7 Best Fish Finders for Kayaks in 2020

Today we take a look at some of the best fish finders for kayaking at various price points. Tag along as we help you pick the right fish finder for your specific needs.

Best Overall
Hummingbird Helix 5
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Best value
Lowrance HOOK2 5
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Best Premium
Garmin Striker 4
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Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated August 15, 2020
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Introduction

Whether you’re an experienced angler, or you’re just getting into the sport of fishing, there’s no doubt that it can be a whole ton of fun for people of all ages. 

There’s the thrill of the catch, the time spent with your family or friends by the water, and the sense of accomplishment when eating a freshly caught meal of fish straight from the lake… that is, of course, if you’re able to find and catch the fish in the first place!

But as I’m sure you already know, even the best anglers get skunked every now and again. 

So to help make your next angling experience much more fruitful, as well as helping you learn the structure and area of the lakes that you’re fishing, there’s no doubt that a fish finder can be an invaluable tool to add to your arsenal of tackle. 

Top 7 Best Fish Finders For Kayaks And Canoes

Not only does a fish finder increase your odds of being able to find and catch fish, but using one can also help you hone your skills by learning how fish behave in certain types of water, or during different weather conditions. 

Below, we’ll jump into the top 7 best fish finders to use for a kayak. 

Afterward, we’ll go through our quick buyers’ guide and F.A.Q. to help explain the most important features to look for when shopping around for a good quality fish finder.

1. Hummingbird Helix 5 Fish Finder

Best Overall
Hummingbird Helix 5 kayak fish finder

If you’re looking for the perfect balance of high-quality features and affordability, make sure that you look twice at the Helix 5 lineup of fish finders from Hummingbird. 

These fish finders offer amazing, uncompromised 5-inch HD color display, which Hummingbird has combined with its powerful CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar, capable of putting out a total of 500 watts to give you an amazingly accurate and immersive fishing experience. 

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Helix 5 even comes complete with a built-in internal GPS and real-time mapping capabilities, which ensure that you’ll be able to know where you are at all times, no matter where you go on the lake. 

The device also has a Micro SD slot, which allows you to upload different maps, as well as being able to save waypoints on your maps for future usage. As the best combination of quality and price, the Axiom 7 is sure not to disappoint.  

2. Lowrance HOOK2 5 Fish Finder

Best Premium
Lowrance HOOK2 5 fish finder

If you’re looking for the best premium fish finder for your kayak, canoe, or small boat, the Lowrance HOOK2 is going to be right up your alley! But why? I bet you’re asking. 

Well, aside from its impressive 5-inch digital display, its powerful TripleShot Transducer, and its built-in maps of most U.S. inland lakes, the HOOK2 5 is considered as one of the overall easiest fish finders to use thanks to its auto-tuning sonar, and cell phone-like menu screens, which make using it as easy as can be. This way, you can spend more time fishing, and less time fiddling with your menus. 

Additionally, the TripleShot transducer is designed to produce a wider angle sonar cone than most other comparable fish finders, which gives its user even better coverage of the lake bottom. Because it’s specifically designed for smaller boats, canoes, and kayaks, the HOOK2 5’s transducer can be mounted in a wide range of position variations.

And at the same time, the patented TripleShot transducer gives you three different sonar views to choose from: DownScan, which looks straight down at the bottom, a CHIRP sonar fish arch view, making it easier to distinguish individual fish, and a SideScan view, which provides you with up to 300’ of coverage on either side of your craft. 

Finally, the Lowrance HOOK2 5 fish finder is also equipped with GPS, allowing you to add waypoints, create routes, and easily navigate lakes and rivers anywhere that you go! 

3. Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder

Best Value
Garmin Striker 4 with transducer

Small and powerful! Portable and convenient! Useful and affordable. Truly, what more could an angler ask for? 

Designed with a brand-specific Clear-Vu scanning sonar, the Garmin Striker shows you more of what’s at the bottom of the lake, without taking up any more room on your small boat, canoe, or kayak than necessary. 

Plus, the unit’s high-frequency sonar offers near-photographic imaging of fish, objects, and structure beneath the surface. For a budget-friendly fish finder, the Striker certainly delivers in terms of both quality and performance. 

On top of that, the Garmin Striker has a simple-to-use interface with key-touch buttons, which makes using your fish finder as easy as possible while you’re out trying to cover as much water as you can. 

This fish finder is also waterproof and comes with either a 3.5”, 5”, or 7” inch display. 

You can also use your Garmin Striker’s GPS waypoint map to mark and navigate your surroundings in real-time. And finally, the unit’s powerful sonar is capable of detecting crisp, clear fish arches with optimum target separation in freshwater at depths of up to 1,600, and up to 750 feet in most saltwater bodies.

4. Raymarine Axiom 7 Fish Finder

Raymarine Axiom 7 Fish Finder with Built in GPS, WiFi, Chirp Sonar and RealVision 3D with Transducer and Navionics+

If you’re still not settled on the best fish finder to add your kayak or canoe, then make sure that you’re sitting down before you take a look at the awe-inspiring, all-powerful Raymarine Axiom 7 fish finder.

With its impressive quad-core processor, the Axiom 7 offers lightning-fast performance without any lag whatsoever. Plus, this fish finder is also equipped with powerful CHIRP sonar, which provides users with 3 different underwater views; downward, sideways, and traditional, for the best, most accurate imaging possible. 

But what really sets the Raymarine Axiom 7 apart from other similar fish finders is that is had in-built Wi-Fi. With this, users can easily connect their fish finder to the Raymarine App. In turn, they are able to view and control their unit directly from their Android or iOS devices. 

Finally, if all that still wasn’t enough to convince you that the Raymarine Axiom 7, it also comes with Navionics+ charts and maps, identifying approximately 20,000 lakes, rivers, ponds, and other bodies of water in both the United States and Canada. 

5. HawkEye Fishtrax Virtuview Finder

Best Fish Finders For Kayaking 1

With the awesome power of HawkEye’s Fishtrax Virtuview Fish Finder, anglers can easily get a precise reading on underwater objects, structure, and fish within a 240-foot vicinity of their boat. 

Plus, you’ll be able to scan your surrounding with the full HD color display, designed with an LED backlight, giving you a crystal clear, glare-free image of below the surface. 

Ideal for small boats, canoes, and kayaks, the HawkEye Fishtrax is extremely small, portable, and can be used for trolling, still-fishing, or simply to get a better idea of what things look like at the bottom of the lake. 

I should also mention that the Fishtrax uses algorithmic software to reduce false readings while providing an audible alarm to alert users to the presence of fish. 

6. LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder

LUCKY Portable Fishing Kayak Fishfinder

Designed to be more portable than most other fish finders, the LUCKY Handheld fish finder is perfect for taking along with you in your kayak or canoe. You can even hang the display module around your neck for maximum portability and convenience. 

Capable of detecting fish, structure, and objects at depths of up to 328-feet below the surface. Furthermore, the transducer has a 25-foot cable, which allows for even more convenience and versatility. 

And lastly, LUCKY fish finder comes uses 5 separate sensitivity modes, offers up to 5 hours of battery life, and comes with a 12-month warranty. 

7. Venterior Wireless Fish Finder

Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder

Along with its crystal clean TFT LCD display, which can be switched between color mode and greyscale, the Venterior Fish Finder is perfect for fishing in all lighting conditions. But truly, the best part about the Venterior fish finder is that its transducer is completely wireless for up to 262-feet. 

With depth detection up to 131-feet, the Venterior wireless fish finder displays depth, water temperature, bottom structure, as well as fish depth and being able to differentiate between small, medium, and large-size fish. 

Plus, this unit is designed to be portable. Therefore, there’s no need to drill holes in your canoe or kayak. Simply pull out your fish finder when needed, drop it into the water, and enjoy a better view of what things look like on the bottom. 

Kayak Fish Finder Buying Considerations 

If you’ve been shopping around for a fish finder, I’m sure that you’ve noticed most brands offer products with similar specs and features. After all, the main purpose of any fish finder is to be able to give you a set of eyes beneath the surface, which, unfortunately, can make it tricky to know what you’re looking for in the stores. 

Below, I’ll explain the 4 most important factors to keep in mind when shopping around for a good-quality fish finder for a kayak, canoe, or small boat. 

Digital Display

Generally, you’ll see fish finders that either have a greyscale display or a full-color display. A full-color display is, of course, going to offer you much better imaging. But the downside to a colored display is that they’re typically more expensive. 

On the other hand, fish finders with a greyscale display are usually available at significantly cheaper prices. But the downside is that you won’t get nearly as good a picture quality or imaging.

Screen Size And Definition

One quick look at what’s available online and you quickly notice that fish finders come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. In turn, it’s a good idea to think about how big of a fish finder you really need/want, especially if you’re looking to add one to a smaller boat or canoe.

Obviously, smaller displays are going to be more convenient on smaller watercraft. But at the same time, your screen won’t deliver the same quality of imaging you’ll get with a bigger display.

Similar to the size of your display, your screen’s definition will also play a major part in the image quality you’ll get from your fish finder. For the best results, and the most immersive experience, make sure to look for a fish finding with an HD screen. 

Additional Features

Although a fish finder is typically used for viewing structure when hunting for fish, there are many different models of fish finders, which may come with a wide range of additional features, such as backlight screen, GPS mapping, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc. 

So, don’t be shy to shop around. Spend some time getting to know the most popular makes and models on the market and weigh them against what you really need and want in a unit. 

Just remember, there are plenty of features to look for that aren’t mentioned on this list. So take your time, think about what you really want, and then you’ll be able to make the best decision when it comes to finally making your purchase. 

Budget

In the end, your own personal budget is the single most important factor to keep in mind when shopping for a fish finder. That’s because fish finders can easily range in price, from as low as under $100 to more than $1,000. 

Therefore, my opinion is to look for the best quality fish finder, with the most features, while always keeping your own personal budget in mind. 

F.A.Q. On Kayak Fish Finders

fisherman paddling around in a fishing kayak

As the name implies, fishing finders help anglers find fish. 

But, to help you get an even better idea about these extremely handy angling tools, I thought it might be a good idea to take a quick look at a few frequently asked questions about how fish finders; how they work, how to use them, and whether or not a fish finder is right for your angling experience. 

How does a fish finder work?

Essentially, a fish finder uses sonar to detect and display any structure or land below the surface of the water that you’re on. 

For this, the fish finder’s transducer emits short burst of sound waves down into the water. 

When the sound waves run into underwater objects like structure, vegetation, or fish, they are reflected back up to the surface and detected by the fish finder. 

In turn, by timing how long it takes for its sound waves to travel down, bounce off an object, and return to the surface, your fish finder is able to provide you with a fairly accurate image of what things look like down below the surface.

Is a fish finder worth it on a kayak?

There’s no doubt in my mind that a fish finder is an extremely useful purchase for any angler who uses a kayak or canoe. But that doesn’t mean that every kayaker or canoer should have a fish finder. 

In fact, it really only depends on how much fishing you plan on doing from your craft. 

In other words, if you do actually intend on doing a lot of fishing, I’d definitely say a fish finder is worth it on any canoe, kayak, or small boat. 

You’ll get a better idea of the lakes you’re fishing in, and in turn, you’ll be able to increase your chances of landing the big one. 

But on the other hand, if you mostly use your craft for recreation and exercise, a fish finder might not be the best investment since you won’t really need to see beneath the surface other than to satisfy your own curiosity. 

However, the one thing I can tell you is that if you’re thinking about whether or not a fish finder is right for you, you’d definitely get some enjoyment out of having one of these extremely handy devices on your watercraft.

Where do you mount a fish finder on a kayak?

Where you mount a fish finder really depends on the size of your kayak and the way that it’s set up. 

For instance, if you’re in a paddling kayak, you’ll want your fish finder mounted in front of you, where it’ll be out of the way while you paddle. However, if you have a pedal kayak, you’ll be able to mount your fish finder either side of you, without it being in the way of your oar. 

Additionally, depending on the type of fish finder you purchase, you might need to install a battery or some other type of power source. Your fish finder should come with its own mounting instructions that you can use to get a better idea of how to properly install it on your kayak.

However, your fish finder will also have a separate sonar device, known as a transducer, which will need to be mounted to the side of the boat, below the waterline. 

Wrapping It Up

Whether you’re a young, budding fisherman, or you’ve been fishing for half a century, there’s no doubting the fact that a fish finder can be an extremely invaluable tool to add to your tackle and gear. 

Not only does using one increase your odds of catching a fish, but having on mounted in your kayak, canoe or boat can help you better learn the shape and structure of the lakes that you’re fishing on, as well as making it easier to navigate with GPS waypoints and mapping capabilities. 

In the end, no matter what make or model of fish finder you choose, just make sure to keep the buying considerations we’ve discussed here today in mind. 

And with that said, I hope this guide on the best kayak fish finders of 2020 has helped you get a better idea of what type of fish finders are currently available for kayaks and canoes, as well as how to make your next fishing experience that much more enjoyable.

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