The Best Fish Finders for Kayaks 2023
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!
Best Fish Finders for Kayaks
LowranceHOOK² 7 Fish Finder
GarminGarmin Striker 4 GPS Fish Finder Review
HumminbirdHELIX 5 Review
|Screen Size: N/A||Screen Size: 3.5||Screen Size: 5 inch||Screen Size: 5"||Screen Size: N/A|
|Resolution: N/A||Resolution: 480H x 320V||Resolution: 800x480||Resolution: 800x480||Resolution: N/A|
|Imaging: N/A||Imaging: N/A||Imaging: 350 ft. Down, 250 ft. Side||Imaging: N/A||Imaging: N/A|
|Max Depth: N/A||Max Depth: 750 feet ( 228 m ) in saltwater, 1,600 feet ( 487 m ) in fresh water||Max Depth: 1500 feet||Max Depth: 500 ft. CHIRP, 300 ft. DownScan||Max Depth: 330 ft.|
|Transducer: N/A||Transducer: 77/200 kHz CHIRP||Transducer: XNT 9 SI 180 T||Transducer: SplitShot and TripleShot||Transducer: N/A|
|Transmit Power: N/A||Transmit Power: 200 W (RMS)||Transmit Power: N/A||Transmit Power: N/A||Transmit Power: N/A|
|Frequency: N/A||Frequency: 2D Sonar: 200 kHz / 15° and 77 kHz / 45°||Frequency: Medium and High CHIRP 75/155 kHz + 130/250 kHz||Frequency: CHIRP 200 kHz, DownScan 455/800 kHz||Frequency: Three-Frequency CHIRP|
Garmin STRIKER 4
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.
Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI
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.
Lowrance HOOK² 5
Compared to previous HOOK units, the HOOK² 5 provides better user-friendly features, sonar capabilities, and GPS navigation. Access the menus easily with the unit’s keyboard, get crystal clear images, and a split-screen view that allows you to see up to three panels at a time. The DownScan option is a welcome addition that gives you a clear perspective of the fish below, and you get the Sonar Recording feature that enables you to record/review sonar logs whenever you please.
This unit comes with a chart plotter that allows you to set up to 100 different routes, 3000 waypoints, and 100 tracks. You also get a set of charts for over 3000 U.S. lakes, which is helpful when you’re kayaking around unfamiliar spots. While the GPS navigation isn’t very detailed, it is extremely accurate. This is the unit for you if you’re looking for a dependable and accurate fish finder.
Deeper CHIRP 2
If you’re looking for a fish finder that’s compact enough to fit in your kayak on your next fishing trip, look no further. The Deeper CHIRP 2 is chock-full of features that make it stand out from the rest. Instead of a display screen, anglers can use their mobile devices for viewing and scanning. The sonar capabilities allow versatility for different fishing conditions as its depth range and scan rate can be quite extensive. You can operate the unit through the Deeper app, which is more accessible than fidgeting with a display on another fish finder. The app offers excellent mapping features, GPS coordinates, accurate depth readings, and more.
This unit is made of durable materials that will withstand many different weather and water conditions. It’s also compact and easy to cast. You’ll get a battery life of roughly 5.5 hours, which is the perfect timeframe to be out on the kayak. Deeper continues to provide anglers with an outstanding addition to the smart sonar series.
Lowrance HOOK² 7
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.
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!
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.
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.
The Bottom Line
Fish finders 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.