Fish Finder Tech

Best Fish Finders for Kayaks 2024

Fishing from your kayak is a lot of fun. Finding fish finders that will work with your kayak?

That can be a bit of a chore.

That’s why we’re here. We’ve tested a wide variety of small, portable, and kayak-ready fish finders to compile a list of the best ones you’ll find this year. Our list was designed to serve anglers with kayaks of all different sizes. We also recommend fish finders based on your fishing preferences.

Once you’re done browsing our list of top fish finders for kayaks in 2022, you can read our tips and tricks on choosing the best fish finder for your kayak. You can also read our in-depth reviews for each fish finder if you’re having trouble choosing the perfect one.

But enough with the preliminaries! Onto the list!

Lowrance Elite FS 7 Lowrance HOOK² 7 Fish Finder Garmin Striker 4 GPS Fish Finder Humminbird HELIX 5 Garmin LiveScope Bundle LI
Garim LiveScope Bundle LI
Frequency: CHIRP 83/200/455/800kHz Frequency: CHIRP 200 kHz DownScan/SideScan 455/800 kHz Frequency: 2D Sonar: 200 kHz / 15° and 77 kHz / 45° Frequency: Medium and High CHIRP 75/155 kHz + 130/250 kHz Frequency: 70/83/200 kHz (Traditional CHIRP); 260/455/800/1000/1200 kHz (Imaging)
Transducer: Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transducer Transducer: N/A Transducer: 77/200 kHz CHIRP Transducer: XNT 9 SI 180 T Transducer: GT56UHD, LiveScope™ Plus LVS34-IF
Screen: 800x480, HD, backlit, 7” display Screen: 7″ - 800 x 480 HD SolarMax Screen: backlit, HVGA color Screen: N/A Screen: 7.8" x 4.8"; 9", 800 x 400 pixels
Imaging: 300 ft side, 300 ft down Imaging: 150 ft. down (800 kHz)/ 300 ft. down (455 kHz)100 ft. per side (800 kHz)/ 300Ft. per side (455 kHz) Imaging: N/A Imaging: 350 ft. Down, 250 ft. Side Imaging: Down: 400 ft; Side: 500 ft
GPS: Internal, high precision GPS: Internal, High-Precision GPS: Internal, High-precision GPS: Internal, High Precision GPS: N/A
Maps Included: C-MAP Contour+ Maps Included: None OR US Inland Lakes OR Maps Included: Not Available Maps Included: Humminbird Basemap Maps Included: Canada LakeVü G3 or U.S. LakeVü G3
Max Waypoints: 3000, 100 ,100 (10,000) Max Waypoints: N/A Max Waypoints: 5,000 Max Waypoints: 2500 Max Waypoints: 5000 waypoints, 100 routes, 50/50000 tracks/points
Memory Card Slots: 1 microSD (32 Gigs) Memory Card Slots: Micro SD Memory Card Slots: N/A Memory Card Slots: Micro SD Memory Card Slots: 1 microSD
Max Depth: N/A Max Depth: 500 ft. Max Depth: N/A Max Depth: N/A Max Depth: 800 ft
Transmit Power: N/A Transmit Power: N/A Transmit Power: 200 W (RMS) Transmit Power: N/A Transmit Power: N/A
Screen Size: N/A Screen Size: N/A Screen Size: 3.5 Screen Size: 5 inch Screen Size: N/A
Resolution: N/A Resolution: N/A Resolution: 480H x 320V Resolution: 800x480 Resolution: N/A
Best Price (Amazon) Best Price (Bass Pro) Best Price (Bass Pro) Best Price (Amazon) Best Price (Bass Pro) Best Price (Amazon) Best Price (Bass Pro) Best Price (Amazon) Best Price (Bass Pro)

Lowrance Elite FS 7

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The Lowrance Elite FS 7 fish finder offers great imaging capabilities and mapping right out of the box. It has a 7-inch high-definition display with backlighting and an intuitive touchscreen interface to easily navigate sonar, DownScan, SideScan, mapping, and more in split-screen views. The CHIRP sonar provides excellent target separation up to 1000ft deep. The unit comes preloaded with detailed C-Map Contour+ maps with 1-foot contours for over 15,000 US lakes. You can create custom maps and share them online as well.

Networking capabilities are robust with Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NMEA 2000 compatibility to connect to various accessories and equipment. The ActiveTarget compatibility essentially provides live sonar imaging to see fish and structure in real-time. While the imaging and included transducer may not be as powerful as Humminbird's Helix series, the Elite FS 7 still packs tons of features into an affordable package. With the customizable display, networking potential, mapping, and sonar/imaging capabilities, it's one of the top fish finders available for the price.

Full Review

Lowrance HOOK² 7

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Looking to make a big catch on your next kayak fishing adventure? The HOOK² 7 is here to maximize your experience. The lengthy display and easy-to-use interface controls make it easy to navigate while you’re out on the water, and the LED backlighting lets you see everything on screen when the sun is at its brightest.

The sonar on this device is where the HOOK² 7 truly shines. The CHIRP sonar transmits a modulated pulse of multiple frequencies that give you better image quality, improved fish target separation, and greater depth. You also get a wide variety of mapping options. The Trackback feature allows you to review your sonar history, get a better look at fishing spots, and place custom waypoints on maps. This unit is packed with essential features that every angler needs for a rewarding fishing trip.

Full Review

Garmin STRIKER 4 - Best Overall

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If you’re looking for a versatile fish finder, the Garmin STRIKER 4 is equipped with impressive CHIRP sonar and scanning capabilities that work in salt and freshwater. The quality images you can get on this device are astonishingly clear, even with a smaller screen. The 2D sonar may seem lackluster in its appearance, but it offers a lot of useful functions, such as A-Scope, UltraScroll, Flasher, Auto Gain, Split-Zoom, and Fish Symbol ID. The Fish Symbol ID is great for many reasons. It can process sonar returns in various ways and add different fish icons too. It can also show each depth of the targeted fish, which makes fishing on the kayak easier.

The GPS on this unit is remarkable as it gives accurate coordinates that allow you to mark waypoints to keep track of the best fishing spots. You can store up to five thousand different waypoints and use a variety of icons when marking. This is the unit for you if you’re looking for an affordable, compact, and durable fish finder made for kayak fishing.

Full Review

Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI - Best GPS

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Let’s start by saying that this is a solid choice if you’re looking for a fish finder that’s perfect for kayak fishing. This model is compact, lightweight, and easy to transport, which makes it a go-to choice for kayakers and small boat owners that need it to fit in tighter spaces. The display resolution is vibrant and crisp enough to give anglers a good view of their targets. The side/down imaging capabilities are a nice addition, and the CHIRP/DualBeam sonar provides clarity and high-resolution images. Astonishingly, this unit provides so much for less than $500.

One of the best features of this fish finder is SmartStrike. The HELIX 5’s GPS collects data needed for finding fishing spots where you are sure to make a catch. All you have to do is punch in the body of water, weather conditions, season, and the fish you’re looking for. The SmartStrike card will do the rest and pinpoint locations for you. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t want this affordable unit for your next kayak fishing trip.

Full Review

Garmin LiveScope Bundle LI

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The Garmin LiveScope Plus Ice Fishing Bundle combines an ECHOMAP fish finder, LiveScope sonar imaging, a lithium battery, mounts, and a portable ice fishing kit. The bundle utilizes the ECHOMAP UHD 95sv or 93sv models with excellent 9” displays, clear imaging, and intuitive interfaces. While the CHIRP sonar and ClearVu/SideVu imaging perform well, the real highlight is the LiveScope live sonar attachment. It essentially provides video-like, real-time imaging up to 200 feet around or beneath your position. This allows ice fishers to easily spot fish activity from afar to choose the best fishing location instead of drilling multiple holes.

The bundle also includes helpful accessories like a lightweight, cold-resistant carrying case, a swivel mount to secure the transducer, and a long-lasting lithium battery. While an expensive investment, the Garmin LiveScope Ice Fishing Bundle brings together an exceptional fish finder and live sonar imaging to create a versatile, high-performance package perfect for dedicated ice fishing enthusiasts. From spotting fish to navigating back to proven holes, it's hard to beat.

Full Review

Things to Consider

Find out things you should look for when buying a Fish Finder...

Choosing the Perfect Fish Finder for Your Kayak

There are two main things to consider when choosing a fish finder for your kayak: Your fishing style and the size of your kayak. Let’s go over each briefly to help you choose the right fish finder.

Consider your fishing preferences

No two anglers have the exact same preferences, which is why our list features a wide variety of different fish finders. To help you choose the perfect one for your needs, let’s consider two of the most common styles of kayak fishing: Shallow water fishing and structure fishing.

Before we dive into that, though, a brief note: Preferences vary more widely than we could ever capture here. You might have a preferred manufacturer. You might have preferred color schemes. We can’t account for all that - but you can. Keep your preferences in mind. There’s no objective best! 

Shallow fishing

Anglers who prefer fishing in shallow waters will benefit from using transducers that emit higher frequencies. Low frequencies are used to increase depth and range - qualities that are rarely useful in shallow water fishing. High frequencies, on the other hand, give you more accurate, easier-to-read returns. 

You’ll also want to choose a fish finder with high-quality noise rejection software. The basic idea is this - when you’re in shallow water, the signal from your sonar is going to be more prone to bouncing around, and that can mess up some of your readings. Choose the right model, and fish finders work in shallow water without a hitch.

We love chartplotters (fish finders with GPS), but we also know that shallow bodies of water are often small - coves, ponds, and the like. When you’re fishing smaller bodies of water, you may find that you don’t need a GPS on your fish finder.

Structure fishing

Some people just love getting into the weeds - including members of our team. And fish are like people - they love structure. When you’re structure fishing from your kayak, we highly recommend using a fish finder that has imaging capabilities. 

There are many advantages to imaging, but the primary advantage is the ability to see structure beneath and around your vessel. In traditional 2D sonar, you can get an idea of how hard the bottom is, but there’s no way to tell if there’s a boat, tires, or other structure around. Imaging gives you a much clearer picture - and that means you’ll be able to catch more fish. 

Mounting your fish finder

On a kayak, space is at a premium. You’ll need room for your fish finder, its mount, its battery (usually 12V), cables, and all of your other equipment - including your rods. There are no two ways about it - that’s a lot of stuff.

You may be fine using the gimbal mount that comes with most fish finders. You may need something custom-made. It all largely depends on one question:

How much do portable fish finders cost?

On most kayaks, you’ll be able to get away with a 5” display for your fish finder - some very large kayaks might even have room for a 7” display. As a rule, the bigger the display you can get, the better. That said, some kayaks may only have room for a sub-5” display - try not to go below 4” if you can avoid it.

What can you do if you’re really worried that there’s no room to mount your fish finder? Consider using a castable transducer! These fish finders pair with your phone, using it as a screen and control unit. That can save you a lot of room - and a lot of hassle! 

Who manufactured your kayak?

The ocean may be vast, but the number of marine product manufacturers is relatively small - and that means your kayak may have been made by someone who makes fish finders.

Johnson Outdoors, for example, owns Humminbird - they also own both Old Town and Ocean Kayak. As such, you’ll find that many Old Town and Ocean Kayak models have scuppers designed to hold Humminbird transducers.

While Johnson Outdoors is the most explicit example, you’ll find plenty of other kayaks on the market that have been engineered to fit the transducers from a particular brand of fish finder. Check the specs on your kayak to see if there’s a fish finder that pairs well with it.

Fish Finder vs Kayak Depth Finder

A depth finder, primarily displays the depth of the water. It also uses sonar that sends sound waves into the water and then measures the time it takes for them to bounce back from the bottom. They are generally simpler to operate but lack the features a fish finder has in regards to fish location, bottom structure etc...

The Bottom Line

Fish finders for canoes and kayaks are more compatible than you might have thought. Our top picks can help you improve your fishing game even in the smallest of kayaks, and we’ve got options for every style of fishing out there.

Fishing from a kayak is a thrilling experience. We hope this list helps you choose a fish finder that will make the experience even better. 

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