There’s no better feeling than fighting a feisty fish over the edge of a boat or kayak in open water and coming out the victor. You return to dry land and snap pictures holding the fish in a moment of pride. Whether you travel the world fishing in exotic locales or spend your weekends fishing one body of water from your own boat, a fish finder is the tool that will help you enjoy more of those victorious moments.
While a fish-locating device is a staple for any serious angler today, this isn’t a product that you should rush out and buy without first studying fish finder reviews. It’s a complicated market with a lot of optional features that you may or may not need, and this guide will help you sink your hook into the best fish finder for your needs.
To help you make sense of the market and find cheap fish finders that suit your needs without breaking your budget, I completed the research for you and created this guide filled with fish finder reviews. Keep reading if you want to learn the secrets to selecting quality kayak fish finders suitable for a variety of fishing scenarios.
Best Fish Finder for Kayak Chart
|Garmin echo 100||4 inches||Yes|
|Deeper Smart Fish finder||Smartphone, |
|Garmin GPSMAP 78Sc||2.6 inches||Yes|
|Lowrance Elite-5 HDI Combo||5 inches||Yes|
|Humminbird 398ci SI Combo||3.5 inches||Yes|
The market for Kayak fish finders is exploding with sophisticated devices that make it easier than ever to determine what’s happening not only underneath your boat but around your boat from all angles. You can now make out the location of schools of fish, target individual fish with amazing precision and map your fishing routes even under thick canopies of trees. As new technologies transform the fishing industry, prices are dropping on devices with some of the most attractive features. In addition to standard fish-locating devices, you can now pick up combination devices with built-in GPS systems or chartplotters. A chartplotter displays a map with an overlay of your location, allowing you to stay oriented at all times. Combo fishfinders typically sell for $600 or less while fully-networked devices with more expansive features can sell for $2,000 or more.
These more elaborate systems are typically used by professional anglers, but even a beginner with a limited budget can now afford a low to the mid-priced unit. With so many products available, it’s difficult to determine the best kayak fish finder for your needs. The reviews to follow will introduce you to five of the best options available right now. These are all products that I consider a catch, so get ready to hook one and take your fishing skills to the next level.
Best Kayak Fish Finder Reviews
Garmin Echo 100 Kayak Fish Finder For Kayak Review
If you fish primarily in freshwater lakes and want a simple device that’s compact and easy to use, the Garmin Echo 100 Kayak fish finder may meet your needs while offering an economical price. Keep reading this Garmin Echo 100 review if you’re shopping on a tight budget or don’t want to pay extra for a combination device that includes a built-in GPS system.
The 4-inch screen on this basic fishfinder displays grayscale images only, but it is loaded with advanced HD-ID target tracking. This technology creates more distinction between objects so that it’s easier to zone in on a single target. Even though this model sells for less than $200 at the full retail price, it allows for more precise tracking with a screen that transitions quickly so that you never lose your catch while waiting for an update.
The mounting rack makes it easy to attach the Garmin Echo 100 to your boat, and it won’t take up much space if you have a small vessel. The controls are easy to maneuver, and you don’t have to worry about multiple menus and an overload of features that complicate use. This device is designed with a single transmitter for down imaging, so it will show you what’s happening for approximately 600 feet below your boat.
If you’re shopping on a tight budget but won’t settle for less than a quality product that enriches your fishing adventures, the Garmin Echo 100 is one of the best fish finders in this low end of the market. While the features are basic, they are well developed and the unit offers enough power to efficiently display most freshwater lakes. If you’re interested in built-in GPS or other advanced features, read the other fish finder reviews in this guide.
Garmin Echo 100 FishFinder Specs:
- Sonar Power: 100 watts
- Screen Resolution: 160 x 256
- Compact design
- The transducer and mounting rack included
Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder for Kayak Review
Smart fish hide under bridges, along embankments and close to shore. Smart fish finders go where other finders can’t in order to discover those hiding places. The Deeper Smart portable fish finder retails for less than $250 and is designed to sync with your Android or iOS smartphone.
Consumer fish finder reviews often give it five stars and rank it as the best portable fish finder due to its versatility in a variety of fishing scenarios, including ice fishing. This device weighs less than half a pound and has a diameter of just 2.6 inches. The super-compact design is perfect for finding fish while in your kayak or with the use of float tubes and bait boats. Simply attach the round fish finder to your fishing pole and establish a Bluetooth connection with your wireless device before casting into the water.
Beyond determining the depth of the water and locating fish, this portable kayak fish finder will report back with water temperature and other data. Dual transmitters are used to capture wide and narrow views, so you get a general idea of what’s happening in the water along with the ability to zone in on smaller areas for more precise targeting. This Deeper Smart portable device is effective in freshwater or saltwater, and it’s small enough to go anywhere you travel. A fully charged battery will last for up to four hours, so it’s the perfect companion for day trips.
I recommend it for weekend water enthusiasts as well as serious anglers.You may have a more sophisticated fish finder mounted in your boat, but this unit allows you to explore areas that larger devices can’t scan efficiently. This cheap Kayak fish finder operates without consuming data from your phone, and it allows you to share data with other smartphones. The app provides maps, weather information, a fish activity calendar and even a fishing diary to record your adventures.
Deeper Smart Portable FishFinder Specs:
- Super-compact design
- Connects via Bluetooth
- Attaches to fishing pole
Garmin GPSMAP 78Sc Fish Finder for Kayak Review
This Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Kayak Fish Finder review doesn’t feature a product designed specifically for finding fish, but it’s still a worthwhile consideration in your search for the best fish finder under 400. Many fishfinder reviews include it because it offers a powerful GPS system and Chartplotter that is suitable for fishing scenarios as well as for other boating activities, water sports, hiking and even geocaching. The Garmin GPSMAP 78Sc Kayak Fish Finder has a 2.6-inch display which allows you to track fish in vivid color. It comes loaded with coastal maps for the United States and the Bahamas, and you can insert a micro SD card to upload other maps if needed. You can even add customized points of interest to personalize your fishing adventures.
The GPS receiver is highly sensitive and is combined with HotFix technology that allows for fast location detection. The GPSMAP 78sc will continue to track your route even if you drift near tall buildings, thick canopies of trees and other intrusions that block signals to many other devices. This feature alone puts it in the running for title of the best fish finder, especially if you fish in areas where trees, buildings and other tall objects are prominent. The Garmin GPSMAP 78Sc also allows you to determine the altitude, collect weather data and locate your direction using a 3-axis compass.
This is a high-quality compass that compensates for tilt and ensures you stay on the right path when on land or out on the water. There’s one more thing worth mentioning in this Garmin 78sc review: the handheld unit floats when dropped in water. Never worry about losing your device if it goes overboard.
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc FishFinder Specs:
- Handheld unit
- Built-in United States and Bahamas coastal charts
- Requires two AA batteries
- Screen Resolution: 160 x 240
Lowrance Elite 5 HDI Fish Finder for Kayak Review
Lowrance Elite 5 HDI Kayak Fish Finder is a combination device with a powerful fish finder and a chartplotter. Full retail price is approximately $600, and you can select from a variety of preloaded maps offered by different sellers. You can also use the micro-SD card slot to upload additional maps as needed. This Lowrance Elite 5 HDI review will introduce you to additional features and explain why this is potentially the best fish finder for your needs. Once you connect the Elite 5 HDI to your boat with the included tilt-and-swivel mounting bracket and power it up, the 5-inch screen with brilliant LCD color display and a high resolution immediately catches your eye. The unit delivers bright, clear images on a reasonably sized screen. Backlighting on the screen and keypad is adjustable, so you can ensure your data remains visible even in dim light conditions.
There are two advanced imaging technologies built into this fish finder. You can use them individually, together on a split screen or overlapping one another for in-depth view of all available data on one screen. This technology isn’t something you will find on cheap kayak fish finders, and it allows for much greater precision when tracking the ground or movement of fish. No fish finder review is complete without mentioning one more advanced feature found on the Lowrance Elite 5 HDI: a built-in GPS antenna with 16 channels. This allows you to navigate the waters like an expert, and you have the option of adding an external antenna if you wish.
I recommend the Elite 5 HDI Kayak Fish Finder for serious anglers interested in advanced technology at a reasonable price. Those looking for a more basic model may find the dual-imaging processing features a bit too much to handle.
Lowrance Elite 5 HDI Specs:
- Built-in maps
- Built-in GPS antenna
- Screen Resolution: 480 x 480
- Sonar Power: 300 watts
- Mounting bracket and transducer included
Humminbird 398ci SI Fish Finder for Kayak Review
The Humminbird 798ci SI combo Kayak fish finder is a good pick for anyone interested in a reasonably-priced unit with side imaging. While basic down imaging is still available to monitor views immediately under your boat, the side scan allows you to capture a wider view that includes objects off to both sides.
The screen is a bit smaller when viewing these wider images, so you will still need your down images to zone in on individual fish or other objects. My fish finder reviews for 2017 are designed to give you the information you need to select the best fish finder for your needs, so keep reading to learn more about the Humminbird 798ci SI. As you read Humminbird 398ci SI reviews, keep in mind that you can also purchase this model in high definition.
This Humminbird Kayak Fish Finder model features a 5-inch display which allows viewing in vivid color. The graphics are clear and crisp, and the controls are easy to figure out even if you aren’t technologically savvy. Each unit comes with some maps preloaded, but you may need to use the dual SD card slot to upload maps that correspond with locations you enjoy fishing. The built-in GPS system is quite intricate with 50 channels, so staying oriented to your route is easier than with a standard fish finder.
Once you get your Humminbird 398ci SI mounted with the included bracket, you can take advantage of the DualBeam Plus sonar system which delivers more than enough power to ensure you’re aware of your surroundings whether in side-imaging mode or down-imaging mode. While peak radius is 100 feet, you can expect to get the clearest images within a radius of 60 feet. I recommend this fishfinder for anyone already running a Humminbird fishing system on their boat as well as anyone with interest in side imaging technology. This is a mid-market unit overall, but it’s one of the most affordable options for side scanning.
Humminbird 398ci SI Combo FishFinder Specs:
- PTP Power Output: 4,000 watts
- 455KHz side-imaging sonar
- Built-in maps
- Mounting bracket included
- Screen Resolution: 640 x 640
Hook a Deal on the Best Fish Finder – A Guide for Anglers of All Stripes
If you fished as a child, you probably remember sitting beside a lake or creek for hours with your eyes focused impatiently on your pole. You were taught to sit quietly, enjoy the natural sounds of nature, and react quickly when you see the pole bobbing. That type of fishing is relaxing at times, but most people want to move on to more exciting things. That means embracing technology so that you can locate as many fish as possible or focus on finding certain types of fish that you want to catch. The best tool you can use to improve your fishing skills and make the best use of your time is a fish finder. These units send out sonar signals to create digital images of the waters directly below and/or surrounding your location. This eliminates the need to blindly throw your hook in the water and wait for something to happen. You make an educated decision to sink your hook in the most advantageous spot, and you come out with more fish as a result. Now, there’s one question that’s probably lingering in your mind…
What Is the Best Kayak Fish Finder?
The kayak fish finder is one that makes fishing more enjoyable for you, fits your lifestyle and lines up with your budget. The kayak fish finders enhance you in a large fishing boat is naturally different from the device you may take on a kayaking adventure. If you enjoy more fishing, you will need a device designed to work in that unique fishing environment.
Fish Finder Features – What Do You Really Need?
As you read fish finder reviews and compare products, you’ll notice a variety of features added to some models. This list will familiarize you with some of those features so that you can determine which ones benefit you enough to justify the investment in a more advanced kayak fish finder or other devices.
Standard fish finders send signals directly underneath a boat, so they’re referred to as down-scan devices. Those that send out signals in a wider, fan-like pattern to include the peripheral view are referred to as side-scan devices. Down imaging will give a clearer view of specific fish in the immediate area of your boat, but side imaging allows you to get a more expansive look. If you fish in different bodies of water, it’s best to buy a fish finder with both down and side-imaging capabilities. If you most often fish in shallow water, a side-imaging unit will work best while down-imaging is more efficient in the deeper water.
GPS or Chartplotters
Many of the best fish finders now incorporate built-in GPS systems because they make fishing in large bodies of water safer. You always have a dependable device to point the way home if you get disoriented or run into bad weather, and many systems allow you to create your own charts and routes as the GPS tracks your movement. Chartplotters provide maps overlaid with your exact location, so you always see where you are in relation to surrounding areas. You may pay a bit more for combination fish finders that contain at least a basic GPS system, but it’s worth the investment.
Cheap Kayak fish finders often have greyscale displays, but most mid to high-end models offer color displays. Some have better resolution than others, and the size of the screen may determine how easy it is to make out smaller details even when the graphics are bright and clear.
Portable or Handheld Units
Not all fish finders are designed to connect on to a boat. You can now pick up a portable device that connects to your fishing pole or a handheld device suitable for hiking, water sports and other applications. If you own a boat, then investing in a mounted unit is your best option. If you have a small boat, look for a compact unit that comes with a mount. If you do most of your fishing in rental boats or from the side of a smaller vessel like a kayak, then you should consider a lightweight portable or handheld unit. If you own a boat but also need a good GPS unit for hiking and other outdoor activities, you may need a mounted fish finder as well as a portable unit.
Kayak Fish Finder – Buyers Guide
- When you read Kayak fish finder reviews written by consumers, pay attention to the reasons the reviewer liked or didn’t like a product. You may find that what one person hates about a product is the exact reason you would love the same product.
- If you want advanced technology but can’t afford to spend $1,000 or more, take the time to shop around for discount Kayak fish finders. Sale prices can bring expensive units within your budget.
- The best fish finder is always the one that fits your needs best, so shopping according to price alone is a mistake. Determine what features you need first, and then shop for a unit that fits those needs. A cheap Kayak fish finder that doesn’t meet your needs is a waste of your money in the end if you fail to choose the perfect one by comparing with reviews.
- Don’t pay for more power than you will actually use. Units with 3,000 watts of sonar power or more will deliver more efficient readouts, but you may not need that much power if you fish primarily in shallow water.
- If you fish in saltwater, you may need to invest in a more powerful Kayak fish finder. This is due to the energy absorbing nature of saltwater. You simply need more power to get quality readouts. If you fish in a variety of locations, look for a unit designed for saltwater and freshwater. A fish-locating device will make fishing more enjoyable while keeping you safe while out on the water. Now that you understand more about the features available on the market today, start reading reputable reviews to determine which models are best for your fishing needs and your budget.
Best Fishing Kayak Reviews
Perception Sport Pescador Angling Fishing Kayak
The Perception Sport Pescador angling fishing kayak is a fabulous choice for people who are new to the sport. It is a sit-on-top kayak that has an extra wide cockpit to accommodate gear. It is easy to carry and to maneuver even in smaller waterways. You can add a rudder kit to the kayak if you want but it works just as well without one. The Pescador can go anywhere and handles fresh and salt water, rivers, lakes and bad weather like a champ. Fans of this angling fishing kayak range from beginners who like the price and the ease of use to seasoned veterans who like having a great all-purpose fishing kayak that they can depend on. This is one of the most recommended kayaks for new kayak fishermen.
Some things that buyers should be aware of is that the kayak doesn’t come with a seat so you might want to purchase an additional comfy seat if you’re going to spend hours in the kayak. Also, the weight limit for the kayak is 350 pounds, but some users who are over 200 pounds and carry 30-50 pounds of gear report that the kayak takes on about an inch of water. If you are going to be carrying a lot of gear or if you are a larger user keep in mind that even though the published weight limit is 350 the kayak functions best with no more than about 250 pounds on board. The kayak also doesn’t come with a paddle so you will need to purchase a paddle to use with it.
Riot Escape 12 Angler Fishing Kayak
The Riot Escape 12 Angler Fishin Kayak is a good kayak for the price but it is better for more experienced kayakers. It is a sit-on-top kayak that is pretty stable. It comes with a built-in rudder system that a lot of people find very useful although several anglers have pointed out that the kayak has trouble tracking straight even with the rudder. The adjustable foot pedals also help with stability and steering. This fishing kayak is great for still water and shallow water fishing. It can hold up to more demanding conditions and tougher water but a beginner might have a hard time getting it to perform well in anything but calm or shallow conditions. It comes with five-rod holders and a built-in cupholder which a lot of people really like. The kayak is 12 feet long which gives it great stability but the weight limit is just 300 pounds. Larger fisherman or fisherman who carries a lot of gear might want to consider a kayak with a higher weight limit or carry less gear.
The biggest complaint that fishermen seem to have about the Riot Escape 12 is the hatch in the center which only has to pull straps to open it. It is not totally watertight and many people are unhappy with this feature. It also is not unusual for the kayak to arrive missing bolts or with broken plastic pieces. Check yours carefully when it arrives. Riot is pretty good about replacing any missing or damaged parts though.
Old Town Dirigo 106 Fishing Kayak
The Old Town Dirigo 106 is a small fishing kayak that is just over 10 feet long. The smaller size gives it really great maneuverability but the tradeoff is that it is not quite as stable as some of the 12 footers. If you are an advanced beginner or beyond you shouldn’t have a problem with this kayak. It’s a sit-in kayak as opposed to a sit-on-top kayak but some people prefer the extra stability that comes with a sit-in kayak model. It has a very handy dry hatch built in to hold things like cell phones, keys, cameras, or other things that you really don’t want to get wet. The steering is great and it can turn well and get into very small or tight spaces easily. It has several built-in rod holders that make it easy to fish. The seat is fairly comfortable although if you are going out on the water for several hours or more you will probably want to get a seat cushion to provide a little extra comfort.
The most common complaint about the Dirigo 106 is the foot pads. They are made so that you rest the ball of your foot on the pad which doesn’t provide a lot of support. A lot of users, especially users who are 6 feet tall or taller, find that after a while those foot pads can become uncomfortable. They are adjustable though so you can move them around to find a position that works the best for your height.