How to Choose Affordable Fish Finders for Kayaks

By Debbie Hanson

Apr 20, 2021

Choosing an affordable fish finder for kayak fishing. Tips on features to consider, types of sonar frequency, kayak fish finder sizes, researching options

If you’re looking for affordable fish finders for kayak fishing, you might be a little overwhelmed at first by the options, but there’s no need to be. You can choose an affordable kayak fish finder by asking yourself a few key questions and doing some online research.

Do You Need GPS?

If you aren’t planning on kayaking very far to fish or already have a separate GPS (Global Positioning System) unit, then you can save money by purchasing an affordable fish finder without built-in GPS. For example, if you plan to go kayak fishing on small lakes and ponds or don’t care about marking your fishing spots, a GPS may not be necessary.

Which Size Saves the Most Space?

When kayak fishing, space is always a commodity. Look for an affordable fish finder for kayak fishing that’s compact to save on space and any additional weight. There are kayak fish finder units on the market with 3.5 to 4-inch screens that won’t cramp your style or hinder your casts.

What About Frequency Type?

There are different types of sonar frequencies for specific circumstances. High frequencies are suitable for shallow waters, dual frequencies can provide clear images from shallow or deep water, and Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse (CHIRP) is a military-grade technology that provides outstanding imaging by moving between different frequencies using longer pulses than traditional sonar. CHIRP technology is a feature that may boost the price of a fish finder, but most anglers consider it to be well worth the investment.

Is a Color Display Important?

As with most other types of kayak fishing gear, you can take the budget-friendly route or go high-end. Ask yourself if having a color display matters to you, or if you can save a few extra dollars by going with a grayscale (black and white) display. Keep in mind; however, that a color display can often highlight important bottom details. For example, a transition area from rock bottom to a mud bottom will show as different colors or shades if you have a color display versus only grayscale. Besides, if you do enough online research, you should be able to find an affordable kayak fish finder that includes a color display.

The single most important piece of advice to remember is that cheap kayak fishing gear, including a fish finder, won’t save you any money over the long-term if it’s not appropriate for the type of fishing you do. Read product reviews to find out about pros/cons for different fish finders and ask experienced anglers for recommendations.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.