Thinking of a Fish Finder

mike126

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I'm thinking about buying a fish finder for my kayak. When kayak fishing, I mostly fish medium sized lakes (250+ acres) and reservoirs for large mouth bass. When fly fishing I do mostly hit the shallows in so I'm not sure a fish finder is going to help that much. However, as the day goes on I tend to transition to deeper water and either fish on the fly or with a conventional setup. So here's my list of questions:

1. How useful do you find fish finders for fly fishing?
2. I'm trying to keep the deck area relatively clear (Jackson Bite) so size will matter. I'm thinking no bigger than a 5" display and probably mounted forward on the left track. Is a 5" display big enough/too big? Sitting in the seat can you actually see a 5" screen?
3. I was thinking of mounting on the rail using a Yak Attack rail mount and maybe with the battery vault so it is one contained unit. If I mount on the rail how much will the transponder interfere with the tracking of the kayak? My second option would be a scupper mount (Lowrance Scupper Mount). I could remove it when I trailer my kayak so as not to damage the transponder. I use a cross bar system on the trailer and the transponder scupper is where I place the kayak on the cross bar.
4. For fly fishing, do these just get in the way? I cast right handed so I was planning on mounting it on the left to minimize line issues.
5. Are pre-loaded maps worth the extra cost?
6. Assuming I pursue a fish finder (the wise elders of the forum don't have compelling arguments against them! :) ) I was looking at the Lowrance Hook 5. Any suggestions on brand?

Thanks for your input!
 

trout trekker

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There's a very old and over used saying that goes, " You might fish structure and not catch fish, but if you don't fish structure, you won't catch fish ".

I go back to the little green box, paper graphs through to what we have today on my boats, pontoons and float tubes and when I was a kid, a weighted hand line with marks every five feet, that you could lower to tell depth and even bottom type as long as the water wasn't to deep. ( rock you'd get a stronger tap vibration through the line than you would over silt or clay. ) Kind of a poor man's flasher.

If I had one word of advice for anyone who wants to up their fly fishing small craft game on larger bodies of stillwater, it would be control your drift or better still, stop drifting about. Get at least one fishing buoy marker ( see below ) and use it. They're super easy to store even in a float tube, even easier to use and because they float, they're hard to loose. About the only way to get this device to fail is to deploy it in water deeper than it's cord is long.

Lot's to stillwater anglers move around larger lakes aimlessly, trying here, kicking or paddling over that way with hopes of intercepting a fish. When they do eventually come into contact with there quarry, they invariably drift off that spot. Often they'll try to triangulate on some shoreline objects to hold their positions, but with wind, inadvertent drifting, finning, paddling soon they'll be hunderd feet off the spot they contacted the fish at, still believing they are in the bucket.
Dropping a fishing buoy marker puts an X on the spot. They'll bust a few egos and school anglers who thought they really knew how to stay on station.

Now onto my take on fly fishing with graphs.
I have two Fishin' Buddy 2255's that I purchased in the late 90's, they along with the entire line have long since been discontinued. They are more powerful and sensitive than the standard Fishin' Buddy's and at the time, cost about 50% more. I don't use them everywhere. Other than for feeding me real time water surface temperatures, they are of little use in small heavily weeded lakes with relatively shallow water. They aren't useful for targets less than a foot in length, unless those targets are massed together in a tight school.

So where do I use them? In situations like the photo I've included. A large deep lake, typically water from 40 to 300 feet in depth. Their value lies in their ability to mark underwater structure, like a ridgeline, flat or deep water breakline that may draw gamefish. In the case of the photo, myself and my partner were the only two to fish this otherwise popular lake that day. On our arrival, the mountain in the distance snowless and bathed in sunshine, yet there was a cold wind foretelling the arrival of snow flurries that would punctuate the entire day. The ever changing light and continuous chop made locating even shallow water ( color change ) breaklines nearly impossible.

What we found that day was that a mass of small baitfish had exited their usual haunts along the shallow shorelines ( likely due to wave action ) and stacked up on ledge top in about 16 feet of water, that dropped off to over 60 feet of water. It's in that deeper water where the larger trout that we were after would hold, only moving up to feed atop that ledge, then back off to the depths again.
Without a graph I would've missed that action altogether and without a fishing marker buoy I would've been wandering around, banging away with my graph trying to locate, only to drift off the spot & relocate that ledge again and again.

Do the sidefinders work? At dawn on inland waters for Striper fishing mine has been a very valuable tool, many times I've called my shot with the sidefinder.
On something as large as a Striper in open water, sans weedbeds / interference with the beam they work well. But for something like singular small trout, panfish in shallow water with underwater obstructions, it would be utterly useless.

Can you see upwelling of springs, yes, this will depend on the graph and the influx of colder denser water.

Would I get a g.p.s graph? Not right now, at least not until this Lagado 5G interference boondoggle gets sorted out.

Screen size? The FB2255 is 3 1/8" x 2 3/8" and I keep it to my left ( cast right ). The distance from my eye's to the screen would be about 3.5' . I have no problem with reading the data.

For preloaded maps, even for the boat I'm getting ready to order, they would be of very limited use.

So if I'm fishing a damsel hatch on a shallow weedy flat, no need for a graph, there are typically several visual ques to go on. But on a large body of water, well offshore, where line of sight triangulation is a waste of time. Where water depths obscure visual observance of breaklines etc.
A graph in that scenario is no different than polaroid glasses are to the wading stream angler. They let me see my next step, where the fish are holding and what I might be casting in to.

But you still have to catch them and that's where rub comes from. Some anglers just can't wrap their heads around the fact that their graph is telling them there are fish right here, yet they can't get a grab. Therefore, the graph must be in error. Sometimes it is and sometimes we are....

Best of luck with you choice.
 

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mike126

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I like the idea of the markers. I have a hard time getting onto fish in lakes. Even though I’m fishing structure I’m just not getting any hits. That was the driver for looking into electronics. On trout streams and rivers I have enough experience to locate good water and can usually at least provoke some interest.

I am starting to learn to read lakes based on the shore line as well as look for topo maps for lakes I fish.


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Matt4.0

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I use the Deeper brand “castable” sonar on my toon. Doesn’t have the full functionality of higher end finders, but it works well to find depth, structure, and will point out fish. It also doesn’t require a transducer, battery, or the hassle that comes with those. I just tie it off the side of the boat and use the display through my phone (in a water proof floating case).
 
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joe_strummer

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I'm on a boat rather than a kayak, and run a Helix 7SI. It's invaluable. How I use it varies. First instance, nighttime bassin', I just want to keep in 2 to 3 FOW and occasionally refer to previous tracks through tricky areas. Looking for weed beds and structure in deeper water and getting those marks on my charts. Looking for baits balls and trailing predators in open water. Laying safe tracks on reef-filled Canadian lakes. Finding my way home on some TVA run-of-the-river reservoir where I might end up 15 or 20 miles from the ramp and every cove and creek mouth looks the same. Marking a spot if some gear goes overboard.

Fly fishing stillwater is comparatively easy when the fish are feeding on the edges or the surface. The rest of the time, the extra eyes of a sonar unit are very valuable in helping understand what's under the surface. Most of the lakes I fish are uncharted.
 
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joe_strummer

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If I had one word of advice for anyone who wants to up their fly fishing small craft game on larger bodies of stillwater, it would be control your drift or better still, stop drifting about. ... Lot's to stillwater anglers move around larger lakes aimlessly, trying here, kicking or paddling over that way with hopes of intercepting a fish.
Stillwater fishing advice of the day, or year. I used to fish on the move all the time. There are times that's fine. Certainly if you're chasing the striped fishes. Most of the time, not. A lake can be lake a big river, pulling your eye all over the place. Check this, check that, run over there, cast at that. I have slowed my pace in recent years -- for instance, been fishing the same quarter mile of shoreline on a certain lake for the past month, once or twice a week, picking through it, trying to understand it better. I've adapted my small stream philosophy of working the water within reach well, then making incremental movements and fishing that water that now has come into reach well.
 

mike126

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I use the Deeper brand “castable” sonar on my toon. Doesn’t have the full functionality of higher end finders, but it works well to find depth, structure, and will point out fish. It also doesn’t require a transducer, battery, or the hassle that comes with those. I just tie it off the side of the boat and use the display through my phone (in a water proof floating case).
Matt - I did look at the Lowrance Fish Hunter (castable). It looks interesting and is cheap enough that it may be worth a try. I like the simplicity of just being able to tow it along or even cast it out.
 

ArcherA

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I have a Lowrance Hook on mine, which goes between my bassbuster and kayak. Here's what I have learned about largemouth in confined bodies over my pond fishing life. During spawn, there's a shoreline that's about the only place to fish leading up and during spawn. No need for fishfinder, as they all tend to be there, or, only real place worth the effort. After spawn, there's a shoreline they tend to heavily feed on. Same no-need for fishfinder. If you don't have history on that pond/lake, and not much shoreline vegetation, fishfinder might be useful finding. The rest of year, they migrate, feed slower, and move about depending on temp and oxygen levels, sometimes though the day. Here's where the Lowrance can tell me where they are congregating, or where the non-congregants might be. Plus, you get surface temps, structure, and thermocline.
 

whalensdad

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It will be interesting to see what you choose. I'm looking at doing the same thing with my Jackson Mayfly. I'm looking at the Garmin Striker Plus 4 or 4CV. Granted it won't have preloaded maps, but it does generate contour maps as you fish.
 

mike126

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I made my decision and placed an order.....

I ended up with the Lowrance Hook5 Reveal without maps. I also ordered the Yak Attack transducer mount and the fish finder mount. For the battery storage I was going to go with an inexpensive dry box from Walmart.

I looked closely at the castable finders but in the end I feel that a more traditional setup would be better. I also wanted a landscape screen that was a little bigger than the 4” models.

Hopefully I’ll have in time for next weekend. And I probably won’t catch any fish!


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Max L

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I saw some really cool fish finders from garmin back in february at a boat show, the screens were fairly small but the machine plus a
transducer was around $100/ pretty nice little machines for a canoe or kayak
on my big boat it is all furuno IMO they make the best stand alone systems
 

fq13

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As to the maps? They are crucial in the ten thousand islands or you will get lost. Seriously, you get towed by a jack of a tarp on and x mangrove point is now y mangrove point and it's a lot of paddling chasing a dead end. That is on a canoe, and using a GPS not a depth sounder. For the skiff I use Garmin with the updates. But I am looking at other brands like simrad and lowrance. I am thinking about a depth finder on an old gheehnoe I want to rehab. I will follow the thread. But, I wouldn't call the maps a deal breaker, but nice to have. They trace your path with little dots. Lame? Yes, but twenty miles into the back country and you learn to love them.
 
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mike126

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Quick update.... FedEx and Amazon are awesome! I got the Yak Attack fish finder mount and Switchblade transducer mount on Saturday, the Hook5x Reveal on Sunday along with the 12v SLA battery and charger (Cabela's brand) and the dry box and sealed cable grommet. I assembled everything yesterday and so far so good. I am mounting everything on the left rail right around the foot peg. I don't think that will interfere with paddling that far forward and if needed I can swing the FF in-board a little more when paddling to where I want to start searching. A few things I will adjust later once I get this in the water and try it out will be with the transducer. It currently sits about 6" - 8" below the hull so I might cut the extension arm down to raise it up. Also, the battery is about 5 pounds so I may try and center it in the front well area (the Jackson Bite is all open) or run the wires and place the box under my seat.

I'm not too keen on the charger that came with the Cabela's battery. It has no light to tell you if it is charging. A pretty dumb charger. Over time I might upgrade to either a better charger, try my car's trickle charger, or upgrade to a Nocua lithium charger. I'll post photos later this week after I get it on the water.
 

The Mad Duck

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Just a FWIW. I had a SLA battery that I used on my kayak Depth finder/gps unit. I got tired of replacing the battery every year,so I switched to the Nocqua. They are smaller, recharge faster and can be recharged more times than a standard SLA battery. I turned my Garmin on and let it completely discharge. It lasted 28 hours on a charge. That was with the brightness as high as it would go and the chart speed wide open.
When you decide to change,I would recommend a Nocqua or some other LI ion equivalent.
 

mike126

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So another update....

I originally bought the Hook2 5x. It was a little small to see clearly for me. I called Bass Pro after looking at the return policy. And yes the 60 return is 100% no questions asked even if you use it. So I decided to upgrade to the Hook2 7x with side imagining. I used it this weekend and it was a great upgrade. The screen is definitely easier to see and the SI is a huge benefit especially with a kayak. I did not have a problem with casting but I am a little more conscious with line management. Finally I ordered a BerleyPro screen visor. That should be here this week.

With the SI I am able to search out structure and was able to connect with a few fish but on a bait caster with a crank bait. I’m still struggling with my fly rod on lakes.


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whalensdad

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So another update....

I originally bought the Hook2 5x. It was a little small to see clearly for me. I called Bass Pro after looking at the return policy. And yes the 60 return is 100% no questions asked even if you use it. So I decided to upgrade to the Hook2 7x with side imagining. I used it this weekend and it was a great upgrade. The screen is definitely easier to see and the SI is a huge benefit especially with a kayak. I did not have a problem with casting but I am a little more conscious with line management. Finally I ordered a BerleyPro screen visor. That should be here this week.

With the SI I am able to search out structure and was able to connect with a few fish but on a bait caster with a crank bait. I’m still struggling with my fly rod on lakes.


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What model of the Hook2 5x did you get; the GPS or with the maps? Did it have the Genesis live contour mapping feature?
 

mike126

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Both the 5x that I’m returning and the 7x that I’m keeping are GPS only with no maps. I felt that for the waters I fish I didn’t need maps and can use apps available on the phone.


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Unknownflyman

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I think you area really going to like that Mike and its going to help you stay in more productive areas longer. I dont fish out of yaks yet, but I`m interested, mostly canoe and small fishing boats but I fish pretty big water out of the canoe, Mille lacs, Rainy, Vermillion and many smaller lakes.

I fish rock piles and rat tails and wild rice for smallmouth bass and yes always fish structure, but the problem is that some structures are not as productive as others and its nice to look for areas that check all the boxes for large predators, rock piles and shelves with weeds and cover adjacent to breaks and drop offs where large fish can hide during the day and come up from in the low light times. Sometimes the structure looks great and devoid of fish, paddle by six hours later and start marking a few.

At least around here fishing surface to six feet down or more, the smallmouth bass move, we have watched them on camera (my brother has an old black and white one) fishing for perch and walleyes.

Drifting can be good or bad, but drifting down long breaks in the fish traveling zones is going to put you in front of more fish for a longer period of time and that spells success most days.

Fish finders with not get you fish, neither will cameras, been skunked many times with both on board its nice to mark fish in areas, but I dont take a lot of stock in that, cant make them bite, maybe you can see where they hide at any given time of day, and the seasons and the patterns change, so just when I get things figured out a bit, fish are not there. I`m looking for structures and nearest food sources, and anticipating where fish will travel to.

The maps are important and the GPS is nice, not only for knowing your location but to pin fishing areas and seeing and understanding why. The fish finding feature is my least used feature, but its nice to know I`m getting skunked with a number of fish below me, keeps the confidence up.

Fish and depth finders will make you a better fisherman, Ive been using them since the first flasher lowrance when I was a kid. Now days they have come so far.

Good luck and have fun sir. sir!
 

mike126

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I think you area really going to like that Mike and its going to help you stay in more productive areas longer. I dont fish out of yaks yet, but I`m interested, mostly canoe and small fishing boats but I fish pretty big water out of the canoe, Mille lacs, Rainy, Vermillion and many smaller lakes.

I fish rock piles and rat tails and wild rice for smallmouth bass and yes always fish structure, but the problem is that some structures are not as productive as others and its nice to look for areas that check all the boxes for large predators, rock piles and shelves with weeds and cover adjacent to breaks and drop offs where large fish can hide during the day and come up from in the low light times. Sometimes the structure looks great and devoid of fish, paddle by six hours later and start marking a few.

At least around here fishing surface to six feet down or more, the smallmouth bass move, we have watched them on camera (my brother has an old black and white one) fishing for perch and walleyes.

Drifting can be good or bad, but drifting down long breaks in the fish traveling zones is going to put you in front of more fish for a longer period of time and that spells success most days.

Fish finders with not get you fish, neither will cameras, been skunked many times with both on board its nice to mark fish in areas, but I dont take a lot of stock in that, cant make them bite, maybe you can see where they hide at any given time of day, and the seasons and the patterns change, so just when I get things figured out a bit, fish are not there. I`m looking for structures and nearest food sources, and anticipating where fish will travel to.

The maps are important and the GPS is nice, not only for knowing your location but to pin fishing areas and seeing and understanding why. The fish finding feature is my least used feature, but its nice to know I`m getting skunked with a number of fish below me, keeps the confidence up.

Fish and depth finders will make you a better fisherman, Ive been using them since the first flasher lowrance when I was a kid. Now days they have come so far.

Good luck and have fun sir. sir!
Thanks. I’m not expecting to all of a sudden start catching fish but do want to learn more about where they are holding up or where there’s structure. I like the side scan to help find structure.

I usually fly fish trout streams in the fall and winter and can usually find fish. Lake fishing LMB on the fly is newer for me so I’m still learning what works. Maybe one day I’ll figure it out!


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GreenPhilli233

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I'm thinking about buying a fish finder for my kayak. When kayak fishing, I mostly fish medium sized lakes (250+ acres) and reservoirs for large mouth bass. When fly fishing I do mostly hit the shallows in so I'm not sure a fish finder is going to help that much. However, as the day goes on I tend to transition to deeper water and either fish on the fly or with a conventional setup. So here's my list of questions:

1. How useful do you find fish finders for fly fishing?
2. I'm trying to keep the deck area relatively clear (Jackson Bite) so size will matter. I'm thinking no bigger than a 5" display and probably mounted forward on the left track. Is a 5" display big enough/too big? Sitting in the seat can you actually see a 5" screen?
3. I was thinking of mounting on the rail using a Yak Attack rail mount and maybe with the battery vault so it is one contained unit. If I mount on the rail how much will the transponder interfere with the tracking of the kayak? My second option would be a scupper mount (Lowrance Scupper Mount). I could remove it when I trailer my kayak so as not to damage the transponder. I use a cross bar system on the trailer and the transponder scupper is where I place the kayak on the cross bar.
4. For fly fishing, do these just get in the way? I cast right handed so I was planning on mounting it on the left to minimize line issues.
5. Are pre-loaded maps worth the extra cost?
6. Assuming I pursue a fish finder (the wise elders of the forum don't have compelling arguments against them! :) ) I was looking at the Lowrance Hook 5. Any suggestions on brand?

Thanks for your input!
I read all of your queries is good and also Lowrance hook 5 is a good choice but it is not enough for kayak fishing i want to recommend to kayak fish finders go onto this website and check reviews of kayak fish finders that are simply super awesome.
 
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