Kayak Fishing is the fastest growing segment of fishing and has opened up a world of on the water opportunities for anglers that bank fishermen and big boat anglers can’t access. Because of this, a lot of new fishing exploration has happened thanks to the explosion of fishing kayaks. And that exploration has been aided by the use of fish finders on kayaks. So we thought we should weigh in on the best kayak fish finders to give anglers the best options for exploring new waters and making the most of their kayak fishing.
OUR PICKS FOR BEST KAYAK FISH FINDERS
- BEST OVERALL – Garmin Echomap UHD2 93sv – Buy at Amazon / Buy at Bass Pro
- BEST VALUE CHOICE – Humminbird Helix 7 GPS – Buy at Bass Pro / Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- BEST BUDGET OPTION – Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 – Buy at Bass Pro / Buy at Amazon
- BEST TOTAL SYSTME – Garmin Echomap Ultra 10 with Livescope Plus – Unit at Bass Pro / LS+ at Bass Pro
Garmin Echomap UHD2 93sv, $1,099
The Garmin Echomap UHD2 93sv units were released in fall of 2023 and are already making a name for themselves as the solid kayak unit, especially if you plan to add Livescope+ to your setup. This is the unit I chose to run on my personal kayak after reviewing a lot of options at this price point and I absolutely love the ease of use, picture and quick release brackets for getting on and off the water quickly with my Jackson Bite FD kayak. The quick-release bracket will mount easily to most kayak mounting solutions. The wiring is simple and quick to run and terminate to your kayak battery.
The Echomap UHD2 93sv features quick access on a 9-inch touch screen with key assist display that is very viewable even on the brightest sunny days. And it features multi-band GPS pinpoint accuracy for hitting your targets which can be a bit more difficult in kayaks that move a little more than larger boats. So this is a big advantage to me for kayak anglers. The units are fast, bright and my Livescope Plus looks awesome on this unit. A 9-inch unit for roughly $1,000 is as good as it gets to me for 99% of my kayak needs.
I don’t run dual units in my 21-foot bass boat, so I certainly am not interested in one in a portable, nimble setup like a kayak, but I’ve had no issues whatsoever Scoping around on new waters. The preloaded Navionics maps are a bonus. It’s like having an ultra high-end unit without the high-end price. The perfect setup for kayak fishing.
BEST VALUE CHOICE
Humminbird Helix 7 GPS, $549
The Humminbird Helix system is one of the most dependable platforms in all fish finders and the 7-inch screen size is a great middle of the road choice for Kayak fishing. Because you sit down in a kayak, you are a lot closer to your units which means screen size doesn’t have to be as huge like on the front deck of a bass boat where you are standing and several feet from your units. Your are generally just 18-30 inches from your unit in a kayak. So a 7-inch unit is a solid choice and that drop down in size can save you substantial money.
We are big users and advocates of the Helix units, and that 7-inch unit has all the robust features of the big units in a smaller form factor. Preloaded mapping, ability to have down or side imaging, great 2d sonar and you can add a Mega Live system if you so desire. It’s a great unit, with a great interface. It has built in maps for 10,000 lakes but with Auto Chart live, you can make your own maps of uncharted waters. Which is super handy when kayak fishing on smaller bodies of water.
BEST BUDGET OPTION
Lowrance Hook Reveal 5, $299
If all you really want is to see what’s around you and keep track of your depth with a bare bones solution, then the Lowrance Hook Reveal units are a good option. You can get the 5-inch model for around $299 now and there are other larger options for a bit more. But these units give you a good picture with their SolarMax displays and you get twice the coverage as other unit’s sonars. You can set quick key buttons to get back to your most important screens. You have the Genesis Mapping option to map your own lakes and all of that for less $500. So it’s a nice option in a small footprint for anglers who just want to get on the water and know a little bit about what’s around them in their kayak.
BEST TOTAL SYSTEM
Garmin Echomap Ultra 106sv with Livescope Plus, $2,799
The system that seems to appeal to most kayak anglers now is the system that gives them the most information about their immediate area. For me that would have to be the Livescope Plus. If money was no object and I was trying to make a killer setup for finding fish on any body of water with a kayak, I would pair it with a quality head unit and Livescope plus on a mountable arm so that I could view 360 around me to find cover, rocks, fish and more. With Livescope Plus I have perspective view to give me the lay of the land around me plus I have real time forward facing sonar to show me how the fish and bait are behaving in the area. Realtime readings is most important to me as an angler now and this is why I choose this as the total system.
I like the Echomap Ultra 106sv right now and will probably recommend the new Echomap Ultra 2 10 inch units when they are available to the public. But the Ultra 10 inch units have slightly better screens than the 93sv units. A little more real estate, better touch and button assist and slightly better overall performance. Paired with Livescope Plus, its a fish catching system for the avid competitive kayak angler.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN INSTALLING ELECTRONICS ON A KAYAK
For us, the key things in setting up your kayak for marine electronics include the following:
- Transducer mounting
- Graph mounting
- Cable Management
The biggest consideration to me is adequate power that is in a safe place for optimal performance for your electronics on your kayak. You don’t want the battery out in the elements if it comes a torrential downpour. Some kayaks offer hatches and compartments to mount a battery in while others require somethign like a battery box or sealed crate to mount them in.
Something like a 12 volt 50ah Lithium can power your graph and live imaging transducers and boxes all day. If you have an added trolling motor you might want a bit larger batter or another battery for it. Make sure you terminate well and mount the battery where it won’t jostle around too much and loosen connections as you fish and paddle.
A lot of modern day fishing kayaks from the best brands will have areas designated for mounting transducers that protects them from scuffing and scraping as you go over shallow areas. Things like Livescope are best mounted on a pole for ease of use. There are a bunch of quality options. We recommend products like the Railblaza Hexx Live Pole and YakAttack Switchblade Transducer Deployment Arm as good mounting options for electronics and transducers.
Mounting your Graph
If your kayak has track systems, mounting graphs can be easy with a few components from track mounting systems like the Railblaza Fish Finder Mount R-Lock or the Yak Attack CellBlok that can double duty as a batter box and graph mount with cable management built all in one. A lot of anglers use trak mounts and Ram arms and mounts as well if you don’t want to drill holes in your kayak. I always opt for the track mounted option if it’s available to me.
The final thing is making sure your cables are routed where they won’t be in your way, trip you get in and out of the kayak or get pinch while using them and damaging or compromising important connections like your Livescope cable. Through hull is a good option and you can find ports from the mentioned companies above or you can route cables outside and keep them out of the way with strategic zip ties and Velcro throughout.