Fish finders have first emerged into the world during the 90s. Ever since, they have evolved and evolved, gaining an impressive number of useful features that enable fishers, all around the globe, to increase their catch rate, be a lot more professional, and improve their overall fishing experience.
You might think that fish finders simply tell you where the fish are, but it’s a lot more complicated than just that. Technically, they use sonar technology to determine what objects are present around you. According to the different distances that sound waves travel, they can determine whether this object is a particular fish, seaweeds or, simply, a sunken object.
There’re so many other features that fish finders come with; some are even designed with enough databases in order to go after specific species. Hence, if you’re looking for fish that is characterized by being flatter, more plump, 5-inch long, 10-inch long, fast swimmers, or slow swimmers, all of this information can be present inside the fish finder. It can use them to determine if the creature in front of it fits the criteria or not, which is simply incredible.
We have compiled this list of the five best kayak fish finders, and we’ll go through them as thoroughly as possible alongside you.
Garmin Striker 4 1609 ft/ freshwater - 750 ft/ saltwater 77/200 kHz HVGA Yes
Deeper PRO 260 ft 90/290 kHz Smartphone Yes
Venterior VT-FF001 328 ft 200 kHz LCD No
Venterior Portable 131 ft 125 kHz LCD No
Humminbird 410210 1500 ft 50-200 kHz WVGA Yes
The 5 Best Kayak Fish Finders
Now, let’s get to dissecting these outstanding fish finder models. We’ll talk about their best and worst attributes, and why they’ve gained their place on our list.
1. Garmin Striker 4 - Best Overall
Garmin’s fish finder comes with an awe-inspiring package of features; from its CHIRP sonar technology to the advanced GPS, it’s the ultimate fish finder.
Firstly, the CHIRP transducer plus the ClearVu scanning sonar technology work together to provide an almost photographic image for everything below water. You can also enjoy dual-display on the screen, which can receive images from the 77/200 kHz transducer while allowing you to keep an eye on your GPS progress.
Furthermore, you can switch through the different screens by utilizing the simple, straightforward keypad. The HVGA 3.5-inch display may be on the smaller side for some people; still, the impressive resolution of 480 x 320 definitely takes the sting off that.
Moreover, this fish finder has a maximum depth of 1600 ft in freshwater, and 750 ft in saltwater. Activate the inbuilt flasher, which allows you to see your own lure and what surrounds it, and scoring your catch will be a piece of cake.
Additionally, this device enjoys IPX7, which is pretty impressive, and comes with both transom and trolling mounting accessories which can come in quite handy.
On the other side, this fish finder isn’t perfect as it doesn’t come with Maps, which can be quite annoying. Plus, since it comes with mounting accessories, it’s meant to be fixed permanently. Therefore, it’s portability is considered sub-par. Some users have also reported that it’s a lot more accurate in deep waters than shallow waters.
- CHIRP sonar
- Built-in flasher
- Both transom and trolling mounting accessories are included
- Easy interface
- No maps
- Not so portable
- Not so great on shallow waters
This Garmin fish finder is an all-inclusive investment. With its 1600 ft water depth, IPX7 water rating, CHIRP, and Clearview transducer technologies, plus the dual-screen display, there is hardly anything that you would need that this device will not be able to meet.
2. Deeper PRO - Runner-Up
This incredible fish finder is genuinely one of a kind. It’s wireless and operates using Wi-Fi only. All of the data that this fish finder will gather will appear on your smartphone, iOS and android included, through the Fish Pro app.
It comes with a GPS, Maps, a fishing log, and a diary. This means that you can store all the information you want about the spots, routes, and paths. Consequently, you’ll be able to visit them again or even study them at the comfort of your home, all from your smartphone.
This also makes sharing this data with your fellow kayakers/anglers quite an easy task. The Deeper Pro has a fantastic transmission power of 90/290 kHz, which allows it to cover incredibly vast distances, transmitting a clear, sharp image to your smartphone.
When you receive such a wholesome image, you can start the action immediately. The fact that it has a maximum depth of 260 ft helps a lot with that as well.
Each device always comes with its drawbacks, and for the Deeper Pro, such disadvantages include the fact that it’s quite heavy. At 3.5 oz, in order to cast it freely, you’ll need a rugged, sturdy rod; otherwise, it might very well snap.
Also, the battery life on this fish finder is not the best in the market. At only 5.5 hours, you’ve to always make sure that you have some sort of a power bank to recharge it.
- Fishing log
- Short battery life
To wrap up this fantastic product, it’s the perfect choice if you want to cover large areas, store all the information you receive for further study, and need something light and castable. With its maximum depth, transmission signal, and outstanding connectivity, this fish finder is a sound investment.
3. Venterior VT-FF001 - Best Budget
This compact portable fish finder by the Venterior is an amazing choice if you’re on a budget. It comes with an LCD that differentiates between seaweeds, rocks, and fish. You’ll always know what is underwater day or night due to the backlight mode.
This fish finder comes with five different sensitivity modes that you can calibrate to show you what you need and want to see. If you want to see absolutely everything, you can crank up the sensitivity to the highest level, while if you wish to ignore the small fish, then lower it. Moreover, it comes with a battery saving mode that you can turn on in the last half an hour or so to extend your on-water time.
Furthermore, it has an inbuilt fish alarm that alerts you when any fish schools happen to be within the vicinity. Additionally, it’s quite durable and versatile, as it can work in extreme temperatures, such as -20°C.
The maximum depth of this device is a whopping 328 ft. Add to that a sonar frequency of 200 kHz, and you’ll have yourself excellent signal for as far as you would want to place your bait.
The 25 ft cord that comes included in the package allows you to fish on a bridge, from the docks, a boat, a kayak, or even from the shore.
The problems that accompany this fish finder will have to include its short battery life of 4-5 hours, absence of GPS, and the fact that it doesn’t show you the size of the fish.
- Sensitivity calibration
- -20° C
- Short battery life
- Doesn’t show the fish size
- No GPS
This compact device is great for someone who wants to take their fish finder from a boat to a kayak to anywhere they would like to fish. It’s an excellent choice for beginners who also do not want to break the bank purchasing a fish finder.
4. Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder - Best Accuracy
Our fourth model on this list is also by Venterior, and just like its sibling, the VT-FF001, this one offers great sensitivity. Yet, it takes accuracy and detection to a whole other level, as it tells you whether the fish is small, middle, or large, along with its position on the water column.
This fish finder is wireless and castable, so no need to worry about mounting it anywhere as it comes with two holes drilled into it that allow you to hook it to your fishing line and cast it. The transmission power here is up to 125 kHz.
The outstanding LCD that we’ve spoken about comes in two varieties; colors and black/white. These options allow you to see clearly during both day and night time.
However, just like all of the other models on this list, this fish finder comes with its disadvantages, which include its maximum depth of only 131 ft, lack of GPS, and LED screen.
- Great detection ability
- No LED screen
- No GPS
- Only 131 ft maximum depth
This fish finder is an excellent option for someone who wants the details of where they’re fishing. It’ll show you the depth of the water, its temperature, the character of the present fish, and everything that you need to know.
5. Humminbird 410210 - Best Graphics
This fish finder by Humminbird is all about the graphics and the display. When you purchase this device, you’ll get a 5-inch WVGA display that offers a resolution of 800 x 486 pixels and 256 colors in the TFT display.
Combine all of that with the pictures generated from the down imaging sonar, the CHIRP, and the Beam Plus, and you’ll know what the output of a high-quality fish finder is supposed to look like.
Moreover, it comes with an inbuilt GPS and SD card. This allows you to store a lot more of your newly discovered routes and spots freely. It also comes in the landscape orientation, which enables you to use the 5-inch display quite efficiently.
The CHIRP and down imaging frequencies are transported with the power of 50-200 kHz through a transducer with a maximum depth of 1500 ft.
The problem with this fish finder is the absence of a mounting bracket, which makes the process of mounting it a lot harder due to its size. Additionally, although the display here’s quite revolutionary, it needs some time for beginners to get used to, as it’s not the easiest thing to interpret.
- Landscape orientation
- SD card
- 5-inch TFT display
- Beam Plus
- No mounting bracket
- A little complicated
The thing about this fish finder is that it comes with a package features only found in products that are on the luxurious side for an affordable price tag, from its fantastic resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and the TFT display that comes with 256 colors all the way to the GPS and micro SD.
How to Pick the Best Kayak Fish Finder
Now that we’ve discussed all these fantastic kayak fish finders, we’ll walk you through the options you should be checking-off while searching for the ultimate fish finder.
This feature is essential if you’re interested in deep-sea fishing. The majority of fishers choose to go for manageable depths that are common between most waterfronts, and for that, a side-imaging unit is more than enough.
On the other side, if you’re more interested in deep-water fishing, then you might want to invest in a down-imaging unit. It’ll give you a more wholesome view of what lies beneath you.
Having a GPS pre-installed on your fish finder takes you to a whole other level. It allows you not just to explore new places, but to also create new routes by pinning your newly discovered spots.
Kayaking can take you anywhere, and you certainly don’t want to be worried about losing your way. Still, keep in mind that not all fish finders come with GPS, so it’s certainly not a given, and its presence will fatten-up the price tag considerably.
Available Space and Mounting Style
In order to have your fish finder situated in the best way possible, you must sit back in your kayak taking your normal most relaxed position, take up your pedal(s), store your gear, and start placing the fish finder around the front of the kayak in various positions. This will allow you to determine which place will be most accessible while giving you the best view of your route.
Also, according to your kayak size and the space that it can afford you, you must take the size and dimensions off your fish finder into consideration.
As for the mounting style, there are quite a few options which we’ll discuss momentarily. Firstly, you can attach it to the hull, which can be achieved through cleaning the designated area quite well and using silicone. In some other cases, DIY projects using sponges and pool noodles work tolerably well.
Our next option is to fix them in the scrubber holes, which is convenient as everything comes ready and requires minimal effort. However, you must keep in mind that this might compromise your boat’s draining process if it ever fills with water, as this is the main object of scrubber holes.
Lastly, we have transom mounting, which we do not encourage. With transom mounting, you fix your transducer either at the stern or rear end of your kayak. Either way, your little, sensitive device will be fully exposed to any collisions that you might face. Therefore, it’s quite dangerous.
The transducer is the heart and soul of any fish finder. This little device uses sonar technology to identify objects and creatures that are present in its vicinity. It can come in the form of multiple transducers integrated or a single device with wider beams.
The sonar technology itself has been around for quite a long time; hence it has a lot of variations. The main two that are related to fish finders will have to be the conventional sonar and the 3D sonar.
Just as implied by the title, the 3D sonar gives you a detailed view of the waters below you. You can see everything quite clearly; therefore, you would have a better chance of scoring your catch.
However, it does come with a shorter beam and smaller coverage than the conventional sonar. This means that when using a 3D sonar, you might want to stick to shallow waters, one spot at a time.
On the other hand, the conventional sonar offers a grainy image, yet, since it’s been around for so long, it has been upgraded in regards to beam coverage and length. Thus, with your standard old school sonar, you’ll be able to cover vaster areas and go deeper into the water.
The cone angle refers to the range that the transducer can cover. Now, mostly, you’ll find fish finders’ angles ranging between 15° and 20°, while in general, with other devices, the angles extend between 10° and 65°.
Nevertheless, to achieve ultimate visibility, transducers have been updated in order to offer dual, triple, and multiple beams at once. Such technologies will eliminate, to a great extent, the effect of depth on your beam. Typically, the deeper you go, the less clear your image will be. But with several beams covering multiple directions and areas, this issue is on its way to being solved.
The typical range of frequencies present in fish finders is 50, 83, 192, and 200 kHz. If you tend to fish in shallow waters, then the higher frequencies will help you more, while if you prefer deep water fishing, lower frequencies will support that better.
Yet, frequencies don’t just stop at being high and low; there are four different types of frequencies; each one is suitable for specific circumstances. We’ve already mentioned low and high frequencies. We’ll now add to them dual frequencies and CHIRP.
What high frequencies do and why they’re more suited for shallow waters is that they manage to accumulate a lot more information in their waves. Consequently, they’ll tell you so much more about the shallow water ahead of you. Unfortunately, they’ll not be able to transfer viable information regarding the deep waters and what they may contain.
Being the exact opposite of high frequencies, low frequencies have a great ability to slice through the water and reach deep down in order to carry a proper image back to you. Sadly, that doesn’t happen completely as they can’t carry the needed amount of information that allows you to get that sharp, clear image you need.
The best of both worlds. Dual frequencies allow you to receive a clear image from either shallow or deep waters alike, as they do carry a significant amount of information. It all depends on how you set and install your transducer.
Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse is a military-grade technology superior to anything we’ve mentioned until now. What it does is that it moves between different frequencies using longer pings in order to provide outstanding image no matter the circumstances.
More often than not, you’ll find that fish finders run on a 12V power source, whether that be batteries or anything else. The probability of the said power source running out is not small, which leads us to the importance of smartphone compatibility.
When you sync your fish finder to your phone, you’ll be able to transfer all the data that you have accumulated on your fish finder, including your route, the spots that you have pinned, and how to get back to shore quite easily.
Therefore, you’ll guarantee that you’ll never lose them, even if your fish finder runs out of battery. Hence, it’s quite an important feature that can but shouldn’t be missed by a lot of fishers.
The output of everything that we have spoken about is the display. At the end of the day, all these technologies ought to be placed in front of you on the fish finder. That’s why you want to be careful when choosing the kind of screen and technology that will adorn your display.
You would undoubtedly want to go for the biggest display possible, but that isn’t always your best choice. You have to relate the size of your screen to the fish finder’s dimensions to the available space on your kayak.
If you have a kayak that’s on the larger side, then a 4-5-inch display size would be a reasonable choice. If your kayak is a smaller one, then perhaps a 3-inch display will prove to be a wiser decision.
Resolution is measured in pixels, and it determines the sharpness and clarity of the image that you’ll get. The typical screen resolution of the fish finder will be 640 x 640 pixels.
You might find lower resolutions that will cost a lot less, but try not to go anything below 240 x 160, as such a display will be quite useless. Nonetheless, if you want to go higher, then that’s always the better choice if your wallet can take it.
Color vs. Black/White
Black/white displays in fish finders are the same as in TVs, they’re over and done with. Try to always go for a multi-chrome display that will improve your experience overall and give you a much clearer image. Don’t be persuaded by the cheap price tags that white/black models usually sport.
Frequently Asked Questions:
In this section of our article, we’ll answer a couple of the most famous questions related to choosing the best kayak fish finder.
Is a Fish Finder Waterproof?
Your fish finder itself is not waterproof. Normally, it’s water-resistant, which means that it’ll take a few splashes of water. However, submerging it underwater isn’t an option.
Nonetheless, your transducer is entirely waterproof, as it’s meant to be underwater or in contact with water at all times when operated.
What is a Chartplotter Fish Finder?
A Chartplotter fish finder is designed with an advanced navigation system. It combines your Maps and GPS plus a few other technologies together, making your fish finder a lot easier for you to interpret. Therefore, you can utilize it more efficiently on your fishing trip.
Do Fish Finders Need Any Accessories?
The more general answer would be no, fish finders don’t need any accessories in order to operate. Some manufacturers offer their own lines of accessories that might very well make the process relatively easier.
Still, it’s not mandatory to purchase such accessories. Perhaps, a mounting kit might make you feel a lot more secure in the placement of your expensive fish finder, but that’s about it.
To sum-up this article, we’ll say that a fish finder is a great, useful tool, full of options that will help you in the weirdest of times. Investing in a fish finder will hardly come back to haunt you as long as you ponder your decision thoroughly according to your own needs and wants.
Our first recommendation for the best kayak fish finder would be the Garmin Striker 4, which comes with CHIRP and ClearVu sonar technologies, and a maximum depth of 1609 ft in freshwater and 750 ft in saltwater.
Secondly, our runner-up will have to be the Deeper Pro. It’s the best wireless fish finder on the market today. Connecting it with your smartphone and syncing all of this information is truly a fantastic option to have on hand. Moreover, it’s castable, portable, and comes with an incredible transmission power of 90/290 kHz.
Our last recommendation would be our budget pick for beginners and people who do not want to spend an arm and a leg on a fish finder, and that will be the Venterior VTFF001. This fish finder comes with an LCD, five different levels of sensitivity, a backlight, and a fish alert. Plus, it can thoroughly differentiate between everything you might see underwater.