Wouldn’t a huge, 10-inch fish finder look strange on a tiny rowboat? Or maybe a kayak? We’re tempted to put the biggest possible fish finder on our kayaks or rowboats because we could be. It might be tempting to install the largest feasible fish finder on our kayaks or rowboats, but it’s not always the ideal solution – it’ll often get in the way!
To get a better sense of how big a fish finder will look on your boat or kayak, take a look at our fish finder screen size comparison chart.
You may also search by screen size, with three subcategories for all the fish finders we have: Screens 4 inches or less (ideal for tiny boats and kayaks), screens 5 inches(possibly a little cramped), and screens bigger than 5 inches (the only way to mount one of these is with a ram mount).
What makes a fish finder good for a kayak
The components of a fish finder are as follows:
- Display – This is the actual device – the screen and buttons.
- Transducer – This is where the dipstick connects to the fuel system. This is also known as a “boom.” The boom sends messages into the water and receives them back, which it then transmits to the display, which converts these ideas into pictures that we can comprehend.
- Power source – This is a typical 12V marine battery on a regular boat.
When it comes to choosing a kayak fish finder, the display size is quite crucial. Anything larger than 5-6 inches would be too bulky and would just get in the way, particularly since kayaks aren’t very wide.
The weight of something significant will be quite significant, so it will be more difficult to mount. You’ll need a ram mount on one side of the kayak to attach the display (from 7 inch plus displays).
The bottom line is that if you want a slimline, small television, go with something less than 6 inches.
Out of the box, all fish finders we sell have transom mount transducers. It’s possible to install it inside the hull where it will pass through the plastic without a problem, or you can run it via a pipe through the scupper hole. Lowrance also offers a suction cup mount for attaching on the side or rear of your kayak.
When you install a fish finder on your kayak, you’ll need to provide power as well. This might be a standard marine battery housed in a waterproof container – then the wires can lead from the battery to the transducer and display. If you don’t want to do any of that DIY fixing, you may buy a portable fish finder with built-in waterproof batteries. Simply replace the cells with those purchased from store and you’re ready to go.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite models below, all of which are cost-effective, perform well, and are simple to install on any size boat.
Our favorite mid-size fish finder
Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Fishfinder/GPS Combo – 4″ Color Display – The Dragonfly is our new favorite fish finder, and we don’t have enough adjectives to describe how fantastic it is. It’s ideal for small vessels and kayaks at 4 inches long. If you’re looking for something a little bigger, the 5″ larger brother is perfect for bigger boats and charters as well.
The Dragonfly 3 is designed specifically for anglers looking to cast further distances. It comes with a built-in Lidar, CHIRP sonar technology, and distance graphs that show you where you are in relation to the fish. You can even connect via wifi to your phone to view live SONAR data from the GPS and inbuilt charts. The screen has been updated, and it’s clearer than previous versions; this time, it’s all-weather visible, so whether it’s sunny or raining, you’ll be able to see the screen clearly. For less than $400, this is really the best bang for your buck out there.
If you’re buying something for a tiny boat, keep in mind how you’ll install your fish finder. The transducer will fit on the transom, but there won’t be much space to house the actual finder.
GPS or not?
If you have a small boat with a low-powered motor that you primarily use in your backyard lake or neighborhood lake, you may save money by skipping the GPS. You won’t get lost in your own backyard, right?
If you have the funds, GPS is an excellent choice since you may create waypoints – so you won’t have to “discover” your finest fishing locations every time.
Garmin Striker 4dv
- MSRP: $179.99
- 3.5 inch display
- DownVu and CHIRP SONAR
- GPS built in
- Set waypoints
- Easily removable
Lowrance Hook 4x
4 inch display
CHIRP and DownScan SONAR
455/800 and 83/200 transducer
The Garmin EchoMap 44dv is a small but powerful device. With a 4.3-inch screen, it’s a great fit for your kayak or small boat. However, don’t underestimate the importance of its compact size; this little guy offers plenty of features. The Teardrop Camper with LiveVü is the perfect fit for kayakers who want superior safety and an easy-to-use fish finder as well.
With LiveVü and Garmin’s 3D SONAR, you’ll be able to see an amazing three-dimensional view of the underwater world, along with standard SONAR and Garmin’s precision GPS. The ease of installation – the cables connect to the mount instead of the device, so when you’re done using your kayak, simply take it off!
Lowrance Elite-3x The Lowrance Elite-3x is a smaller and more affordable version of the Elite series of fish finders. This isn’t a very advanced fish finder; it has only 83/200 kHz SONAR and allows you to fish comfortably in fresh water. Shallow water may be fished with 200 kHz, but anything deeper than 200 feet necessitates the usage of 83 kHz SONAR. Because the screen on the Elite-3X is so little, this is an excellent choice if you have limited space!
The best returns are gotten from a SONAR that uses 3D SONAR. When your transducer emits a very powerful beam at a very high frequency, it provides you with far superior results than normal SONAR. Lowrance markets DownScan Imaging and Humminbird offers Down Imaging, while Garmin’s DownVu is the most recent example. This method employs a frequency of 455/800 kHz to produce an extremely picturesque view of the underwater environment.
The beam angle will be far more restricted, however the spot will be tighter, and the maximum depth will be reduced. If your targetfish live at a depth of 150-200 feet, this isn’t an issue. On the right is conventional SONAR, while on the left is Down Imaging:
Humminbird and Garmin both offer 3D SONAR units – Small and inexpensive, yet packed with features. For example, the Garmin EchoMap 151dv – is a fantastic choice that comes with 3D SONAR that you can see very clearly on the grayscale screen. But don’t be fooled – this screen is actually a highly effective direct-sun screen. With 3D SONAR, you can view realistic representations of the underwater realm.
A grayscale screen is more suited to 3D SONAR than 2D SONAR, therefore the 151dv is a cost-effective and sturdy option. This gadget also has GPS built in, and below is a model with both US and Canadian charts included.
The Humminbird PiranhaMax 197c is a fantastic value at under $200. With both Down Imaging and conventional SONAR, the PiranhaMax series is tiny and delivers excellent performance. It also features all of the traditional bells and whistles found in all Humminbird fish finders – fish alarms, depth alarms, and screen zoom.
The Hawkeye FishTrax series fish finders are among the most portable. These fish finders are about the size of a smartphone (slightly larger, but not significantly) and come standard with all of the functions of a full-size fish finder. The transducer can be modified to suit any environment: shore fishing, kayak fishing, trolling, or even ice fishing. They can see depths of 240 feet in freshwater (advertised; actual depth may be around 200 feet or so), and you may change the sensitivity levels to reveal only the image you desire.
The FishTrax models are available in three variants: FishTrax 1, which has a very basic icon-display, the FishTrax 1X, which has a black and white display that can show accurate SONAR returns, and the FishTrax 1C, which features a full-color display that can show you vibrant clear SONAR returns for less than $200. You can’t go wrong with any of them for less than $200.
While almost any fish finder can be used on a kayak, there are several more recent fish finder applications that take portability to whole new heights. If you don’t want to drill or fasten any bolts, these fish finders are a fantastic choice. Plastic devices that may be thrown into the water, hooked up to your line, and one even attaches to your boat (some installation required). These then send the data to your smartphone or tablet, making this the most portable option available.
The best part is that your phone already has GPS built in, and with an internet connection, you can access crowdsourced fishing locations, share your own experiences, and view other people’s experiences and data.
The only disadvantage is that while fish finders are waterproof, smartphones aren’t; in order to utilize them, you’ll also need a waterproof cover.
The FishHunter is a high-quality fish finder that has been designed from the ground up to be used in extreme conditions. The device may be linked to your line and cast, and it will send signals to your phone when it detects a fish.
The Vexilar fish finder has a transducer that is placed on the transom of your boat (or kayak). Because it is more permanent, it saves you time. It’s also more convenient in the long run and far more successful at trolling.
The iBobber fish finder is a great value for your money because it is very low-cost and most likely provides the greatest bang for your buck. It’s comparable to the FishHunter, but don’t expect the same level of construction quality.
The Deeper fish finder is the first of its kind. While it has excellent build quality, its depth is less than that of the other fishfinders.
Hold on, do you need a kayak?
I’ve been assuming you already have a kayak since I met you. What if you don’t? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Take a look at our buying suggestions for: