Kayak Fish Finder – Discover the Best kayak fish finder

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5 best Kayak Fish Finders for your kayak

Looking for the best kayak fish finder? Look no further. We’ve done the research and present to you 5 of the best in order from most expensive to least to make your decision making process easier.



Kayak fishing has become an increasingly popular pastime.
The simplicity of being able to launch and fish from a variety of water opens up a myriad of possibilities, coupled with the ability to get close to the action, fighting and landing a fish from your kayak is a thrill not to be missed.
Well, you can only catch them if you can find them, and that’s where a kayak fish finder comes in. What’s the best fish finder for kayak fishing? We’re here to answer that question for you.

Looking for the right fish finder can potentially be a bit overwhelming. They tend to have similar features and come in similar sizes which can make it confusing and time consuming to sift through all the information.

We’ve put this article together in the hope of simplifying the process for you. 

We have combed through the best of what’s available and picked out what we consider the best buy for each size/price category. 

Everybody has different needs and budgets so please feel free to look further and spend some time getting to know what each one offers and whether or not it would work for your situation.

Click here to check out our buyers guide below.

5 Best Kayak Fish Finders – For Your Budget

From most expensive to least.

Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP, MEGA SI GPS G3 NAV (410950) – Best Features

If you are looking for all the bells and whistles then this might be for you!

Humminbird’s Helix 7 CHIRP, MEGA SI (Side Imaging) GPS G3 NAV. That’s quite a mouthful and it’s no wonder, there is a whole lot going on in this package. 

So what do you get for the upgrade in price from the model below?

All the same great features that are in the Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 above plus a whole lot more.

A bigger screen, temperature graph, Coast master and lake master compatible, heading sensor GPS compatible, mounting hardware, gimbal and mounting bracket…

Featuring Humminbird’s Dual Spectrum CHIRP and powerful MEGA Side and MEGA Down Imaging technology that produces crisp clear images with well defined fish arches out to a whopping 125 feet on either side and below. More than ample for a kayak! 

Alongside Humminbird Basemap and AutoChart Live this version comes with the Navionics+ SD card loaded with map coverage of more than 21,000 lakes and waterbodies in the U.S. and Canada. A nice bonus for sure.


If you want it all the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP, MEGA side imaging GPS G3 NAV. is our pick.

Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP DI GPS G2 (410220-1) – Best overall

If you’ve been looking at the Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 range from Hummingbird you’ve been looking in the right place. 
They have produced a combination of outstanding features at a price that’s hard to beat.
In that line up is our overall favourite, the Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP DI (Down Imaging) GPS G2!

Featuring beautiful imagery on its crystal clear 5 inch HD color display and boasting multiple menu functions for the ultimate customisable experience.

Humminbird’s CHIRP Digital Sonar, DualBeam PLUS with it’s hi peak to peak output provides you with vibrant, detailed imagery enabling you to see individual fish, objects and structure clearly, bringing you closer to the action.

Featuring Humminbird’s CHIRP DI (Down Imaging) technology which gives a much clearer image of what’s beneath making interpreting the data much easier than before. Well worth the upgrade.

It gets even better. The Helix 5 GPS G2 is a GPS enabled unit with real time mapping available. Humminbird’s AutoChart Live enables you to map your favourite spots which you can keep on the device or upload to your computer for future use. There is also a Micro SD slot to use a Humminbird ZeroLine SD Card for loading and storing data.

The Helix 5 G2 also comes with the Humminbird Basemap built in. At your fingertips are charts of more than 10,000 lakes plus coastal coverage of the U.S. showing you a clear view of the underwater terrain.


Humminbird combines high quality features and affordable pricing all in a kayak sized package, that’s why the Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP DI GPS G2 410220-1 is our top pick

Also check out Humminbird’s incredible SI (Side Imaging) technology, the Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 (410230) is well worth a look, though it is a considerable step up in price.

Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 (410210-1) – Runner Up

The Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 is a hugely popular model, and for good reason. Even though it lacks the Down Imaging capability of it’s bigger brother it still packs in all the rest of the incredible features.

At a cheaper price point and with solid reviews it is still an amazing buy.


If you can’t quite stretch the budget enough for the DI version then check out the Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 (410210-1)

Garmin Striker 4 GPS – Best Value

The popular Garmin Striker 4 may be small but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to features and value. 

Weighing only 8.1 oz, it is portable and easy to install and when combined with a water rating of IPX7 you have an excellent kayak fishfinder. They also sell a 

The Garmin Striker 4 features an easy to use button interface and a full color 3.5 inch LCD screen to keep you in touch with what’s below. It comes with a CHIRP (mid & hi)  50/77/200 kHz Transducer which provides greater detail and target separation than standard 77/200 transducers. There is also the option to upgrade to a GT8 or GT15 transducer for more performance.

Garmin’s ClearVü scanning sonar technology provides you with clear detailed imagery of what’s beneath you whether it be structure, objects or fish, allowing you know where your next cast should be. 

Another great feature is Garmin’s GPS waypoint map which you can use to plot your journey and mark spots along the way making it easier to return later or to find your way home. 

As you can see this is one of the most popular kayak fish finders on the market.


Packed with features, a trusted name, robust and affordable all make the Garmin Striker 4 GPS our winner for the best value kayak fish finder.

Lucky Portable Fishing Sonar – Popular Budget Option

The Lucky Portable Fishing Sonar is designed with portability and budget in mind. This versatile product is a perfect option for the budget conscious kayak angler. 

At this price you get a basic but functional handheld fish finder which you can even hang around your neck for easy access.

Powered by 4 x AAA batteries and featuring a 2in TN/ANTI-UV LCD backlit display for easy viewing. 

There are five different sensitivity modes for differing environments and even alerts you when fish are present. You also have the option to choose between feet or meters.

The 1.81 in diameter transducer has a maximum depth of 328 ft and comes supplied with a 25 ft cable allowing you to mount it in a convenient location. The transducer covers a 45 degree angle below in 200Khz that provides you with terrain imagery as well as notifying you of any fish present.

Though not a high end fish finder they are low cost in comparison and they do come with a 12 month warranty.

Some people have had problems with these when they get wet so it’s recommended to keep them as dry as possible.   


We would recommend taking a step up to the Garmin Striker 4 or the Humminbird Piranhamax 4 but if that’s just too much for your budget then go for it with the Lucky Portable Fishing Sonar.

Kayak fish finder Buyers Guide

How does a  fish finder work?

Fish finders use SONAR – (sound navigation ranging), which simply put, is sound waves.

They have two main parts, a transducer and a head unit. The transducer sends out sound waves that bounce off objects and back to the transducer. The data, such as signal strength and the time it took, is then sent to the head unit which interprets it and shows it on the screen. 

They are complicated pieces of equipment and like all technology, the more you spend the more features and complexity they will have. More on that later. 

What is worth considering when looking for the best fish finder for your kayak.

Firstly, don’t expect a miracle product that shows a camera view of where the fish are. You will have to learn how to read a fish finder.

Technology has come a long way and will continue to do so but it is important to understand that fish finders have their limitations. Especially in the price bracket that most of us have to spend. Obviously the more you spend the better they will be but even then it requires a decent investment of time to learn how to get the best out of them.

We can be our own worst enemy here. Having unrealistic expectations of what we’re buying coupled with not spending the time to learn how to use a particular product can lead to disappointment for many. 

My best advice here would be to make every effort to understand exactly what the product does and doesn’t do, and how to use it to its fullest.

Secondly, know how to use what you have. A great way to use a basic fish finder is to use it to view the structure and depth. If you know your target species, their habits and habitat, you can use that knowledge to find the most likely spot where they will be. This alone can increase your chances of catching fish.

Functions and Features

Let’s start with the two main functions of how a fish finder works, imaging and GPS.

What extra imaging technology am I paying for as the price increases?

Imaging upgrades, in order from lowest price to highest.

More frequencies

Basic sonar will send out sound waves in a cone shape, much like a standard flashlight beam which expands outwards as it travels. Lower frequencies form wider cones which provide imagery of a larger area but in less detail whereas a higher frequency will provide imagery of a smaller area but in greater detail.

The most basic units will use a single frequency whereas you can have dual or multiple  frequency units.

CHIRP  (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse)

The next step up is the use of CHIRP. Traditional sonar sends a single frequency pulse whereas CHIRP sends continuous bursts of a range of frequencies.  As there are different frequencies and multiple pulses you get a lot more information which means much greater detail. 

Vertical imagery

The names differ with each brand but the basic principle is the same. 

  • Garmin –  ClearVü
  • Humminbird – Down Imaging
  • Lowrance – DownScan Imaging
  • Ray Marine – DownVision

In layman’s terms they work in a similar way to a CAT scan, they use an extremely thin, high frequency beam that takes ‘slices’ of what’s beneath then stacks together to form an image. The result is an accurate representation of what is below you which is easier to interpret.

Horizontal imagery

Again, different names but same general principle

  • Garmin –  SideVü
  • Humminbird – Side Imaging
  • Lowrance – SideScan Imaging
  • Raymarine – SideVision

This uses similar technology to vertical imaging but on either side of your vessel and provides you with a fairly accurate representation of what is actually there.

There is more advanced imagery out there which you’re welcome to check out but I’m going to stop here.

What extra GPS technology am I paying for as the price increases?

GPS upgrades, in order from lowest price to highest.

Basic location settings

Mark waypoints. (Locations) 

Create routes, providing you mark waypoints along the way.

View your speed.

Marine maps and charts. As the price goes up, many have access to thousands of maps and charts of lakes and coastal areas. Combined with your GPS these are great navigational tools. Some units come preloaded and some don’t. Be aware, not all come with a card slot. 

Mapping. GPS is combined with imaging here to give you the ability to map the ground beneath you. An incredibly useful tool if you fish in the same areas often. Knowing the structure is an immense help in targeting your chosen species, provided you know their habits of course.  

What else is worth considering?

Water resistance

This seems like a no brainer, but it’s sometimes overlooked. When you’re in a kayak you are very close to the water and it makes sense to have a waterproof fish finder.

You can check out the IPX ratings here

Screen size and resolution

On the plus size, a smaller screen size means a lighter unit, and usually a cheaper one too.

On the negative side, smaller screens are harder to see and you can’t fit the same amount of information on them as you can with a bigger one. 

Bigger ones tend to have more features but cost more. 

Brand

With electronics and water, I personally believe it’s better to stick with a trusted brand. That doesn’t mean it will be perfect, even top brands can have problems but at least you have a higher chance of getting a good one. In theory a trusted brand should have better customer service as well… I said ‘in theory’…

Portability

Mounting options, Kayak compatibility

There are plenty of mounting options available such as;  under the hull, through the hull, transom mount, and over the side to name a few. 

Depending on your choice  it’s important to learn how to install your fish finder and to know exactly what you get in the box. Mounting options often require other parts or accessories to make them work.

Some kayaks have pre-molded transducer areas that are designed around a particular brand. Old Town for example has done this with Humminbird. (Both owned by Johnson Outdoors). So it may be worth looking at a particular brand if that’s the case. I say this with caution, obviously don’t buy a fishfinder with terrible reviews just because it ‘fits’ your kayak.

Battery

Often overlooked. The battery is an extra and does take up a fair bit of space so make sure you plan for that.

Installation

When it comes to install your kayak fish finder, DIY is the cheapest option and most probably head down that path. There is a ton of information out there and some great YouTube clips to help you along. 

If you’re just not that way inclined and need a ‘professional’ install, it’s a good idea to understand the cost involved as they can be a bit pricey.

Budget

If you’re on a tight budget, I would highly recommend taking the time to research and get a really good understanding of what to expect from the product and how to get the most out of it. That way, if you do purchase one you know what to expect, saving you some potential disappointment 

App compatibility

For the technically minded, make sure the software is going to work with your phone.


Best Kayak fish finder – Conclusion

The technology and features you can get in a fish finder these days is phenomenal. The kayak fish finders we have recommended here are all fantastic options for their respective price ranges. 

I will say it again though… Before you purchase one, take some time to understand what you’re getting and how to get the most out of it.

For those of us who can’t afford what they really want yet. Technology is only going to improve, what you see on the higher priced models will in time become mainstream on the cheaper models.

If you want to check them out some more, here they are:

Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP, MEGA side imaging GPS G3 NAV – Best Features
Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP DI GPS G2 (410220) Best Overall
Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 (410210) – Runner Up
Garmin Striker 4 – Best Value
Lucky Portable Fishing Sonar – Popular Budget Option

Also worth checking out.

Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 (410230)  The Helix 5 with Side Imaging included

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