Which fish finders for kayaks are best?

Fishing from a kayak can be relaxing and exhilarating at the same time. But it will quickly become frustrating if you don’t manage to catch anything. Snagging a big one can sometimes come down to luck but having the right gear will help tremendously.

Your kayak and fishing rod are essential, but they can’t tell you where the fish are. For that, you’re going to need a fish finder. The Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder is an excellent choice for fishing by yourself or taking to the water in a kayak.

What to know before you buy a fish finder for kayaks

Fixed vs. portable fish finders

On a kayak, there isn’t much room to move around, so you need to be able to see the finder’s screen most of the time. Visibility comes down to where you place the finder, and for that, there are different kinds that you need to consider.

  • Fixed fish finders are precisely as the name implies. They are fitted permanently to your kayak but can be removed with some tools.
  • Portable fish finders can go wherever and are usually kept in place with a suction cup. 

The power source for a fish finder

Anything electronic needs a power source, and fish finders are no different. Consider the size of your kayak and whether you have enough space onboard for a small battery. Regular fish finders can connect directly to a trolling motor battery or the cigarette lighter on the boat’s dashboard. But since a kayak doesn’t have those, you’ll need to look for a unit that has rechargeable batteries or is solar-powered.

Sonar options

Fish finders work by scanning the surrounding water through different kinds of sonar.

Downscan: The most common kind, it focuses the sonar pulses downward into the water and is best used for deep rivers or lakes.

Sidescanning: This searches for aquatic life at an angle and is best for shallower water.

CHIRP: Some devices use the newer form of sidescanning called Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse.

What to look for in a quality fish finder for kayaks

A high-quality display

It would stand to reason that if you need to look at a screen to see where the fish is, the screen must be of good quality. There are different kinds of screens for fish finders, with affordable models having the least clarity or brightness. Look for a good-quality fish finder with at least a 5-inch color screen.

Weatherproof for all conditions

Fishing from a kayak can be challenging, and your gear must keep up. Being so close to the water, it would seem obvious that your fish finder must be waterproof. But there are other elements that many don’t consider. A good-quality fish finder not only can withstand a dunking but won’t be damaged by extreme sun exposure, dirt, mud, and everything else that goes with it. In addition, the electrical cables must be corrosion resistant.

The cone angle for better searching

All fish finders have a transducer that sends out and receives the sonar waves. The standard cone angle is 20 degrees, but some finders have angles as wide as 60 degrees, which, naturally, scan more fish. Not all transducers are the same, either — some attach to your fishing line, some hang off the side of the kayak, and others can scan through the boat’s hull.

How much you can expect to spend on a fish finder for kayaks

The average price of a kayak fish finder depends on its functions. Entry-level or portable finders sell for $40-$100. Fully-featured or more complex units retail for $200-$400. 

Fish finder for kayaks FAQ

How do you read the fish finder’s screen?

A. It can be challenging to figure out what’s going on, but if you have a sidescanning finder, the scene is displayed from right to left as you’re moving. The latest data from the sonar will be on the far right. For downscanners, you will be looking at the scene from above.

What do the frequencies represent on fish finders?

A. The frequency of a fish finder relates to the sonar and is measured in kilohertz. The higher the frequency, the better it will work in shallow water. Conversely, a finder with a low frequency is best for deeper lakes or rivers.

What’s the best fish finder for kayaks to buy?

Top fish finder for kayaks

Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder

Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder

What you need to know: This fish finder is made specifically for kayaking and comes with maps of over 4,000 U.S. lakes.  

What you’ll love: It has large buttons designed to be pressed with a rod tip or paddle, making it easy to navigate through the settings and menus. Its 5-inch waterproof color screen is sufficient to see from the kayak’s seat. In addition, the device has a basic GPS plotter, CHIRP and downscan sonar, which can auto-tune based on the water and bottom conditions.

What you should consider: It is a bit more expensive than other fish finders, but the ease of use and features make it worth it. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top fish finder for kayaks for the money

Venterior Portable Fish Finder

Venterior Portable Fish Finder

What you need to know: Perfect for hanging off the side, this fish finder works even if your kayak is moving.

What you’ll love: With a colorful 2-inch screen and minimal buttons, this fish finder is perfect for the budget kayaker. It has a 1.8-inch round transducer with a cone angle of 45 degrees and can scan a depth of 3 to 328 feet from the included 25-foot cable. The finder is powered by four AAA batteries and lasts about four hours.

What you should consider: The display might be a bit too rudimentary for serious anglers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Humminbird 410230-1 Helix 5

Humminbird 410230-1 Helix 5

What you need to know: The 5-inch color display makes reading the screen a breeze, while the buttons are large enough to press without struggling.

What you’ll love: This finder uses a CHIRP dual beam sonar that produces side and down imaging. It has a built-in base map using freshwater data from LakeMaster and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In addition, it has a memory card slot and a built-in GPS location tracker.

What you should consider: While it is waterproof, it doesn’t come with a screen protector to prevent scratches.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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