10 Best Fish Finders for Kayaks in 2021 – Reviewed & Buying Guide

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Fish finders are incredibly useful tools, especially if you are fishing in a new place. They will help you to identify the underwater structure, and eventually, find those sweet spots where fishes like to hide. This way, you can spend more time fishing than paddling. However, choosing the right device is a little tricky since there are so many options, with so many different features. 

But don’t worry, we’ve taken the time to create a comprehensive list of the 10 best fish finders for kayaks. Here you are bound to find a device that best suits your needs. So, let’s start.

Our Top 3 – Quick Comparison

Best Budget Option

LUCKY Portable Fish Finder

4.5/5
Best Overall

Garmin Striker 4 Portable Fish Finder

4.7/5
Best Premium Option

Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder

4.4/5

Our Reviews: The 10 Best Fish Finders for Kayaks in 2021

4.5/5

LUCKY Portable Fish Finder

Best Budget Option

  • Physical navigation buttons 
  • Maximum depth: 328 feet
  • 4x AAA batteries
  • Frequencies (kHz): 200
  • Cone angle: 45º

The LUCKY handheld fish finder is an ideal option for anglers on a tight budget. It does all the basics that you would expect on a fish finder. But nothing else. 

The color-less measures 2 inches diagonally. It shows the approximate depth of the fish or underwater debris. It lacks the detailed readings of much more expensive fish finders. But for the price, you can’t complain. 

It has five sensitivity modes; use one or the other depending on where you will be fishing. The LUCKY handheld portable lacks a base. Hence, you can’t fix it to the kayak. Nonetheless, it is small enough to carry around your neck. Beware, it doesn’t have an IPX7 rating. So, keep it clear of water splashes. 

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.7/5

Garmin Striker 4 Portable Fish Finder

Best Overall

  • Display: LCD 3.5 inches
  • IPX7
  • Maximum depth: 1600 feet on freshwater and 750 feet on saltwater
  • CHIRP sonar
  • In-built flasher

Anglers looking to get the best value out of their money will surely appreciate the Striker 4. First, it has a remarkably small footprint. Hence, it won’t take too much space on your deck. 

The Striker 4 features a CHIRP sonar. It works on three frequencies: 50, 77, and 200 kHz. The Clear Vu proprietary software enhances the sonar readings, yielding accurate and clear details. Plus, the 3.5 inches screen doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. 

Additionally, the Striker 4 comes with an in-built flasher and GPS. Like we said, a lot of value for your money.

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.4/5

Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder

Best Premium Option

  • Display: 5 inches
  • Physical navigation buttons 
  • Maximum depth: 300 feet
  • IPX7 rating
  • Preloaded maps 

The Hook Reveal is a legendary line of fish finders. They pack a lot of features that will satisfy even the most demanding of users. However, it doesn’t come cheap. 

The Hook Reveal 5 features a 5-inch LCD full-color display. You can adjust the brightness according to light exposure. The screen shows, with crispy clear detail, the underwater layout. Take advantage of the split shot capability to show more than one sonar reading. 

Anglers living in the US will surely love the Lowrance Hook Reveal 5. It has 4000 pre-loaded high-detail lake maps. You can also use the in-built GPS to create maps of your favorite fishing spots.  

The Hook Reveal 5 comes with a mounting-ready base. Hence, making things easier when fixing it to the kayak. 

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.2/5

HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder

  • Display: LCD 4 inches
  • Physical navigation buttons 
  • Maximum depth: 240 feet
  • In-built flasher
  • 4xAAA batteries
  • Cone angle: 14 and 26º

The Fishtrax 1C by HawkEye is one of the best kayak fish finders for under 200 dollars. It packs all the basic features, making it an ideal choice for beginners. It even has an automatic setup mode. By choosing it, the device will automatically set the depth range and operating mode. 

The 4 inches colores screen shows what’s beneath the water, including debris. It also shows the approximate depth of the fish as well as water temperature. All the readings are fairly accurate thanks to the dual-frequency sonar with dual-beam angles. 

The FishTrax 1C features an audible fish alarm that will warm you as soon as any fish is within range. 

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.4/5

Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar Fish Finder

  • On-screen navigation
  • Maximum depth: 260 feet
  • In-built GPS 
  • Cone angle: 15 and 55º

Getting a bulky fish finder is something that you need to avoid when kayak fishing. Here, portability is the most important feature. Thankfully, the Deeper PRO+ takes as much space on deck as your phone!

The Deeper PRO+ is a wireless castable sonar. It connects to your phone or tablet via WiFi. Therefore, the screen of your smartphone acts as the screen of any other fish finder. The readings are very accurate, thanks to the dual-frequency and dual-beam sonar.

Additionally, the Deeper PRO+ in-built GPS allows you to store waypoints and maps of your favorite fishing spots. You can check all the data later as everything gets backed up in the cloud.

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.6/5

Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4 Fish Finder

  • Display: 4.3 inches
  • Physical navigation buttons 
  • Maximum depth: 600 feet
  • IPX7 rating

The PIRANHAMAX 4 is another good option especially if you liked the Striker 4. It is slightly more expensive and packs a 4.3 inches color LCD screen.  

The amount of detail is incredible. You will be able to check the approximate depth and fish size. It also shows, with fairly good accuracy, the underwater structure. Thus, you will be able to identify rocks, weeds, and even fallen trees. 

The dual-frequency sonar shows everything up to 600 feet beneath the surface. Additionally, the device features an IPX7 rating, which makes it perfect for kayak fishing. It also comes with a mount-ready base, so you can secure the fish finder directly into your kayak.

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.5/5

Garmin Striker Plus 5CV Fish Finder

  • Display: 5 inches
  • Physical navigation buttons 
  • Maximum depth: 1600 feet
  • IPX7 rating
  • In-built GPS 

Garmin offers some of the best fish finders. They have a product to fit all necessities and budgets. This time, we will talk about the Striker Plus 5cv. 

First of all, this is a premium fish finder. It has a 5-inch LCD screen. You can adjust the brightness to your liking. Like the previous model, this one is also able to display different readings at the same time. The CHIRP sonar with Clear Vu software yields a detailed screening of the water. 

Like all Garmin fish finders, the Striker Plus 5CV comes with GPS. Plus, the Quickdraw software allows you to draw maps of your favorite lakes and rivers. You can also save any spot you find for the latter. Check all your favorite places from the comfort of your home through the ActiveCaptain app. 

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.5/5

Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder

  • Display: Depends on your phone
  • Maximum depth: 240 feet
  • Frequencies (kHz): 83 and 200

The SP200 T-Box is a little different from what we’ve seen thus far. It is a small box that you need to attach to the kayak’s hull. Then, connect the sonar with your phone or tablet via a WiFi signal. 

You can connect as many devices as you want. All that you need to do is download and install the app. It is available for both Android and iOS users. Once you pair both devices, you’ll get real-time sonar readings on your phone. Water temperature, approximate depth, fish icons, noise rejection, audible alarms, and shallow indicators are some of the features that you can enjoy. 

Although it is not a budget option, it is a great choice for those anglers looking for a hull-mounted fish finder. There is a catch, though. You need a 12 V power supply. You won’t be able to use the sonar otherwise. 

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.3/5

Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder

  • Display: 2.6 inches
  • Physical navigation buttons 
  • Maximum depth: 135 feet
  • Frequencies (kHz): 125 

Another castable sonar. This time, this fish finder comes with a receiver. It features a 2.6 inches display. The screen supports two background modes: White and black. 

Like most budget kayak fish finders, the Venterior only displays the water temperature, approximate depth of fish, and a layout of the underwater structure. Nevertheless, this is enough info for the average angler. 

The Venterior comes with a neck-strap since you can’t fix it to the kayak. But worry not. The receiver won’t get in your way. 

The Good
The Not-So-Good
4.5/5

NRS cVest Mesh Back PFD

  • Display: 5 inches
  • Physical navigation buttons 
  • Maximum depth: 1500 feet
  • CHIRP sonar
  • In-built GPS 
  • Micro SD

The Helix 5 fish finder comes with a mount-ready base. It features a full-color, 5-inch screen. For less than 300 bucks, the Helix 5 offers great value for your money.

It has a CHIRP dual-beam sonar, which means that all readings are more accurate than regular sonars. Plus, Humminbird packed this device with a handful of useful software. For instance, lakemaster will be your best friend when fishing in unknown waters. The Autochart and GPS combo allow you to draw maps and save your favorite locations.

But wait, there is more. The Helix 5 features Humminbird’s SmartStrike software. By simply entering some data, the fish finder will show you where you should cast your lure based on the fish you are after. It is like having a personal assistant inside the kayak.

The Good
The Not-So-Good

Best Fish Finder for Kayak Under $100: Venterior Portable

If you are on a tight budget, we highly recommend going for the Venterior portable fish finder. The receiver is small enough to wear around the neck. Additionally, you won’t need to worry about how to fix the sonar to the hull since it is castable. Its colored screen is another advantage compared with the fish finder from LUCKY. Sure, both displays are small, but having some color and the ability to change backgrounds helps with contrast. Plus, the Venterior shows, with more detail, what’s beneath your kayak. 

Best Fish Finder for Kayak Under $200: Garmin Striker 4 

There is no question about who’s the winner here. The Garmin Striker 4 is the best fish finder for kayak under $200 that you can find. It is smaller than its contender, the PIRANHAMAX 4. But we don’t think this is a problem, unless you like a larger screen, of course. 

Additionally, you get the same exact features but for 20 bucks less. Furthermore, the Striker 4 sonar waves reach deeper and give you more detail than its main competitor. On top of that, you get an in-built GPS. 

When compared with Vexilar’s T-Box, the Striker 4 is the clear winner as well. First, no need for piercing the hull to fix the sonar. Plus, you don’t need a smartphone to get it working. All of these for 50 bucks less! 

Choosing the Best Fish Finder for Kayak: Things to Consider

There is a fish finder suitable for any budget range. You can get one for less than 100 bucks. But you can also pay up to 300 dollars for a premium device. It all comes down to what your needs are.

Here we will shed some light on how fish finders work. We will also take some time to review some features so you can choose whether you need them or not. 

Fish Finder Display

Regardless of how much you are willing to invest, getting a good display is crucial. So, get the biggest and best screen that your budget allows. 

A large screen with a high resolution allows you to see clearly the sonar output. Remember that resolution refers to the number of pixels. More pixels means higher resolution. 

Black Vs White

Most affordable fish finders feature a black and white display. While it gets the job done, the lack of contrasts can be a dealbreaker for some. Additionally, color displays usually use colors to identify a body or object. Hence, making the identification process easier. 

Adjustable Brightness

Not all fish finders enable you to set the brightness level. Unfortunately, the odds are that you won’t be able to see the screen on sunny days, especially if the maximum brightness is low. 

Water Protection

Surprisingly as it might sound, not all fish finders for kayak come with IPX7 water protection. While it is not mandatory to get such a device, it is highly recommended. Fishing, especially from a kayak, often means getting wet. With an IPX7 rating, you can rest assured that your investment is safe. 

A protective case will do the trick if you can’t afford a fish finder with IPX7 protection. 

GPS Capabilities

Having a fish finder with an in-built GPS is an advantage when fishing from a kayak. This way, you can save those sweet spots full of fishes. 

In addition, some high-end fish finders allow you to draw, download and share your maps. Besides, having a GPS around always helps with navigation, especially in unknown areas. 

Nevertheless, buying a fish finder with GPS is not mandatory. But if your wallet can cope with the added price, you should get it. 

Portable or Fixed Fish Finders

All fish finders are either portable or fixed. Understanding by portable those gadgets that you have on you. These are ideal for anglers who don’t own a kayak. Also, portable fish finders are typically cheaper. 

On the other hand, fixed fish finders are more suitable for those anglers who do own a kayak. Fixed finders are usually bigger with 5 or 7-inch displays. Plus, they pack a lot of extra features that will make your fishing easier. 

Besides the price, piercing the hull is a major drawback of fixed fish finders. You can damage your kayak in the process. So, we highly recommend using aftermarket bars to fix the transducer if you are unsure about practicing holes in the hull.

Fish Finder Frequency

Frequency is, arguably, one of the most relevant features in a fish finder. Detail and range both have a close relationship with frequency.

Most fish finders work between the range of 50 to 200 kHz. Those sitting on the higher side produce more waves. Thus, yielding more detailed images. However, high-frequency fish finders consume more power. Plus, waves won’t reach extreme depths. 

On the other hand, low-frequency fish finders produce fewer waves. But they can travel farther and use less power. The lack of detail is the main drawback of low-frequencies fish finders. 

Buying a fish finder with more than one frequency is a wise move. This way, the waves will travel farther and produce a decent degree of detail. Still, these gadgets are typically more expensive

Fish Finder Cone Angle

Although not many people pay attention to the cone angle, it has a direct impact on the maximum depth. For instance, narrow angles increase the wave travel distance. In contrast, broad cones are more suitable for covering large areas. 

Most suppliers often mix frequencies with cone angles to enhance some features. For example, a high-frequency sonar with a narrow angler helps the waves to travel farther without compromising detail. 

Power Consumption 

Most high-end fish finders feature large screens and certain features that consume a lot of power. On some occasions, they even need an external power source. Smaller devices inherently need less power. Some are even powered by AAA batteries that you can find almost anywhere. 

Needless to say, a big fish finder using an external power supply takes more space. Therefore, make sure that you have room to spare on your deck before making any decision. 

Side or Down Imaging

As the name suggests, side imaging kayak fish finders scan the sides of the boat. Hence, providing you with a layout of the water structure at either side of the craft. 

In contrast, down imaging fish finders only scan what is directly below the transducer. Naturally, this type is more suitable when fishing in the depths. 

FAQs

How Does a Fish Finder Work?

A fish finder works like any other sonar around. The devices produce a burst of sound waves which then return to the sonar upon bouncing on an object. 

Depending on the time it takes the waves to bounce back and return to the fish finder, the device will provide you with a depth estimate. Additionally, it will assign an icon according to the object’s size.

What is a CHIRP Sonar? 

CHIRP stands for compresses high-intensity radiated pulse. In simple words, a CHIRP sonar produces a high-intensity pulse of varying frequency. The result is a deeper and more precise scanning.

Make sure to read the specs sheet as not all dual-frequency fish finders support CHIRP. 

Side or Down Imaging

As the name suggests, side imaging kayak fish finders scan the sides of the boat. Hence, providing you with a layout of the water structure at either side of the craft. 

In contrast, down imaging fish finders only scan what is directly below the transducer. Naturally, this type is more suitable when fishing in the depths.  Some high-end models support both types of scanning. The main advantage is that you can draw your own maps when fishing on unknown waters. 

Does Side Imaging Work on a Kayak?

In short, yes, it works. As long as you are moving, side imaging scanning helps you identify what’s on either side of the kayak. For example, you can see if there is any structure where fish could be hiding. Naturally, once you find a spot, side imaging is no longer useful. So, change to down imaging to scan the area.

How to Mount a Fish Finder on a Kayak? 

It depends on the unit and the kayak you have. For example, if you have a narrow craft with a paddle, it will be better to fix the fish finder right in front of you. This way, it won’t get in your way as you oar. 

Conversely, it is better to fix the fish finder on either side of the craft. You can use aftermarket rails for this purpose. Now, there is no need of using either method if you have a portable fish finder. You simply need to fix a neck strap to it, and that’s all. 

Another thing that you should consider is the size of the fish finder. Typically large ones need an external power source. Therefore, you should plan where and how you will accommodate it. 

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Hi! I’m Steven!

I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started luremefish.com to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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