Best Fish Finders for Kayaks
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To really enhance your fishing sessions on your kayak, you want to be able to drop your baits and lures right on top of the fish.
To help you locate the fish, you need to have a good quality fish finder added to your kayak setup.
Here we take a look at the best fish finders for kayaks so you can make a more informed decision on which one is right for you.
These have been broken down into two categories based on price - the best kayak fish finders under $150, and then the best under $500. (Use the menu links below to navigate to the section you want to see).
Best Fish Finders for Kayaks Under $150
#1 Choice for the Under $150 category
Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI
Why we rated the Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI #1 in the under $150 category of kayak fish finders:
The Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI fish finder is an excellent choice for any kayak anglers that want a very good quality product at an affordable price.
As you can see, the Piranhamax 4 DI from Humminbird is packed full of very useful features that are hard to beat in a unit of this price range.
This particular model uses powerful Down Imaging to give you a clear birds-eye view of what is under your kayak.
You will be able to see any structure such as wood, rocks, pilings, etc in great detail. You can also see the positions of the fish within the structure, so you know exactly where to drop your bait or lure.
The Dual Beam Sonar allows you to choose whether you want a narrow beam, for lazar-targeted detail, or a wider beam for much more generous coverage of the area below you.
The Piranhamax 4 DI uses Fish ID+, which is an excellent feature that will create fish icons on the screen for every fish that it spots.
It also color-codes them, so any fish that are in the narrow beam are colored brown, and in the wide beam are colored green, so you have a better idea of where they are under your kayak.
The 4.3" color LCD screen is extremely clear and easy to read, even on the brighter days. The tilt and swivel mount will allow you to put it in the optimal position for viewing on your kayak.
This model has quite an impressive depth coverage for a fish finder of this price, as follows:
600 ft (2D) 200 kHz; 320 ft (2D) 455 kHz; 320 ft (Down Imaging)
- Dimensions = 3.6 x 3.9 x 6.8 inches
- Display = 4.3"
- Weight = 2 pounds
Things I didn't like:
While the Fish ID+ feature is good enough for the beginner that is just starting out using a fish finder, it will not suit those with more experience who are using to seeing the clearer and more defined fish arches on the screen.
While the Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI is pretty accurate in shallower water, it tends to lose some of this accuracy when venturing out into deeper open water.
Overall, I love the Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI fish finder, as it is simple to set up and use and gives you a very clear image of the surroundings below you.
It's ideal for use in fresh or seawater and is very easy to set up on your kayak. It's an ideal model for anyone that has not used a fish finder before.
#2 Choice for the Under $150 category
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
Our 2nd choice for the under $150 category - the Garmin Striker 4
If you are looking for a fish finder that offers the best bang for your buck, then the Garmin Striker 4 is an excellent option that provides some excellent features at a great price.
If you are not a technical person, and the thought of having to drill holes in your kayak and figure out detailed wiring plans concerns you, then don't worry as the Garmin Striker 4 can be fitted to your Yak without any drilling required.
Not only is it easy to fit on your kayak, but it's also easy to use once you're out on the water.
One of the excellent features of the Garmin Striker 4 is the built-in flasher. This is a great system to use if you are anchored and you want to vertical jig. It's also great if you want to go ice fishing. You won't find many fish finders at this price range that include this feature.
The Striker 4 fish finder is extremely accurate, so you will be able to navigate through structure with confidence, and know exactly where things are beneath your kayak.
I love the screen on the Striker 4. Not only is it super clear, but it is also very smooth with sharp colors, and you won't see any interruptions in the imagery when trolling.
You will also be able to see a wealth of information on the screen such as depth, water temperature, moving speed, and time.
The split-screen ability is also very useful on this fish finder, and it's also fully customizable so you can decide what you want to have showing on the two portions of the screen.
The depth range on the Garmin Striker 4 is very impressive, with a 1,600 feet freshwater and 750 feet saltwater range.
- Dimensions = 3.6 x 1.6 x 5.9 inches
- Display = 3.5"
- Weight = 8.1 oz (230g)
Things I didn't like:
The Garmin Striker 4 doesn't come with a battery, so you will need to purchase a 12V battery to run it on (not really an issue as long as you know this before you purchase).
It also doesn't come with a suction cup mount for the transducer, so again something else to be aware of before you buy in case you want to add it into your order.
The Garmin Striker 4 is a feature-packed fish finder, that is ideal for the novice user all the way through to the more experienced user who wants the ease of use and wide array of features it provides.
It presents great value for money, although you will need to spend a bit more on a battery at least to get it up and running on your kayak.
#3 Choice for the Under $150 category
LUCKY Portable Handheld Kayak Fish Finder
Our 3rd choice for the under $150 category - LUCKY Portable Handheld Kayak Fish Finder
If you are wanting to get a basic low-priced fish finder, then the LUCKY Portable Handheld Kayak Fish Finder is a great budget option that does the job well.
The LUCKY Portable fish finder comes with a color screen. The screen is fairly small, measuring in at 2.4 inches, but it is surprisingly clear and easy to read.
The display will show you the contours of the sea or riverbed, and the water depth and temperature. It will also show you the depth of any fish and gives you a size indication of the fish as well (big/middle/small).
One of the things I love about this portable fish finder is the fact that it is run on a rechargeable internal battery that is recharged via USB. A full charge will get you around 5 hours of fishing when being used continuously.
The Lucky portable handheld fish finder for kayaks is customizable and is easy to set up to your requirements. You can set the measurement units (FT/M ℃/℉), language, sensitivity, screen brightness, and depth range.
You also have a depth alarm and fish alarm, which will alert you to any fish that come within range of the sonar.
The sonar itself comes with 50 feet of cord, and the wired transducer has an operating distance of 26 feet, so you will have quite a good distance around your kayak to view.
This fish finder is also very accurate, so you can quickly learn to trust the data it provides.
- Dimensions = 5.3 x 2.8 x 1.1 inches
- Display = 2.4"
- Weight = 14.1 ounces (400g)
Things I didn't like:
There aren't any mounts designed specifically for this fish finder, so it may need to be held by hand (this is how it was designed). There might be some generic mounts that will fit this unit, although I am not sure which ones as of now.
You're not going to get all the bells and whistles with the LUCKY Portable handheld kayak fish finder, but what you are getting is a very good budget option that provides a high level of accuracy and versatility.
It is extremely easy to set up and start using right out of the box and is a great option for those that don't want to be bogged down with technical setup requirements, and simply want a fish finder that does what it is designed to do.
Best Kayak Fish Finders Under $500
Now we are getting to the next level up of kayak fish finder models, and in this section, we are looking at ones that come in under the $500 range.
There are several really good options to consider in this price bracket, and the below three are the pick of the bunch.
#1 Choice for the Under $500 category
Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MDI
Our top choice in the under $500 category - the excellent Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MDI
The Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MDI fish finder provides amazing clarity, and really gives you an incredible view of what is under and around your kayak.
It is really easy to use, and I loved just how quick it booted up and how crystal clear the screen is. The screen is just as clear on a really bright day as it is on the darker gloomier day.
The Helix 7 is also easy to set up on your fishing Kayak, and comes with the right mounting brackets you need to set it up on your yak'. Not everybody is technically savvy, so this is a really important factor for anyone that is considering adding a fish finder to their kayak setup.
The wide 7-inch screen on the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MDI gives you plenty of room to see the underlying surroundings in incredible detail.
The MDI (MEGA down imaging) will give you 3x more output than the standard down imaging sonar, and provide you with much greater detail on the screen
The Dual Spectrum CHIRP on the Humminbird Helix 7 not only gives you amazing definition of the underwater structure, but also very detailed fish arches that show their movement and depth.
You can have two display modes on the screen at the same time, and the SwitchFire sonar will enable you to fully customize your view on the screen, so you can optimize it to your needs.
One thing that I really like on the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MDI is the AutoChart Live, which will build real-time maps of your fishing spots. This is incredibly useful and enables you to gain a thorough understanding of your fishing locations.
There are also charts for over 10,000 lakes and a lot of the US coastal coverage. Again, this is a very useful feature that is built into this fish finder.
- Dimensions = 10.5 x 3.7 x 5.8 inches
- Display = 7-inches
- Weight = 5.3 pounds
What I didn't like:
It was hard to find any real fault with the Humminbird Helix 7. But I just want to add a cautionary word, and that is to be sure you choose the exact model you want, as there are several different models available in this range.
This particular model does not have side imaging (this is the MDI model, the side imaging model is the MSI).
Also, this particular model does not have networking. This is available on different models in this range though, just look out for the ones that show an "N" (example G3N).
All of the variations of this model are available through this link here
I loved the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MDI for its ease of use, excellent features, the amazing screen clarity and the overall accuracy of the unit.
Having this fish finder on your kayak really is going to give you a massive advantage, and you won't have to spend a lot of time getting it set up, you can start using it as soon as you get out on the water.
#2 Choice for the Under $500 category
Garmin Striker 7sv
Our second choice in the under $500 category - the Garmin Striker 7sv
The Garmin Striker 7sv is our next choice for kayak fish finders under the $500 category. Selected because of its ease of use and overall performance, we felt this was a very worthy inclusion in our top 3.
It comes with a 7" screen that offers really good definition, with a display resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It also has split-screen zoom functionality, and you can customize the setup of the display up to your own preferences.
The Garmin Striker 7sv comes with full mounting brackets, so you have everything you need to set this up on your kayak. It is also very easy to install, which as I mentioned before is a massive benefit for those that are not so technically savvy.
This 7sv model comes with both the side view and clear view scanning sonar (don't confuse this for the cheaper 7cv model, which only comes with 'clear view', no side view).
With the Garmin Striker 7sv fish finder you get both the Garmin ClearVü scanning sonar, and the Garmin SideVü scanning sonar.
The ClearVü scanning sonar provides you with the crystal-clear imagery of everything that passes beneath your kayak or boat. The detail is extremely impressive!
The SideVü scanning sonar does the same thing, but this time allowing you to clearly see everything on either side of your kayak. So with both of these sonars in place, you can see a very wide view of the surrounding area beneath you.
Then you have the Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar, that allows the fish finder to separate everything it sees into great detail, so you can clearly see what everything is under your kayak, whether it be structure, weed beds of fish.
With all of this functionality, you can begin to understand how the Garmin Striker 7sv will give you a massive advantage when you are fishing on your kayak, boat, ice fishing or down jigging.
- Dimensions = 9.3 x 2.3 x 5.5 inches
- Display = 7-inches
- Weight = 1.7 pounds
What I didn't like:
This is more a criticism of the marketing used for the Garmin Striker 7sv, and not the unit itself. But just to forewarn those that are interested in this fish finder, it DOES NOT have the ability to download charts or use SD cards such as Navionics or Bluecharts to load charts.
The GPS is used to enable you to mark spots and create your own routes. It also displays your kayak's or boat's speed.
The Garmin Striker 7sv is a very impressive fish finder that is easy to set up and use right out of the box.
This is an ideal fish finder for kayak anglers of all levels, and its intuitive user interface will enable you to see all you need to see with just a couple of clicks on the menu buttons.
#3 Choice for the Under $500 category
Lowrance HOOK2 5
Our 3rd choice in the under $500 category - the Lowrance HOOK2 5
The Lowrance HOOK2 5 fishfinder has a smaller screen than our previous two models in the under $500 category, measuring in at 5". (There are other models available in this particular range that have bigger screens (7", 9" & 12"), but the price pushes north of the $500 mark for these.).
But we feel it is still worthy of its place in our top 3, as it has some excellent features and also has the ability to pre-load over 4000 high detail inland US lake maps. Plus the price is great for this fish finder!
This smaller display size is actually ideal for some smaller kayaks where the console space is particularly limited.
This Lowrance HOOK2 5 model comes with a TripleShot transducer and is ideal for the kayak angler that wants to maximize their sonar viewing capacity.
The 3-in-1 sonar display provides you with wide-angle High CHIRP Sonar and Sidescan/Downscan Imaging™ with full Chartplotter and basic GPS plotter navigation options.
The Lowrance HOOK2 5 has an SD card slot, so you can save your waypoints to an SD card. It also allows you to upgrade your software and mapping features and add any third-party maps if you ever wanted to.
*NOTE* the HOOK2 5 does not come with a Micro SD card, it just has the slot built-in ready to use if you wanted to.
- Dimensions = 9 x 7.5 x 7.13 inches
- Display = 5-inches
- Weight = 3.6 pounds
What I didn't like:
One element that could be improved on this fish finder is the transducer and its bracket. The transducer itself is pretty big, and the bracket is plastic and comes molded into the transducer. Not a good design, as if you break the bracket (which is more likely considering its plastic, then you would need to buy a completely new transducer.
While I love that the Lowrance HOOK2 5 comes pre-loaded with high detail maps of 4000 inland lakes, it would have been great if there were some coastal maps included too. (Granted, this may have increased the price if this were the case though!).
Overall, the Lowrance HOOK2 5 is an excellent fish finder and gives you an incredible variety of features to improve your kayak fishing.
It is easy to use out of the box, and with the three different sonar scanning options, you really do get a comprehensive (and very clear) picture of what is underneath your kayak.
For the price of the Lowrance HOOK2 5 fish finder, you really are getting a lot of bang for your buck here.