When you’re out fishing, actually getting to know the location that the fish are sitting in can be the most challenging part of the day. When you’re out fishing on a kayak, in many respects, this idea can become even harder since you have the whole water open to you. On the other hand, when you’re fishing from the bank, you only have the water that’s within your reach available for you to fish.
No matter how advanced your fishing knowledge, kayak, tackle or everything else is, if you’re not casting into an area where there’s fish then none of it will be applicable. Spending a whole day on the water and not receiving one single indication of a bite can be a very boring and disheartening process, enough to put some off fishing more regularly. A fish finder can help eliminate this – whilst it won’t catch fish for you (that would be completely defeating the purpose), it will help to guide you in the right direction as to the location of the fish. You won’t waste any time casting into empty waters.
A long time ago, fish finders were once considered very advanced technology and were only found in the form of larger systems on bigger rigs, such as dedicated power fishing boats. Today, however, technology has advanced so much to the point that a fish finder can be purchased online, and fits easily onto a boat as small as a kayak. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the advantages as well as some of the disadvantages of using a kayak fish finder. After a short guide, we’ll review some of what we think, are the best kayak fish finders on the market.
Before Buying Your Fish Finder: A Guide
Before you even start looking at fish finders and what features the different models have to offer, you should make sure that your kayak has available space to mount one in. Some kayaks come provided with a transducer mount specifically for the purpose, whilst others may have rails that could be used for a transducer just as well. On the other hand, some kayaks may not have an ideal position to mount a transducer at all.
If your kayak does not have a specified mount, you should have a close look at your boat and try to work out the best place to install your fish finder/transducer. If you’re unsure where to start, the following steps should help you setting out.
Practice Your Paddle – One of the most important steps in deciding where to put your fish finder is making sure that it doesn’t get in the way of your paddling. It’s also important to try and be as realistic as possible when practicing your paddling. A good idea could be to put something in the place that you’re suggesting placing your fish finder whilst you’re out on the water, and seeing if the blades of your paddle collide with it. If so, it’s not a good place to mount your fish finder.
Practice Fishing – Obviously, whenever you’re using your fish finder you’re going to be fishing. Similarly to the paddle situation, you need to make sure you can cast and fish properly and not be impacted negatively by the positioning of your fish finder.
Consider Power Placement – Of course, the transducer is not going to run on its own. A power bank/battery will have to be mounted somewhere on the boat in order to keep it powered up. The placement of the power bank should be one of your top thinking priorities – it must be kept out of the way and obviously dry.
Mounting: Temporary or Permanent?
There are advantages and disadvantages offered by both variations of fish finder mounting options – permanent or non-permanent/portable.
If you’re sure on the fish finder that you have and you make good use of it, then this may be a reasonable point to consider a permanent fixture. However, portable designs offer the obvious advantage of portability. This means that they don’t have to be with the kayak the whole time, and they can be used anywhere else that you’d like. For a lot of users, a portable design offers the best of both worlds.
The Best Fish Finders – Reviewed
Humminbird HELIX 5 Chirp GPS G2 PT
The Humminbird HELIX 5 Chirp is one of the best-known and most well-respected fish finders on the market today. For all abilities of angler, be you a novice or a professional fisherman, the Helix 5 has a huge number of features and boasts a very advanced design indeed.
One of the most impressive points about the Humminbird HELIX 5, is it’s extremely powerful Chirp sonar. Chirp is able to reach depths of up to 1500 feet. Yes! You read that correctly, 1500 feet of water is an incredible depth for a fish finder to be able to see down to. You’ll be sure to know exactly what’s happening below you at all times.
The display on the HELIXa 5 is 5” in size. Although this is a fairly large size for a device such as a fish finder, it offers a number of advantages including excellent clarity and extreme ease of visibility. Whether you are out fishing in the highest of sun, or in the heaviest of rain, the Humminbird HELIX 5 isn’t a fish finder that you’re not going to be able to see easily and clearly at all times.
In terms of power, the Humminbird HELIX 5 is powered via a relatively large rechargeable battery. Whilst this is great for reliable power, you should be sure that you have a water-tight place that you can store the battery, in order to keep it dry when in use. Even if you’re worried about the battery running out, it’s able to support your HELIX for up to 16 hours of use – perfect for two or even three days of fishing time.
- CHIRP sonar system that can penetrate the water to an impressive depth of 1500 feet
- Large high-clarity 5” display that’s easy to read regardless of the weather conditions
- Portable – can be taken elsewhere when not in use on your kayak
- 1500’ max depth as standard
Lowrance Hook 4x
The Lowrance Hook 4x is an excellent, classically-styled fish finders that suits kayak fishing perfectly. The 4” display on the Hook is of extremely high quality, boasting both clarity and ease of use in a variety of different types of weather and lighting.
In addition to an extremely advanced CHIRP Sonar system, the Lowrance Hook is equipped with DownScan Imagine, which means it can display highly accurate and intricate images of what’s happening down below the surface of the water.
In addition to a high-quality display, this LED display can be adapted so that it shows exactly that data that you want to see at any time. It’s possible to look at three different data types simultaneously. Of course, even when the weather is at its very brightest, you should have absolutely no problems in seeing the display on the Hook 4x. As well as being extremely clear and easy to see, the interface is highly usable, so you won’t be wasting any of your valuable fishing time trying to work out how to navigate around an overly complicated system.
- CHIRP Sonar for an ultimate and accurate view of what’s happening in the water below
- DownScan imaging built in
- Extremely high quality display, with the ability to view multiple sets of data at the same time
- Advanced Signal Processing and Noise Suppression
Deeper Pro Smart Sonar – Castable Fish Finder
The Deeper Pro fish finder is a little different to those other options on our list. To start with, it’s designed to connect up with your smart device. Secondly, it’s not designed to be mounted on your kayak – instead, it is attached to your line and cast out into the water! Unusual, we know. However, instead of viewing the data from the fish finder on a mounted screen on your kayak as you normally would with other devices, you can instead view the information on your (most likely higher quality) smartphone screen.
In addition to being able to view data on the screen of your smart device, the Deeper Pro Smart Sonar offers another extremely useful advantage that you may never have even given a thought before. When you’re out on the water fishing with a regular fish finder, it’s likely that you spend a lot of time paddling around, attempting to find the best spots to fish, or until your transducer picks something up. However, with the Deeper Pro Smart Sonar, you can easily check out vast areas of the water around you, from just one position – all you need to do is cast your line to the area that you want to scan, and you’ll get the data back on the screen of your smartphone as if you were sitting right above it. If you’re worried about your Smart Sonar not working at a distance from your kayak, don’t be! It can operate properly and send data back to your device from an impressive distance of 330 feet.
The one main downsides that users of the Deeper Pro Smart Sonar have reported, is that it weighs in at 3 and a half oz. Whilst this certainly isn’t a lot of weight to hold, as an angler you’ll know that this sort of weight will require quite a sturdy rod in order to get it out into the water.
- Castable fish finder – you can explore large areas of the water surrounding you from the same spot
- Connects to your smart device – all data sent back from the fish finder can be easily viewed on the screen of your smartphone
- Battery built in that last for up to 5 hours
- 260’ maximum depth
Hawkeye Fishtrax 1C
The Hawkeye Fishtrax 1C is another unit that’s great for use as a fish finder on board a kayak, thanks to its great level of portability. The Fishtrax 1C boasts a 3 inch screen that whilst being not being exactly massive, is great to keep distraction to a minimum if you don’t want to constantly have your eyes on it.
As opposed to using an LED display, like a lot of designs on the market today, the Hawkeye Fishtrax 1C makes use of a liquid crystal display instead. There’s no need to worry about charging and carrying a battery pack with the Hawkeye Fishtrax 1C either, thanks to it being powered by 4 triple A batteries.
In terms of sonar, the Hawkeye Fishtrax 1C has dual frequency that comes from a mountable transducer. Since this isn’t Sonar CHIRP, there’s no GPS. However, this dual frequency Sonar still manages to find movement in the water below you very well. If you’re looking for a fish finder that’s self-contained in terms of power, is portable, simple and effective, it could be a great choice for your boat.
- Very portable, being powered by AAA batteries – users have reported that the batteries can keep the 1C powered up for as long as 30 hours
- Simple interface that offers the ultimate usability from a 3” display
- Maximum depth of 240’
We hope that our short guide and reviews of the best kayak fish finders have helped you on your way to choosing the best fish finder. If you’re feeling more informed, why not check out more of our ultimate buying guides!