The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Kayak Fish Finder for 2017

How to choose from all of the best portable fish finders for kayaks available today

The use of electronic fish finders has become so commonplace these days that no self-respecting Bass fisherman would be caught without one. However, their use is not so commonplace on fishing kayaks. But, the truth is that kayak fishermen can benefit from the use of an electronic fish finder every bit as much as motor boaters can. In fact, many fishing specific kayaks have transducer compatible scupper holes that are specifically designed for mounting electronic fish finder transducers. Also, for those of you who own fishing kayaks that do not have transducer compatible scupper holes and are not willing to modify the hull, there are models that are specifically designed to mount on a gunwale or an equipment rail in addition to hand held units. Consequently, there is absolutely no reason why kayak fishermen cannot enjoy the benefits of electronic fish finders as well.

Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder Sonar GPS with Navionics Gold
Our favorite for 2016
Lowrance ELITE-4X HDI 83/200+455/800 Fishfinder with 83/200+455/800KHz Transom Mount Transducer
A great value option
Humminbird 409120-1 859ci HD GPS/Sonar Combo Fishfinder
A great compact fish finder

Top 3 Fish Finders for Kayak Fishermen

After looking at all of the brands and models of fish finders on the market today, the three fish finders I have listed below represent what I feel are the top three fish finders for kayak fishermen based upon their size, weight, and features.

Rating System
Each of the fish finders listed below is rated on an alphabetical scale based upon their size, weight, and features such as brightness, resolution, type of sonar, ect.

Raymarine Dragonfly-5PRO Fish Finder Of all of the fish finders on the market today, the Raymarine Dragonfly-5PRO fish finder is my absolute favorite!

Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder Sonar GPS with Navionics GoldFeaturing a bright, 5.7 inch, high resolution, color display employing dual CHIRP sonar channels which can be viewed individually or at the same time on a split screen, this unit displays an extremely high resolution view of the bottom by combining a 60 degree, high resolution, fish targeting, channel with an ultra-high resolution DownVision channel that displays incredible detail. Also, the Dragonfly-5PRO is perfect for open cockpit installation due its spray and submersion protection to IPX 6 and IPX7 standards and thus, you needn’t worry about a capsize ruining your fish finder. Plus, the Dragonfly-5PRO has a built-in, 50 channel, GPS receiver with fast acquisition technology that enables your unit to acquire your new location more quickly combined with a MicroSD chart and memory reader that enables you to save information and transfer it to or from your computer. Last, this unit is extremely easy to operate with just two buttons and a joystick cursor/rotary dial uni-controller.

My rating: I have assigned this fish finder an A due to its excellent resolution, compact size, ease of operation, and waterproof rating.

Specifications:
Display Size: 5.7 in.
Resolution: 640 x 480
Sonar Channels: 2
Backlight: yes
Overall Size: 5.82 in. x 8.35 in.
Weight: ?
Power Supply: 12 volt

Lowrance ELITE-4X HDI 83/200+455/800 Fishfinder with 83/200+455/800KHz Transom Mount TransducerLowrance Elite – 4X HDI Fish Finder The Lowrance Elite – 4X HDI fish finder features a super-bright, 4.3-inch, LED-backlit, color display with Hybrid Dual Imaging that combines Broadband Sounder sonar plus Down Scan Imaging sonar to give you the power of two award-winning technologies to provide an astonishingly clear view of the bottom. To accomplish this it uses Down Scan Overlay technology to overlay Down Scan Imaging onto Broadband Sounder while Advanced Signal Processing (ASP) reduces the need to manually adjust settings to see fish, structure, and bottom detail clearly. At the same time, the TrackBack feature reviews recorded sonar history including structure, transitions, or fish targets, and the new, easy-to-use, page selector menu gives you quick access to all features using one-thumb operation while the Multi-Window Display lets you quickly and easily choose from pre-set page layouts and includes a three-panel view. Last, this fish finder is fully waterproof with a rating equal to IPX7 standards and thus, it will not be harmed if you accidently capsize your kayak.

My rating: I have assigned this unit a B due to its slightly smaller display size and slightly lower resolution than the Raymarine Dragonfly-5PRO.

Specifications:
Display Size: 4.3 in.
Resolution: 480 x 272
Sonar Channels: 2
Backlight: yes
Overall Size: 3.8 in. x 6.6 in.
Weight: ?
Power Supply: 12 volt

Humminbird 409120-1 859ci HD GPS/Sonar Combo FishfinderHummingbird 386ci Combo Fish Finder This fish finder is the perfect choice for kayak fishermen due to its compact size and light weight. Featuring a bright, 3.5 inch, high resolution, color display employing DualBeam PLUS sonar channels which can be viewed individually or at the same time on a split screen, this unit displays an extremely high resolution view of the bottom by allowing you to select either 16 degree, 28 degree, 45 degree, or 75 degree transducer angles. Also, with both Down Imaging and SwitchFire Sonar at your disposal, you will have an unparalleled view of what’s below your kayak. In additon, the internal GPS receiver and built-in UniMap will enable you to pinpoint your location with ease and, an SD card slot on the 300 series Combo models enables you upgrade to LakeMaster or Navionics cartography. Last, this unit is fully waterproof and thus, you need not be concerned that an inadvertent capsize will harm it in any way.

My rating: I have assigned this fish finder a B due to is smaller screen and lower resolution compared to the two units listed above.

Specifications:
Display Size: 3.5 in.
Resolution: 240 x 320
Sonar Channels: 2
Backlight: yes
Overall Size: 5.25 in. x 7.4 in.
Weight: 2 lbs.
Power Supply: 12 volt

Regardless of which brand or model of fish finder you choose for your kayak, be sure to keep in mind that high frequencies work best in shallow water and low frequencies work best in deep water, that wide angle transducers are best for shallow water and narrow angle transducers are best for deep water, larger, brighter, screens are easier to see, higher resolutions provide greater detail, and GPS is a very handy feature to have. In addition, Micro SD card slots are also a very handy feature because they enable you to save and transfer information as well as update your software. Plus, the unit absolutely, positively, must be waterproof! Therefore, the three fish finders listed above represent what I believe are the cream of the crop for kayak fishermen

A kayak fish finders buyers guide – how to choose the best one for you

kayak fish finder gpsWhen choosing an electronic fish finder for your kayak, the first thing that you should be aware of is that fish finders operate on different frequencies and that they are available in single, dual, and multiple frequency models. Also, transducers that emit high frequencies penetrate less deeply but display the greatest amount of detail and thus, they work best in shallow water. Whereas, fish finders with transducers that emit low frequencies penetrate more deeply but display the least amount of detail and thus, they work best in deep water. In addition, you should be aware that transducers are available with cone angles s ranging from 9 degrees to greater than 60 degrees and that wide angles are best for shallow water while, narrow angles are best for deep water.

Furthermore, you should choose a lower powered fish finder for shallow water because the less the power a fish finder uses, the shallower the transducer can penetrate, the slower the unit displays the readings, and the less clear they will be; but the longer the battery will last. Conversely, you should choose a higher powered fish finder for deep water because the more power a fish finder uses, the deeper the transducer can penetrate, the faster the unit can display the readings, and the more clear they will be; but the less time the battery will last.

best portable fish finderOther factors to consider are screen size, resolution, and brightness. For instance, large screens are able to display more information, higher resolutions display greater detail, and brighter screens are easier to see in bright sunlight. Last, you need to determine whether or not you require GPS tracking. For instance, if you are fishing on inland or inshore waters where you are rarely (if ever) out of sight of land, then you might not need GPS. However, if you regularly fish in marshes, swamps, large lakes, the open ocean or, if you would simply like to have the ability to track your distance, speed, and location at any given time as well as mark hot spots, then GPS is a must have feature in a kayak fish finder.

Last, when choosing a fish finder for your kayak, it is important to choose one that is neither too large nor too heavy because one that is too large can interfere with fighting and landing fish and one that is too heavy can overweight a gunwale.