Is a depth finder worth it?

Kayak fishing main forum.

Moderators: GASMAN, HoosierPaddler, islandspeed2001, Dreads0518

Post Reply
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:22 am

Is a depth finder worth it?

Post by Jiggle » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:08 pm

I’m considering adding a depth finder with GPS to my kayak, but am unsure how much use it will get. I am new to kayak fishing, and have had good success with flounder and reds. I don’t have much interest (for now) in targeting other species, other than crappie once the weather cools down.

Will using a depth finder help enough with inshore fishing to justify the cost? So far, I have mainly just been fishing around creek mouths and oyster beds. I like the idea of being able to find structure, drop offs, etc, but will that translate to more (or bigger) fish caught?

Posts: 810
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:24 pm
Location: Mandarin

Re: Is a depth finder worth it?

Post by tadpole » Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:53 am

I have one, and it is helpful for learning structure, but not really for finding fish. Mine is a monochrome Humminbird - I think the cheapest one they sell. No GPS or other frills. It uses very little power. In fact I power it with 10 AA Eneloop brand rechargeable batteries. I bought a 10-cell AA battery holder online (a fully charged battery is 1.35 volts, so 10 gives me 13.5v.) I bought a waterproof Pelican box for the battery pack and connect with a two-lead QD like you'd find on a boat trailer. Operating range is something like 16v to 8.5v and I have it set to notify me at 10v. Power drain is so low I can run 12 hours or more on a charge. Color units, side scan, GPS, or more frills likely won't run on this setup. This has served me for about four years with no problems, as long as I remember to recharge the batteries. I think it is worthwhile but not essential. I don't have much invested and I would do it again is this dies.

"Of course, folk fish for different reasons. There are enough aspects of
angling to satisfy the aspirations of people remarkably unalike."
-- Maurice Wiggin --

Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:54 pm
Location: Jacksonville FL

Re: Is a depth finder worth it?

Post by shrimp_slayer » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:38 pm

I agree with what Tadpole said :beg: . I think a unit can be a great tool to have, but don't think it's the answer to "finding fish." Fishing at night for inshore creeks, it shows me how skinny the water is I'm paddling in which can be an important factor when there is a falling tide. The chartplotter function tracks my trip so there's no losing my sense of direction. An SD card in my unit holds saved locals of oyster beds I've found on previous trips that may be submerged so I can visually see where I may want to be in relation to that. If all your doing is creeks, I wouldn't bother with purchasing a unit. Especially if you are just fishing the daytime. Sometimes less is more... sometimes.

If I am going out on a large lake, I can put in an SD card (only for certain models) already loaded with the lake's contours so I already know where to paddle. Does it catch more fish? No. Your noggin and a line in the water catches the fish. First "fishfinder unit" I bought was a rod and reel with a MR17 lure I would troll behind my Dick's Sporting Good's special. When I got a hit, I would fish that area until the bite was off and troll some more.

My First Fishfinder

Maybe you just fish creeks now, but maybe down the road you want to go beyond the breakers or bass fishing in a large lake. This changes your parameters.

If you or anyone else who reads this ends up deciding on going out and getting one, I would say find the one you like and wait for it to go on clearance. Be patient. New units seem to be coming out all the time and retailers need to offload the older models to make space for the new ones ;) . The unit I have now was bought at 60% off. Do the research! Do you want Side Imaging? Does your kayak allow a thru hull transducer mount or maybe you may need either an in-hull mount or transducer mounting arm. All have their pros and cons. What works for you and your application?
Malibu Stealth 12 (2017)

Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:22 am

Re: Is a depth finder worth it?

Post by Jiggle » Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:10 pm

Thanks for the info, guys. I’ve pretty much concluded that the benefits won’t outweigh the cost at this point. I think side scan is the way to go when fishing shallow water, but I’m not prepared to drop $500+ for a fancy gadget in a new hobby.

Posts: 34
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:30 am

Re: Is a depth finder worth it?

Post by johnk434 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:49 am

I think it’s totally worth it, I have a raymarine dragonfly on my kayak, I love having the gps to help navigate and it is nice to have the depthfinder as well. I you paddle around a few creeks you can find the deepest holes in the creekbends and that is where the fish will stack up on a low tide, they aren’t expensive either, I got mine for $325 on Amazon last year.

User avatar
Posts: 1815
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:26 pm
Location: Fairfax, VA & Ponte Vedra

Re: Is a depth finder worth it?

Post by internetpilot » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:22 pm

I only use one when freshwater fishing deeper water. I don't use it when saltwater inshore fishing. If I want to find out where the structure is, I'll simply wait for low tide...haha.

I have an older monochrome Humminbird all-in-one unit (Fishin Buddy 110) that I have rigged Scotty mounts for in both my FL and VA kayaks. It runs for literally days on 6 AA batteries, no wires, no separate transducer to worry about, easy to transfer from one kayak to another (since it's all one piece), etc. It also has a primitive directional side scan feature that will detect suspended fish (and an occasional duck/turtle) that can be rotated infinitely 360°, but doesn't show structure with this side scan feature. For some reason, the color and later models of the Fishin Buddy lineup got rid of this side scan feature.It does show structure from the down scan, as well as fish including size alert, temperature, etc. It's a great, convenient unit. I haven't felt the need to get anything fancier.

But again, I don't use it all when fishing inshore saltwater, where I can usually tell how deep the water is with my paddle or my anchor pin.
Fishfinder.jpg (79.12 KiB) Viewed 3030 times
-- Chris :thumbleft:
Coleman Scanoe
Perception Sport Destiny/Scout 12
Perception Striker 11.5
Field & Stream Shadow Caster 123

Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:22 am

Re: Is a depth finder worth it?

Post by Jiggle » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:17 pm

I appreciate the additional info and ideas. I think I’m going to hold off until (if?) I get a better and more adaptable kayak. My current yak (Ocean Kayak Tetra Angler 12) is capable and is serving me well, but doesn’t have much space to add accessories. I also worry about the stability of it, and ruining electronics by flipping it.

I am really enjoying the hobby so far, and will probably upgrade in the next year or two.

Post Reply