One of the great things about fishing from a kayak, is that you are out in open water. You are free to go where the fish are, instead of trying to cast to them from the bank. The problem is though, how do you know where the fish are in the first place? Well, you use a fish finder, and it this post we will try and define the best kayak fish finder.
Less that $100: The Best Kayak Fish Finder
In the sub $100 category, we are pretty much limited to hand held, portable fish finders. Nothing wrong with this, they work, and they can easily be mounted on any kayak.
We are going to be looking at three separate fish finders in this budget range. Two traditional style fish finders, and then something a little special.
First up is the Portable Wired Fish Finder LCD Display Sonar Sensor Fishfinder Alarm. Now, at just under $37, we can’t expect too much from this portable fish finder. It has a basic LCD screen, and can switch between three modes, pond, river and sea. It attempts to locate fish, and give an indication of how deep they are in the water. It is simple to use, and if it works well, it should be fine for kayak fishermen.Next we are going to look at the Garmin Echo 101 US and Canada. This is both a hand portable, and also mountable fish finder. We have moved up in price here quite a bit, at $81. But the Garmin name is well known, so it should be a solid unit. What we don’t like though, is the very confusing display screen. It just seems crowded. But then again, it’s giving us a lot more information than the previous unit, as it also tries to estimate fish size. Finally, let’s talk about the iBobber Castable Bluetooth Smart Fishfinder. This is something entirely different. At $89, this could be the best kayak fish finder in the budget category. Why? Because the unit itself only contains the fish finder hardware, it connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth to use the display. So in theory, we should be getting better hardware at a lower price. It runs on rechargeable batteries, and can be attached to a fishing line and actually cast to where readings need to be taken.
$100 to $200: The Best Kayak Fish Finder
In this mid-range category, we are going to look at two spate fish finder units. Another Garmin, and also a Hummingbird. This is quite exciting, as Hummingbird are well-known for their excellent fish finders, and this is their entry level unit we will look at here.First of all though, the Garmin Echo 301dv Worldwide. In many ways, this is just an upgraded model of the Garmin Echo 101 we talked about in the budget category. The 301 adds a color display, and upgraded hardware. It is also able to generate composite images to give a kind of semi-3D view of the topography of the bottom underneath the kayak. Overall, at almost $193, its good, but we think the Hummingbird is better. The Humminbird 409590-1 HELIX 5 Fish Finder is an impressive unit, and one that will suit kayak fishing very well indeed. It comes equipped with a large 5”color screen, much larger than the Garmin has. It is also very easy to read at all angles.
What really impresses us though, is the sheer quality of the fish finding hardware. It operates to a depth of 1,500’, and uses a duel sensor, which allows for accurate triangulation of signal returns. This is a great little fish finder from Hummingbird, and at a price of $179, which is less than the Garmin, it’s the clear winner in the mid-range category.
Over $300: The Best Kayak Fish Finder
First, at $328, we have another fish finder from Hummingbird. This time the Humminbird 409620-1 HELIX 5 DI Fish Finder with Down-Imaging and GPS. This adds extra features to the previous Hummingbird model we took a look at. It maintains the same operational specifications of 1,500’ but it adds significant power to the sensor unit, which operates 4000 watts with this model. Overall, a solid upgrade over the smaller unit, but maybe not as good as our next offering.
TheLowrance 000-11657-001 Elite-5X CHIRP with 83/200+455/800 Transducer is only slightly more expensive than the Hummingbird, coming it at $340. But unlike the Hummingbird, it uses Hybrid Duel Imaging, and can also perform DownScan Imaging. Potentially, both of these features could make it more accurate than the Hummingbird. However, at this price point, there probably is not much difference in performance between the two, it’s going to come down to personal preference at the end of the day.
Here, our friends over at The Fishing Partners explain how to read the Lowrance Elite 4 and Elite 4DSi fish finders:Now finally, we are going to take a look at a rather more expensive unit, and we are going to go in to more depth. In this case, the Raymarine Dragonfly 6 Navionics+ Fish Finder with CPT-60 Transducer.
Here we have ramped up to the over $600 mark, so we can expect to receive a lot more in the form of features and performance over either the previous Hummingbird or the Lawrence. And this does appear to be the case.
This is both a fish finder and also a GPS navigation unit. And what’s also quite interesting, is it can map the two together, so you can track where you actually find fish and keep an ongoing record. Most readers will probably see the major benefits this offers. Fish act in habitual patterns. If you can start building up, and maintaining a map of where you find fish, you are gaining some real usable knowledge. Once again, this unit uses duel sonar channels to help with triangulation, and it also offers Down Vision sonar.If you like the sound of this unit, but can’t afford the $600+ price point, you could also take a look at the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Navionics+ Dual Channel Sonar/GPS. This is essentially exactly the same fish finder, just with a smaller display screen.
So for us, our choice of the best kayak fish finder is going to have to be the Raymarine Dragonfly 6. Although we have to say that they little Hummingbird 409950 comes a very close second, simply because it performs very well, at an excellent price. In fact, let’s call it a draw, depending upon your budget, both of these are excellent, capable units.