The Best fish finder for small boats is going to not only help you find fish but also locate key areas where fish could be hanging out in the future.

So, not only will it help you catch fish now, but you can mark key spots on the river or lake. That way you can always come back and try those spots.

Quick-Look: Best Fish Finder For Small Boats

#1 Best Fish Finder Overall: Humminbird Helix 5 

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If you’re looking to find fish and locate habitat then check out the article below. We’re going to go over some of the best small boat fish finders.

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Best Finders For Boats Video

What is a Fish Finder?

A fish finder is going to be able to tell you several pieces of information that will be critical for helping you find and catch fish. It’s possible to fish without one, but it can make a world of difference.

A close up photo of fishfinder on a boat.

Fish finders can tell you the depth of the water, temperature, where the structure is, bait fish, as well as the game fish you’re after. Along with this some different models also have GPS.

Types of Fish Finders

There are several different types of fish finders. Each is going to its own pros and cons so you should do careful research before you purchase one as it could not work well for your style.

So, below we’re going to go over a few different kinds to help you figure out which one is going to work best for you. Check them out and then see which one you can best utilize.

Mountable

These are great because they come with a bracket that is fixed onto the boat. However, the actual unit can be taken on and off. So the next morning it can easily be mounted back on.

This is great for travel or if you have your boat parked outside. You can now take off your electronics and keep them safe inside or inside of your truck.

Fixed

If you have a boat that you know will be safe secure then a fixed fish finder will be fine. These are great because it’s just one less thing you have to worry about taking on and off the boat at the end of the day.

These are also great if you are going to be fishing in choppy conditions. Since it is fixed onto the boat then it has a low likelihood that it could fall off from waves crashing and bouncing off the boat.

Portable

Portable fish finders are great for when you have a smaller boat or a kayak. These can be easily installed before getting to the lake, or right at the water’s edge.

The portability factor makes it easy to transfer to and from your boat and reduces weight. This is great when you’re fishing from a kayak or float tube that may have a weight limit.

Handheld

These are similar to portable fish finders. They can be very easy to travel with and can also be lighter. Making them great for use on smaller boats that have a weight limit.

Typically, these won’t be as nice as some of the bigger units that you mount. However, I think you will find that these will capture all the information you need and help you catch more fish.

Castable

These are great for shore anglers. Since you’re not actually in the water you can cast out the transmitter and can see the depth, water temperature, or even if there are any fish below the transmitter.

You can also use this when fishing out on boats too. They are typically not as efficient as some of the handheld models out there, but these are a great option for a cheaper model.

When To Use a Fish Finder?

You can use a fish finder whenever you want to. Since you can now utilize castable fish finders anyone can go out to their favorite water and have some sort of idea of what the bottom of the lake looks like.

The only time you may not need one is when you are floating a shallow, or clear river. Typically the water depth is going to change rapidly, and the only thing you may need to know is the water temperature.

Do You Really Need a Fish Finder?

If you want to go fishing then you don’t actually need a fish finder. You can find success without one by looking for lay downs and other structure that your naked eye is able to find.

However, it will make a world of difference if you use a fish finder. It can help you locate bait fish, humps, drop-offs, sunken structure, or even schools of game fish.

5 Best Fish Finders for Small Boats

Below, we’re going to go over five different products. These are going to be the best fish finders for smaller boats. Kayaks, Jon Boats, paddleboards, and all other small vessels will be able to utilize the products below.

Check them out and see which one is going to work the best for your fishing style. Each has its own pros and cons so take a close look and figure out which one is going to be the best for you.

Humminbird Helix 5 Series

  • Pros – Has sonar and comes with a transducer
  • Cons – Barebones unit

The Humminbird Helix 5 is a great overall fish finder. It can be mounted onto smaller boats and even come switch its own transducer. Making setting it up a breeze.

It does not come with side imaging, down imaging, speed, or GPS. However, it comes with Sonar, water temperature as well as depth. making this a bare-bones unit but it has everything you need to locate fish.

It comes in at a solid price point, so a beginner angler can purchase this and learn how to use a fish finder properly without having to spend too much on a unit.

Product Specifications

  • Five inch color display
  • Dual Beam Sonar
  • 4000 watts power output
  • Comes with a transducer
  • Broadband CHIRP
  • Easy use and set up

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Humminbird Helix 7

  • Pros – GPS and Down Imaging
  • Cons – No SD card with loaded maps

If you’re looking to take the next step in purchasing a fish finder, then the Humminbird Helix 7 is a great option. It won’t break the bank but it has a solid price point, especially considering what it can do.

With down imaging, this unit can tell you exactly what is beneath your boat. Making it ideal for fishing in deep lakes, rivers, or in saltwater. Easily tell the water temp as the depth as well.

The device can give you coverage up to 125 feet. Which is more than enough for most anglers out there. If you plan on taking this into really deep saltwater the maybe another unit would be best.

Product Specifications

  • Seven Inch Screen
  • Mega Down Imaging
  • 125 feet depth
  • Low Q CHIRP Transducer
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP
  • Two Display Modes
  • Includes transducer and mounting hardware

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Lowrance Hook 2 GPS

  • Pros – Comes equipped with GPS, and Wide sonar coverage
  • Cons – Can have issues with consistent depth readings

If you’re looking for a unit that has GPS capabilities then this is the one for you. A GPS unit on your boat is great for when you are fishing big water that may be new to you. This allows you to traverse the lake without getting lost.

The Lowrance Hook 2 is also very easy to use. Which makes it ideal for someone who may be new to the world of fish finders. Easily mount it, set it up, and learn to use it out on the water.

It gives you traditional CHIRP sonar so you can tell if there are is any structure below you, the water temp, depth, or if there are ant schools of fish beneath your boat.

Product Specifications

  • Auto tuning sonar
  • Easy to use menu options
  • Wide sonar coverage
  • Easy setup
  • mount on transom, hull, or trolling motor
  • GPS
  • Transducer included in the package

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Joywee Phiradar

  • Pros – Small and compact size, accurate doeth readings
  • Cons – Can be a pain to install and set up to a battery

If you’re looking for a great fish finder that can be used on a kayak then this is the one for you. The Joywee Phiradar is small enough that it won’t add too much extra weight which is important when kayak fishing.

Installation can be a bit of a pin but once you have it set up and ready to go then it’s fine. Easily paddle around the lake on your kayak utilizing the great work this fish finder does.

It’s extremely accurate and outworks the price. Making this a mother great deal and perfect for someone who doesn’t want to drop a crazy amount of money on a fish finder.

Product Specifications

  • 3.5 Inch screen
  • Dept reading from 1.8- 900 feet
  • auto zoom tracking
  • Bottom contour and temp readings
  • multi-language settings
  • big or small fish indicator
  • dual beam sonar frequency

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Lucky Portable Fish Finder

  • Pros – Small and easy to use and transport
  • Cons – Slow readings and no bells and whistles

For the price, Lucky Portable Fish Finder is pretty incredible. Don’t expect too much though as this is a very bare-bones fish finder. It will tell you dept, water temp, and fish location. Seems the fish location can be slow sometimes though.

This can be taken out in just about any type of watercraft you can think of and be utilized. So, if you don’t want to pull the trigger on something crazy expensive then this is the one for you.

Ideally, this is best suited for a kayak since it is so small and lightweight it won’t take up and extra space in the boat. It will deliver all the essential information you need to catch more fish but nothing more.

Product Specifications

  • Portable
  • Streamlined shape
  • Real-time water depth
  • background light
  • Fish detector
  • 328 feet max depth
  • Extremely easy to use.

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Features of the Best Fish Finders for Small Boats

Below, we’re going to go over some of the best features of fish finder for small boats. Each has its own pros and cons so think about what you want and then apply it to the list below.

A close-up of Fishfinder, echolot, fishing sonar at the boat.

GPS Integrated

Having GPS on your fish finder can be the ultimate gamechanger. Most of these will have waypoint settings that will allow you to plot exactly where fish have been hanging out or where you think they will be.

It’s also great if you plan on fishing large waterways for the first time. This way you can easily plot your way back to shore or the boat ramp without getting lost.

Cone Angle

The cone angle is the sound generated by the transducer that works its way towards the bottom. The sound wave looks similar to an upside-down ice cream cone.

Some fish finders have a wider cone than others. The wider cone will allow you to see more of the bottom. Thus allowing you to see more drop-offs bait fish or anything you may want to key in on.

Side Scan Vs. Down Scan

Side-scan gives you an image of what is on the sides of your boat. It shoots out an image a number of feet and allows you to see a laydown, or brush pile that may be off to the side.

Down scan allows you to see directly beneath your boat. This is ideal when fishing in deep such as lakes, or oceans. It is especially effective if you plan on jigging beneath your boat.

Mounting Type

The mount type for your fish finder should depend on what type of boat you want to use. A small vessel would do well with one that can be removed or something that is handheld.

Larger ships do well with fixed units. These are usually locked up and can’t be taken without power tools and either lifting the boart out of the water or getting in the water to take them off.

Vessel Specific Fish Finders

If you want a small boat then something that can be easily taken on and off would be great. Also, something small and lightweight would be best because smaller boats cant handle as much weight.

Larger boats can handle much more weight so twelve-inch screens and large electronics won’t weigh down the boat. These are best when using a larger ship.

Transducer

A good fish finder will have an even better transducer. The transducer will send and receive signals and acts as the heart of the echo sound system.

It changes electrical pulses into sound waves and then back again so that the machine can accurately read what is beneath the boat.

Display

The display of the fish finder will depend on the size as well as the backlight. Some are made to be used in all different lighting conditions. From midnight darkness to the brightest of conditions in the middle of the day.

The size of the screen is also important. The bigger it is the easier you’ll be able to spot different fish attractors or baitfish on the screen. You’ll need to find a screen that is large enough to see but not too big to weigh down a smaller boat.

Frequency

Ultrasound frequency usually ranges from 15KHZ to 200 kHz. The majority of fish finders out there will usually only have a range of 50KHZ to 200KHZ.

Some of the expensive and commercial fishing vessels may have a fish finder with a frequency that is much higher. This is not needed for a recreational angler.

Who Makes the Best Fish Finders for Small Boats?

So, if you would like to know who makes the best is finders for small boats then check out the article below. We will cover several different brands that should meet your needs.

Take a close look at each brand before purchase though. Each is going to have its own pros and cons and could hinder your style of fishing if you purchase the incorrect one.

Humminbird

If you want to make the most out of your time on the water then it is hard to go wrong with a Humminbird. They have all of the high tech features needed to enhance your fishing experience.

It doesn’t matter what type of water or what type of boat you have. Humminbird is going to make a fish finder that will help you catch more fish.

Lowrance

One of the best-known names in the world of fishing electronics. Lowrance is regarded as one of the best companies out there in terms of producing high-quality fish finders.

It doesn’t matter what size, color, frequency, or cone angle. Lowrance creates a fish finder that will work perfectly for the style of fishing you plan on doing.

Joywee

Joywee is not a household name the way that Lowrance or Humminbird is. However, they make great fish finders that can be utilized by both professionals and amateurs.

Look to them if you want something that works well but won’t cost an arm and a leg to get. These are great for smaller vessels.

Lucky Fish Finders

Lucky fish finders are in the same vein as Joywee. This a newer company that makes great fish finders. They may not be well known but they sure do work well.

Most of these are smaller and cheaper. making them ideal for anglers who may be new to the fish finder game and don’t want to spend too much. These are ideal for the angler who uses kayaks, canoes, float tubes.

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Conclusion

Fish finders are a great way to get you out on the water and improve your chances of catching fish. There is only so much your naked eye can see, and there is so much beneath the surface.

The items above are a great start but feel free to use them as a jumping-off point to help find the right fish finder for you and your way of fishing.

If you want more success on the water then you need to be using a fish finder. Doesn’t matter by who or how big. As long as you have one then you are going to catch more fish than you were before.