Fish finders are more and more often referred within the fishing community as an essential piece of equipment for fishers to invest in if they are serious about their favorite leisure activity. Moving beyond the rudimentary equipment popularly used by fishers, such as fishing rods, fish finders launch avid fishers into the technological age where even the casual angler can make friends with a digital device for a more satisfying fishing experience.

What Is a Fish Finder?

A fish finder is a sophisticated piece of technology that allows fishers to locate the whereabouts of fish in a body of water. The device is typically attached to the boat and performs its function using a Sound Navigation and Ranging (SONAR) system.

Although specific device capabilities and display options may vary by brand, these devices are generally able to display the location of a fish on a LCD or CRT type display screen. All fish finder devices also are comprised of three main components: a display screen, a transducer, and a power source.

Since the technology’s inception in the 1990’s, the increasingly sophisticated models of the present day may also feature compasses, GPS navigation, and radar.

Kayaks in particular have grown in popularity over recent decades as family-fun marine vessels to take out on the water, and despite their size, they nonetheless serve as perfectly functional boats for fishing.

However, not every fish finder on the market is the same, and to adequately suit both the size and capabilities of kayaks, specific fishing technologies may be needed to ensure you have a good time. After all, a device meant to find fish on a large boat may look a little clunky on your kayak.

Luckily, these devices come in all shapes and sizes, and the ideal attributes you should be looking for in yours are discussed in more depth below.

But first, you may be wondering: what is so great about a kayak fish finder in the first place?

Why You Should Invest in a Kayak Fish Finder

Just because you are fishing in a kayak does not mean you are not serious about your fishing. The market for fishing technology has developed in such a way to pave the way for additional technologies suitable for all marine vessels – including kayaks and other smaller boats.

Investing in a fish finder for your kayak can offer a number of benefits to your fishing experience. As long as you purchase a device that is suitable to meet the needs of your boat, having the location of fish directly on a screen with you ensures that you can find the fish you want without rowing aimlessly for hours on end.

The primary attributes you will need to consider when finding the right device for your kayak will mostly concern those three main components mentioned above: the display, transducer, and power source.

Because of both the potential limitations – as well as advantages – kayaks may pose as vessels for fishing, it is important to outline the attributes beforehand that may either be necessary or preferable when looking to buy your ideal model.

What You Should Be Looking for in Your Fish Finder

The best brands and specific models of fish finders currently on the market are hotly debated, from Raymarine’s Dragonfly 4 Pro to the Humminbird PiranhaMax 197c to the lightweight Hawkeye FT1PXC Fishtrax Fish Finder.

Across the market of available brands and models, however, is some general consensus regarding what attributes fishers should be looking for when they are searching for their ideal device. After all, across brands, many devices generally share similar characteristics – if enhanced or dulled to match the quality or price of the brand.

As mentioned above, the best attributes of these devices primarily concern the capabilities of the device’s display, transducer component, and how the device is powered.

Below is a list of most important attributes or features a good kayak fish finder should ideally possess.

Most Important Features:

  • Suitable Display Size — For smaller boats like kayaks, you are typically going to want to find a device no larger than 5-6 inches. Larger than that, and you are wading into conspicuous and clunky territory. Larger fish finders will just get in your way on a kayak and they may even spook the fish. Larger devices are also heavier and may therefore add the aggravation of being more difficult to mount on less-sturdy vessels. There are still a number of high-quality models available in smaller sizes, so don’t fret.
  • Power Source is Kayak-Friendly — Your device will need to be one that can be plugged into a standard waterproof marine battery power box, OR you can find a portable device that operates through battery packs built into its case.
  • High Frequency Transducer — The higher the frequency of the transducer, the more detailed your fish will appear on the display screen.
  • Portability – As display size is an important consideration for a kayak fish finder, so too is a device that is most definitely waterproof and lightweight.
  • Easy to Use – Whether you are a beginner or a practiced pro with fishing technologies, there is most always benefit to using a fish finder that is simple to use. Some models, like the Lowrance fish finder range even operate primarily through the use of just three buttons.
  • Fish Depth Identifier
  • Able to Penetrate Deep Depths – This will not be relevant to those who generally fish in shallower waters, but for larger and deeper bodies of water, it may be important to you to consider the depths your fish finder has the capacity to penetrate.

In addition, along with the most important features listed above are those that may be preferable but not necessarily necessary, particularly if you are a beginner.

Non-Essential But Preferable Features:

  • Suction-cup Mount (For Your Transducer)
  • Full Color HD Display
  • GPS Navigation Feature
  • 3D Sonar – This gives fishers the opportunity to view highly-detailed photographic images of what is going on underwater; however, it also shows a narrower beam angle and should be used to view fish at maximum depths of no greater than 200 feet or so for optimal function.