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Home » Best Kayak Fish Finders: Buyers’ Guide

Best Kayak Fish Finders: Buyers’ Guide

If you’re an angler like me who loves to kayak, having the right gear can improve your fishing experience. One piece of equipment that has become essential for many kayak fishermen is a kayak fish finder. A fish finder, also known as a depth finder, helps locate fish and structure below the surface of the water so you know the best spots to drop your line.

Kayak fish finders come in a variety of styles to suit different needs and budgets. The most common are portable fish finders that you can easily mount to your kayak when fishing and remove when transporting or storing your kayak. Portable finders typically have a small display, transducer, and rechargeable battery all in one unit. These are very convenient but may have limited features. If you want a larger display and more advanced sonar, you can get a finder where the display and transducer are separate, allowing you to mount the display near your seat and the transducer in the water.

After trying out different options, I found some great kayak fish finders that have made my time on the water even more enjoyable and productive. In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about kayak fish finders so you can decide if one is right for you.

1. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5 Fish Finder

1. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5 Fish Finder

The Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5 fish finder features a 5-inch SolarMAX display with 800×480 resolution, providing crisp clarity and visibility even in bright sunlight. The innovative FishReveal combines CHIRP sonar and DownScan Imaging to clearly identify fish targets and surrounding structures with photorealistic details.

Moreover, the built-in SplitShot transducer enables anglers to view wide-angle CHIRP sonar and high-resolution DownScan images simultaneously below the boat. It provides versatile scanning with 83/200 kHz sonar coverage to a depth of 1,000 feet and 455/800 kHz DownScan to 300 feet. Also, autotuning sonar automatically adjusts settings to optimize images as conditions change, allowing anglers to spend more time fishing.

  • FishReveal and SplitShot transducer provide high-resolution sonar and DownScan images to clearly detect fish and structures.
  • 5-inch SolarMAX display offers excellent visibility in sunlight.
  • C-MAP US inland maps cover nearly 4,000 lakes for rapid navigation.  
  • Autotuning sonar automatically adjusts settings for optimized images.
  • Sonar only reaches 1,000 ft max, limiting deep water use.

2. Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv Fish Finder

2. Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv Fish Finder

The Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv fish finder offers a vibrant 7-inch 800×480 pixel display with a redesigned user interface and captivating HD-IDTM target tracking technology to clearly differentiate fish and suspended targets . Besides, it supports traditional Garmin CHIRP sonar as well as CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars with a compatible transducer to provide near-photographic images below and to the sides of the boat.  

With an ultra-sensitive internal GPS receiver, the Striker 7sv fish finder allows marking of waypoints, creating routes, and monitoring the boat’s speed. Additionally, the built-in Quickdraw Contours mapping feature instantly creates personalized HD fishing maps on-screen with up to 1-foot contour lines.

  • Vivid 7-inch display with HD-IDTM technology for clear fish and structure identification.
  • CHIRP traditional, ClearVü and SideVü sonars supported with compatible transducer.
  • Ultra-sensitive GPS for waypoint marking, route creation and speed monitoring.
  • Quickdraw Contours instantaneously maps water depth contours.
  • No pre-loaded maps; GPS plotting and sonar are dependent on the presence of a transducer.

3. Lowrance Elite FS 7 Fish Finder

3. Lowrance Elite FS 7 Fish Finder

The Lowrance Elite FS 7 Fish Finder features a 7-inch multi-touch display with CHIRP sonar, DownScan and SideScan imaging allowing anglers to view fish and structure with lifelike detail. Also, it offers integrated wireless, NMEA 2000 and Ethernet connectivity enabling users to build a complete marine electronics system and network multiple displays. Preloaded with C-MAP Contour+ cartography provides 1-foot contours and high-resolution mapping for over 15,000 lakes in the U.S. and 9,400 lakes in Canada.  Furthermore, with ActiveTarget Live sonar and FishReveal capabilities, anglers can observe fish responding to lures in real-time for an interactive fishing experience.

  • Versatile 3-in-1 sonar with CHIRP, SideScan and DownScan provides detailed imaging.
  • Preloaded C-MAP Contour+ cartography provides excellent coverage and mapping.
  • ActiveTarget Live sonar allows viewing of fish reacting to lures in real-time.
  • Mapping coverage limited to U.S. and Canada.

4. Garmin Striker Vivid 9sv Fish Finder

4. Garmin Striker Vivid 9sv Fish Finder

The Garmin Striker Vivid 9sv Fish Finder is an straightforward 9-inch color fish finder that provides vivid scanning sonar imaging to clearly identify fish and structures below. It supports Garmin’s proven CHIRP traditional sonar as well as CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars for near-photographic representations. Moreover, its high-sensitivity GPS allows anglers to mark specific waypoints, create and navigate routes, and monitor the boat’s speed to within 1/10 of a mile per hour.

  • Vivid 9-inch color display with high resolution.
  • Supports CHIRP sonar and ClearVü/SideVü scanning sonar.
  • Built-in high-sensitivity GPS and Quickdraw mapping.
  • No internal storage for saving waypoints, relies on ActiveCaptain app and Quickdraw Community.

5. Garmin Striker Vivid 4cv Fish Finder

5. Garmin Striker Vivid 4cv Fish Finder

The Garmin Striker Vivid 4cv Fish Finder includes a tilt/swivel bailmount bracket and GT20 transducer which provides CHIRP traditional sonar to a depth of 1,600 feet,CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar with 455kHz frequency, and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonar for a wide-angle view of fish and structures up to 200 feet either side of the boat.

With its vibrant 4-inch 800×480 pixel display,the Striker Vivid 4cv Fish Finder generates life-like fish finder images using bright color palettes and wide 160-degree viewing angles which can be seen even in direct sunlight. Furthermore, quickdraw Contours mapping allows users to instantly create personalized fishing maps on screen.

  • CHIRP sonar provides clear fishfinding images.
  • Built-in GPS for navigation and stats.
  • Easy to use interface and setup.
  • Small 4-inch screen.

6. LUCKY Portable Kayak Fish Finder

6. LUCKY Portable Kayak Fish Finder

The LUCKY Portable Fish Finder offers anglers a capable yet compact fish detection system for a variety of fishing environments. With an updated 2.4-inch color LCD screen and dual operation modes(Transducer and Simulation), this handheld sonar device detects fish location, depth, size, and underwater contours to a depth of 328 feet and a range of 26 feet.   

Powered by a rechargeable battery that provides up to 5 hours of continuous use, the LUCKY Portable Fish Finder features sensitive 200KHz sonar with a 45-degree beam angle. Also, it displays data in either imperial or metric units and allows users to customize settings for sensitivity, depth alarm, fish alarm, zoom, and more. Additionally, the included transducer bracket securely attaches the sensor to vessels including boats, kayaks, and docks.

  • Compact and portable handheld design.
  • Dual operation modes (Transducer and Simulation).
  • Detects and displays fish location, depth, size and bottom contour.
  • Rechargeable battery provides up to 5 hours of use.
  • Small 2.4-inch screen difficult to view in some conditions.

7. Venterior Portable Fish Finder

7. Venterior Portable Fish Finder

With a wireless sensor that can be cast up to 262 feet from the handheld color display, the Venterior Fish Finder eliminates the hassle of installing or transporting bulky equipment. Besides, the display shows key data including water depth up to 131 feet, bottom contour, water temperature, and fish location and size. It offers 20 sensitivity levels to customize based on conditions. An audible fish alarm alerts anglers to potential catches. The rechargeable lithium battery allows up to 8 hours of continuous sensor operation and 6 hours of display time at lower backlight settings.

Easy to operate, this fish finder is suitable for boats, kayaks, shore casting, and ice fishing. Moreover, with a 90-degree sonar beam angle, it scans a wide area to locate fish in lakes, rivers, and seas. The clear display is optimized for day or night viewing by selecting either a black or white background.

  • Portable and wireless – easy to transport and use.
  • Detects key data – depth, contour, temp, fish.
  • Adjustable sensitivity – customizable for conditions.
  • Audible fish alarm – alerts you to catches.
  • Limited depth range – only down to 131 feet.

8. HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder

The HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder delivers precise sonar readings up to 240 feet deep with its dual beam FishTrax Intelligent Sonar. It produces a high-definition colored display on its 2-inch LED-backlit VirtuView screen with FishID and FishArc indicators to target fish locations accurately. Additionally, its algorithmic programming minimizes false readings and alerts anglers to the presence of fish with an audible alarm.

Designed and developed in America, the Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder offers unmatched versatility and portability for fishing from motorboats, kayaks, or shorelines. It has a operating temperature range of 0 to 160 F and a 15-foot transducer cable. With 100-level sensitivity adjustments, multi-level depth ranges, and auto-zoom seabed tracking, anglers can fine-tune sonar readings for shallow or deep waters.

  • Precision sonar reads 240 ft deep with 1/10 accuracy .
  • Versatile and portable for boats, kayaks, shore.
  • Customizable with 100 sensitivity levels and accessories.
  • Audible fish alarm alerts anglers.
  • Only 2-inch display may be too small for some.

9. Deeper PRO+ Fish Finder

9. Deeper PRO+ Fish Finder

With a casting range of up to 330 feet and depth detection down to 260 feet, the Deeper Pro+ Fish Finder provides real-time insights into underwater terrain, structure and fish location. Equipped with built-in GPS, the Pro+ fish finder creates detailed bathymetric maps to track the best fishing spots.

Updating 15 times per second, the dual-beam sonar generates crisp 0.5-inch target separation. Anglers can view scans, maps, points of interest, photos and notes on the Fish Deeper app, available for both iOS and Android devices. No internet or cell service is required to sync the Pro+ to your phone or tablet.

  • Casts up to 330 ft and scans down to 260 ft, providing broad range.
  • Built-in GPS enables creating detailed maps.
  • Dual-beam sonar updates 15 times/sec for real-time data.
  • Rechargeable battery for up to 8 hours of use.
  • Requires a compatible iOS/Android mobile device, not a standalone unit.

10. Lowrance HDS-Live Fish Finder

10. Lowrance HDS-Live Fish Finder

Powered by a high-performance dual-core processor, the Lowrance HDS-Live fish finder provides lag-free operation, instantaneous chart redraws and rapid sonar updates at 450×800 pixel resolution through a 7-inch multi-touch SolarMAX HD display.

Equipped with built-in CHIRP sonar that operates at up to 83/200kHz, the HDS-Live fish finder supports innovative technologies like Active Imaging, StructureScan 3D and LiveSight real-time sonar to provide comprehensive fishfinding data up to 300ft depth and 300ft to either side of the boat.

  • Powerful dual-core processor provides fast operation.
  • CHIRP sonar and advanced fishfinding technologies for comprehensive data.
  • Preloaded C-MAP US maps and Genesis Live real-time mapping.
  • Only US maps included, other regions sold separately

How To Choose The Best Kayak Fish Finders?

If you’re an avid kayak angler, a fish finder can be an invaluable tool to help locate fish and structure below the water’s surface. However, with so many options on the market, choosing the right kayak fish finder for your needs can be challenging.

Determine Your Display and Transducer Needs

The first step is to determine what display and transducer will work with your kayak. Kayak fish finders typically come with compact displays, usually around 5 to 7 inches that can be mounted to your kayak. You’ll also want a transducer that can be mounted inside the hull of your kayak since external transducers can get damaged. Most kayak fish finders come with transducers specifically designed for in-hull use.

Consider Your Fishing Environment

Think about the types of waters you’ll be fishing in and the information you need the fish finder to display. If you fish in deep, open waters, a model with a wide depth range, GPS, and sonar is important. For shallow, cover-filled waters, higher frequency sonar and a detailed display is best. Some models also provide data like water temperature, oxygen levels and vegetation coverage to help locate the best spots.

Set a Budget

Kayak fish finders vary widely in price based on features and functionality. You can get a basic model for under $200 that provides basic sonar and depth reading. Higher end models with GPS, mapping, Wi-Fi and other features can cost $500 and up. Set a budget before you start shopping to narrow down your options.

Compare Models

Check out reviews and ratings from other anglers to determine the best kayak fish finders in your budget. Compare models you’re interested in to determine which provides the best performance and value for the money based on your needs. Look for a model with mostly positive reviews that mention good display readability, ease of use and quality sonar.

FAQs When Picking The Best Kayak Fish Finders

Q: What is a kayak fish finder?

A: A kayak fish finder is a specialized fish finder designed for use with kayaks. It has features suited for kayak fishing like a compact display, transom transducer, and portable design.

Q: Do I need a fish finder for my kayak?

A: A fish finder can be very useful for kayak fishing, but it is not always essential. It depends on the type of kayak fishing you do and your budget. If you fish in large, open, or deep waters, a fish finder can help you locate fish and structure. For casual kayak fishing in shallow, familiar waters, a fish finder may not provide as much benefit.

Q: What features should I look for in a kayak fish finder?

A: Key features to consider include:

  • Compact display: Around 5 to 7 inches that can be mounted on your kayak.
  • Portable and waterproof: Built for temporary outdoor use and able to withstand exposure to water.
  • Transom transducer: A transducer that can be mounted inside the hull of your kayak. External transducers are not suitable for most kayaks.
  • Basic GPS: Optional feature that shows your location and the locations of key spots. Helpful for navigating open water.
  • Sonar with temperature, oxygen, and bottom contour data: Provides more information to locate the best fishing spots.

Q: How do I install and power a kayak fish finder?

A: Most kayak fish finders are designed for easy portable installation:

  • Attach the display to your kayak using mounting hardware or strong double-sided tape. Place it within easy viewing range but not obstructing your paddle.
  • Apply the transom transducer to the inside of your kayak’s hull, ideally in a location that will be under water when the kayak is balanced. Secure in place with waterproof mounting tape and seal edges with silicone sealant.
  • Connect the display to the transducer using the included cable. Route and secure the cable so it does not hang in the water.
  • Power the unit using a 12V rechargeable kayak battery. Wire the battery to the fish finder unit and store the battery in a watertight compartment or case.
  • Test and adjust the installation before heading out on the water. Ensure all connections are secure and waterproof and that the unit is functioning properly.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right kayak fish finder for your needs can transform your kayak fishing experience and help put more fish in your boat. Overall, the models I reviewed here represent some of the best kayak fish finders on the market that provide excellent performance, easy use, and solid value.

Enjoyed this guide of the best kayak fish finders? Then be sure to check out our other outdoor gears guides.

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