What Is the Best Fish Finder for Kayak? [TOP 7 Products in 2024]

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If you frequently fish from your kayak, you’re probably the kind of outdoors person who prefers to keep things simple. Still, there’s no reason why you can’t give yourself an edge when it comes to luring your prey from their hiding spots. Here’s a handy guide to help you track down the best fish finder for kayak fishing—or at least, the best fish finder for small boat fishing.

Important Considerations

How do you choose the best fish finder for fishing from a kayak?

First of all, you should look for a small, compact model that can be mounted easily on or around the lip of your kayak. If you have a larger kayak, you can take a look at more sophisticated units, but be careful not to buy one that will interfere with your ability to safely maneuver the craft. It’s also possible to install a fish finder on a swinging arm that can be moved out of the way when not in use; if your boat is large enough, you might want to consider this option.

Second, you should look for a screen that is capable of delivering sharp images in all weather conditions. This is important no matter where you’re fishing from, but in a kayak, it’s essential. When you’re fishing from a kayak, you’re that much closer to the water, so there’s a good chance the screen will be wet most of the time.

Finally, before making a purchase, make sure that the device is user-friendly. Since you’ll be focusing a great deal of energy and attention on controlling your boat, you want a fish finder that you can control easily with the touch of a few buttons.

What are the benefits of a fish finder?

Using a fish finder can help you locate all the choice spots where the fish might be hanging out. That’s its primary function, but there’s more to it than that. Some fish finders are equipped with GPS technology, so you can find your way to your favorite spots more quickly every time. They’ll also let you know the temperature and depth of the water, making it easier for you to judge whether this is a prime area for the kind of fishing that you’re doing. They can even alert you to possible dangers, such as rocks or strainers, that you might not have seen otherwise.

What should I look for when shopping for a fish finder?

The answer might differ depending on your individual needs, but here’s a basic list of features to be on the lookout for when shopping:

  • Transducer—the essential element, responsible for emitting sonar waves and sending the resulting data back into the central unit, where it can be read on the display
  • Transom mount—look for a plastic mount, as these are compatible with all boat types
  • Display—a color display will give you more information and be easier to read in direct sunlight than their black-and-white counterparts
  • Screen Resolution—look for the highest resolution you can afford, aiming for at least 240×160 pixels
  • Frequency—if you frequently fish in shallow water, look for a high frequency unit (at least 190 kHz); for deeper water, a 50 kHz frequency would probably be your best bet
  • Water resistance—for kayak fishing, try to find a JIS or IPX rating of at least six (any lower, and the unit won’t be able to stand up to high-pressure splashing)

Are there any major differences between fish finders for kayaks versus other types of watercraft?

Aside from the considerations listed above, the differences don’t have as much to do with the size or type of your craft, so much as with the kind of fishing you like to do. For example, if you enjoy fishing for bass, you’ll know that they’re a structure-dwelling fish—meaning that they like to hang out around felled trees or rock cover. This means you should look for a fish finder with GPS capability (to help you safely navigate the structure you’re fishing) and sonar capabilities (so you can better identify the objects you’re casting to).

For more tips on fishing from a kayak, check out this YouTube tutorial:

Are there any special parts or accessories I’ll need to go along with my fish finder?

In addition to a power source for recharging, you should have a supply of marine wire (18 to 22 gauge usually works well) and shrink butt connectors. These will connect the fish finder to your battery, thereby affording you many long hours of enjoyment on the water.

If the fish finder doesn’t come equipped with a mount, you’ll need to search for an appropriate one. Make sure the mount is the right size for the unit you’ve purchased, and that it can be safely installed on your kayak.

Are there any precautions I should take when using a fish finder in a kayak?

Before mounting your transducer, make sure you’re positioning it correctly. You should find the information that you need in the instruction manual. For kayaks, side-mounted transducers are preferable, since they allow for more maneuverability (especially if the kayak itself is outfitted with a track system). A side scan transducer needs full cone visibility if it’s to operate correctly, so using the kayak’s tracks to mount the system is usually the best way to go.

Best Fish Finder for Kayak: A Buyer’s Guide

#1 LUCKY Handheld Portable Kayak

This handheld unit comes equipped with a sonar transducer and an LCD display that somehow makes the two-inch display seem much larger. The transducer measures just 1.81 inches in diameter, and the entire device weighs in at just over one pound, making it small enough to hang around your neck. It’s capable of reading from 3 to 328 feet, in a temperature range of -14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and the beam angle measures 45 feet in 200 kHz. Note that the unit doesn’t have good water resistance—you’ll need to purchase a separate waterproof bag if you plan to use it on your kayak.


  • Compact size
  • Affordable price point
  • Reads structure, depth, and fish location with accuracy
  • Versatile temperature range (suitable for ice fishing as well as fishing from a kayak)


  • Low water resistance
  • Depth is calculated in meters, which could cause some confusion for American consumers
  • Relatively short battery life

#2 Garmin Striker 4

This offering from Garmin features a 4.3-inch screen with built-in GPS technology and the company’s exclusive ClearVu scanning sonar system, as well as CHIRP (compressed high intensity radar pulse) sonar for aid in distinguishing targets. The interface is especially user-friendly, and the unit includes mapping software capable of storing up to 2 million acres of territory (you can create maps with up to a 1′ contour). The screen will even give you a readout of the boat’s speed, which can be useful since fish finders work best when the boat is traveling at fewer than 5 mph. A portable kit option is also available, offering a range of screen sizes—you can choose from either a 3.5-, 5-, or 7-inch screen. The first option would probably make the best fish finder for small boat fishing, but it’s nice to be offered the choice.

In addition to the portable kit option, this unit is available in a slightly updated version (called the Striker Plus 4) that features a dual-beam transducer. Another version, this one with a built-in flasher for jigging in addition to the other features, offers the same screen sizing option as the portable kit device.


  • Excellent screen resolution
  • Carries an IPX rating of 7
  • Built-in GPS system
  • Available in a range of options
  • User-friendly interface


  • Doesn’t work as well in shallow water
  • Installation instructions are only available online
  • Relatively high price point

#3 Humminbird Helix 5

The five-inch display on the Helix is large enough to be viewed from several feet away, but the unit itself is still small enough to be comfortably mounted on the lip of your kayak, as it weighs in at just 2.5 pounds. Featuring CHIRP sonar with dual beam technology, a sophisticated built-in GPS system, and a Micro SD card slot for additional storage, this is a high-end unit with a price tag to match. The transducer is capable of both down- and side-imaging, making this one of the more versatile units on our list.


  • High-quality mounting bracket included in purchase
  • Provides accurate depth readouts
  • Built-in GPS system
  • Easy to install and operate


  • High price point
  • Some of the hardware is of conspicuously low-quality, especially considering the cost
  • Doesn’t work as well in shallow water

#4 Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4

Humminbird’s more budget-friendly option features a 4.3-inch screen, a dual beam sonar, and depth readout capabilities of up to 320 feet at 455 kHz and 600 feet at 200 kHz. The interface is easy to use, and the readout is clear and uncomplicated, though not as sophisticated as you’ll find on some of the higher-priced units. The tilt-and-swivel mount on the PiranhaMAX could come in handy in bright sunlight, especially if you’re one of those fishermen or -women who wants to constantly adjust your viewing angle.

This unit has a water-resistance rating of IPX7, meaning that it will continue to work even if it’s been submerged in up to three feet (or one meter) of water. Tech-minded shoppers should note that the PiranhaMAX does not have a built-in GPS system, so if this feature ranks high on your hit parade, you might do better to look elsewhere. Ditto for those who prefer to fish in deeper water—the down-imaging transducer becomes less accurate when depths fall beyond 35 feet.


  • Affordable price point
  • Impressive IPX rating
  • User-friendly
  • Tilt-and-swivel mount for easy viewing
  • Durable; performs well after long use


  • Side-imaging not available
  • Does not have GPS technology
  • Transducer doesn’t work well in deeper water

#5 Lowrance HOOK2 5

The wide-angle CHIRP sonar cone on the HOOK2 allows you to view large swaths of the underwater environment at one time—the side-imaging option alone is capable of reaching up to 300 feet on either side, though down-imaging is available as well. Its transducer can be mounted on the hull, on the transom, through a scupper hole, or even on a trolling motor (though kayakers are unlikely to care much about this last option). The pre-loaded mapping feature includes over 4,000 lakes with 1-foot contours for exceptionally detailed information storage, and there’s a slot for a Micro SD card for additional space and upgrading opportunities. This unit comes equipped with a five-inch screen, which is probably the best bet for kayak fishing; however, the model is also available in seven-, nine-, and twelve-inch versions.


  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Versatile mounting system
  • Built-in GPS system
  • High-resolution display that’s simple to read, even from a distance


  • High price point
  • Transducer bracket is low-quality, especially considering the cost
  • Unit is on the heavy side (3.68 pounds) for a kayak-mounted fish finder

#6 HawkEye Fishtrax 1C

The key selling point for the Fishtrax unit is its size, which is just six inches wide and three inches across—small enough to fit into the palm of your hand. It’s also the lightest fish finder on our list, weighing in at just 10.2 ounces. As for the screen, it measures 2.75 inches across, which is wide enough if the unit is installed nearby, but doesn’t offer the crisp resolution of some comparable models. The display offers readouts on water depth and temperature as well as on fish location.

It should also be noted that no specific water-resistance rating is advertised for this model, and that the battery case, in particular, is prone to leakage, which could lead to issues with rust if you’re not careful. This isn’t the most sophisticated unit on the market, but if you’re looking for small and portable above all else, then the Fishtrax could be the answer.


  • Compact, lightweight design
  • User-friendly interface
  • Gives reliable readouts on atmosphere and fish location
  • Affordable price point


  • No built-in GPS system
  • No mapping system
  • Display is very basic
  • Not especially water-resistant, especially around battery case

#7 Deeper Pro + Smart Sonar Wireless

The first thing you’re likely to notice about this unit is its unusual structure. Instead of a traditional screen-and-keypad design, the Deeper Pro + is shaped like a ball—a large-scale wireless transducer. When you link the device to your smartphone or tablet, you can use those screens to access the information it gathers, thereby allowing you to study the maps long after you’ve left the lake.

You can cast the Deeper Pro + up to 330 feet away, and it’s capable of reading depths up to 260 feet. The sonar has dual-beam frequency, with a 55-degree wide beam (at 90 kHz) and a 15-degree narrow beam (at 290 kHz). The water depth and temperature are also reported. While this is an unconventional unit, it might be convenient for kayakers who don’t want the hassle and obstruction associated with a boat-mounted craft.


  • Wireless fish finder
  • Built-in GPS system
  • Excellent customer service department
  • Provides good readouts even in murky or muddy conditions
  • Impressive mapping function


  • Slightly high price point
  • Must be linked to a smartphone, tablet, or other computer device
  • Not ideal for casting in shallow water

The Verdict

So, after reviewing all the products listed, which one would I recommend above the others?

This was a close call, but taking everything into consideration, I would have to give the edge to the Garmin Striker 4. It might be priced slightly higher than some of the other units, but it provides an impressive return on the investment all the same. The transducer has an impressive range, the digital readout is crisp and usually accurate, and the water-resistance rating is high enough that I feel comfortable mounting it on my kayak. I especially appreciate the range of options that are available for this model—if the 4.3-inch screen isn’t sufficient for some reason, you can always choose another. Although the transducer may run into some issues when used in very shallow water, the mapping function can help you avoid this problem if you tend to return to the same spots on a regular basis.

I hope these reviews have given you all the information you need to begin your search for the perfect fish finder for your kayak or small boat. Good luck on the water!

David Linsmeyer Avatar


1 thought on “What Is the Best Fish Finder for Kayak? [TOP 7 Products in 2024]”

  1. Question I’m in Ormond Beach FL and I kayak fish in only 2′ to 25′ mostly 2′-10′ of salt water what fishfinder with GPS, side scan, down scan and sonar would well in this shallow water? thanks


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