Heading out on the open waters for a day of kayaking is always a pleasant activity. You are in total control of the vessel and can go alone or in a group on the sea waters, lakes, rivers and everywhere else. The combination of kayaking and fishing only adds to the fun. Yet, you can easily and quickly find yourself exhausted as you paddle from place to place seeking fish to catch.
Thus, the use of a kayak fish finder is a very common choice. This is gear that does as its name implies – finds the fish. Designed to mount a kayak rather than a much faster powered vessel, it is a great way to make the most of your time on the water.
As is the case with almost any modern bit of tech or gear, though, it can be difficult to choose the right model for your needs. There are features to know about, options to compare, and much more. In this guide, we will look at ten of the very best kayak fish finders for 2023 and beyond.
Keep in mind that these kayak fish finder reviews are just a brief itemization of the standout features of the individual models. You should really go online to compare and explore each of the options and make the best choice for your needs, budget and goals.
Table of Contents
The Best Kayak Fish Finder
Garmin Striker 4
The Garmin brand speaks for itself, and this easy to use and highly portable model easily ranks at the top of any list for the best kayak fish finder. With a built-in GPS that has “waypoint” settings and navigational support, it enables users to tag any underwater landmarks for easier excursions and returns. It also allows for dual displays to let a user look at a live reading and a tagged waypoint map.
This model has a smaller 3.5” display, but uses bold colors and simple controls to let the features really shine through. The onboard transducer uses 77/200 kHz and CHIRP sonar to let users know what’s around and it can also be used in the dual display, showing what’s appearing at the lower reading as well as the 200 kHz signal. Features a built-in flasher for use in alternative settings, including ice fishing.
It includes a suction cup mount on the transducer and an in-hull mount when using it as a kayak fish finder.
With a lower than most price point, it is a features-rich option from a well-loved and well-respected brand. As noted, it is functional in fresh and salt water and has variable depths depending on the type of conditions in which it is used. Whether it is a novice with no skill at kayak fishing and the use of a kayak fish finder or an expert fishing enthusiast, this has almost every feature needed.
- Dual display gives huge amounts of data
- Works in fresh and salt water
- Easy to use controls and map tagging
- Some may find it complicated because of the many features
- Smaller display than many others of the same price and/or level
Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5
Deep water fishing enthusiasts will appreciate this powerful kayak fish finder that has a depth capability of up to 1500 feet. With built-in GPS and CHIRP digital sonar, as well as 2D imaging sonar, you enjoy optimal views. See what’s beneath the kayak while also getting a clear map of the bed or bottom thanks to the 4000 watt transducer built into this system.
Like some of the other “best” kayak fish finders, this has an AutoChart Live that allows you to make real-time maps of your preferred spots or routes. Tag landmarks below the water and get where you are going faster on every return trip. This is a tremendous advantage to the self-propelled fishing fan, and saves on time and fatigue. The Micro SD slot also enables additional maps to come along on each trip.
The larger than average 5” diagonal screen is HD, and incredibly clear and easy to use and provides side by side displays to use whatever views are of the most benefit to you.
- Features Down Imaging and Side Imaging for optimal views
- Comes with Hummunbird Basemap
- Lets you tag and save your own maps
- Some software glitches have caused reported cases of screen freeze
- Onboard GPS requires track saves to document trip information
LUCKY Portable Fish Finders
Designed for use as a kayak fish finder, but also as an optimal fishing tool for ice, shore, and sea fishing as well as in lakes, ponds or streams. Can be used from up to 26 feet from the wired transducer and will hit ranges of up to 328 feet. The 45 degree beam angle of the sonar can hit objects at 200Khz and gives a simple and easily read display.
The contour display uses three colors to distinguish activity, and users will find that the kayak fish finder’s sensitivity can be tweaked from level one to ten, making it easier than ever to detect in hazy or below-ice conditions. Unlike some options, this kayak fish finder has a fish alarm that triggers when you choose single fish or school options. It can even display a relative size, depicting what’s beneath the surface using the small, medium or large fish icon.
- Very easy to use and read
- Multiple ways to use this kayak fish finder, including for shore and/or ice fishing
- Very responsive and is often described functioning perfectly right out of the box (after charging)
- A very small unit at less than 6”x3” in total size
- Not as sensitive as some models
- Excellent for beginners but unsuitable for experienced fishing enthusiasts
Lowrance HOOK2 5
One of the latest models from the Lowrance brand, it has a basic GPS plotter for easier navigation, a bright and easy to read 5” diagonal screen and dual sonar functions that include a high wide-angle CHIRP as well as the beneficial DownScan mode. The depths vary based on the sonar in use, with CHIRP giving up to 500 feet, while DownScan clears 300 feet.
The transducer on this model is a SplitShot for use as a kayak fish finder mounted via the metallic transom, but it can also be connected to a trolling motor thanks to its 20’ cable.
For freshwater use only, it works best at speeds of 5MPH or less, making it an ideal choice for the slow or even non-existent pace set by a kayaker.
What many love about this option is the automated sonar setting function. This adjusts sonar as conditions change, and will use the Fish ID function, shallow and depth alarms, bottom range and circular flasher mode as needed. It does not include GPS mapping, only basic plotting with waypoint marking and trail recording, from which users build custom routes.
- Features a Man Over Board or MOB function
- Uses a SolarMax display with LED backlight for easier reading in sunlight
- Comes with a quick-release bracket for easy and fast mount and release
- No SD slot for map updates or upgrades
- No split screen function meaning views of one application at a time
- Cannot record sonar function
Raymarine Dragonfly Pro
A highly ranked option because it is a kayak fish finder and a chart plotter combination device. It features the CPT-DVS transducer and is noted for its remarkable cartography thanks to the Navionics+ chip card supplied with the device.
With a sunlight-friendly 4.3” diagonal display, this is an easy to read model with LED backlight for extra clarity. This model features two types of sonar – the 2D CHIRP and CHIRP DownVision. Each offers a different depth capacity, with the 2D maxed out at roughly 900 feet and the DownVision (straight down) at 600 feet.
Yet, it is the CPT-DVS transducer that many feel steals the show. Its transom mount model with a temperature sensor and a 20 foot cable. It will indicate top water layer temperatures and is very helpful with top water currents. It can use both types of sonar at the same time, and these can appear on a split display.
There are also a few sonar applications available with this model, including bottom and depth line readings, target depths, and auto range, among others. It also has sonar recording that streams to your smartphone.
The Navionics+ charts have to be installed but offer amazing maps for sailing, fishing and more. This can make it easier than ever to use this kayak fish finder as a cartography tool, as well. With the 72 channel GPS, it shows everything and can save thousands of waypoints and more than a dozen tracks. And it is also a Wi-Fi device.
- Dual CHIRP sonars
- Lots of sonar features and apps, including Wi-Fi enabled functions
- Navionics+ cartography
- Easily installed
- No routing functions, just waypoints and tracks
- No sun cover to make viewing assured
Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX
Identified as one of the most basic kayak fish finders, yet it is full of features that even an experienced fishing enthusiast will appreciate. Start with the 4.3” display that has a higher than average pixel count for maximum readability and LED backlighting to ensure easier reading even in full sun. The housing is also waterproof and can survive accidental submersions in freshwater (for short periods).
This model comes with a handy tilt and swivel mount but no cover, and the large button navigation makes it easy to use at all times. I uses a single panel display that depicts activity in the DualBeam sonar. This hits targets at 200 kHz and 455 kHz respectively. This means it is not a CHIRP sonar device, nor does it offer straight down imaging. It does go as deep as 600 feet and can maintain readings at speeds as high as 30MPH. Since a kayak fish finder never comes close to such speeds, it rates as one of the most responsive.
Though basic, the sonar does have several appealing functions that include fish alarms with three different settings, depth alarms and battery alarms. There is a Fish ID function (which most from this manufacturer offer) and will help a new user learn how to better read their kayak fish finder data.
The transducer is transom mounted with a 20 foot cable, and a temperature sensor to go on the bottom of the kayak, making it great for those who use water currents when fishing and/or kayaking.
- Larger size with clearer and easier to read screen
- Dual beam sonar
- Easy to install and use
- No cover for the unit
- Limited by no upgrade options being available
Garmin Striker Plus 4
Tagged as the most reasonably priced of the models in this list of best kayak fish finders, it has a huge list of features and improvements over previous iterations.
Start with the Dual Beam sonar that relies on 77 and 200 kHz. This model also has the ability to use four frequencies in total (50/77/83/200 kHz) if a transducer upgrade is done. With the standard option, though, users get a temperature capable transducer with a 30 foot cable and four pin connector. It can hit depths as much as 1900 feet (freshwater only).
Transom mounted, it is also functional as an ice fishing tool thanks to its temperature capabilities and CHIRP sonar tech. It provides 2D features including a flasher mode, fish symbols and the A-Scope vertical flasher that shows the most recent data collected by the sonar. Sonar also includes fish and depth alarms, bottom lock, auto gain and more.
This model has a GPS plotter with basic functions and the ability to be upgraded. It can save up to five thousand waypoints, record tracks and create routes. It has Quickdraw Contours onboard, enabling a kayak fish finder users to design their own maps at 1’ depth contours.
The display is 4.3” and offers LED backlighting, waterproofing and a standard tilt-swivel mount.
- CHIRP 2D sonar with an array of features
- GPS with Quickdraw Contours
- Easy to install
- Waterproof but does not come with a unit cover
- No SD or NMEA options
Raymarine Electronics E70320
Known in the marketplace as the Raymarine Dragonfly 7 PRO Navionics+ it is one of the largest displays offered by the company. It stands apart for a long list of unique options, including Wi-Fi connectivity, a premium display with LED backlighting, Internal 2 Channel CHIRP sonar module and the U.S. Navionics+ charts.
Equipped with the CPT-60 transducer, this kayak fish finder uses a transom mount with integrated water temperature sensor and twenty feet of cable. The transducer houses the DownVision sonar as well as the 2D conical beam sonar, both CHIRP tech with pulses that tag at 170-230 kHz for 2D CHIRP, and 320-380 kHz for CHIRP DownVision.
This combination ensures crisp imager in the large display and speeds can be adjusted down to 10%. Navigation is also optimized on this model and uses 72 channel GPS with a GLONASS module to track speed and everything else. The Navionics+ is also a huge boon as the onboard charts cover all North American water, saves waypoints and tracks, and allows imports via the SD card.
The 7” display is accompanied by a waterproof housing and is set on the pivot ball mount. It is a multi-language model and provides that Wi-Fi connectivity that enables the Wi-Fish app to be used alongside the kayak fish finder.
- CHIRP sonar with 900’ depth capability
- Navionics + charts included
- Excellent display quality
- Cannot record sonar functions without app
- No NMEA ports
- Some dislike larger size
LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder
Easily one of the most portable of all kayak fish finders reviewed here, this small but feature rich model has a lot to offer even an advanced user. For one thing, it works well in fresh and sea fishing settings, but also as a shore fishing tool and even ice fishing. Everything is quite clearly displayed on the 2” ANTI-UV and LCD display that is made easier to use thanks to its blue LED backlighting.
This model features a temperature detecting transducer equipped with a 25’ cable and a 45 degree beam angle that hits targets at 200 Khz at depths of up to 328 feet. The sensitivity of the device is adjustable to five different modes that enable a user to navigate everything from weeds to sandy beds. The display is very basic and simply indicates water depth, fish depth and location, bottom contour detection, and even weed detection. It includes a fish alarm and a battery save mode to ensure many hours of fun with this kayak fish finder.
- Ideal for a beginner
- Easy to use and adjust
- Small and lightweight, making it perfect as a kayak fish finder
- No mount included
- Reports of inaccuracy in depth finding and/or reporting
- No GPS or route tagging
Venterior Handheld Fish Finder
Touted as the right solution for an experienced fishing enthusiast who wants basic and reliable data. Another handheld option, this unit is a good choice as a kayak fish finder for its lightweight, easy to use functions and clear display.
It has a 3.2” display that uses only black and white to indicate data. It has a maximum depth reading capability of around 328 feet in freshwater only, but can detect an array of environments thanks to its 45 degree sensor beam angle. It alerts to grass, sand, weeds or rocks, and the transducer features a temperature reading, too. The sensitivity of the readings can also be adjusted easily.
This simple device shows the user the depth of the fish and the general sizes. While it is ideal as a kayak fish finder, it can also be used for ice fishing, with floats from onshore, and with a pole affixed to a boat’s hull. The 25’ cable included with the removable transducer and float allow for a wide array of options. There is also a fish alarm, adjustable measurements, and is backlit for easier reading in full sun.
- Perfectly sized for use as a kayak fish finder
- Functions in multiple environments
- Can work in fresh or salt water
- Some complaints of false depth readings
- No SD card option
- No GPS
Choosing the Right Kayak Fish Finder for Your Needs
Now that you have seen ten of the very best kayak fish finders, it is time to learn how to narrow down the options and choose the one right for you. This often boils down to just a few simple factors.
- Transducer style
- Sonar Types
Yet, before you start to use any of that information, you have to ask yourself about your fishing style and actual needs. Because you are reading this guide, it is likely that you already know just what a kayak fish finder can do and that you actually need one for your fishing adventures.
As to budget, it is fair to say that almost any of the top kayak fish finders recommended here are also fairly priced for almost any budget. The hand-held models are apt to be the least expensive, but you will have to shop around according to your budget.
The next thing you need to then consider are the factors above.
Related: Best Fishing Backpack
Know about Portability, Size and Transducer Style
In the reviews, we noted when a model was “portable” (i.e. hand-held) or easily dismounted as well as having a transducer that was transom mounted or attached to a floater.
The transom is where the two sides of the hull meet at the stern of the kayak. Some of the models we have reviewed have transducers that are mounted here using included gear or kits. Some can be passed through the kayak’s scupper hole safely, and some use floats that send information to the device or even a smartphone.
Some displays are not mounted but look and feel more like a walkie talkie or smartphone. Others do use a simple ball and pivot or other mount, and we offered that information when available. It’s up to you to determine how you wish to mount both the transducer and the display, but it is important to give some thought about portability and overall size.
Some devices also need a large, external battery. However, our list of top kayak fish finders skipped those options as they eliminated the actual portability of the units. Instead, we selected from those that have rechargeable batteries or are designed to be far more portable.
Yet, when we talk about portability, we also have to talk about overall size and the waterproof nature of a device. The larger the display component, the more space you need to use that type of kayak fish finder. Additionally, you may find that you jeopardize the unit by exposing it to water, and so a cover or waterproofing is important.
Know about Transducers v. Sonar
As noted, the transducer is what generates all of the data displayed on the display, and it might float or be mounted to the kayak in some way. It often includes the sonar devices that send waves into the water and react when those waves encounter something.
You can find transducers that feature one or more kinds of sonar, and each of the reviews tried to explain the different varieties you can choose from. As you might recall, sonar penetrates to a diversity of depths, and you will want to choose based on the depths of the waters you intend to use a kayak fish finder.
You’ll see options for 2D, 3D, side scans and more. While it may not always be beneficial to use the more detailed or 3D sonars, when you are fishing from a kayak, you are less likely to be fishing at great depths and so the 3D models or more advanced sonars may really pay off.
Do You Need GPS?
If you are like millions of others, you probably wonder how you navigated the world without the GPS in modern phones and cars. The same is often said of GPS in a kayak fish finder that helps you easily navigate new water, tag areas with landmarks or issues, or great fishing, and so on.
Live maps and navigation support are invaluable if you get turned around, and so we do suggest you opt for models with this feature.
It is not extremely difficult to recognize the features you need from a kayak fish finder and the features you can live without. We’ve run the gamut from the incredibly basic and simple portables to the more feature-rich and larger models. Any of them will outperform the other options from previous years, but you will need to make your choice based exclusively on your type of water, fishing, budget and needs. The good news is that you have a great variety from which to choose.
Ryan is an extreme kite surfer. When Ryan isn’t shredding in on the waves he spends time with his riding his bike, canoeing, and surfing.