Fishing can be a fun, relaxing hobby if you have the right equipment for catching a few fish. One piece of equipment every fisherman should consider if they fish from a small boat or kayak is a kayak fish finder.
These devices can help you find where the fish are hiding out so you can haul in a big catch. In this article, we’re going to share a few of our favorites and illustrate what sets them apart.
Table of Contents
Each of the fish finders we reviewd in this article is a good tool for any fishing enthusiast to have in his or her tackle box.
However there can only be one winner and we chose the Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 Insight as our top pick for the best kayak fish finder.
Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder
3.6x 5.9 x 1.6
1,600 ft (freshwater) / 750 ft (saltwater)
Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3
3.3 x 8.48 x 5.76
Hummingbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2
1.1 x 7.5 x 4.3
Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+
2.6 x 2.6 x 2.6
Venterior Portable Fish Finder VT-FF001
9.6 x 2.2 x 5.9
HawkEye FT1PXC FishTrax
6 x 3 x 2
FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless
1 x 1 x 1
Norcross HawkEye F33P
15.2 x 7.6 x 5.1
Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro
13.8 x 13.8 x 13.8
Erchang Wired Portable Fish Finder
10.5 x 6.6 x 2.3
Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar
3.8 x 1.9 x 6.5
Made by one of the top names in marine technology, the Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder offers many features anglers will like for locating fish when they are out on the water. There are several models in Garmin’s Striker series, with the Striker 4 being their most basic unit.
- Dual Transducer - It has a dual-frequency transducer operating at 77 kHz and 200 kHz so that it can produce readings in both shallow and deep water. It has two conical beams of 15° at 200 kHz and of 45° at 77 kHz. The supplied transducer can measure a maximum depth of 800 ft. or 244 m.
- Transducer Options - A 50kHz transducer can be attached to the controller to allow it to operate at 50/77/200kHz. With the 50kHz transducer, it can also measure at a depth of up to 1,600 ft. for freshwater and 750 ft. for saltwater.
- Powerful Transmitter – Its transmission power is 200 W RMS or 1,600 W peak-to-peak. RMS, root mean square, is the amount of continuous power the transmitter can put out. Peak to Peak (PTP) power is the amount of power that can be put out at any one time. Both measurements tell you how much power a kayak fish finder has, which translates into how deep it can transmit.
- CHIRP Technology - The Striker 4 uses CHIRP sonar technology, so the images it produces are clearer, less cluttered and it allows for better-defined targets. When a school of fish is located, it won't appear as just one larger target, but you will able to see the school as several smaller targets.
- High Visibility Color Screen - The unit has a 3.5” HVGA color screen that has a backlight, so it has good visibility under direct sunlight. It also displays two applications at a time. The unit has GPS that allows you to mark up to 5,000 waypoints, so you can mark where you found fish, the dock where you launched from and other points of interest.
The Garmin fish finder includes a tilt/swivel mount, so it is ready to be installed right out of the box.
Lowrance makes several models of fish finders any angler would be happy to own, including the HDS-7 Gen3 Insight.
- CHIRP Transducer - This unit uses a CHIRP sonar scanner with an 83/200 kHz transducer so that you can find fish in both shallow water and up to a total of 750 ft. deep. Its CHIRP technology helps to provide great views of surrounding structures in the water, as well as any fish you come across.
- High Powered Transmitter – It includes the StructureScan feature that provides a picture quality 180-degree views of structures and fish beneath your kayak or boat. The transducer also provides a max power output of 500 W RMS.
- Color TouchScreen - The unit has a 7" WVGA full-color touchscreen display capable of showing three applications at a time. The screen has a LED backlight to allow the display to be seen clearly on bright, sunny days and darker, cloudy days as well. If you’re looking for the best kayak fish finder, then this Lowrance model could certainly be a contender for any serious enthusiast.
- GPS Chart Plotting – This fishing tool is also equipped with an internal GPS antenna operating at a frequency of 10kHz. It allows you to plot charts so you can return to any hot fishing spots you find. Along with being able to create charts, the HDS-7 Gen3 Insight also has charts for coastal and inland waters in the US, so no matter where you are fishing, you can pull up a chart to view the area.
- Wireless Connection- If you want to record your charts, there are two MicroSD card slots to download information for later use. With the Go Free feature, it doesn’t need to be connected to download or upload charts as it can be done wirelessly.
The unit can be set it up on your kayak or small boat quickly as it comes with a flush-mount cutout and a bracket for the device, all you need is a mount to attach it to the vessel.
Among the Hummingbird fish finder products is the Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2. It’s the smallest of the Helix models, which makes it a great option for kayaks.
- Dual Transducer - It features a dual-beam CHIRP sonar, which comes with a transducer operating at frequencies of 83 kHz, with a low range of 75-95 kHz, and 200 kHz that has a 175-225 kHz high range.
- Dual Cone Angles - The dual beams provide a sonar coverage of 20-degrees and 80-degrees, which allows for target separations of only 2.5”. The device can operate at a maximum depth of 1,500 ft. and can provide a maximum power output of 4,000 W PTP or 500 W RMS.
- High Visibility Color Screen - This fish finder has a 5” color WVGA display, with 256 colors. It has a LED backlight, which makes it visible in direct sunlight, cloudy weather and at night. The display can show a wide/narrow cone split screen, and you can either allow the screen to scroll or stop it using the freeze-frame feature.
- Fast Picture Transmissions - The spilt-screen can be zoomed in on for a better look at your targets, and it provides an instant image update, so you don’t have to wait for the next image to appear on screen. The screen can be adjusted, so it displays large digits to make it easier to read while you're busy navigating your kayak.
- GPS Tracking - Like many other kayak depth finders, this product comes with GPS and allows for tracking and chart plotting, but mapping is optional. Being able to plot waypoints allows you to note where you best fishing spots are so when you go back to that lake or river, you can easily find them.
Chart plotting helps you find your way back to your starting point or another waypoint along your route. If you want to download waypoints to locate them the next time you visit a lake or river, the device comes with a Micro SD card slot for saving them.
This fish finder looks very different than most others on the market because it doesn’t come with a display. The device is compatible with both OSi (Apple) 8.0 and Android 4.0 smartphones or tablets, so those screens display the information transmitted from the sonar. It also doesn’t require kayak fish finder mounts as the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ goes right into the water.
- Powerful Wi-Fi Connection - It connects to your smartphone or tablet with Wi-Fi, which allows for a better connection than their previous models that used a Bluetooth connection. The Wi-Fi connection lets it operate from up to 330 ft. or 100 m.
- Battery Powered - The 2.5", 3.5 oz. device is powered by a lithium polymer kayak fish finder battery, which provides six hours of continuous use with a two-hour charge time. It can also a USB port for charging.
- Dual Beams - The Pro+ has dual beams which transmit on frequencies 90/290 kHz for a maximum depth of 260 ft. or 80 m in freshwater. The connection allows you to get a detailed view of the 15-degree cone and a view of a larger 55-degree cone.
- Screen Control Features - This small device operates in all types of weather, and it can be used as an ice fishing flasher to allow you to see beneath the ice to examine the water column. It has a Split Screen mode to allow you to get a good view of your target fish. You can also zoom in on what you find for a better view.
- Creates Bathymetric Maps- The Pro+ not only allows you to download online maps when it’s in Boat Mode, but you can also create your own maps with its bathymetric maps of the bottom of a river or lake. Bathymetry is the study of the “floors” or bottoms of bodies of water and takes measurements of the river, lake or ocean depths.
The bathymetric mapping feature gives you a detailed map of the bottom of the river or lake you're on, and it can record the contours at the bottom to help reveal good hiding spots for fish. The device relays information quickly, so you won’t miss anything as it produces up to 15 scans per second. With these features, it is easy to argue that the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ is possibly the best fish finder for kayak.
If you’re looking for a device that doesn’t require kayak fish finder mounting, then the Venterior Portable Fish Finder is one you should check out. Its small size, 2.2”x 9.6”x 5.9”, will easily fit in your hand or it comes with a neck strap to keep your hands free.
- Wired Transducer – This portable device has a wired transducer with a 25’ cable to help you find fish whether you’re in a kayak, on a dock or ice fishing. It also comes with a removable float to attach to the transducer to make it easier to locate in the water.
- Wide Depth Range - The sensor has a beam angle of 45-degrees and helps display the floor of the river or lake you’re on so you can tell if there is grass, rocks or sand. It has a wide depth range, measuring from as shallow as 2.3 ft. to as deep as 328 ft. or 100 m.
- Battery Powered – This device operates on four AAA batteries, which are not included in the box. It can be used at extremely cold or hot temperatures, from -4°F to 158°F (-20°C to 70°C). It would be great for both ice fishing and taking out on your kayak in the summer.
- LCD Display – This Venterior fish finder has a black and white LCD screen with green LED backlighting so it can be read under sunlight or at night. The display can tell you where fish are located, but not an individual target’s size. However, at maximum sensitivity, you will be able to tell big fish from small ones on the screen.
This device is a good choice for kayaks as it works best when the vessel is moving at slow speeds, less than five mph. With its multiple features, the Venterior Portable Fish Finder is considered by many anglers to be one of the best budget kayak fish finders on the market.
Another good choice for a handheld portable fish finder for kayak is the HawkEye FT1PXC FishTrak. Of the three FishTrax fish finders, this model, the 1C, is designed for experienced anglers who want advanced features to help them haul in a good catch.
- Dual Frequency Beams – The transducer transmits in two frequencies, 83 kHz, and 200 kHz. At 83 kHz, it produces 83,000 sonar pulses per second, while at 200 kHz it produces 200,000 pulses per second to help locate fish in shallow or deep waters. At 83 kHz, it has a cone angle of 60-degrees, and the 200-kHz frequency has a cone angle of 20-degrees.
- Battery Powered – Although it is powered with four AAA batteries, the device is powerful enough to provide feedback to the transducer containing the type of details anglers need to find their targets.
It provides instant readings with information of the contours and composition of lake and river beds, the water temperature, and depth readings. It reads depths from 2.5 feet up to 240 ft. in increments of 1/10th of a foot.
- High Definition Display – This portable unit has a glare-free HD VirtuView color display. The display provides large number readings of the water depth, water temperature, and battery voltage, so you'll know when it is time to change the batteries. It also displays the level sensitivity, which ranges from 1% to 100%, being used to target fish.
- Three Mode Operation – The unit operates in three modes: fish finder, data, and ice-mode digital flasher. In ice-mode, it operates in real time, and, like most ice fishing flashers, it allows you to get information about what's underneath the ice so you can target suspended fish. It can also provide data from under your kayak, docks and other obstacles.
Although it is normally a handheld device, it can also be mounted to your kayak with the optional suction cup mount. The casing is waterproof, so you needn’t worry about it getting wet.
This Signstek portable fish finder is probably one of the most powerful handheld kayak depth finders on the market. It has a waterproof rating of IPX4, so it won’t stop operating if it gets splashed while you’re busy reeling in the big one.
- Floatable Transducer – Like many portable fish finders, this Signstek model has a floatable transducer for transmitting and receiving readings.
The yellow float makes it easier to see in the water, so you don't lose it when you want to move to another spot. Along with water depth, the readings help indicate the location and size of the fish, and the composition of the floor of the body of water you're fishing.
- Dual Frequency Sonar – The transducer transmits two frequencies of 83 kHz and 200 kHz. It produces depth readings from as shallow as 2 feet up to as deep as 240 ft. It will trigger the depth alarm at 3 to 99 ft.
- Small, Colorful Display – Although the screen measures only 2.4”, the LCD displays in 512 colors and has a resolution of V240xH160. It also has a white LED front light to make reading the screen possible at dawn or dusk. With a 100-level sensitivity adjustment, it provides the readings you need for the fish you’re targeting.
It is best not to use this device in temperatures less than 0-degrees Fahrenheit, as it really isn’t suitable for ice fishing. It is powered four AAA batteries.
When it comes to fish finders, experienced anglers may want more data than just where to locate their next catch. The FishHunter Directional 3D Fishfinder boasts more cutting-edge features than its competitors, as it can connect with your mobile phone or tablet to display and store data. There are several reasons to choose this FishHunter model when looking for a new fish finder, including:
- 5 Tri-frequency transducers: Five separate transducers working at 381 kHz, 475 kHz, and 675 kHz offer more power and more coverage than other portable fish finders on the market.
The higher frequencies allow the device to work well in shallow waters commonly frequented by kayakers, while lower frequencies let you see deeper. The FishHunter Directional 3D Fishfinder can show you targets up to 160 ft below the surface and up to 200ft away.
- Mapping capabilities: You can create your own custom maps of both new and favorite fishing spots to help you improve your success on future trips. Bathymetric mapping lets you track depth and seabed contours, giving you a clear image of the bottom of any lake or body of water, while 3D structure mapping gives you an even more detailed view of your surroundings.
- Directional casting: See the optimal angle and depth which you should aim for when fishing in any particular spot relative to the fish finder’s sonar. This feature helps you to land your bait in the best possible location, increasing your odds of a successful catch.
- 3D fishing view: You can see a life-like image of what’s on the seabed, including temperature change, contour depth, vegetation, and fish location. This allows you to evaluate the bottom at a glance and improve your catch rate.
- Smartphone Integration: This fish finder works alongside your mobile device to find, catch, and track fish as you collect valuable data. The built-in wi-fi connection doesn’t need a cell-phone tower to operate and has a range of 150 ft, allowing you to use it in a variety of settings.
Considering all the features that it offers, the FishHunter Directional 3D Fishfinder is competitively priced. It offers all of the standard features found in the average fish finder along with more technologically advanced functions that let you integrate with your mobile device. The unit is easy to cast from just about anywhere, including your kayak.
The Norcross HawkEye F33P is an ideal choice for the angler on a budget. It doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles of some of the more complex fish finders, but instead, it includes a simple display that’s easy to read at a glance. The device also includes other great features such as:
- 25-degree sonar beam angle: You can see accurate depths of fish and bottom structures as shallow as 1.5 ft or as deep as up to 100 feet below the surface.
- User-friendly design: To use the HawkEye F33P, all you have to do is turn the device on and toss the power sensor from your kayak to get readings. A VirtuView LCD Display uses black and white icons to indicate the location of fish, weeds, and underwater architecture
- Small size: The HawkEye F33P measures just 3 x 6 x 2 inches, allowing you to fit it in the palm of your hand, a tackle box, a fanny pack, or any other convenient location.
- Weather-resistant: You can use this fish finder at temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit without any issues, making it suitable for cold-weather fishing. Its liquid crystal display blocks any glare on sunny days.
The simple yet sleek design of this fish finder makes it an ideal choice for beginners, especially considering its low price. A trollable, mountable, and floatable sonar sensor allows you to easily use the HawkEye F33P from the comfort of your kayak, while the portable display includes a neck strap and storage case to keep it safe during your adventures.
When it comes to portable fish finders, the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro offers top-of-the-line technology at a reasonable price. Its small size and compact design make it perfect for kayaking, yet robust enough to find fish in any conditions.
- 4.3-inch all-weather screen: You don’t have to worry about your fish finder fogging up in bad weather or losing visibility in the sunlight with a state-of-the-art, optically bonded screen. The backlit LED display shows images in vivid color detail and is visible from a wide viewing angle.
- Dual-channel CHIRP sonar: With wide-spectrum CHIRP DownVision, you get photo-quality images when you scan the underwater floor below you, offering accurate details as far down as 600ft. A second, conventional CHIRP channel targets fish to give you a comprehensive view around your kayak.
- Wi-Fi capabilities: Built-in wi-fi allows you to stream sonar data straight to your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices. The Raymarine Wi-Fish mobile app offers anglers an online setting where they can share their catch of the day with the people you love through social media channels. The Navionics SonarChart Live app allows you to create your own bathymetric chart using your phone.
- Compact mounting system: You can install your Dragonfly 4 Pro just about anywhere with its sleek ball-and-socket mounting system. Raymarine also offers upgrades for their standard mounting system, such as the flat surface mount, that make the device even easier to attach to your kayak.
- Internal maps: You don’t have to worry about getting lost during your fishing trip with a working GPS system at your side. The Dragonfly 4 Pro has a built-in GPS as well as maps of major U.S. lakes, rivers, and coastlines courtesy of Navionics, C-MAP by Jeppesen or RaymarineLightHouse compatible charts.
Armed with the latest in CHIRP technologies, you can quickly find fish without any hassle. A user-friendly interface and simple display make it easy to navigate through even unfamiliar waters. Perhaps best of all, when the day is done, you can share your fishing adventures with friends and family.
Another cost-effective option when it comes to fish finders, the Erchang Wired Fish Finder gives you all of the information that you need to catch fish without any unnecessary distractions. It includes several features to help improve your catch rate, including:
- Generous coverage: A 45-degree beam angle allows you to see in the water at just 0.6m below the surface all the way to 100m below water level. A black and white display tells you the approximate location of fish, short & tall weeds, sand, and rocks present on the seabed.
- Five levels of sensitivity: Depending on the fish you’re looking for, you can change the sensitivity of the signal used by the Erchang Wired Fish Finder. Lower sensitivities allow you to select for bigger fish.
- Distinguish fish size: For even greater accuracy when searching for a particular fish, this device tells you the approximate size of a given fish in the left-hand corner of the display screen with either a small flashing fish icon or a larger one.
- Travel-friendly: This small fish finder is just 6.61 x 10.51 x 2.28 in, make it small enough to pack up and bring with you anywhere. It’s also easy to fit in the kayak with you and doesn’t require mounting.
This fish finder’s design makes it easy to use from your kayak, a boat, or the shore if you choose. Its versatility and price make it a good choice for both hobbyists and advanced anglers alike.
If you’re looking for a simple and affordable fish finder, the Lowrance Hook-3X might be what you’re looking for. It offers everything that you need to make your next fishing trip a success, and its lightweight design makes it easy to use in a kayak. The Hook-3 includes features such as:
- Sharp 3.5-inch LED display: With 320 X 240 resolution, the Hook-3 shows fish, temperature changes, and underwater landscapes in vivid detail despite its small screen. You can easily view the backlit screen from just about any angle, and even in direct sunlight.
- Broadband Sounder technology: Enjoy viewing depths of up to 1,000 feet with the Lowrance Hybrid Dual Imaging (HDI) Skimmer® Transducer. You can quickly identify schools of fish, bottom contours, underwater structures, and thermoclines.
- Hands-off readings: Advanced Signal Processing (ASP) automatically and continually updates your display to show you the best picture of your targets as you fish. The Hook-3 can recognize bubbles, machinery, and other unnecessary signals to distinguish the signal from the noise.
- Dual-frequency capabilities: Operating at 83 kHz, the Hook-3X provides a detailed view of shallow waters with a transducer cone angle of 60 degrees, making it ideal to use when kayaking. You can also switch to 200 kHz operation, which offers a deeper view.
- 4X zoom: See select spots up close and personal with impressive zooming capabilities, allowing you to hone in on a select group of fish.
The Lowrance Hook-3X gives you all of the tools that you need for a successful fishing trip, offering value without sacrificing quality. It works well in shallow waters, including lakes, rivers, and shorelines that are prime kayaking hotspots.
If you’re like most people, your eyes glaze over when you start reading about the technology behind the products you wish to buy. A fish finder is no different because you’ll start reading about transducers, sonars, screen resolutions, frequencies, and other technological features.
While the technical information may seem boring, it is necessary to know what some of the terms mean so you can pick out the best fish finder to help accomplish your goal of catching fish.
Probably the most common technical term you’ll come across is transducer or, sometimes, sonar transducer. No matter which fish finder you end up buying, a transducer will be included with it. A transducer’s function is to send out and receive sonar waves to help find fish.
The transducer in most high-quality fish finders is a cultured piezoelectric crystal that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy, which in this case is sound.
The fish finder transmits a signal which bounces off objects in the water and returns to the transducer. The data the unit receives is translated into a picture you can see and understand.
When choosing a fish finder, one of the important aspects of the transducer to consider is its cone angle. The cone angle refers to the width of the signal being sent from the unit into the water. As the signal emits from the transducer down into the water, the wider the signal becomes, the more ground it covers.
As the signal goes deeper into the water and widens, the more the signal will diminish. Most transducers are available with cone angles from 9-degrees to more than 60-degrees.
However, most fish finders will have 16- to 20-degree angles, with 20 being a good start for anglers who fish in lakes or rivers with varying depths. While standard transducers have one beam, there are more advanced units with multiple beams to help cover more water.
Another aspect of a fish finder for kayak you will need to consider its frequency. A transducer may have single, dual or multiple frequencies, with a dual frequency model usually having both 20 and 60-degree cones. Most transducers have frequencies of 50, 83, 192 and 200kHz, which is in direct relation to the cone angle.
The higher frequency transducers, 192 and 200kHz, work best in shallow water, while the lower frequency units are best for deeper waters. Also, the higher the frequency, the more details will be visible on the screen.
There are some transducers which have a frequency of 400 or more kHz, which includes a wider range of frequencies, so the images are very detailed. It also lets you switch between frequencies for broader or narrower views which provide more detail.
Some fish finders use CHIRP technology to help find fish when you’re on the water. CHIRP, which stands for compressed high-intensity radar pulse, sends out pulses with direct frequencies which allow for more detailed and accurate sonar images to display on the screen.
The unit using CHIRP sonar technology can compensate for inconsistencies in the feedback better, and the images are clearer so it can help distinguish between schools of smaller and larger fish. You could even determine the size of individual fish in a school.
The power of a transducer is also an important consideration when choosing a fish finder for kayak. The power is measured as wattage and the higher the wattage (W), the quicker it will display readings. In addition, the deeper in the water the readings can be.
Conversely, the lower the wattage, the slower the readings display. A low wattage transducer is more suited to shallower waters, like for lakes and rivers, while a higher wattage unit is more suited for fishing the bodies of water like the Great Lakes or in saltwater.
Frequency and wattage work together to display readings on a kayak depth finders screen. The lower the frequency, the deeper the readings will be. For instance, a transducer with a frequency of 50 kHz with every 100 watts of power can give you readings at about 400 feet deep.
A higher frequency transducer, such as 200 kHz, with every 100 watts of power can produce readings of about 100 feet deep. A dual frequency transducer can produce readings from high and low frequencies and will usually have a split-screen display.
The resolution of the screens on kayak depth finders are measured in pixels, like the display on your television or digital camera. The more pixels there are, the sharper the image will be and the more details you’ll be able to see. Of course, the screen size will also affect the image, so a larger screen with a high-resolution will provide a clearer view.
More fish finders have color screens as they are fast becoming the standard for consumer electronics. While a black and white screen provides a good display, a color screen which has a backlight is easier to see in the bright sunlight and provides vibrant images when the weather is dark and cloudy. However, the frequency and wattage are going to have more to do with how sharp the images appear on the screen.
Nick is the youngest member of the team and he’s very passionate about angling. He is the member that spends most of the time fishing at different locations around the world. His main focus is to simplify the techniques as much as possible and break them down so young anglers can catch up quickly. Nick loves the great outdoors and he’s a proud owner of a vast collection of customized fishing equipment.