You have no way of knowing where fish are hiding or feeding when you’re out on the lake. Likewise, you do not know water depths and how to set your line.
You can, however, take advantage of the situation by grabbing one of the portable fish finders or the best fish finder for aluminum boat to help you out.
One problem is determining which kayak fish finder for small boat is the best to take with you.
In our comparison reviews, we look at some of the best kayak fish finder alternatives that are not permanently mounted fish finder, so you can mix and match small boats.
By the end of the reviews and buying advice, you should have a good understanding of which fish finder is best for you, your small Jon boat, and above all, which is the best fish finder for small boats that can double as a small boat depth finder. (Find the Best Depth Finder For Pontoon Boat)
Why You Need a Good Small Boat Fish Finder
There are several benefits of using the best small fish finder; when you compare them to fixed depth finders, you’ll find a few things that make sense and can help you a lot.
Convenience: The best fish finder for Jon boat is portable and can easily be the best fish finder for dinghy in different locations. They make the ideal choice for serious anglers who want to be catching fish from land, a kayak, or rented smaller boats.
Easy to Use: It’s easier to use a portable fish finder than a fixed finder since there’s no installation. It takes seconds to set up, and you can be on your way. You can even take them ice fishing or use a fish finder for small boats in other areas.
Affordability: The best fish finders for a small boat are often cheaper than other fish finders that are fixed. (Find the Best Portable Fish Finder)
Flexibility: You can mount your favorite fish finder transducer on a kayak or a boat. On many models, you can have castable fish finders or toss your fish finder in the water to throw it when shore fishing.
Top Small Boat Fish Finders Reviews
1. Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
Without investing hundreds of dollars for a dedicated depth finder or fish finder for small boat, you can get the Garmin Striker 4 to boost your chances of catching fish in any body of water.
It’s packed with capabilities and features for its compact size with a 3.5-inch display, and you can monitor your boat’s speed to make sure you’re trolling at the right speed to attract fish rather than scare them off.
Dual-frequency (50/200 kHz) sonar capable. Chirp sonar sends a continuous sweep of frequencies to deliver a wider range of information. And creates crisper fish arches with better target separation.
- Built-in fish alarm flasher
- Accurate 3.5-inch split-screen mode display
- Lightweight and Portable (suitable for ice fishing or vertical jigging)
- Maximum depth 1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater
- No included battery
- Hard to read in dazzling light
The Garmin Striker has a suggested retail price of around $110; this portable fish finder has everything you need. It is the best fish finder on the market, capable of reading a maximum depth of 1,600 feet in freshwater and 750 feet in saltwater.
This is the best fish finder for small boat, and the transducer can be fitted on a trolling motor or another suitable area on small boats with the right fittings. Best of all is the Clearvu Scanning Sonar transducer, and Chirp Sonar fish finder technology is protected with a one-year limited warranty.
2. ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder
The Reel Sonar Wireless castable fish finder differs as it uses your phone for the display. The transducer, shaped like a ball and small enough to fit in your hand, may be used as a bobber for scans down to 135 feet in depth.
It uses Bluetooth to transfer signals to your phone and can connect to Apple or Android smartphones. You can use the iBobber to mark fish, map contour depths, and map underwater structures. You can also save water temperatures and keep track of where you are.
2 Snap swivel connections help use the device as a bobber or as a remote fish finder. The size of your phone will dictate screen size.
- Suitable fish finder for ponds or ice fishing
- Mark depth, contours, underwater structure, weather, and location
- LED beacon and strike fish alarms
- Works great to locate fish on a Jon boat, float tube, canoe, and kayak.
- Short battery life
- Can disconnect from Bluetooth when out of range
The ReelSonar packs many functions for a low price of just under $90, yet it’s held back as it requires your compatible phone to use as the display.
The fish finder is really durable, and it is an excellent choice for someone who wants the best small boat depth finder to use as a fish finder.
3. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar Castable and Portable WiFi Fish Finder with Gps for Kayaks and Boats on Shore Ice Fishing Fish Finder
The Deeper Pro Wireless fish finder is one of the best castable fish finders on the market, and it’s setting the standard for fishing electronics in small, portable fish finders.
The Deeper Pro doesn’t need a boat with a fixed transducer or power source. It enables professional fishermen to target fish using dual-beam scanning for deeper or wider imaging of fish arches from one contained unit, plus a suitable phone to act as the display. Scanning the riverbed while freshwater fishing sends sonar data to your phone through Wi-Fi.
Despite being one of the most affordable fish finders on the market, the orb still has many functions. Your smartphone app receives all the data where the battery can last 6 hours on a single charge.
- Wi-Fi range of 330 ft
- Small and portable at 2.5″ diameter and a weight of 3.5 oz.
- Built-in GPS to mark waypoints
- Suitable for kayak, ice fishing, or fishing from the shore.
- Needs a phone to work
With a suggested retail price of just under $200, this is an excellent choice for any angler looking for portable fish finders.
The small depth finder for Jon boat or other vessel delivers narrow beam down imaging to 250 feet water depth and target separation of 1-inch.
This phone-based castable fish finder is transforming the market and offers 2 beam scanning like standalone fish finders.
4. Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder
The Hummingbird 2D sonar technology is more than just two-dimensional. It has CHIRP Dual Beam plus sonar so you can see fish clearly when fishing coastal waters or freshwater lakes.
It also performs equally well when ice fishing. The device lets you choose how much information you receive in clear mode or max mode, using high-frequency sound waves that surpass many fish finders.
With impressive fishfinder side imaging and down imaging, you can have successful small boats fishing trips again and again.
- The 5-inch color display is easy to read in direct sunlight
- CHIRP Dual Beam sonar waves
- The power source is efficient 500 Watts with a power draw of 615 mA
- Integrated GPS charts and built-in anima cartography with sealed micro SD card slot
- It needs a separate power source
The Hummingbird is a great fish finder with a guide price of just under $285. The fish finder for small aluminum boat has dual beam sonar and an impressive depth range in deep water to 1500ft with a traditional sonar transducer.
It’ll add to any angler’s budget for the best fish finders, but you’ll get some of the best fishing electronics for your money using this type of fish finder. It comes with the best side imaging, and there is the built-in Humminbird Basemap and AutoChart Live.
5. RICANK Portable Fish Finder, Handheld Wired Fish Depth Finder Ice Kayak Fishfinder Shore Boat Fishing Fish Detector Device with Sonar Sensor Transducer and LCD Display Gear Fish Depth Finder Yellow
The Ricank fish finder is just like the Lucky Handheld fish finder for small boats. It can help make your next fishing trip successful, yet it differs from all the fish finders in this list. It helps to detect water depth and the location of fish and rocks but does this on a black and white screen.
You can change from feet to meters, and it can reach 328ft in depth. While handheld, you can hang the cheap kayak fish finder around your neck.
The design is easier to use than some, and you can even hang this portable fish finder around your neck. The fishing sonar sensor has a 25 ft cable and removable transducer float.
There are several sensitivity options and also alarms when it finds fish. There is also a 1-year warranty. (Read our Fish Finder Reviews)
- Uses CHIRP technology
- Water depth shows by meters/feet.
- 5 mode sensitivity; battery save mode; backlight mode; fish alarm
- No color display
- No detailed images on the small screen
With a suggested retail price of a little under $40, you get a great kayak fish finder that is let down by the screen size. Although it has a 2.5-inch screen, many people may find it too small, yet others find it the right fish finder for their fishing style to help them catch more fish.
Best Smaller Boat Fish Finders Buying guide
When you want a fish finder for small boats, you often find it better in shallow water than deep water. The higher the frequency, the more accurate they are in shallow water and deliver a precise signal. You’ll get a clear image, but down imaging is less reliable the deeper you go.
Here are things to check when browsing through most fish finders for small boats.
A good fish finder uses sonar to locate fish. Dual frequencies are used in lower-cost versions, whereas CHIRP, or Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse, is used in high-end ones.
- Low frequencies penetrate water and enable the fish finder to see deeper, albeit it may not have the fine resolution needed to locate schooling fish.
- High frequencies provide more detail for pinpointing fish, but they do not transmit well through water. For example, they can’t tell you anything about the water’s bottom, especially if it’s deep.
Your fish finder’s dual frequencies enable it to take both readings at the same time.
The transducer beam angle isn’t so important to find fish, and some devices go as far as having auto tuning sonar, although depth alarms and sonar history offer the best advantage when searching for fish.
Longer pings are used in CHIRP technology over multiple frequencies. CHIRP systems outperform dual-frequency systems in terms of accuracy and data transmission to the fish finder.
The difference between a good fishing experience and a bad fishing experience is how well you mount your transducer. You can put them together in a variety of ways.
- Hull mounting has been around since the dawn of kayak fishing. Cut a sponge to accept the transducer and place it at the bottom of your kayak’s hull. It loses a little of signal, but not much.
- Transom mounting: This is where you attach an arm to your kayak using a mount. The transducer will be fully submerged in water, as it should be. However, if you run into rocks or stumps, it may be ruined.
- Scuppers for common transducers: Kayaks come with scuppers for common transducers. If your kayak has this capability, look for fish finders that will fit. These are frequently seen as optional additions with a higher price tag.
A fish finder should be able to read to a decent max depth with its sonar waves.
It may feel like bigger is better. Larger screens can be better to read in sunlight, yet they get in the way as you fish on a small boat.
Smaller screens with higher display resolution are easier to read than larger screens with lower display resolution.
Anglers benefit from GPS, maps, and waypoints. Finding your way back home or to nice fishing spots in strange waters can be a worthy asset.
Using your fish finder to map structure and cover is a great way to return to fish school and feed.
You want a fish finder that is battery-friendly. Although many people don’t use regular batteries, you’ll need a good rechargeable 12V battery before heading out on the water.
Fish finders can be a personal choice, and you see this when anglers use castable fish finders. However, when testing certain features, all the fish finders here couldn’t touch the Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with a transducer and a 3.5″ GPS Fishfinder with a Chirp Traditional Transducer.
It is the ideal size that won’t get in the way; it is battery efficient and easy to mount on a small boat. It also offers a split-screen mode you can use to see your fish and monitor your waypoints. (Find The Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder)
It doesn’t use an internet connection like flashier models, yet it is the best small boat fish finder you can use.