The Best Kayak Fish Finders Reviewed

A kayak can be one of the best possible ways to see the outdoors. You are truly free on the water and can even sneak up on unsuspecting fish and wildlife that you would never be able to encounter if you were out on a traditional fishing boat. If you are going to have any success fishing, though, you’ll have to have the right tools at your disposal to track them down and save your energy for only the best of them. A fish finder tailored specifically for kayak use will be perfect for you. Read this article if you you are looking for the best universal all-round fish finder. These will come in all shapes and sizes, but the fact remains that there are a few that stand out as far superior to all of the others that you might find online.

What to look for in a Kayak Fish Finder

Look for a Kayak Fish finder with these features:

  • Reasonable Mounting Space
  • High Transducer compatibility
  • High resolution Display
  • 12v Marine Battery Power Source
  • Lightweight
  • Weather resistant
  • Easy to update
  • Easy installation Guide
  • As few buttons as possible
  • GPS

Our Top 3 Picks

Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder
  • Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Professional Choice
  • Price: See Here
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Humminbird 386Ci Combo Fishfinder
  • Humminbird 386Ci Combo Fishfinder
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Top Resolution
  • Price: See Here
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Humminbird 561 DI Fishfinder
  • Humminbird 561 DI Fishfinder
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Advanced Features
  • Price: See Here
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Top 5 Kayak Fish Finders Reviewed

For one of the best options for your needs, be sure to check out these five fish finder models. When you are on a kayak, you will be hard pressed to do any better than these:

1. Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder

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For almost any type of fisherman, whether you are a weekend warrior or a professional fishing guide, this offering from Raymarine is one of the best. To start with, this model features a 5.7” color display that is designed to still be highly visible even in the brightest light.
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For your kayak, this is built to both IPX6 and IPX7 waterproof standards so that you know it is one of the safest for you. A single power and transducer connector will also make it easy to install and remove, along with tilt and swivel features. Powering this, though, is a system of two sonars in one, called Dual Channel CHIRP. One is a high resolution fish targeting channel, while the other is an ultrahigh-resolution DownVision Channel that will develop a perfect look at the floor of the body of water. You won’t have to adjust this sonar either, thanks to the high-tech design. In order to make sure that you can control it easily, there is a joystick cursor, rotary dial, and three button control.

Finally, the addition of GPS and a MicroSD card reader makes it possible to find and save your favorite spots for future reference.
Pros
  • Ability to image the sonar on phone or tablet
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to navigate
  • Accurate
Cons
  • Does not cover Puerto Rico area

2. Humminbird 386Ci Combo

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Humminbird has created yet another high quality fish finder with their latest 368Ci model. This is one of the highest resolution screens on the market, and at 320 X 240 pixels you are unlikely to find any with a clearer picture.
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This GPS and sonar combo unit has an internal GPS antenna that is omnidirectional and includes a dual beam sonar with SwitchFire technology that will give you the absolute best quality image of the world underneath the water.

Mounting it in your kayak is easy thanks to the quick disconnect feature and it is incredibly lightweight in the first place. In lakes, rivers, and coastal regions you will be able to use a 4 nautical mile map that shows you exactly where you are and precisely where you are going.

With this fish finder you will be able to reach a depth of 1500 feet in total using the 500 watta of power. That comes in a small amount of space, though, and you won’t have to worry about giving up any space on your kayak with one of these models. It isn’t one of the cheapest models, but it is a highly effective one.
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Accurate
  • Quality product
Cons
  • Pricey

3. Humminbird 561 DI

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Yet again, Humminbird has created a product that is found on this list of the top fish finders for your kayak. This model specifically is in black and white, but that doesn’t mean that it cuts any corners in order to give you a high quality image of the world down beneath.
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With the 5” display, 2,400 watt power supply, and 600 ft of depth view come together to make it one of the best options out there. It is less expensive than many of the other ones you’ll find, but for a small, compact model that works great on a kayak you can rarely do better than this.

Finally, there is a UniMap feature included that will show you where you are and where you are going, with optional Navionics and LakeMaster cartography features that will make it even more versatile and help you find and save all of your favorite fishing spots so you can come back time and time again.

This one is well worth taking a look at if you are going to be going out on your kayak, so don’t discount it due to the price. Any Humminbird would be worth a second look, but on a budget this is perfect.
Pros
  • Easy to install
  • Screen is bright
  • Accurate
Cons
  • Problems in reading depths correctly

4. Lowrance Elite - 4x HDI

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Lowrance is one of the least talked about brands that you should know when you are in the market for a fish finder on your kayak. This newer model also comes with a new and brighter display that measures to 3.5” and is full color with LED backlighting.
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What you’ll first notice with this particular fish finder is that it is incredibly small and compact given the amount of technology that is packed into it. Powered by 300 watts of fish finding power, this dual-frequency transducer will let you see 120 degrees of the area beneath you, down to a distance of 800 ft.

For finding everything, and making sure you don’t miss out on anything, there is a TrackBack feature included that lets you scroll back and see anything you just passed, along with the top of the line fish tracking technology that Lowrance has put years of research into.
Pros
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to navigate and use
  • Great price value
Cons
  • Without down-scan imaging

5. Garmin echo 301dv Fishfinder

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When you think of a feature-packed fish finder, what sort of one initially comes to mind? More features generally mean a larger form factor for any sort of gadget, and that very well carries over to the world of fish finders.
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These little gadgets have become incredibly powerful over the years, but all of the new features and functionality that we've gotten has beefed up these devices more than ever before. So, as a result, these once small and compact gadgets are now big and beefy devices that can often take up more space on our boat than we would like. But you know what? All those features that the big and clunky fish finders include are pretty great. If only there was a way to get all these features in a clean, compact, and small form factor. Lucky for you, the Garmin echo 301dv makes all of that possible.

To kick things off, the echo 301 packs in an all-in-one transducer that is able to produce not only HD-ID 77/200 kHz images, but also Garmin DownVu ones at the exact same time. The display here is able to be split in have, and this allows you to view all of that information simultaneously.

It's one of the best ways to view as much data as possible in on one screen, and it's a feature we wish every fish finder included. Rounding things off are nearly photographic images, a max depth of up to 1,750 feet below the water, and a narrow-to-wide viewing cone.
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Clear
  • Accurate description
Cons
  • The screen is a bit small

How To Choose The Best Kayak Fish Finder For You

On a kayak, you will be having to do something very specific, which is attach it to your small boat and have a way of keeping it from being ruined by the water. There are a lot of different features involved with a fish finder, but in particular for your purposes you should think about:

  • Is It Portable? Having a portable fish finder is vital to success on a kayak. You won’t have the space to hold a large unit that requires bulky sonar units. A portable unit will also make it lightweight, allowing you to find all of the most elusive fish without having to add any additional weight to your kayak, which will help you row farther and faster in the long run, no matter how little weight you think you are adding at the time.
  • What Depth Can It See To? When kayaking, you are going to be able to reach places that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to without spooking the wildlife. With that in mind, it is easy to see why it is so important to be able to see everything that is going on underneath your kayak. In some places, you will end up getting somewhere that lets you reach depths that few people have, but you’ll have to be able to see that deep.
  • Is It Waterproof? It should go without saying, but on a kayak there is a good chance that you will get wet, as well as your equipment. A good kayak fish finder will have the ability to stay waterproof through all of your excursions, no matter how intense they might get.

How To Install A Fish Finder On Your Kayak

Watch this video for some handy instructions on how to install a fish finder on your Kayak. This applies to all fish finders, not just the ones that are used in this video. We also recommend you to read this article on how to use your fish finder effectively to find more fish.

Kayak Fishing Set Up

Check out his video for some hints on kayak set up:

Kayak Fish Finder FAQ

When it comes to vehicles that are used to go out and roam the open waters, few offer as much fun and freedom as that of a kayak. Although they might be far from the biggest or most powerful boat out there, something about their small size and lack of high-tech features make them incredibly attractive to a lot of folks out there. Kayaks are great ways to explore lakes and rivers on a much more personal level, as the experience you get when traversing a body of water on a kayak is much different than that of traveling on something like a pontoon boat or jet ski. However, it is worth mentioning that the experience definitely isn’t for everyone. Traveling on a kayak requires quite a bit of physical strength – especially when dealing with rough or active waters. Without an engine or anything to keep you moving, all of the power is reliant on your ability to row and paddle your way around the water you’re in. This may seem like a nightmare to some people, but to others, it’s the only true way to experience the wide, open waters that are out there.

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If you’re the kind of person that loves to travel waters by way of a kayak, you might think that you have a pretty firm understanding on everything that goes into traveling rivers and lakes by this means of transportation. You’re more than likely familiar with the equipment you need to take with you, the limits of how many additional items that you can carry, how to paddle without getting over-exhausted, etc. These are all excellent bits of information to know, but how familiar are you with fish finders that are designed specifically for use in kayaks and other small boats?

Believe it or not, many fish finders that are out there on the market are designed especially for use in a kayak. Despite their small size, some folks out there prefer fishing in shallower waters by way of a kayak. Despite it’s smaller size, it’s incredibly portable, lightweight, and can provide just enough storage space for a small trip of fishing on your favorite lake. And, as with any fishing trip that you embark on, a fish finder will go a long way in helping you find the absolute best spots to spend your time. Without a fish finder, so much time can be wasted in an area where there aren’t any fish to be had at all. If you aren’t careful or paying attention, you might waste an hour or two in a section of water where the fish simply are not biting at all! When you bring a fish finder along with you, you can use them to determine the best spots possible for all of the fish to be caught during your expedition.

But let’s say that you aren’t entirely familiar with fish finders, albeit fish finders that are designed just exactly for the best use on a kayak. If this is your situation, and you’re wanting to know more about fish finders for kayaks, you might not know where to turn. There are so many different kinds of fish finders and fish finder guides out there that it can often be difficult to determine whether or not the information you’re looking at pertains to fish finders for kayaks. We noticed that this was becoming a bit of a problem, and decided to do something about it.

In this guide, you will find the most frequently asked questions about kayak fish finders. This is a much bigger market than you may initially anticipate, and as a result of that, there are a lot of very important questions that need to be asked. However, more importantly, they need to be answer as well. So, without any further ado, here is our complete guide for the best and most popular kayak fish finder FAQs.

Q: What is an ideal screen size for a kayak fish finder?

When you set out to research possible fish finders to buy, you’ll quickly notice as to just how many different screen size options that are available. Although they all used to be about the same general size, screen sizes for fish finders are now more varied and different than they ever have been. There are options out there for average sizes, super compact, and ones that are as big as they can possibly get. However, when it comes to getting a kayak fish finder, what’s your best bet for the ideal screen size that you want to have?

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Although it can often be tempting to go for the biggest screen size out there to get as much information on the screen as you possibly can at once, smaller screens are much better suited when using a fish finder on a kayak. The ideal size that you’ll want to look for is around 4-inches or less. This might seem a bit too small, but you are still able to get an ample amount on info on the screen at one time. Plus, when you consider the general small size of kayaks, you’ll greatly appreciate the extra space you have when you decide to opt for a fish finder that has a screen size of 4-inches or less. Choosing one that has a screen of around 5 -inches will definitely be pushing it and get your cramped up while you’re on your kayak, and anything that’s larger than 5-inches will absolutely require some sort of ram mount if you want to take something along these lines with you.

Q: How will my fish finder get power when used on a kayak?

It should go without saying that fish finders require some sort of power source in order to operate. There is so much technology being used in these gadgets nowadays, and they need a steady and reliable source of power in order to power up and deliver you the information that you want to see. When it comes to powering a fish finder in a kayak, there are actually a couple different ways that you can go about this. First of all, you can decide to go the DIY route and construct your own type of power source. In order to do this, you’ll need to get your hands on a marine battery and a waterproof box in which you’ll store it in. Once you have these items, you will then need to find a way to run the wires from the marine battery to the transducer and display of your fish finder. This will power and sort of normal fish finder that you buy or have, but it definitely does require a bit of work on your end in order to make it happen.

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If that sounds like too much hassle for you, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a much easier way to get power to a fish finder when using it on a kayak. The answer? A portable fish finder! Portable fish finders are actually quite common nowadays, and they get their portable nature from the included battery back that they come equipped with. Just like your smartphone or tablet, portable fish finders have internal batteries that are built directly into the unit. And, just like your smartphone or other portable device, get juiced up once again by simply plugging it into a wall outlet and recharging it. Additionally, there are other portable fish finders out there that simply use standard batteries that you can buy at any convenience or dollar store around you. These options come equipped with waterproof battery storage areas so the batteries you put in won’t be facing any potential issues with water leaking in and wrecking your entire system. Either option here is a great way to go if you don’t want to go through the time and effort that is required when constructing your own power source. However, both options are effective for getting power to your fish finder when using it on a kayak.

Q: Where is the best place to mount my fish finder when I take it out on a kayak?

Kayaks are limited in room and storage, and that is easily one of the most unattractive things about them that so many people don’t like. When you go out on a fishing trip, it can be easy to try and take as many items with you as possible to make sure that you don’t forget anything at all that you might possibly need during your trip. With that said, some people genuinely appreciate the lack of space and storage that kayaks come with. With our busy and constant working lives, it can be easy to carry that same mindset with you when you’re moving from the office to the water. With a kayak, that mindset simply won’t work. Fishing on a kayak requires you to downsize, take it easy, and only take the bare essentials with you. However, this can pose a real problem when trying to figure out where to store or mount your fish finder if you take one with you out on a kayak. Thankfully, there are a couple different ways to go about this that are actually quite effective.

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First of all, you can take the transducer of the fish finder and mount it to the inside of the hull of your kayak. From here, the rest of the fish finder will easily be able to shoot out through the plastic it comes into contact with without any problem at all – allowing you to get precise and accurate readings of all the fish that may or may not be in your area when out on your kayak. Additionally, there are other fish finders out on the market that come equipped with suction cup mounts that allow you to stick the fish finder directly to the side or back of your kayak. If you are able to find a fish finder like this, it can often be the most effective and most convenient option in regards to mounting it to your kayak. Not all fish finders come with this, and the ones that do are often tailored specifically towards ones that are meant to be used with a kayak. However, with a little savvy shopping, it shouldn’t take you too long at all to locate one of these if that is the route that you want to take in regards to mounting it to your kayak.

Q: Should I get a GPS with my kayak fish finder?

Ah, the age old question as to whether or not you should get a fish finder that comes equipped with a GPS radio. GPS-enabled fish finders are incredibly nice for getting the most precise and accurate readouts of your location, and can often be absolutely necessary if you’re out fishing on a big, wide, expansive body of water that you’ve never been out on. However, when we’re talking about fishing on a kayak, you’re more than likely going to be using it in your backyard lake, river that runs through your neighborhood, or other small or medium-sized body of water that you’re pretty familiar with. If this happens to be the case, it’s usually best to save a few bucks and opt for a unit that omits the use of a GPS. While there’s no denying that they’re nice and fun to have, if you’re on a bit of a budget, a kayak fish finder is perfectly fine without having a GPS unit baked in. You can certainly go for one that has a GPS in it if money isn’t an object, but it really isn’t necessary if you want to save as much money as possible.

Summary

And with all that said, those are the most frequently asked questions that we see and get in regards to folks wanting to know more about kayak fish finders. As you now can see, there actually are quite a few differentiating factors that truly do separate them form traditional fish finders that you would use with an average or regular boat. Kayak fish finders are almost a breed of their own, and thanks to these answer we’ve provided today, you hopefully shouldn’t have any trouble when you set out to buy a kayak fish finder of your very own!

Conclusion

If you have a kayak, you will need to make sure you choose one of these. With the information you now have you could make your own decision, but if you want one of the absolute best you shouldn’t look any further than these five. They are the top of the line and products that will certainly not only serve you for years to come, but help you catch more fish than you could have ever dreamed of.

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