Adding a sonar/GPS unit can take your kayak fishing to the next level, in this article we will take a look at some of the best units for kayaks, as well as our top picks for both best overall sonar unit for a kayak and the best-value fish finder.
Choosing the best fish finder for a kayak is a bit different to selecting one for a boat, so read on to find out what features you should look for and which models and sizes are best suited to kayak fishing.
As well as reviews of the popular models, we have also prepared a complete buyers’ guide.
The Lowrance Elite Ti2 has an awesome feature that is great for kayak anglers fishing waters that are off the beaten path. The Ti2 has Genesis live, this allows you to map out the contours of your favorite fishing spots or lakes that aren’t already mapped.
The Reveal is a sonar/GPS unit from Lowrance with a 7 inch screen, making it the perfect screen size for kayak anglers. The Reveal also has one other advantage for anglers, and that’s its price.
Best Value Fish Finder for Kayaks 2023
Our pick for the fish finder on this list with the best value is the Lowrance Hook Reveal 2 7 Triple Shot.
You get essentially every feature you could ask for on this unit, while saving yourself a ton of cash, with some models coming in under 500 dollars.
Best Kayak Fish Finder 2023
Our pick for the best fish finder for kayak fishing has to be the Lowrance Elite Ti2.
The combination of the Genesis mapping system, active imaging sonar and pretty much having every other feature that a kayak angler could ask for present all at an amazing price, with some models being under 500 dollars.
The kayak fish finder models we reviewed
- Garmin ECHOMAP PLUS 73 SV
- Lowrance Elite Ti2 7
- Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI
- Lowrance Hook Reveal 2 7 Triple Shot
- Garmin STRIKER™ Plus 7CV
Our Favorite Kayak Fish Finders of 2023: Full reviews:
The 73sv by Garmin uses the High wide CHIRP sonar for incredibly precise target separation and has both Downvu and Sidevu modes.
The high definition detail of the sonar and precision readings is what really sets all present Garmin models apart from their competitors.
The 73sv also comes with the integrated lakevu G3 inland maps which is integrated with Navionics data cover which features over 17,000 lakes with up to 1 foot contour separation.
The 73sv has a 7 inch touchscreen with keyed assist and is also compatible with the panoptix all seeing sonar transducers if you wanted to invest even more in the highest technology sonar system currently available to recreational anglers.
- Extensive Navionics data
- Downscan and sidescan modes
The Lowrance Elite Ti2 has an awesome feature that is great for kayak anglers fishing waters that are off the beaten path.
The Ti2 has Genesis live, this allows you to map out the contours of your favorite fishing spots or lakes that aren’t already mapped.
This feature shows depth change counters at ½ foot intervals in real time on your chartplotter.
Among that main feature the fish finder has a 7 inch screen, with enhanced display technology giving your crisp high definition picture, wireless networking, preloaded contour maps of 4,000 lakes at 1 foot contours, and side scan, down scan, as well as Lowrance’s active imaging sonar technology, with the ability to split screen your display with up to 4 different displays, like side imaging, down imaging, and GPS all at once.
- Genesis mapping system
- 1 foot contour accuracy
- Active imaging sonar
Humminbird has been a company at the forefront of sonar/GPS fish finders and is incredibly popular among anglers.
The Helix has mega down imaging, mega side imaging and dual spectrum CHIRP technology.
With the Helix you will get some of the best sonar clarity on the market with high definition imaging, with coverage down to 125 feet, with the same distance using the side imaging sonar.
With two different display mode settings, you can add or remove details, and take into account factors such as water depth, temperature and turbulence, even seeing your lure presentations in sharp detail.
And not to mention a very accurate GPS system, allowing for the placement of waypoints on critical spots, and the ability to add even better maps with Lakemaster or navionics cards, or simply use the built in contour maps if your lake is featured in the integrated map database.
The Helix also has bluetooth and ethernet capabilities, as well as Humminbird’s popular autochart live.
- Dual spectrum CHIRP sonar
- Lakemaster and Navionics chip compatible
- Ethernet and Bluetooth capable
The Reveal is a sonar/GPS unit from Lowrance with a 7 inch screen, making it the perfect screen size for kayak anglers.
The Reveal also has one other advantage for anglers, and that’s its price. Compared to other units on the market, the Reveal triple shot is pretty dang affordable, while maintaining critical features present on units at twice the price.
GPS contour mapping using the genesis live mapping along with C-MAP U.S. inland charting are still offered with this unit.
The sonar readings are high definition and definitely surprisingly good for something of this price, as well as offering both Sidescan and Downscan capabilities.
- C-MAP inland charting
- Both Sidescan and Downscan sonar
The Striker is another offering on this list that’s very easy on the wallet, even cheaper than the Reveal Triple shot from Lowrance, but it does miss one feature that the Lowrance offering does have, and that’s the sidescan.
Honestly, this is an angler-specific preference, especially on a kayak. Some Kayak anglers might not find side imaging sonar crucial to the style of fishing that kayak fishing is.
With that being said, you do have CHIRP down imaging that is extremely accurate with a very High definition picture on the screen that can distinguish individual baitfish as well as things like branches.
The Mapping system is also top notch, allowing you to save up to 2 MILLION acres of contour maps as you fish and travel on waterways that may not have maps available, that’s a ton of water.
The STRIKER also has Built-in Wi-Fi for access to Garmin’s ActiveCaptain app so you can receive smart notifications to your smartphone, access the Quickdraw Contours Community and transfer your waypoints and software update notifications.
- Very affordable
- Mapping system capable of saving 2 million acres
- Built in WI-FI for use with Garmin app
Buyers’ Guide: Fish Finder Considerations for Kayak Angling
Let’s take a look at what to consider when picking a sonar/GPS unit to purchase for kayaks.
Screen size is actually fairly important when choosing a sonar unit for kayak fishing. If you haven’t noticed, our selections on this list are generally units with screen sizes of around 7 inches.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Fishing from a kayak means space is fairly limited, and this screen size is the perfect happy spot between small and big screens, saving space, and keeping this smaller on a kayak is important, could you imagine a screen that’s 12 inches sitting on a kayak?
The next is price, the amount of money you will pay for every square inch as you go up in size is not worth it in many cases, with one square inch costing a couple hundred dollars more with some brands.
The more features the better right? Features are important when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, especially when it comes to equipment like sonar fish finders that aid anglers when fishing.
Units that have every feature such as side imaging, down imaging, and GPS with mapping are the king of sonar units. Some anglers may not need some features, such as side scan on a kayak.
But features such as mapping and standard high definition down imaging and CHIRP sonar are pretty essential. Other features like bluetooth, ethernet, and other features are more preferential and depend on what you want your units to include.
Unit Mounting Options
There are multiple ways you can mount your unit to your kayak. But the most popular option, and also the best option, would be to use products such as the YakAttack sonar unit Mounting system, or the RAM universal marine mounting system.
In my opinion the RAM system is really hard to beat, it’s rock solid, with knobs to loosen and tighten, while having an incredible range of movement to dial it in exactly where you want it, while being relatively inexpensive.
The other key component of any sonar set up is the transducer. For fish finders that don’t have sidescan – or if you don’t want to have this feature enabled – then you can mount the transducer inside the hull.
This is a relatively straightforward process – you glue in a foam pad or cradle for the transducer to sit in and then you glue the transducer itself in using Marine Goop, which doesn’t impact the image and still allows you to remove it if necessary.
For transducers that allow sidescan, you need to install them on the external side of the hull using one of the adaptor kits made for this purpose.
There are a plethora of units on the market that would be suitable for kayak fishing.
In this article we did quite a bit of research, as well as hands on experience to bring to light what we think are the best options for kayak anglers on the market today at various price points to find something for everyone.
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