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Tips and guide on installing fish finder on a kayak

fish finder
fish finder

If you are using a kayak for fishing, you might be interested in installing a fish finder on a kayak. It allows you to locate the bait that is hard to find on the water surface.

Most kayaks are not built with fish finders so you may need this guide to learn how to install it properly. In this article, we share some helpful tips on how to install a fish finder on a kayak.

How fish finder works

Fishfinders work with sound navigation and ranging technology or better known as SONAR.

sports fish finder

This device has a LED or CRT monitor that shows fishes’ locations. Most fish finders now have integrated GPS navigation, marine radar, and compasses. These not only help you locate your bait but they also help you find your way.

Tools you need for installing a fishfinder

Before installing a fishfinder, you need to prepare the following tools and materials:

  • Depth finder
  • Unit
  • Battery pack
  • Mount and adapter
  • Steel crews
  • Fuses
  • Electric tape
  • Dielectric grease
  • Silicones
  • Wire caps (if you want to make it look clean)
  • Power drill
  • Different sized bits
  • Socket wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire stripper
  • Soldering iron
  • A heat gun or a hairdryer (either work)

Tips for installing a fishfinder

To get started, here are some of the tips to remember before installing fish finder on a kayak.

Tip 1: Don’t forget to register the unit

Before anything, make sure to visit the manufacturer’s website and register the fish finder you purchased. Keep posted and download any of their latest software updates.

Tip 2: Have a steady power

Make sure you have a stable battery to get a better image quality and to avoid having any trouble with your sonar unit.

Tip 3: Carefully consider the transducer location

The location of your transducer may affect the image quality on your sonar. Place it in the right location and at the right angle. Make sure it doesn’t skim right over the water surface.

transducer location

Steps on installing a fishfinder on a kayak

Follow the steps on how to quickly set up and install a fish finder on a kayak.

    1. Locate the unit where you can mount the fish finder. Most of the fishing kayaks now have center storage so you can easily mount your fish finder on top of the storage cover. Otherwise, you will have to choose an area with a flat surface where you’ll mount the fish finder. Make sure that it’s close enough to reach but it won’t interfere with your paddle strokes or it’s not anywhere you’re standing while fishing. You can also use stainless steel for all closures to avoid getting rusty screws and stains on your kayak.
    2. Set the transducer. The transducer is the part of the technology which scans the water underneath your kayak. Most of the modern kayaks have built-in transducer scuppers. You can also put your transducer inside the kayak’s hull or use the kayak transducer mount external. Scuttle holes are usually built and can be found at the bottom of your kayak to adjust and set the transducer. This way, your transducer will be totally inside the water and it will give you the best view from your kayak.
    3. Install the transducer. The first step to installing the transducer, you will have to remove the seats of your kayak. Next, turn over the kayak to find a flat area of the hull where you’ll mount the transducer. To mount it easily, you can clean or wipe the surface with a rag. Second, use a silicone-based adhesive to cover the bottom of the transducer without air bubbles inside. This can help you avoid having trouble with the bumps of the road, waves and strong water currents. The last step is to place the transducer on the area with the bracket pressing down and moving it from side to side until it’s completely all the way down against the hull. Make sure to leave some space between the transducer and bracket to make it function properly and to protect the transducer on the kayak as well. To see if it works, try putting a weight on top of the transducer to make pressure and letting it dry for a day.
    4. Install the unit. After locating your screen unit, mount your rod holders on the surface area of the kayak. Drill holes where you can fit plugs through. Now, pull cables through the holes in the deck and put them into the grommet. After that, use a screwdriver to fix the grommets into the holes. Lastly, mount the base. If you want the unit to be removable, you can build a holder from PVC pipes and an end cap. This will fit into the kayak’s forward cup holder perfectly.
    5. Install kayak fish finder battery. You always need to carry your own battery pack (specifically an SLA or Sealed Lead Acid battery). This type of battery operates safely and it’s also the ideal battery for most kayaks since it won’t prevent the acid from spilling while you’re on a kayak. Before installing, make sure to check the capacity and sizes of the battery. Another thing to remember is that the battery packs should be away from the salt water so it won’t damage the battery. You can use a battery tray or a foam block to protect it and keep it away from the saltwater. Lastly, don’t forget to always carry your battery pack’s charger. 
    6. Wiring and soldering the fish finder. Run the wires through the battery pack and connect it with the fish finder. Make sure to protect and cover any exposed cabled joints. Cover them with an electric tape or heat shrink to keep the moisture out. Do the same for plugs and sockets. You can also bundle loose wires and cables with zip ties. Although tapes also work, soldering the joints is better since it gives an extra and more solid protection. Plus, it keeps the moist out. Make sure to also protect your electronics. Apply some dielectric grease to your fuse. Finally, connect the battery with the finder and then turn on the fish finder display. If it works, that means you’re good to go. 
    7. Clean the kayak and fish finder. After installing the fish finder, make sure to clean all the things that you brought with you on your kayak. Remove the saltwater all over your fishfinder by washing it with some warm freshwater for a couple of minutes until the salt dissolves. Do not use hot water. Once it’s cleaned, air dry the fish finder then put it inside the box.  Another important thing to remember when selecting or purchasing any device for your kayak, check if they are water-proof or not. Know its capacities and capabilities. Check the label if it mentions IP67 or above. IP stands for Ingress Protection which also indicates the waterproof rating. The 6 means “totally protected against dust” and the 7 means protection against water ingress when submerged in water to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. If you can find this waterproof rating, that means your device is safe from a certain level of water. 

Are you ready to install a fish finder on a kayak?

Now that we’ve shared the guide to installing a fish finder on a kayak, it’s your turn!

We hope you find this guide useful! Share this with your friends who love to kayak! If you have any questions, share them in the comments below.

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