The first time I installed a fish finder on a kayak, I had to drill holes through the deck and glue the transducer inside the hull. My choices were limited to a base model fish finder and I had to sacrifice sonar power and water temperature data.

Today, I have a fleet of kayaks in the yard, and each one has gear tracks, cable routing and transducer mounts to easily add electronics. The most advanced fish finders and chartplotters have high contrast side and forward imaging sonar and detailed charts with up-to-date navigation information. In 2022, I can choose the best fish finder for kayak fishing without limits on features and functions.


Garmin Echomap UHD 73sv Garmin 

Echomap UHD 73sv

$899 | garmin.com

I have a Garmin Echomap UHD 73sv mounted on my go-to standup fishing kayak. When I’m fishing backwaters and sheltered lakes, I need the best kayak fish finder to interpret the shallow flats, grass-covered coves, exposed points and other fish-holding structures.

The UHD 73sv offers side imaging and down imaging sonar with the option of adding Panoptix LiveScope forward-facing imagery. Scanning sonar sends a transducer signal to the side or the front of the kayak to capture images of structure and fish up to 150 feet from the boat.

Garmin’s broad color palette and detailed display make it easier to pick out fish and structure. I won’t explore new water without detailed navigation charts. I picked the UHD because of the detailed Navionics charts with one-foot depth contours.

Buy from:

AMAZON BASS PRO SHOP CABELA’S WALMART

Raymarine Element 7 HVRaymarine 

Element 7 HV

$699 | raymarine.com

Running the complicated programs to process sonar and navigation data requires a lot of computer power. To quickly redraw maps, track location and produce detailed sonar images, Raymarine’s Element 7HV boasts a quad-core processor that can simultaneously run multiple processes without losing speed. This allows the Element HV to process high-resolution CHIRP, scanning and live sonar along with a unique 3D view which tilts the sonar image so I can interpret the location of key structure and fish marks. While the Raymarine fishfinder will work on any kayak, I use it on a Jackson boat that is designed to accommodate the transducer and display.

Buy from:

AMAZON WALMART


Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Split ShotLowrance 

Hook Reveal 5 Split Shot

$499 | lowrance.com

In addition to my full-size fishing machines, I have a couple pocket rockets for after work and early morning fishing trips. For a simple electronics package with the most important features, I’ve rigged my fun-size boat with a five-inch Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Split Shot.

Lowrance’s Hook line was designed with kayak anglers in mind and the Reveal models add detailed Fish ID function by combining down imaging and CHIRP images. This makes the Hook Reveal one of the best sonars for fishing deep water with unmatched images of structure. Not only is the screen compact, but I like the small mounting base that takes up less space on the deck.

The Hook Reveal is smaller and less expensive, but it comes standard with basic charts and real-time mapping. For a few more bucks, you can upgrade the charts and add a side-scanning or live-view transducer, but I like the value of the base model with the most important features.

Buy from:

AMAZON BASS PRO SHOP CABELA’S CANADIAN TIRE SAIL WALMART


Humminbird HELIX 7 G4N SIHumminbird 

HELIX 7 G4N SI

$929 | humminbird.johnsonoutdoors.com

I have several Old Town and Ocean Kayaks in my stable and Humminbird’s Helix 7 G4N fits all of them. That’s because the kayak and electronics companies are owned by Johnson Outdoors so their engineers can collaborate when designing boats and fish finders. As a result, the boats’ transducer cavity and mounting options are designed to match perfectly with Humminbird’s fish finders. And, I can control my AutoPilot trolling motor through the Helix because Johnson owns Minn Kota, too. Which is good because Humminbird’s new G4N SI model is the latest in a long line of advanced fish finders taking sonar technology to the next level.

Humminbird started the scanning sonar arms race and continues to lead the competition with their latest MEGA sonar. MEGA produces a mega-powerful scanning signal for unmatched detail of fish and structure below and to the sides of the transducer. The new Helix G4N includes a basic base map with the option to add highly-detailed coastal and lake charts.

All of these features come at a price—the Helix G4N is the most expensive in our review. However, after using Helix fish finders for several years, I can attest to their durability. My original first generation Helix is still running and I expect the same durability out of the latest model.

Buy from:

AMAZON BASS PRO SHOP CABELA’S WALMART

Fishtrax 1C-K fish finderFishtrax

1C-K

$199 | hawkeyeelectronics.com

With all the advanced technology available on kayak fish finders, I’m most excited about one of the simplests fish finders in our review. Hawkeye’s Fishtrax 1C-K starts with a simple color CHIRP fish finder with depth and temperature readout that provides detailed images of the most important fishing data.

While the display may be basic, the Fishtrax 1C-K is one of the most versatile fish finders in the review. The waterproof display unit and two-inch screen will fit anywhere on a kayak or SUP; it even fits in my pocket. The display can be powered by a 12-volt battery or three AAA batteries. I go with the batteries to make install and removal easier.

Best yet, the Kayak Kit includes a gear track mounted base that holds the display and the transducer. This is perfect for my fishing paddleboards so I can remove the fish finder while I paddle to the fishing grounds then drop the transducer when it’s time to find fish.

Oh yeah, Fishtrax also offers an ice fishing kit and portable carry case so you can use the fish finder after the water turns white. Sure the fancy fish finders with the most advanced sonar and charts are invaluable for improving my odds on the water, but when I need a simple fish finder for quick trips, I grab the FishTrax 1C-K.

Buy from:

AMAZON BASS PRO SHOP CABELA’S WALMART

overhead photo of a kayak angler using a fihs finder on his kayak
Taking it down to the next level. the latest fish finders offer all the options. | Feature photo: Courtesy Johnson Outdoors

 

Cover of Kayak Angler Magazine Issue 48This article was first published in the Summer 2022 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.


Taking it down to the next level. the latest fish finders offer all the options. | Feature photo: Courtesy Johnson Outdoors

 

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