- Poor performance in tidal waves
- No standby mode to save battery
- Only transom-mount
With Helix 5’s down and side coverage, fish won’t know where to hide from your device’s eyes. Users thoroughly praise this device for the effortless fishing experience they live on top of their kayak without splashing loads of cash.
You can check my guide to the best Side-imaging fish finders here if you want to check out more options, although the Helix will remain my top choice there as well.
5. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar – Best Castable Fish Finder
With a size slightly larger than a bobber, Pro+ is the lightest fish finder on our list as it weighs only 0.21 pounds. As a castable fish finder, it lacks a display on its own. However, it generates a WiFi signal that connects to your smartphone or tablet to show you exactly what the scanner sees underwater.
This finder has a connectivity range of 300 feet, and its transducer uses a dual-beam that operates on 90 and 290 kHz frequencies. The use of both high and low frequencies makes the device capable of scanning depths that reach 230 feet while maintaining the image quality of floor structures and animal life.
It’s equipped with a GPS that makes no mistakes. It creates bathymetric maps that show the topography of sea and lake bottoms so you can understand the bottom’s contour. Besides, it helps you locate your position and plot a path that’s safe from hidden obstacles.
The device provides you with a fish alarm as well, though many users reported that it isn’t always triggered when activity is shown on screen. Another concern is the battery’s short life, which lasts only for eight hours, but since it’s the disposable type, you can always take a spare one if you know you’re going to be out for long.
- Lightweight and easy-to-cast
- Fast and wireless connectivity
- Accurate GPS
- Shallow penetration
- Poor battery
- Needs a heavy-action rod
In short, Deeper Pro+ is an ideal kayak fish finder as it can sneak on fish in places that a kayak can’t reach. Also, the idea that this unit won’t really take any space on your vessel is a point in its favor.
6. LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder – Most Portable
Although Lucky isn’t one of the big names on the stage, it has gained a well-deserved towering reputation thanks to this simple yet functional unit. The key advantage here is the portability of this unit. Weighing only 1.1 pounds, It’s smaller than a smartphone and fits easily in the palm of your hand.
Not only that, but also its transducer has many flexible mounting options. You can attach it to your kayak’s hull, let it ride on the water surface using a float, or even install it on a stake out pole. The 25-foot transducer cable is a good addition since it lets you keep the display mounted wherever is convenient for your eyes on the limited deck of a kayak.
Lucky works with a wide-angle 200 kHz beam that reaches depths up to 328 feet, though it doesn’t work well in depths less than 3 feet. It’s powered by 4AAA disposable batteries, which is a good thing for anglers who hate the hassle of recharging. The 2-inch anti-UV backlit screen may be small, but it won’t strain your eyes.
Fortunately, You don’t need to spend more than $50 to obtain this beautiful fishing buddy that comes with a one-year warranty.
- Smart fish alarm
- Wide sensor range
- Five sensitivity mode
- No GPS or CHIRP
- Not waterproof
- Depth measured only in meters
- Complaints about inaccurate depth readings
Lucky Fishfinder is, of course, your lucky choice if you like to keep things simple rather than sophisticated and flashy. Anglers with small kayaks will benefit the most from the compact and featherweight design provided by this unit since it doesn’t take much space on their craft.
For more portable options, check out this guide to portable fish finders.
7. Venterior VT-FF001 – Budget Choice
Great things can come in small packages, and guess what, within a low budget too. If your pocket isn’t stashed with more than 40 bucks, you can still obtain one of the best kayak fish finders out there.
For an entry-level kayak fish finder, Venterior offers a wide range of valuable features, including a unique backlighting mode for enhanced daylight visibility, a high-sensitivity fish alarm, and easily readable 200-kHz sonar data view.
It can provide underwater information to a depth of 328 feet, which is sufficient for most shallow water fishing. The unit doesn’t weigh more than one pound so you won’t feel its presence on board. Also, the 25-foot transducer cable gives you enough space to set the distance you want between the transducer and the screen.
Our guest here isn’t without drawbacks. The battery life is relatively short, and in the case of constant trolling, the battery may not last for four hours. Moreover, it’s equipped with a primary greyscale anti-UV LCD display, which isn’t necessarily a problem since the unit manages to show its information well in bright light and at night.
- Built-in GPS
- Efficient fish alarm
- 2-year warranty
- Outstanding customer service
- Basic display
- The unit isn’t waterproof
- Fish detection accuracy is a little off
- Complaints about cable tangles
Venterior steps up to the plate and delivers most of the features we love on the higher-priced options. If the lack of a full-color screen doesn’t bother you, then you can go for this choice.
Why Do You Need a Fish Finder for Kayaks
Fish finders are a blessing on yaks! Even if you only fish in a lake that isn’t deeper than two feet and can see the whole bottom contour, you still need a finder to uncover what’s hidden in holes, vegetation, and weed lines.
Also, when fishing inshore, you’ll need these sonars to identify stubborn schools of baitfish that are mostly followed by big-game bottom-dwellers. Using a fish finder, you can track your bait’s action in real-time and make sure it’s in the right place at the right time.
What’s more, a fish finder comes with many add-ons like temperature scales and speed logs that can give you an idea about the type of fish you’re about to land. Add-on navigational features make it possible to track your course throughout the day and leave a trail of where you have been so that you can follow that trail and come back safe and sound.
How to Choose a Fish Finder for Kayaks
Before pulling the trigger, you should delve into the features, understand them, and decide on what would fit you the best. Here’s what to look for in order to choose the best kayak fish finder that will serve you best when out in the water.
1. Transducer Mounting
Anchoring your device should be your first concern, especially when you’re limited to a small deck like that of a kayak. The best mounting option for a kayak fish finder is a transom mount given that it’s the cheapest and easiest to install. However, it’s the most vulnerable to damage since the transducer would be submerged in the water.
In-hull and thru-hull aren’t your best options since they require drilling holes and may be more suitable for bigger vessels.
Moreover, you can anchor a transducer through the scupper hole, but pay attention that some manufacturers custom their kayaks’ scupper holes for certain kinds of transducers. Thus, always check if your kayak would match with the brand of the transducer you’re purchasing.
2. Cone Angle and Frequency
Those are the deciding factors of a transducer’s penetration capabilities and image quality. Beams with bigger cone angles offer more coverage with less sensitivity. While transducers can come with beam angles that range from 9 to 60 degrees, the best you can aim for is nothing less than 20 degrees.
The frequency has a direct effect on the depth level of a fish finder. High frequencies like 200 kHz are more quality-focused, therefore they bring back the crispiest images from shallow surfaces. On the other hand, frequencies like 50 and 75 kHz can identify bottom dwellers from great depths.
Dual and triple-beam sonars are the best in covering both aspects. Also, if you’re willing to pay more cash in return for advanced technology, CHIRP sonars are your best bet. They send a bunch of frequencies at the same time instead of one, giving you the best of both high and low-frequency capabilities.
3. Power Rating
The device’s peak-to-peak power determines the speed and depth of the returns. High wattage contributes to the faster portrayal of information from great depths. While you can find power ratings that range from 100 to 2000 watts, a transducer that uses 500 watts of power will do the job for both shallow and deep-water anglers.
Fishfinders come in sizes from 3.5 inches and all the way up to 12 inches. Since kayaks have limited room, a 5-inch display is a good choice since it’s big enough to show details yet compact enough to save space. Your viewing experience depends on the resolution, so don’t settle for a resolution that’s less than 240 x 160 pixels.
On top of that, opt for colored screens with backlighting since these features will come in handy when you’re experiencing intense glare or fishing under harsh sunlight.
5. Down vs. Side Imaging
Look for down-imaging fish finders if you’re trying to find fish in the vertical rather than the horizontal plane. They have the advantage of producing quality images even when you’re moving at high speeds. This is especially important since deep waters will demand that you troll at a higher speed. The problem is, with such focus downwards, it’s easy to miss any peripheral action.
On the other hand, opt for side-scan sonars if you usually fish in shallow water where your prime concern would be to cover more water to the sides. An average side-imaging fish finder will scan around 100 feet to each side of the boat.
Nevertheless, to get a feature like down scanning, you’ll have to ante up a lot of money as they’re more on the expensive side of the price spectrum. Moreover, you won’t be able to speed up your vessel since they operate better at a lower speed.
Don’t overlook this feature if you do most of your fishing in places with which you aren’t well acquainted or go on long-range fishing trips. GPS is your safety card if you get lost while exploring backwaters, channels, and canals.
Not only will it help you find your way back safely to where you launched, but also it can plot you a course that’s free of docks and stumps that can flip your kayak or endanger you. Not to mention that it lets you add waypoints and save your favorite fishing spots for future references.
You can also check out my guide to the best GPS Fish Finder Combos here to learn more and check out more options.
To wrap everything up, we think that Garmin Striker 4 earned its place as the best kayak fish finder, owing to its workhorse of a sonar that comes within a neat and compact package.
Although Humminbird Helix 5 competes with Striker 4 in the quality of the side-scanning sonar and navigation capabilities, it doesn’t provide as many mounting options as Striker. Fishtrax 1C may be a pricey option for a finder that lacks CHIRP and GPS, but it employs one of the best sonar coverages as well as an awesome real-time view.
What’s more, Lucky and Venterior are excellent choices for fishermen who are tight on budget. They may be quite similar in many features, yet Lucky is one step ahead for having a full-color anti-glare screen that isn’t primary as that of Venterior.
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