Kayak fish finders – Buying guide, Reviews & Comparison
If you want to find the best fishing gear, but you don’t have time to go through the buying tips and reviews prepared by our research team, this short paragraph should tell you everything you need to know about the best kayak fish finders. After analyzing a lot of feedback coming from both amateur and professional fishermen, we have concluded that the Deeper Smart Portable is the best because it is one of the most versatile choices out there. It can be used with most smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices equipped with Wireless and Bluetooth, which means that you won’t have any trouble distinguishing the structures under your boat as you’ll use the screen of your choice. The capabilities of this fish finder don’t stop here as it can provide info regarding the weather, maps, and even allow you to utilize the diary of the complimentary app. If the Deeper Smart Portable is unavailable, you should consider the Lucky FFW-718 as it is a reliable alternative in terms of performance and quality.
Our top choices
Deeper has designed this unit with usability and performance in mind. It is by far the best kayak fish finder we’ve come across, as it has smart capabilities and is remarkably easy to use, both by the tech-savvy user and by amateur fishermen. The unit has a frequency of 290 khz/90 kHz. The battery life of this model is estimated at 4 hours. The really neat thing about this variety is that it works with an application provided by the manufacturer, which can connect to calendar, weather and map data.
The Deeper is perfectly compatible with Android and iOS mobile devices, which makes fishing an even more pleasurable activity.
Let’s see what customers had to say about this sonar. Something that’s worth mentioning is that over 80% of the individuals who have purchased the Deeper unit were so satisfied with its performance that they ended up writing positive reviews. Most of these buyers praise the great value offered for the price, and even the exception customer service offered by the manufacturing company.
This Bluetooth-connected, castable, portable, and wireless fish finder is engineered to be compatible with iOS and Android devices such as tablets and smartphones. The images are sent directly to the screen of the synced device for the handy viewing of information.
With this device, you have one great tool you can use for a variety of fishing styles. It can be used for fishing on the ice, on a boat, on the shore, riverbank, or in a kayak or a float tube.
In clear conditions, the device offers a connection range of 130 feet for enough depth to go by. The working temperature range of -4°F to 104°F and functionality both in freshwater and saltwater make this model a great companion for any angler anytime.
Thanks to its ability to work on dual frequency sonar beam, the unit lets you get a narrow and a wide cone for an impressive coverage at 15 degrees and 55 degrees, helping you see deeper and more details as well.
One satisfied user suggests the sonar system be outfitted with better maps than the one it comes preloaded with, which would make it even better.Buy from Amazon.com for ($179.99)
This is a single-beam unit that has a sonar frequency of 125 kHz. While it might not be as cutting-edge as the formerly described Deeper variety, the Lucky unit certainly does what it is supposed to do and does it well.
Both its performance and its price make it the perfect alternative for people who are only starting out fishing as a hobby. The display is backlit and has a size of 1.61 by 1.89 inches. The Lucky FFW-718 is water-resistant, a feature always to look for in fish finders. The pack includes a variety of accessories, such as a neck strap and a waterproof bag. A sonar transmitter/receiver connector cover is part of the deal with this item.
Customer reviews are raving about the high-quality of the displayed images, and this seems to be the main reason the product has acquired lots of 5-star ratings. Most of the buyers state that this is the best alternative for kayak fishing, as it can be worn around the neck and the battery life is long-lasting.
The dot matrix display on this device is large, adjustable, and comes with high contrast. Thanks to that, you can view details easily and with ample vividness for literally in-depth viewing.
Thanks to the 100 percent waterproof floating sensor, the device is able to obtain sufficient underwater information that can help you plan your fishing strategy properly.
When the sensor is not in the water, it automatically switches off. This preserves the battery life for the next time you go fishing.
The unit also comes with an alarm, an adjustable chart speed, and a separate setting for the depth range and the sensitivity level. All those features enable the easy use of the unit to give you as much information as you need.
You can use this model two ways, with a rod and line or roach pole, and with bait boats, for versatility.
A user found the screen difficult to view with sunglasses on. It also provides no side views, according to the same customer.Buy from Amazon.com for ($63.9)
If you’ve been looking for a color fish finder but hardly plan to spend a lot of money on a high-end unit, perhaps it’s the right time to check out the specs of the Signstek FF-003. For one, it comes with a color display that makes it easy for users to see where the fish are located even when the sun is up in the sky or during the nighttime.
Secondly, the model is among the most critically acclaimed options out there, which gives a pointer as to how it can serve fishermen. The depth readings offered by the Signstek range from 2 to 240 feet depending on the adjustments that you will be performing.
The Signstek FF-003 is a dual-frequency unit that can be used for fishing both in deep and shallow waters with the same great results. While the size of the display or the color technology that was used in its construction might be less impressive in comparison to the one provided by some of its competitors, the fish finder is entirely capable and will bring you many catches. Besides, you won’t have any trouble operating the device given that it has been designed so that it comes with user-friendly controls.
Equipped with a 2.4-inch TFT LCD, this device provides easy viewing of displayed information even under direct sunlight.
For exceptional image viewing, this model shows 512 colors so you can easily differentiate objects caught in its sonar range. This reduces the guesswork in figuring out what is underwater.
The white LED front light enables you to operate the device even during early morning fishing trips because you can easily operate the buttons.
Utilizing sound waves, the fish finder displays bottom contours. It also enables the hassle-free identification of big and small fish along with their depth, so you know which is a good spot to set up your rig.
Providing 100-level sensitivity settings along with multi-level depth range, this device collects as much underwater information as you need to help you enjoy a productive day in the water. It is also superbly easy to use.
Like any high-quality device, this one should not be used with cheap batteries in order to optimize its functionality and performance.Buy from Amazon.com for ($79.99)
Garmin Striker 4
This fish finder comes with a color screen on which you will be able to read vital information regarding the movements of schools of fish for more productive fishing. One of the greatest things about this particular model is that its built-in GPS has a very sensitive sensor, enhancing the accuracy of the information received.
The ClearVü technology used by Garmin improves the capability of this model to detect fish even in less than ideal conditions. Another great thing about this fish finder is that it allows you to mark hot spots on your device so that you can create a map of the body of water. For highly efficient fishing, this feature comes in handy.
The ergonomic operation contributes to the superior usefulness of this particular model. Navigating back to hot spots is easy, and you don’t have to waste time on finding the best places to cast your line again.
The 3.5-inch screen is large enough to allow you to read the information displayed fast and comfortable; the fact that the screen comes in vivid colors also helps.
The GPS incorporated in the body of the fish finder has a highly sensitive sensor, which means that it will be able to pinpoint the hottest places for dropping a line without a glitch.
Even more, the fish finder allows you to mark the best places for fishing, as well as docks and ramps, so you can quickly create your own map to use for further reference.
The ClearVü technology enhances the overall value of this particular fish finder and contributes to its ability to detect fish.
The high-performance sonar transducer is another great plus.
If your boat travels at fast speeds, the fish finder may encounter some difficulties in delivering accurate readings, according to the experience shared by some buyers.Buy from Amazon.com for ($101.99)
Good screen visibility is always a plus for a fish finder, and this company goes the extra mile, equipping their model with a LED-backlit display. The color screen offers a detailed resolution, and even when light conditions are less than ideal, you will be able to see the information displayed.
High-performance recommends the use of this fish finder. The sounder will quickly identify the movement of fish and will give you reliable information on how the bottom of the body of water looks like, as well as data on thermoclines and other aspects that will help you maximize your efficiency as an angler.
The ASP feature automatically adjusts the image quality, helping you identify rocky bottom conditions and the like with maximum accuracy. You can even watch what happens underneath your boat, due to the dual-frequency operation. The 83Hz sonar offers ideal coverage so you can follow schools of fish as they are on the move.
The model comes equipped with a 3-inch color screen with LED backlight, for maximum accuracy and image quality even when you use the fish finder in the middle of the day or at dawn or dusk.
Identifying targets is carried on with ease as the broadband sounder is capable of reading the shape of the bottom, as well as its hardness and other essential details that will help you in your endeavor.
An interesting fact about this fish finder is its dual-frequency operation that lets you maximize your view, so you can catch all that happens underneath your boat.
You can adjust the fish finder for day or night conditions, and that is a great plus because different light intensities can affect the way you receive information.
Several buyers complain about the instructions being too vague, something that made assembly and usage a bit tricky for them.Buy from Amazon.com for ($139.99)
HawkEye FT1PX FishTrax
The HawkEye FT1PX FishTrax is a portable fish finder that will help you during your fishing trips by offering you the information you need for following schools of fish and casting your line in the right spot. This handheld device is easy to use, and many anglers prefer it to bulkier units.
Even if it is smaller in size than other models on the market, this does not mean that you have to sacrifice performance. Like other good quality devices, this one comes with a dual-frequency operation, which will give you more accuracy in regards to what happens in the body of water, and all around you.
If you don’t like carrying the unit in your hand, you can mount it on your boat, which is another excellent plus that not every device on the market can offer. Various features, such as Fish Target, Variable Zone, and Scroll Speed, will maximize your efficiency while you are scanning the body of water for hot spots.
One of the most significant advantages of this model is its outstanding portability that allows you to take the fish finder with you anywhere you go.
The fish finder can also be mounted on your boat when you need to keep both your hands-free so you can pull fish out of the water.
You will get a lot of valuable information on how the bottom of the body of water looks like, including information on contour and composition.
There is a lot of data the unit offers, such as on depth range, hot spots, and others.
The unit comes with ten adjustment levels for sensitivity, allowing you to catch fish even under the direst conditions when visibility is significantly reduced.
Buyers mention that the screen is on the smaller side – something to be expected in a portable model – and that seeing the numbers can be tricky, as a result.Buy from Amazon.com for ($86.57)
Buying the best kayak fish finder is a daunting task, and customers can often times end up feeling baffled about which model they should pick. The market’s filled with good-quality units. If you’re just beginning to look for a unit yourself, you might want to check out the following buying guide we’ve put together in order to help you correlate your needs with the features you might be looking for. Here’s what you should know.
Screen size and resolution
The display is important both in the case of regular fish finders and in the case of kayak units. The screen size has a lot to say when it comes to accurately visualizing what’s going on in the water. Some models have the screen size of ancient mobile phones, which is why those might not do too much in matters of efficiency. The display resolution also has a say, as does a backlit screen.
With kayak fish finders, frequency does not matter a whole deal. Sure, it’s important, as is the wattage, but it isn’t a deal-breaker as in the case of classic fish finders. Desirable features include built-in UniMaps and internal GPS receivers, as well as Down Imaging capabilities.
For your consideration, we’ve compiled a list of the three units that are most acclaimed on the market today. All of the following models have gathered some of the best fish finder reviews, coming from American and international customers alike. They’re well-known for their excellent performance and for being reasonably affordable.
When you go kayak fishing, there are many things you need to take into consideration. For starters, you will need to bear in mind that any weight you add to the kayak will affect its ability to go fast. To avoid such problems, when it comes to picking a high-quality fish finder for your kayak, get one that is portable.
Handheld units are designed to be less bulky than their counterparts. Of course, the moment you choose to go for a more compact unit, you may be starting to wonder whether you are sacrificing performance for the sake of portability.
That brings us to a very delicate, but important issue. Your bet should be on a unit made by a reputable company that does not reduce overall performance for the sake of portability. That being said, you should get a compact unit that is still as good as bulky sonars, without encumbering your kayak with unnecessary weight.
You should ignore such a feature if you want a fish finder that can see virtually everywhere. There is one spot, in particular, that is overlooked, sometimes even by more seasoned anglers, and that is the area right underneath the boat. You can solve such issues by getting yourself a model with dual frequency.
There is a standard advice among anglers when you feel like you are losing the fish because it goes under your boat. This opinion refers to the necessity of changing the frequency. No matter how far or close the fish is, you should be able to follow it with the help of your fish finder, and this is where dual-frequency operation comes into play.
Don’t be surprised to see prominent fishing gear companies making fish finders advertising such a feature as one of their essential selling points. It comes in handy while you are kayak fishing and you will have no regrets about purchasing such a unit.
While you are searching for a high-quality fish finder, don’t forget about other important aspects, such as the ability to determine depth range for the schools of fish while on the move. The further the sonar on your fish finder can go, the more accurate you will be in predicting how the schools of fish will move around.
Being a good angler is not only about the expertise you have; it is also about what kind of gear you are using. A high-quality fish finder should be able to determine depth range, and it should be capable of reaching as far as possible. With this kind of information on your side, you will have more success catching plenty of fish, and, of course, brag about it once you return home.
Determining the shape and consistency of the bottom
A body of water is entirely an exciting place underneath its surface. Experienced anglers know very well that fish can hide under rocks, inside underwater bushes and other formations, and the information you get on you fish finder may be misleading, as a result. What may feel like a particular target can be well protected and you will just experience the disappointment of going home empty-handed.
You don’t have to allow such things to happen to you. Get yourself a fish finder capable of delivering information on how the bottom of the water body looks like. There are all kinds of fish finders on the market, and some are more accurate than others when it comes to such data.
Models with top-notch performance can tell you a great deal about the shape of the bottom, the consistency, and hardness, as well as thermoclines and other similar aspects that will help you achieve the highest accuracy in finding the fish you are after.
Although it is expected that such models are more expensive than others, as long as you manage to strike a balance between the useful features offered and the budget you have at your disposal, you will not be disappointed with your choice.
It may sound redundant to mention this particular aspect, but the truth is not all fishfinders on the market are entirely waterproof. As expected, when you go fishing, you will have to deal with a lot of sloshing, and it is not difficult to imagine that droplets of water will end up on your sonar, too.
Sonars have delicate mechanisms built-in, such as GPS sensors, that help them identify fish targets in the water. However, these mechanisms should be well protected against water, or they may deteriorate rather fast.
In case it is not possible for you to get a model that is as waterproof as you would like it to be, a good bet would be to search for a model that is as cheap as it gets while still offering some waterproof capabilities. Otherwise, just make sure that your sonar is located somewhere it cannot be easily affected.
Can it be mounted?
A question you should ask when you’re shopping for a fish finder is whether the unit can be mounted on your kayak or not. It is preferable that you get a model that comes with such capabilities, as there will be many situations when you will not both your hands-free.
Another aspect to keep in mind when you evaluate and compare different models on the market is how much mounting space the unit will take. Don’t forget that for kayak fishing, you need to make sure that all the gear you purchase must take up as little space as possible.
This is the number one reason why bulky sonars are never a good option for kayaks. Any extra weight will influence how fast the kayak can go, and there may also be a problem when you need to find enough space to accommodate the mounting area for the fish finder.
Bear in mind that the sonar should be placed somewhere you can easily see it. A fishing adventure should be your chance to unwind and have fun, so forget about fish finders that will only add an unnecessary level of challenge.
There is a saying that warns about devices that come equipped with too many buttons and features. The more of these you have on your fish finder, the likelihood of something going wrong and breaking increases exponentially. That being said, the next piece of advice refers to the fact that you should get a fish finder with simple operation.
A few critical features were mentioned earlier, and we will not go back to that. Simple operation is, however, more than just having few buttons to use. It is also about having a unit with an easy to figure out interface. Although in this day and age, we are very much used to advanced technology, that doesn’t mean that a fish finder should be challenging to use.
You need a unit that is responsive and also ensures that you will quickly find what you are looking for. The information has to be displayed in a way that is not difficult to understand. Also, when setting up the unit, the installation and all the necessary information required for the GPS and the like, should be easy, too.
With the quick advancement of technology, it is nothing unusual for our day-by-day devices to receive updates on a regular basis. Fish finders are not that different, and, if you want to spend money on a model that won’t disappoint you, in the long run, you should go for one for which the manufacturer includes updates.
These updates concern the software used for operating the GPS, most of the time, but that doesn’t mean that you have no use for them. A competitive unit can make the difference between a successful fishing trip and major disappointments, so pay attention to the fine print. If the manufacturer doesn’t shy away from offering updates, that is a good unit for you.
Adaptability to night and day conditions
When fishing in less than ideal light conditions, you may not be able to see all the information you want. That means that it helps to have a fish finder with a screen that is adaptable for night and day conditions. A backlit model can make a difference, as you will be able to read the displayed information even in the dark.
Also, a screen that offers wide viewing angles and does not present a washed out display when the sun is up in the sky is more useful than one that does not follow some quality standards. While aspects like screen resolution and size are essential, such extras are never bad to have.
Pick a model that has all the crucial components crafted to the highest standards possible. This way, you will be purchasing the fish finder that is capable of maximizing your chances to catch as much fish as you want while on fishing trips.
What battery should I use for a kayak fish finder?
Kayaks are, by definition, cramped places where you cannot accommodate bulky sonars. That means that you cannot allow a bulky battery to power up your kayak fish finder, either. The battery used for such fish finders should be able to pack a lot of power in a compact case. Sealed lead acid batteries are one option. The main benefit ensured by them is that they are cheap. 12v 10amp batteries of the kind will keep your fish finder powered up. However, they tend to lose power in bad weather. Lithium batteries, on the other hand, are lightweight and more reliable. Also, they can be recharged.
Does a kayak fish finder have to be waterproof?
It is preferable that your kayak fish finder is waterproof. There is little room inside a kayak, and that means that you have to use the space wisely. Consequently, you will not be able to place the fish finder just anywhere, and it is preferable that its spot will not allow too much water to slosh over it. However, if you ever went kayak fishing, you know that such a thing is not possible. As a result, it is more desirable than not to have a waterproof unit. Like the rest of your gear, it should be able to repel water to the best of its abilities.
What screen size is right for a kayak fish finder?
Again, you need to take into consideration the little space you have at your disposal when kayak fishing. While you may feel tempted to think that a larger screen size should be your choice, the problem with such sonars is that they become too bulky and they are not as easy to use as you may like. That is while a fish finder with a screen of 3 or 4 inches is enough for kayak fishing. Of course, you should always take your preferences into account, and, if you cannot see a smaller screen, opt for a slightly larger one.
Is a GPS-enabled fish finder better?
There are pros and cons for using a GPS-enabled fish finder, and we will show them right away, hoping that the information provided will help you make an educated choice. Fishfinders with incorporated GPS are an excellent choice when you go fishing on a body of water that is unfamiliar. You will be supplied with accurate readings, and you will not have to worry that the unknown factor will affect your results. On the other hand, if you go kayak fishing in well-known areas that are not very wide, you may choose to save up a little money and get a model without GPS.
How to install a kayak fish finder
Each fish finder usually comes accompanied by information on how to mount it, and it is best to start from there. Mounting a fish finder on a kayak can present a lot of conveniences because you will be able to keep both hands free to see about your fishing, while reading relevant information on the screen of your sonar.
A few steps are required, nonetheless, for a successful installation, and if you manage to get all of them right, you should have, at the end of your endeavor, a working fish finder safely mounted on your kayak.
Grab the necessary tools and materials
Mounting a fish finder on your kayak requires a bit of work, but it’s not rocket science. You need the right tools and materials, and then you are good to go. Here are all you should have at hand.
For tools, make sure you have a power drill and the necessary bits for drilling holes. A screwdriver and wire stripper should not be amiss, either. Have a soldering iron nearby, and a hair dryer for the last touches, in case you don’t have a specialized heat gun.
Regarding materials, make sure you have the entire mounting kit needed for the fish finder you want to install. Keep the instructions delivered upon purchase next to you, as you will need them as you progress. Fitting, tubing, solder, electrical tape and zip ties should be on your list, too.
Installing the transducer
The first step involves mounting the transducer. Take the kayak and flip it over. During this stage, you need to identify an area that is very flat. It is highly recommended to install the transducer in such an area, and particularly in a stronger part of the hull so that it does not allow flexing, something that can lead to the transducer becoming loose.
Make sure to pass the wiring from the transducer through the scupper. Then screw the plate into the hull for maximum stability. Make use of the hardware delivered with the fish finder, and follow the instructions offered by the manufacturer.
Fitting the cable that comes from the transducer through the hull is a difficult portion of this step, but once you secure it in place, things will get easier. Bear in mind that this should go through the hatch under the seat area, as this is how the cable to reach the upper part of the kayak. When doing this, make sure to keep the kayak on one side for smooth operation.
Installing the display
Now that the transducer is in place, you will have to connect the display. First things first, make sure that you pick a good spot for the screen. It should be somewhere it is easy to read. When drilling holes to pass through all the wires, make sure that you don’t use bits larger than necessary. As long as you can push the plugs through with ease, there’s nothing more you need.
Create a grommet with the use of a rubber stopper. This will help keep your unit stable and also waterproof from below. Mounting the base of your unit onto this grommet should be easy, and you can push the grommet in its place with the use of a screwdriver. If you can, secure the base in place using nuts and bolts.
Installing the battery
Some degree of preparation is needed during this step. Connect all the power cables to the battery, and cut any excess. Unlike transducer cables that should not be cut as they may end up malfunctioning, you will need a more precise approach to installing the battery.
Once you have everything connected, it is the right time to ensure that all the connections will remain in place. Use the soldering iron and solder. This way, the links will be protected, and you won’t experience any malfunctions when you use the fish finder.
Attach the battery holder and screw everything in tightly. It is preferable that the fuse is protected inside the hull, and kept away from water, to avoid corrosion in the long run.
In the end, make sure to secure all the cables and wires in place with wire ties, and clean everything. This way, you will make sure that you did an excellent job, and your fish finder will work precisely as intended.
While some online marketplaces sell it for over one hundred dollars, trusted retailers such as Amazon often offer it for half the price. Unlike the models we’ve showcased above, this is a corded variety, as the transducer sensor has a 10-meter long cable. The transducer features a 45-degree beam angle. One of the net advantages of purchasing the Lemonbest model is that it can be utilized efficiently both for kayak and for ice fishing. Although the display is somewhat smaller compared to other units in the line, it’s has backlighting and is UV-resistant.
Most of the people who have purchased the Lemonbest portable model state that they’ve bought it specifically for kayak fishing. According to these individuals, it has performed wonderfully and has been able to accurately track the depth of the water. Other buyers claim this model makes fishing just too easy for them, which is the whole point of the Lemonbest.