Relying on your senses alone will only take you so far as a kayak angler. In our day and age, there’s no reason not to use technology to your benefit to help you find, and increase your odds of catching, fish.
There are a lot of must-have kayak fishing accessories that can help you be more successful on the water. But a quality fish finder is definitely going to help you address the biggest conundrum that has vexed fishermen for centuries: locating fish!
The problem with choosing a fish finder for your kayak is that there are almost too many high-tech models on the market these days and some of them may even come at a price that’s higher than what you initially paid for your kayak.
So that’s why we’ve taken the time today to compile a comprehensive list of the 10 best fish finders for kayaks.
We’ll also highlight some of the most important factors to consider when you’re trying to settle on the right fish finder for your specific needs.
- Buying Guide
Kayak Fish Finder Reviews
- 1. Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 93sv
- 2. Lowrance HDS-7 LIVE
- 3. Garmin Striker 4
- 4. Lowrance HOOK2 4X
- 5. Lucky Handheld Fish Finder
- 6. Humminbird ICE H5 Helix 5 Chirp G2
- 7. ReelSonar iBOBBER Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder
- 8. HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder
- 9. Garmin Striker Plus 5cv
- 10. Garmin ECHOMAP Chirp 74cv
- Our Pick – Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 93sv
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Some of the fish finders we’ve chosen to review below have a lot of fancy bells and whistles. But in this buying guide, we’re going to cover the basic factors that are going to impact how you use your fish finder every time you head out on your kayak.
The size of the screen is one of the first and most important major specifications you should look at when you’re trying to choose a fish finder.
As you might imagine, a large screen will give you the ability to see the images better without getting super close or squinting to see it from a distance.
That being said, one feature that all fish finders should have (in our opinion) is an adjustable backlight that allows you to change the display brightness depending on the conditions in the environment around you.
If you’re fishing at dusk or under the cover of darkness, for example, you won’t want a super bright screen because it will obscure your night vision and hinder your ability to see objects around you.
But if you’re fishing during the brightest part of the day, you’re going to need a bright, backlit screen that you can still see even when the sun is shining directly on it. So make sure you find a fish finder with adjustable screen brightness.
Also, remember that choosing a fish finder with a large screen is always going to mean choosing a large model in general.
So if you don’t have a ton of extra space on your kayak, it might make sense to compromise for a more compact model with a slightly smaller screen size.
Many of the most sophisticated fish finders on the market these days feature touchscreen navigation. While many of us are used to that with our modern smartphones these days, not all kayak anglers will prefer touchscreen navigation.
The alternative is the more traditional push-button navigation that was more common to cell phones and GPS devices about 15 years ago. Some kayak anglers prefer this method of navigation because it can be used even if your fingers are wet or slimy.
While a touchscreen sounds fancy (and while it may work for some anglers), it does increase the possibility of you getting dirt, oils, and other debris on the screen.
And when you’re relying on the screen to help you find fish, you’re probably going to want to keep it as clean and clear as possible.
Also, just consider how dirty, bloody, and oily your hands and fingers might get while kayak fishing. When you catch and have to clean a fish, you may not want to be rubbing that stuff all over your fish finder’s screen to start your next phase of fish finding or route navigation.
The method with which you’ll mount your fish finder to your kayak is also important to consider when you’re comparing and contrasting different fish finder models. Some are designed to be permanently mounted on the stern, bow, or gunwales of your kayak.
Others are designed to be trolled behind or floated next to your kayak when you’re fishing from a stationary location. And still, others are handheld units that can be set in the cockpit of your kayak or hung around your neck when you’re not actively looking at them.
The best fish finders for kayaking give you multiple options for mounting, trolling, or floating them behind your kayak. Ultimately, the method that suits your kayak fishing style best is going to depend on where and how you regularly fish.
For example, a permanently mounted fish finder can be convenient because you don’t have to remember it every time you leave your house. As long as you make sure you have your kayak, you’ll be guaranteed to also have your fish finder.
But that also means you’ll need to consider protecting your fish finder from damage when you’re transporting your kayak.
So if you regularly travel long distances to fish with your kayak, a temporary mount or handheld fish finder might make more sense for you.
Kayak Fish Finder Reviews
The Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 93sv offers a nine-inch touchscreen display and it gets bright enough to remain readable in direct sunlight.
This feature is super important because some fish finder screens just don’t get bright enough for you to continue to read them when fishing in the hottest hours of the day.
The GT54 transducer in this model provides clearer images than many other models and it also features a keyed-assist screen in case you prefer to navigate with keys instead of using the touchscreen.
Garmin’s traditional high wide CHIRP pairs with their high-definition SideVÃ¼ scanning sonars to give you a better picture of the waters underneath your kayak. It also comes pre-loaded with LakeVÃ¼ GS inland maps with integrated Navionics data.
These give you topographic images of the lake depth below you on up to 17,000 lakes with one-foot contours. It also gives you the ability to create your own personalized fishing maps and keep your favorite secret spots to yourself or share them with the Garmin Connect Quickdraw Community.
The Lowrance HDs-7 LIVE is a super high-end fish finder with active imaging, a three-in-one transducer, and a seven-inch display screen. It also seamlessly integrates with most smartphones so you can change the settings remotely.
In terms of high-tech, this model boasts a dual-core processor that provides faster redraws and quicker response times. This fish finder also has a color sonar that provides higher visibility contrast and near-photographic images.
It also comes with dual-channel Chirp Sonar that allows you to view two CHIRP channels at the same time.
This helps you avoid missing targets and provides increased target separation close to the bottom or in tight schools of fish.
The HDS-7 LIVE also gives you easier routing with automatic route planning that auto-plots to give you the shortest and safest route possible. So not only does this fish finder help you find your catch, it will also help you avoid fixed hazards while you’re on the water.
The Garmin Striker 4 is a great fish finder for ice fishing or vertical jigging off the side of your kayak because it includes a built-in flasher that gives you the ability to view all sonar data in the classic flasher format.
This fish finder offers a 3.5-inch display screen and it’s equipped with a CHIRP traditional transducer. That allows you to display fish imagery at depths up to 1,600 feet in freshwater and up to 750 feet in saltwater.
The keyed interface on the front of the fish finder keeps things simple with dedicated buttons for the controls. And the waypoint map gives you the ability to view, mark, and navigate to a variety of on-water or shoreline locations.
The Striker 4 also boasts an IPX7 waterproof rating and its high-frequently sonar provides near-photographic images. So you’ll be able to much more clearly see the fish finder’s detailed images of fish, structures, and other underwater objects.
The Lowrance HOOK2 4X fish finder has a compact, four-inch display screen that has a phone-like menu for simple functionality.
The great part about choosing a fish finder that operates in a similar fashion to your phone is that it allows you to spend more time fishing and less time adjusting your fish finder.
This model also includes a bullet skimmer transducer that displays more traditional, two-dimensional sonar views. This is also sometimes called ”˜fish arches’, which you’ll need to be comfortable deciphering if you go with this fish finder.
But it does include wider sonar coverage than select other models. It has a wide-angle sonar cone that doubles the amount of coverage you’ll find on most traditional fish finders and it has a single transducer that can be mounted in various areas of your kayak.
The transducer can mount through a scupper hole, on the transom, on a trolling motor, or inside the hull of your kayak.
The HOOK2 also includes built-in mapping that helps you find water depths and other important fishing information much more easily.
5. Lucky Handheld Fish Finder
The Lucky Handheld Fish Finder is one of the most affordable models on our list, which makes it a great choice for beginners or anglers who have already spent a lot to outfit one of the best fishing kayaks with all their essential gear.
It comes with a removable transducer float and 25 feet of connecting cable so that you can attach the transducer almost anywhere on your kayak.
And while it’s marketed as a handheld model, you can also hang the fish finder around your neck so that you have your hands free for fishing.
This fish finder can detect water depths from three feet up to 328 feet and you’ll be able to display the depth in feet or meters depending on your preference.
It also provides information on approximate fish location, the existence of short and tall weeds, and any sand, rocks, or other fixed hazards on the bottom.
The Lucky fish finder works well for offshore fishing, ice fishing, lake and sea fishing, and, of course, kayak fishing.
It also has a bright backlight to help you see the display screen in the middle of the day and it allows you to set alarms to give you an audible notification when it detects a single fish or a school.
This fish finder from Humminbird features a five-inch display screen and displays color images at a resolution of 800H x 480V. It also comes enclosed in a protective case that keeps it secure when you’re transporting your kayak.
Instead of including a traditional flasher, the H5 features an upgraded flasher that provides a clearer picture of what’s below the surface of the water.
It comes with a dual spectrum CHIRP ICE transducer, but you’ll also have the option of upgrading for better kayak fishing.
This model also comes with a shuttle mount and all the hardware you need to install it right onto your kayak.
This allows you to permanently fix the fish finder to your kayak so that you don’t have to worry about remembering it every time you leave the house.
The Helix H5 package also includes a nine amp-hour battery and charger to keep it running for hours at a time. It also features interference rejection settings to minimize the likelihood of other fish finders nearby interfering with your signal and the accuracy of your images.
7. ReelSonar iBOBBER Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder
The ReelSonar iBOBBER is a cool contraption for the minimalist kayak angler.
Instead of attaching a more bulky fish finder with a large display to your kayak, you’ll be able to integrate this small bobber with your smartphone for clear images of what’s in the water under your kayak.
The iBOBBER works with both iOS and Android devices and it includes a rechargeable battery with a battery status indicator light that helps you recognize when the battery getting low. On a full charge, it offers more than ten hours of battery life.
This fish finder is rated to provide accurate sonar readings down to water depths of 135 feet and it includes an LED beacon on the bobber that helps you keep track of it if you’re even kayaking at night.
The iBOBBER attaches to your kayak via a short fishing line and (just like a fishing bobber) trails behind you as it collects data. The cool part is that it will stay connected to your smartphone even if you’re up to 100 feet away from the bobber.
This fish finder provides an abundant amount of information on the water conditions in your area. That includes structured contour mapping, GPS spot tagging, temperature, likelihood of rain, wind speed, and barometric pressure.
Like the Lucky, the HawkEye Fishtrax 1C is another compact, handheld fish finder and this one has a 2.75-inch display screen. It features simple push-button operation and the screen includes an LED backlight for glare-free viewing and improved readability.
The integrated sonar in this fish finder provides accurate readings to depths up to 240 feet. And the sonar sensor that it comes with can be mounted directly to your kayak, trolled behind you, or simply floated alongside when you’re fishing from a more stationary position.
In addition to FishArc and FishID indicators, it also provides HD landscape imaging to help you avoid fixed hazards on the bottom of the lake, river, or coastal waterway you’re fishing on. It’s programmed with a specific algorithm that’s designed to minimize false sonar readings.
Another cool feature of the Fishtrax is that you are able to set audible alarms that will alert you when the fish finder detects fish movement below your kayak.
This allows you to focus on reading other environmental signs in the water around you instead of having to stare at the fish finder screen all day.
The Garmin Striker Plus 5cv features a five-inch display screen and includes both CHIRP traditional and ClearVÃ¼ scanning sonars. This combination provides clearer and more complete images of the bottom and fish arches underneath your kayak.
It features built-in mapping software that’s synced up with Garmin Quickdraw Contours for superior map storage. In fact, you’ll be able to save maps for areas up to two million acres with one-foot contours on this fish finder.
In addition to its fish-finding capabilities, this model also features an integrated Garmin GPS system.
This provides the ability to create waypoints, mark fishing locations that you want to return to, and track the speed of your kayak for more accurate long-distance route planning.
The Striker Plus 5cv also includes a bright, backlit display screen and the navigation interface is extremely user-friendly. With an 800 x 480 pixel resolution, you won’t be squinting to see the images being displayed on this fish finder.
The Garmin ECHOMAP Chirp 74cv is a slightly more affordable version of the ECHOMAP 93sv. It may not have the crisp and clear images that the 93sv boasts, but it’s still one of the best and most functional fish finders on the market.
It’s also a great solution for ocean kayak anglers because it’s equipped with preloaded BlueChart G2 charts for the entire coastal United States. It also has chirp sonar, which creates crisper fish arches with improved target separation.
The chirp sonar on this model works by sending a continuous sweep of frequencies in order to obtain a wider range of information. And the clear scanning sonar also shows you more of what’s in the water around your kayak than many other models.
The Chirp 74cv is also slightly smaller than the 93sv, but it still has a bright, seven-inch LCD touchscreen display. It also features keyed-assist in case you don’t want to use the touchscreen functionality all the time.
Our Pick – Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 93sv
Sure, you’ll find cheaper fish finders out there, but they won’t offer nearly the functionality or clarity that the ECHOMAP provides.
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll also find more expensive fish finders that, quite frankly, don’t offer as much bang for your buck as the ECHOMAP UHD 93sv. So, while it’s not cheap, this is a fish finder that’s designed to perform and to last for years of kayak fishing.
In addition to this fish finder’s built-in sonar capabilities, you’ll also be able to upgrade because of its compatibility with Panoptix all-seeing sonar. This provides upgrade capability without having to purchase an entirely new fish finder.
We really like that capability because we know that you’ll probably want more functionality as you gain more knowledge of kayak fishing.
So the ability to upgrade without making another huge investment is important when you’re choosing a quality fish finder.
Finally, we chose the ECHOMAP UHD 93sv because it has some pretty neat sonar sharing capabilities. So you can easily share information with other kayak anglers who are using ECHOMAP Plus, ECHOMAP UHD, and ECHOMAP Ultra fish finders.