Just because you make your way around the lake in a little kayak or canoe doesn’t mean you are looking for tiny fish. You take your sport seriously, and you put on your game face each time you hit the water. Why would you go through all the effort to haul and launch your yak otherwise?
What You Need
But to compete with the guys and gals cruising around in bigger boats and catching one fish after another, you need access to the same tools and information they have at their fingertips. You can’t afford a technological handicap – you need a fish finder so you can see the same things that they are seeing.
However, kayakers require different things from their depth finders than anglers piloting larger crafts do. The best fish finder for a 19-foot bass boat may not be the greatest model for your 9-foot-long kayak.
Ask yourself the following questions to guide your search for the suitable fish finder for your kayak or canoe.
How deep do you fish?
If you chase after deep-water fish, you’ll want a down-imaging sonar to get the best view beneath you. However, if you spend most of your time chasing bass and bluegills in shallow streams and ponds, a side-imaging unit is the better option.
This way, you’ll be able to see more available, fish-able water than what’s below your boat.
How far do you travel?
If your adventures take you far from home or simply far from shore, you should probably purchase a fish finder with a built-in GPS. These types of combo units often cost slightly more than scanners that do not have an integrated GPS circuit, but you’ll need the capabilities that the GPS offers.
Additionally, because space is typically at a premium on kayaks, you’ll be better served by a single combo-unit; compared to purchasing separate units that need space for mounting both.
How much room do you have?
If your space is extremely limited, you may want to opt for one of the newer “portable” sonar units which feature a float-style transducer that transmits a read-out directly to your smartphone.
Just simply toss the sensor in the water (after first attaching it to a fishing line or some other tether to keep it close) and start seeing the structure, cover and fish on your phone. These units require you to download a proprietary application on your phone, which are generally free of charge.
How will you connect the transducer to your kayak?
You can mount the transducer for different fish finders in a variety of ways. Some can be attached to the trolling motor, while others must be stuck directly to the bottom of the transom.
Many modern kayaks feature scupper holes, which allow you to pass the transducer through the hull for proper mounting. However, old kayaks rarely have these features, so you’ll have to purchase a depth finder that will work with your kayak.
What is your power source?
Most fish finders are designed to be connected to a 12-volt marine battery in a waterproof box.
However, because space is a concern for most kayakers, there is rarely enough room for a large battery. In such cases, it is recommended to select a portable battery-powered fish finder that will transmit data to your smartphone.
Consider the following models when choosing fish finder for canoe or kayak:
- The Garmin Striker 4DV has a 3.5-inch display, includes a built-in GPS, DownVu, and CHIRP Sonar. It offers a great combination of features, especially considering its low cost.
- The Lowrance Hook 4x has a 4-inch display but lacks a GPS circuit. While it includes a dual-channel transducer and CHIRP down-scan sonar, it is a little more expensive than the Striker 4DV.
- The Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro is a high-quality fish finder that includes GPS functionality, a 4.3-inch display screen and dual channel sonar capability. Plus, it is WIFI ready so you can beam data straight to your smartphone. It is a bit more expensive than other entry-level fish finders though.
Ultimately, you need to consider your fishing style and needs to determine the top fish finder for your kayak. Fortunately for modern kayak-paddling anglers, most fish finders available in the market function much better than those from years ago.
You can’t go wrong with any of the scanner produced by the major manufacturers. They are all designed to be competitive while sharing some similar features and capabilities.