6 Best Kayak Fish Finders for 2021
Kayak fishing is a ton of fun. Your next step after buying There’s always an element of surprise that keeps you hooked once you start. Fish finders help you ramp up your fishing game. They can take kayak fishing from a hobby to a sport, or simply help you find the best spot to fish for the day.
The best kayak fish finders enhance your small craft fishing experience. There are many benefits to kayak fishing like affordability and versatility. You can use one in almost any type of water with the correct gear.
Maybe you’re an amatuer angler hoping to go pro or simply looking to improve a hobby, good fish finders will help you get there. They use sonar technology to find what’s around you with fairly good accuracy.
There are a few things to consider before making a purchase. Our guide will show you seven of the best kayak fish finders for 2021. We’ll also walk you through important considerations to make before buying one.
Best Kayak Fish Finders
We think these are the best kayak fish finders for 2021.
- Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder – Best Value
- Garmin Striker 4 – Best Overall Fish Finder
- Lowrance HOOK² 4X – Specifically Designed for Kayaks
- HawkEye Fishtrax 1C – Best Portable Fish Finder
- Deeper Pro+ – Best Castable Fish Finder
- Humminbird 410210 HELIX 5 – Best Precision Imaging Fish Finder
Read more about their features and the pros and cons below.
The Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder offers the best value for money. It’s not the most advanced equipment, making it perfect for beginners or casual kayak anglers. The small LCD screen has an adjustable backlight and decent resolution. You can use it in dazzling sunlight or at night when visibility is low. The Venterior VT-FF001 will show you if an object is a fish, seaweed, rocks, or debris. The transducer has a 45° sensor beam. It comes with a 25 ft (7m) cord so you can fish from your kayak with ease.
You can easily calibrate the five sensitivity modes to your fishing needs. You can decide to see everything or ignore smaller fish. An alarm inside this compact fish finder will let you know when a school of fish is approaching. It’s exceptionally durable and has a sonar frequency of 200 kHz. You can use it in temperatures as low as -4°F (-20°C) and at a maximum depth of 328 ft (100m). The Venterior VT-FF001 takes 4 AAA batteries that last between four and five hours. There is a battery saving mode that will help you extend your fishing trip for an extra 30-minutes.
The Venterior VT-FF001 is compact and a great choice if you have a tight budget.
- Best value for money if you’re on a budget
- Easy to set up and use
- Has a 2-year warranty
- Short battery life
- No GPS
- Doesn’t show fish sizes
- Has limited features when compared with other fish finders
Garmin is head of the pack when it comes to navigation and fish finder technology. The Garmin Striker 4 has multiple features and a CHIRP transducer you can mount on the hull of your kayak. The CHIRP sonar system sends continuous frequencies, so you get the most accurate images and see everything that’s happening below you. It uses DownVu sonar. The simple display is available in 3.5, 5, and 7 inches. It’s easy to use whether a beginner or seasoned angler. It has a maximum depth of 1,600 ft (488m) in freshwater and 750 ft (228m) in saltwater.
You can track the speed of your kayak with this fish finder. It will help you move at the best speed for finding and catching fish. The best thing about the Garmin Striker 4 is that you can use it in any body of water. You can even use it for ice fishing or vertical jigging. It also has a flasher to assist you with deepwater fishing. It’s light, portable, and compact. It’s the best option for frequent travellers. You won’t get lost and can track your location throughout your fishing trip. The Garmin Striker 4 is one of the most popular fish finders among kayak anglers.
- Has a GPS
- Uses CHIRP technology
- Works well in any water
- Good readability in sunlight
- Excellent resolution
- Screen feels small to some
- Making it full portable means additional purchases
- Not accurate in shallow waters
- GPS controls aren’t the best
The Lowrance HOOK² 4X is THE fish finder for kayaks. Anglers designed, so you know it has all the features you need to take your fishing trip to the next level. If your kayak has limited space for a console, then this is the perfect fish finder for you. It comes with four transducer choices, namely Bullet Skimmer, SplitShot, Ice Machine, and TripleShot. You’ll get the best images as the sonar system automatically adjusts to changes in the water. The TripleShot transducer comes with a 3-in-1 sonar system. It includes wide-angle CHIRP, SideScan, and Downscan imaging. The Bullet Skimmer transducer’s Broadband sounder is one part of its 4-inch display. SplitShot is a 2-in-1 model with CHIRP and DownScan imaging.
The Lowrance HOOK² 4X has a GPS that helps guide your way, track your movements, and save your favorite routes. It comes with an SD card to easily save your data. The installation and setup guides are easy to follow because of its phone-like design. There are direct-access controls on the display so you waste less time figuring things out and more time fishing. You can track your bait, label fish, and see everything happening beneath your kayak. The CHIRP sonar is a wide-angle system that almost doubles your coverage. The Lowrance HOOK² 4X comes with a 1-year warranty. It’s easy to use, making it one of the best kayak fish finders of 2021.
- Has a GPS and other mapping options
- Intuitive user interface
- Has a wide-angle CHIRP sonar system
- There are four transducers to choose from
- Fits easily on smaller hulls
- Eight different display views
- Noise cancelling technology for perfect imaging
- Can’t record and rewind sonar like some other fish finders
- Only one screen size available
The HawkEye is another fish finder that’s perfect for kayak fishing. It might be small in size, but it packs the power. One downfall to the 3 in (7cm) display is that it uses polarized liquid icons, which don’t produce exceptionally detailed imaging. Anglers still find it easy to read even in direct sunlight. The HawkEye Fishtrax 1C has intuitive menu functions and the navigation system is simple to use. It uses 4 AAA batteries that give this fish finder 30-hours of continuous use. There are no cables, so you won’t struggle with tangling. It comes with a trollable transducer but also has other mounting options available.
If you use it as a trollable unit, you can go shore fishing. Simply attach it to a tether or floating device. The biggest pitfall with the HawkEye Fishtrax 1C is the dual frequency rather than CHIRP sonar. That being said, the two frequencies, namely 83 kHz and 200 kHz, work well in deep or shallow waters respectively. The sonar system has automatic switching technology and adjustable sensitivity. You can set the depth range automatically or manually.
- Easily portable
- Good display system
- Easy to use features
- Has 30-hour battery life despite being powered by AAA’s
- Over 100 sensitivity settings
- Has three transducer options
- Has HD color display
- Does’t have CHIRP
- No GPS
- Imaging isn’t as detailed as other
- Lag time when switching between sensitivities
The Deeper Pro+ is the most unique fish finder on this list. It’s self-contained, attaches to your line, and is cast into the water. The device connects with your iOS or Android device. It’s a kind of wireless transducer. Anglers can make long casts to scan the waters quickly before paddling out in their kayaks. You can also attach the Deeper Pro + to your kayak and use it like a typical fish finder.
The Deeper Pro+ has a GPS, diary, and fishing log. You can track all your routes and mark your favorite spots. Everything saves onto your smart device. You can cast it as far as 330 ft (100m). It has a powerful transmitter that emits a dual frequency of 90/290 kHz. It has a maximum depth of 260 ft (79m). The waves and chop of the water will impact signal strength from those distances. It has an internal battery that lasts around 5-hours. The Deeper Pro+ doesn’t have CHIRP sonar, which is off putting for many anglers.
- Connects with your smart device
- Covers ground quickly
- Has internal battery
- Heavy; difficult to cast with light rods
- 5- hour battery life
- Have to use smartphone on the water
- No CHIRP
A higher end fish finder, the Humminbird 410210 Helix 5 has the best graphics of all. The 5-inch screen has a TFT display, a resolution of 800 x 486 pixels, and 256 color range. It uses CHIRP, down imaging and Beam Plus sonar. It has a frequency range of 50-200 kHz. The HELIX 5 can reach a maximum depth of 1,500 ft (457m). The built in GPS and SD card help you track your fishing routes and save spots you like.
A big problem with the Humminbird HELIX 5 is that it doesn’t come with a mounting bracket. The display controls are also a little complicated to use. You can easily upgrade your purchase to include a transducer or 12-V rechargeable battery. It is the best precision imaging fish finder on the market.
- Has CHIRP
- Comes with a GPS
- God landscape orientation
- Built-in SD card
- TFT display
- Beam Plus
- Complicated interface
- No mounting bracket
Kayak Fish Finder Buying Guide
Before buying a kayak fish finder, remember to check your own equipment first. You must think about the type of fishing you do and how far out you’re planning to go. It’s important to understand the difference between the transducer varieties and understand if you really need a fish finder with GPS.
Here is our guide to purchasing the best fish finder for you.
Step 1 – Figure Out What Kind of Fishing You Do
Do you prefer structure or shallow fishing? Structure fishing is offshore and usually in deeper waters like large lakes or the ocean. You explore reefs, weed lines, and other structures. It’s best to use a fish finder / GPS combo, so you can track your movements.
Shallow fishing happens near the shore line and is more relaxing. Anglers usually go to ponds, coves, or small rivers when shallow fishing, so don’t need intense GPS systems. A simple fish finder with a compact size will do the job.
Step 2 – Examine Your Kayak
Start by sitting in your kayak and looking at the available mourning space. You could take it out for a paddle or emulate a fishing trip in your garage. Either way, look out for places where the fish finder may hinder movement.
Taking out your kayak would be best because then you can also test out your casting. Pay attention to where you move and place your rod while fishing. Think of the terrain and type of water you’re in.
You may find a spot after trying this and start to wonder about cabling. That’s the next step. Once you find a few places on your kayak that might be perfect for a fish finder, test out the cabling. You will be happier with your purchase if you’re thorough and fully examine your kayak.
Step 3 – Portable or Not
Consider whether you want a portable or permanent design. Portable fish finders are a lot easier to use and less likely to get damaged or stolen. It is frustrating when you forget it at home.
A permanent fish finder is great because you’ll never leave it at home, but it’s also more susceptible to damage. Portable is the better choice, but it depends on the type of kayak fishing you like to do.
Step 4 – Consider the Frequencies You’ll Need
There are many sonar systems that fish finders use. Know your frequencies before making a purchase.
- Low Frequencies – Lack detail but you can see deep into the water
- High Frequencies – Provide greater detail and accuracy because it carries more information than lower frequencies.
- Dual Frequencies – Fish finders can see deep into the water while providing good images using a dual frequency system
- CHIRP – The best sonar system on the market. It has a wide range of frequencies and is way more accurate.
Step 5 – Fish Finder Transducers
You must make sure to get the right transducer for your kayak and fishing needs. There are three mounting methods you can use.
- Hull Mounting – Most trusted method. Cut a sponge, rest the transducer on the bottom of the hull inside your kayak, and wait to receive signals.
- Transom Mounting – Here you use an arm to attach a fish finder to your kayak. The transducer goes into the water, but is susceptible to damage from the rocks.
- Scupper Mounting – Many kayaks have scuppers to make mourning a transducer easy.
Step 5 – Check Your Maximum Depth
Consider how far out you plan on going. You might want to do deep water kayak fishing or hang around the shoreline. You must know how far and deep you want to go.
If you’re planning to do shallow fishing, you won’t need a fish finder with extreme depth. Find a model with a good maximum depth but has all the other more important features as well. There’s no use having a fish finder with great depth if you sacrificed other features that were more important to you.
Step 6 – Display Size and Resolution
You may want a big or small screen. Whatever the size, check the resolution. You want to see fish and other objects clearly when you’re kayak fishing.
Step 7 – Will You Need a GPS
A GPS is crucial if you’re an angler you like deep water kayak fishing. You’ll want to track your movements and store data about the different spots you find along your trip. GPS helps you track the movements of fish, too. You can improve your catch rate with a good fish finder / GPS combo.
Some fish finders don’t come with a built-in GPS. These are perfect for those who want to do shallow fishing and don’t need detailed maps of their movements.
Step 7 – Battery Life
Finally, you should consider how long you plan on being in the water. If you know you like to spend hours kayak fishing, make sure you buy a fish finder with a decent battery life. Otherwise, make sure they take rechargeable or replaceable batteries, so you can easily change them when they run out.
Follow this guide to help you make the right kayak fish finder purchase for you. The six best kayak fish finders for 2021 will help you boost your catch rate and make it even more fun.