Buying Guide: Best Types of Fishing Lures Models and Features
When it comes to lures, everybody has a favorite. There really is no “best type”, or you would only ever see a single lure ever being cast, which isn’t the case. Some people swear that certain lures work better than others for all types of fish, and while some may work better on certain species, in many cases people just choose whichever one they fancy and stick with it. Why? Because who knows what lurks beneath? In fishing tournaments, you’ll see many variations, because the type of fish is not important.
However, if you are targeting specific species of fishes, what lure you use does make a difference. What makes the biggest difference though, is the presentation of that particular lure. The presentation is the way that you cast and reel in the lure, and can have a major influence on your success rate, regardless of the lure itself. That being said, here is a list of some of the best fishing lures and what species of fish they are designed to catch. Keep reading for more information on the various types and methods you can use to snag your fish.
Also, people who stick with a single lure will eventually get stuck in a rut, the truth is that you should be very versatile in your lure selection. Whether it be crankbait, crawdads, worms, or spoons, be sure to mix it up. Not just to maximize efficiency, but to keep yourself focused. However if you are asking me which is the best fishing lure, you can’t go wrong with the good old fashioned crankbait, and I always start and finish with it. However, there are a few real advantages and disadvantages to each lure depending on the kind of fish you are targeting, so pay attention. In the end though, like me, you’ll probably end up settling for whichever looks the coolest and then expand from there!
Types of Fishing Lures and their Presentation
The Spoon: Spoons get their name, as you would expect, from their origin. The very first spoon lures were actually kitchen utensils with the handle broken off, and Native Americans fished with this type of lure using mollusk shells as well. However, the spoon fishing lures which you see today vary greatly, coming in many different types of colors and sizes. The major benefit to this lure is that when it moves through the water, it simulates an injured baitfish, which are the meal of choice for gamefish.
Spoon Presentation: The style of presentation can actually vary quite a bit. Some spoons are designed to be trolled, some to be jigged, and some to be trolled. If you are a beginner, try purchasing the a casting spoon, as these are easy to use and are similar to spinners in their action. However, make sure that when you reel in the lure, you include some speed variations. Too much speed will make the lure spin instead of wobble, so a hair below that speed is what you are shooting for.
The Jigs: Even though I love my crankbait, jigs might be my favorite lure due to their versatility. Some people consider them to be the best fishing lure that you can buy. No matter what species of fish you are targeting, a jig can snag it, and they won’t cost you much to purchase either. They are distinguished due to their weighted lead head, and are dressed in just about everything, which gives it the appearance of a hoola dress or tail. This can include hair, plastics, or feathers.
Jig Presentation: Using a jig involves a ton of skill. Unlike other lures such as spinners, all of the action in the water comes from the way that you tug on the line. For experienced Jig fishermen, they may have their own way of tossing the jig, but what I like to do is cast it way out, and wait for it to hit the bottom. Perhaps this is why jigs cost so little, because most anglers are sure to lose the lure from snagging it on the bottom of the lake. You’ll know its touched the lakebed because the fishing line will begin to give some slack. Afterwards, begin tugging on the jig by yanking the rod up and slowly reeling it in, be mindful however, it can be difficult to detect the strike of the fish.
Flies: These are designed specifically for the fly fisherman, but some people will attach bubble floats to them. These fishing lures are very light weight, and are designed to resemble flies or other insects during various stages of their life span, although some flies resemble leaches, hoppers, or frogs. The construction of these lures is done using feathers, but can include fur and other newer materials such as foam and rubber.
Presentation of Flies: Flies are designed to act in two different ways. Dry flies have some type of floatation attached to them, and will sit just above the surface, resembling common insects. Wet flies such as streamers or nymphs you trail below the surface of the water. Fly fishing is the most difficult type of fishing that you can do.
Plasticworms/Soft Baits: Plastic bait can resemble a ton of different objects, but mostly forage critters that you find in the water. Some look like frogs, some look like crawdads, but most of them look like worms. They have scents and shiny bits implanted within them, and are created so that the fish swallows the lure for a longer period of time before they attempt to eject it from its mouth.
Softbait Presentation: These types of lures are mainly used to target bass, yet each fishing lure that you purchase in this style has a distinct presentation which you should stick to. The technique which me and most of my friends use, is a style called the Texas Rig. You create this rig by threading a bullet weight onto the fishing line, and just above the hook. Then you take the hook and pierce the top of your plasticbait (in this case use a worm), and thread the barb throughout the body, burying it deep and covering the entire hook. This creates a “weedless” lure, so you can cast it in areas of the lake or river which are holding areas for fish, without worry of getting it hooked on underwater foliage. The remaining part of the technique involves you twitching on the rod a few times after it hits the bottom of the lake bed.
The Spinner: Spinners are very easy to use, and I highly recommend them to beginners. Basically, they are just a small metal shift which spins around, and some variations include dresses. How spinners work, is as you pull them through the water, the metal spins, creating sounds and vibrations, which attract the fish. In water which is difficult to see such as murky water, this will give you an advantage over other fishing lures.
Spinner Presentation: Very simple to handle, all you really have to do is cast and retrieve. I vary the pace just to see if that makes a difference, but it doesn’t take much skill.
Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits: These look somewhat like spoons, and somewhat like jigs, but are neither and look a bit awkward. They consist of a safety pin-ish type wire which attaches to the head of the fishing lure, and then the rest of the body is then dressed. They also include one or more metallic blades, like those seen on your standard spinners.
Spinner/Buzz Presentation: There are a few methods when using this fishing lure, but the most common way to fish with this and the method which I use is called the “Chck-N-Wind”. Just cast your spinnerbait out, let it sink about 5 feet, and then retrieve it at a modest pace.
Lures versus Bait
There are many advantages to fishing with lures, as well as some disadvantages. When compared with just a bait and hook, I personally just like being cleaner, but I find that lures tend to be more effective as well. I know a few people who are quite successful, who use nothing but bait however, so it is really your choice.
Advantages: First off, lures are a lot less messy. No dead animal, nothing gooey, you can stay cleaner which is a must for me. Lures are also larger than your standard bait and hook, which decreases the chance of “gut hooking” your fish. Gut hooking is when the fish completely swallows the hook.
With lures, you can also zing it out further to cover more water, no matter where you are standing, and they allow you to target specific species of fish. Finally, they are just really simple to use, you can adjust lures and change them out easily.
Disadvantages: Disadvantages all comes down to money. Lures can be quite expensive when first purchased. You will probably save money in the long run if you can keep them longer, but some of the more expensive lures can cost you an arm and a leg. Remember, the best fishing lure available isn’t going to guarantee you a catch. You also risk having your line snag on a branch or somewhere else in the water, or your line may snap due to a poor rod choice. The costs can add up.
Information Guide: How to Install a Fish Finder
There are quite a few important tid bits that you should consider when it comes to your fish finder. People often concern themselves with the price, operating it, or in what attributes to look for when purchasing. However, in my experience its often times the actual set up which is the biggest pain of all!
There is no one size fits all manual which comes with your product, simply because the installation is done on a wide range of fishing vessels. However, some basic information can go a long way in helping you to decide on which model to purchase, and obviously will just help you have peace of mind. Here are the steps you should take to install your fish finder the right way.
Step Number One: Where to Install?
This is perhaps the most important point in the whole process, and that is where to install your unit. Some people prefer to install on the dash or mount directly in front of them, some prefer to mount their unit on their main hand side, and some prefer to mount the unit on their off hand side, if we are installing on a kayak for instance. This changes however if you have a large boat.
You also have to consider the type of transducer that you are installing. A transform mount transducer which you might install on a boat, is a very simple task if you install out in a shed, but another transducer such as a thru-hull transducer, is extremely complicated to install. This is best left up to professionals who know how to properly drill holes, as one wrong slip or mistake can cost you hundreds in repairs.
Remember, there are two set ups required in every installation, the transducer, and the display. Always consider where you want to install the transducer first, since it is stationary and cannot be adjusted, unlike the display. The transducer also has to be installed directly where the transform is. When you are doing the actual fitting, consider an area of the vessel which will be constantly submerged under water, failure to do so will cause intermittent malfunctions and completely defeat the purpose of the transducer.
When creating the transform, consider that it has to be smooth enough for the transformer to be fitted into. The location should also be at least a foot away from the propeller to prevent mishaps and interference caused from propeller. As a rule, the more turbulence that the transducer has to contend with, the more difficult it will be to correctly interpret the signals in the water.
Finally, when installing, the area of the vessel which you have decided upon should not be easily exposed. This can be a serious issue when you are transporting it around on a trailer, as I’ve seen more than one unit damaged from lack of foresight.
Step Number Two: Running the Electrical Wires of the Transducer
It is rare, but every so often you will run into a product that comes with defective wires. Before installation, make sure that there are no damaged wiring by running your hand along the plastic and giving it the eye test, this is smart to do before everything gets submerged and you save time just in case you notice it after the fact.
Once you’ve properly adjusted where you would like the display to set, install based on the instructions that came with your model. However, don’t cut any wires as this can prevent future adjusting, not to mention void any kind of warranty which comes with the product. Your wiring should also not be run next to other wiring, such as that of the propeller or VHF cables. This can cause interference.
Step Number Three: The Fitting
There are two ways to actually fit the transducer. The first way, is to install directly into the boat.This will require precise measurement and a drill bit which is appropriately sized to allow wiring to slip through. Afterwards, add sealant to prevent leakage, the last thing that you want to do is have a leaky boat.
The second way, which I prefer, is to mount the transducer on a block. You can do this by using a strong glue such as an epoxy and placing it on the boat. Afterwards, line up where on the block you want to place the unit, and mark that position as it will be where you will be drilling. You want your holes to be just long enough to not enter the boat, but go most of the way through the block.
Step Number Four: Running the Display Wires
Just like there are two ways to fit the unit, there are two ways to run these wires. The first way is to run them above the transform. The second way is to run wires directly through it by drilling holes through the transform, however if you do it this way, make sure that it is above the water line. In addition, all wires should be clammed to avoid too much movement on the boat.
Step Number Five: Mounting the Display
This final step is very easy if you have a kayak which has been pre-mounted, such as common angular kayaks. However, you can always set mounting later. Attaching the fish finder display to a mount should be as simple as screwing it on. This is it for our How To Guide on Installing a Fish Finder. If you liked this and would like to learn more on how to purchase fish finders, check out our main guide here.
Information Guide: How to Read a Fish Finder
I love fish finders, and if you read my short tale as to how life was before finders, you’ll realize that I’d simply be lost today without mine. However, like I mentioned here as well, there are many obstacles that come with the added convenience and additional tech of these units, not to mention a decent sized learning curve. Simply put, if you’ve never had a chance to use one of these before, and you expect to just jump out on the water and catch hordes of fish, your in for a bit of a shock.
Over the years, companies such as Lowrance and Humminbird have gone through great lengths to make the interface of these devices easier to handle and navigate, but there will always have to be a balance between features and ease of use. The fish finders which do the best job, also are the most complicated to use. So to make your life easier, here is a detailed article as to how to read your display and what the different varieties of models include in each of their interfaces. Keep in mind that literally every single model on the market has a different interface which requires you to read the manual, and this is just a general guide.
Side Imaging/Down Imaging Finders with High Frequency
There is quite a bit of information that you can acquire with the best units on the market, they don’t just point you in the direction of the fishies, and some of this information is vital to us anglers. This includes information of little importance, such as temperature, to how deep the water is. Some of these new models will even do the interpretation for you and show you a symbol of a fish on the screen so there is no guesswork involved.
These high frequency models, produce excellent imaging of what lies directly beneath, and to the side of the boat or kayak, although be sure to keep in mind the variation between some transducers which can accurately track deeper waters, versus transducers which don’t. In addition, when looking at a fish finder, you’ll need to understand side imaging versus down imaging. Down imaging gives you an overlay of what lies directly beneath the vessel, where as side imaging will display SONAR images of the water directly to the side which the transducer points Most of the best units today show 360 degree side imaging.
Take a look at this image here to the right, this is what a typical advanced unit will look like with 360 degree imaging. Yeah, these aren’t really 360 degree imaging, but I’ve seen them touted as such. Notice that it shows four different screens, along with the corresponding depth and SONAR imaging. In the top left corner gives the most pertinent information, your vessel is 28 feet above the water floor, and there is an additional 10 foot increment just to show you where the fish or debris are located on the far right. On the left side of the screen is the left side of the boat, on the right side is the right side of the boat. Also notice the “120” on the picture, this indicates how wide the side imaging of the transducer picks up, and the bottom image gives you a display.
The second type of unit that you can purchase, are displays which give you simple down imaging readings, or side image readings. These units are usually much cheaper, as some people find having both displays unnecessary, as they do a specific kind of fishing. For instance, if you plan on jigging, you’ll want a side imaging fish finder. If you plan on dropping your line directly underneath, you won’t care so much for directly underneath your vessel. To the left is what a screen from one of these units will look like.
This is a very nifty display, it does the hard of interpreting the SONAR and displaying the information on the screen. You’ll notice it also shows you the size of the fish. In the center top, is the location of the kayak or boat, to help the angler decide in which direction he should cast.
Lowrance Elite 5 DSI Fish Finder Review
One of the most popular of all the fish finders on the market today is the Lowrance Elite 5 DSI (DownScale imaging). Lowrance is one of the premiere producers of finders on the market today, and this particular unit features several attributes that small fishing vessels such as kayaks can utilize, and make anglers such as myself giddy.
Like almost all of their products, Lowrance equips the Elite 5 with their state of the art Navionics Cartography navigation system, making this a GPS combo that you can take with you to just about any back water or large lake in the country, without fear of getting lost. Its software is always updated, and it has an internal GPS antenna that provides a compact and accurate read of your location. The imaging itself is colored and very clear, with a 480×480 resolution, making the tracking of fish very easy.
Navigation: The Elite 5 DSI features a chartplotter and an extremely accurate GPS navigational system, with an internal antenna which saves space on small vessels such as kayaks.
Imaging: Downscan imaging provides a photo like display of fish and water debris underneath the boat. The imaging has a 4,000 W peak to peak power supply with a high frequency (455/800kHz) transducer signal. This is a state of the art device which provides some of the best looking underwater imaging on the market.
Display: The screen display gives all of the important information, such as depth and temperature, as well as boat speed. Its 480×480 resolution provides high definition viewing, and although it has a small display panel at 5″, this is perfect for kayaks where you need the additional moving room.
Positives of the Model
The presets are fairly easy to set up so if you’re looking for simplicity, this is one of the best fish finders for that.. The on board system itself has a memory system which allows you to save coordinates and “fishing spots” on the map, although this is an upgradable feature. Also, despite the pricey tag that comes with this model, for all the out of the box features it provides, it is still fairly cheap compared to several other similar GPS combo units on the market.
The imaging and underwater display is simply marvelous, and unlike any fish finder on the market. Its unique in that it is more like an underwater camera than a tracker, and is more of a device to help you find a fishing spot and locate targets.
The GPS system is very interactive, you can use it to mark way points or setup future projected fishing locations. There are simply a ton of options and you can tinker around with it all day and customize the viewing, color of the imaging, or the frequency of the scan.
Cons of the Model
The manual which comes with this Lowrance unit is very poor, and your going to be left doing a lot of guess work trying to get everything to stick just right. For instance, trying to find the color settings can leave you wondering if it is even worth the trouble, as there are only two presets. What compounds this issue is the vast number of options! Its kind of like piloting a 747 for the first time and the co-pilot gives you some basic steps to keep the plane in the air.
Another issue with this model, are the frequent burn outs. The imaging and detail are great, and it has a lot of power behind it, but several people have reported blowing fuses because they haven’t properly compensated for the tremendous amount of power in the unit by using a better supply.
Know what you are getting when you purchase this unit, and you might end up enjoying this purchase. Its fairly cheap for a GPS/fish finder combo considering all of the features that you get with it, and it provides the best looking down imaging in the business. However, I personally don’t really care if I can make out the types of fish below my kayak when I’m fishing, I just want to know that they are there. In addition, the system has had so many bugs that Lowrance has had to do more than one recall on the Elite 5, so I’d stay away for now. If you liked this review and want to learn more, check out our main guide here.
Humminbird 110 Fishin’ Buddy Review
Like Lowrance and Garmin, Humminbird (not hummingbird) is an extremely popular brand of fish finder that many people have grown to love over the years. What separates them apart from other brands isn’t so much cutting edge technology or uniqueness, or that they are durable. They are on the market primarily for one reason only, they are able to produce the most affordable tracking devices on the market, and nothing speaks for them as loudly in this regard, as the Humminbird 110 Fishin Buddy.
This has been discontinued by the manufacturer Humminbird.
The Fishin’ Buddy stands out for one reason only its extremely affordable price, which allows just about anybody with a motorized water vessel to track fish. The set up is very basic, and definitely isn’t going to blow away anybody with features, however another feature which can serve as both a perk and a detraction is that the transducer is part of the display and goes directly underneath the boat at a 180 degree angle, somewhat limiting where it can be placed, but also taking a lot of the setup out of the installation process. The clamp can be adjusted and placed just about anywhere on the boat itself, however, keep in mind that just like a portable fish finder this means the unit is at risk of falling into the water.
Display: The Fishin’ Buddy have a bare bones 4 inch monochrome display. You can get it in color or gray scale with no price difference. In terms of the quality of the display, its surprisingly good, and you should be able to make out clear pictures using either of the color modes.
Performance: The 24″ transducer can grab signals in as deep as 240 feet. It also includes a temperature reading, although the battery life is pretty short at only 30 hours of operative use. The power used is from AA batteries. Does not Come with a GPS. It is a Portable Model.
Positives About This Model
In a word, PRICE! A lot of people obsess over their fish finders like a movie connoisseur might obsess over the tiniest details of their product, and many an angler will get caught up in having the best products on the market. You don’t really need all of that though in most cases, for instance, if your just renting a boat, this works perfectly fine. Or if you can’t afford a 900 dollar unit, this works great, and should cost less than 150 bucks.
The performance is surprisingly good, all things being relative. You can make out the fish with the down imaging very clearly, and despite the short battery life, the signal rarely waivers. Aside from the performance, you can simply clasp or de-clasp this unit, very easily, not set up required. Fishing novices who don’t want to handle custom installation will love that feature.
A portable unit, yet very light and durable.
Negatives About This Model
This is a stand alone model, and does not include a GPS, which should go without saying with the insane price point. If for whatever reason you are going to need a GPS system to navigate waterways, you should probably try and find a combo for a bit more of an expensive price.
While the installation is simple and easy, you definitely run the risk of accidentally dropping this unit in the water, every time you take it off. The 180 degree transducer also severely limits where you can actually place this fish finder in your boat. For example, if your a kayaker and like to have your tracker directly in front of you, your out of luck. Another issue with clasps, is if your using a trolling motor or something that causes a lot of vibration, the wobbling of the Fishin’ Buddy can cause damage to your vessel, or the unit itself.
The Himminbird 110 Fishin’ Buddy fills a very specific niche, but a very popular niche, and that is for sporadic anglers on a thin budget. Its incredibly cheap for sonar technology, and it provides acceptable imaging that should allow you to find all types of fish, from trout to bass to catfish. It doesn’t come with the bells and whistles of the more expensive GPS units, and like all portable models, you have to weight the good(mobility), with the bad (lack of control). Overall, if your new to angling or only do light fishing, this may be a winner. If you liked this review and wish to learn more about finders, check out our main guide.
Buying Guide: Best Fish Finder Models and Features
When I was growing up, we did all of our fishing the old fashioned way. As a young girl, I fished from the shore with my mom, but even after my dad started bringing me out on the boat, we didn’t have anything fancy like a fish finder. We had our “spots”, and sometimes we just took turns guessing where to fish. It was actually pretty fun. Oh my how things have changed though. Today, EVERYBODY has a fish finder. Even on fishing kayaks! I own a portable one and it’s almost exactly like my cell phone, I can’t leave home without it.
Fish finders range considerably in both price, versatility, and effectiveness. Most of the cheaper kind just measure the small area beneath the boat, but some will even go as far as to create a 3D lake map, or integrate with other electronics such as autopilots and downriggers. The information that these display through their sonar system is vital to where you choose to fish on any given day, as schools of fish tend to migrate depending on a plethora of reasons. You can’t predict it, you just trust the instruments.
The best fish finders today are produced by three major marine electronics companies. Garmin is the most well known, but following in the distance are Humminbird and Lowrance, who have built up huge brand awareness over the years and have a large and fanatical consumer base. Having said that, every fish finder or gps combo system is different, and some units will fill your needs more than others, so I recommend that take your time and read through our reviews and recommendations. Here is a list of the best fish finders on the market, and a list of attributes you should look at in order to make a good purchase.
Stand Alone vs. Networked System vs. GPS Combo
Before you can even begin looking at the models that are available to purchase, you have to decide what exactly your needs are. Well, for most of us anyways who aren’t loaded with money, getting the most value out of every purchase is important to us, but beyond the bottom line, each model has advantages and disadvantages that you have to consider.
Networked Solution: If your finder is network compatible, then you are serious about your fishing. A network fish finder integrates all of the electronics on your kayak or boating system together so that they can speak to each other. This includes your GPS, sonar, radio, video, and if you have digital fuel flow gauges. These can be quite expensive, but they are also relatively convenient as well since you can download apps directly to your phone which control the entire setup, and there is always room to expand.
GPS Combo: You can’t beat this option in terms of value, and this is by far the most popular option amongst yakanglers. With this, you save a bit of cash as both units are integrated together, and you can view either the GPS and your fish on the screen at the same time, or the sonar imaging if you are stationary. These do everything you could possibly ask from fishing electronics, and will get you home safely and identify wrecks to boot. This is the best option if you have a lot of waterway to navigate but you still want to track.
Standalone Sonar: If you are only looking to fish in a lake or are quite familiar with an area, and don’t need a GPS system, this is what you are looking for. Stand alone systems are the cheapest by far, although many fellow anglers replace these as soon as a newer model comes out. My recommendation is to purchase a model that allows you to expand down the road, and add a GPS receiver if you plan on traversing some waterways in the future.
Understanding Transmit Power and Frequency and How Much Should You Have?
Frequency of the Sonar: One of the most important steps that you must take when purchasing your fish finder, is to match the transducer to your application. There are tons of models today that integrate everything from side imaging to down imaging, it’s sometimes hard to understand which is being utilized. Most signals will either give off a 83 kilohertz or 50 kilohertz beam(the signal) and a 200 kilohertz shallow beam. Your transducer will either be 200 kilohertz, or a 50/200 kilohertz combo, and if you are going fishing in deeper waters, you need the combo to see the imaging better.
As it pertains to down and side imaging, the signal utilized is different. Make sure that the transducer that you are purchasing is applicable to the signal(it should be labeled on the model), or else you are making a poor purchase.
Signal Power: The power output of the model has a direct impact on the signal strength that is returned to the transducer, and is the single most important quality when it comes to tracking fish. The power is given in two different formats, RMS which is the maximum wattage that the model can consistently give off, and the (PTP)Peak to Peak measurement, which is necessary for deeper navigation. As a rule, look for an RMS of at least 250 Watts of power with 3000 Watts of power if you plan on fishing in deeper lakes.
What Kind of Display Should You Purchase?
Pixels and Clarity: The very first fish finding units ever created were awkward, hard to read contraptions that frustrated the heck out of everyone. Who knew if that was a fish, or some dead branch submerged under the water? Today, the clarity has improved immensely, just like how your LCD television. Screens are made up of pixels, which are tiny dots which display variations in colors to form an image. The more pixels, generally, the clearer and more defined the image is. A simple recommendation is that you purchase a display which is at least 480 vertical by 480 horizontal, and if your display offers split screen, at least 640 pixels towards the direction of the split. The more expensive, better models are over 720 pixels and are high definition, giving anglers a huge advantage.
Colored versus Gray Scale: This is going to come down to value in terms of making a decision. You can get by with gray scaled systems, however, colored finders offer superior clarity and it is much easier to see the fish. On the other hand, the difference in price might be too steep for some.
Screen Size: The last feature which directly impacts the performance of the model is the size of the display. Just like television sizes, most guys go straight for the biggest model on the block, but that isn’t always the best value decision, but it is however a major factor. 4”-6” models are pretty standard and I suggest that you go with one that size if your plan on installing it permanently(portable models will have smaller displays typically). The size of your display with have a huge impact on the quality of picture that you see, I only advise that they be water proof and you take precautions as too large of a display can be cumbersome and you could have an accident if not careful with your installation.
Other Options to Consider
Down Imaging: Each system will offer varying degrees of quality in terms of its down imaging versus side imaging, because they require different signal frequencies. Down imaging uses a high frequency sonar feature which transmits a signal directly beneath the boat. This allows you to see fish at 180 degrees, if you like to fish near your boat.
Side Imaging: Side imaging allows for an extremely wide, high resolution view of the area around your boat, and is a newer feature in most fish finders. Through the use of a high frequency transducer, they are able to take in a higher array of sound and pick up the higher frequency signals of the sonar. The resulting imaging will show almost directly underneath the boat/kayak, plus the area towards the port side. In your quest to find the best fish finder, its very likely that you will end up choosing one that has side imaging as opposed to down imaging.
Best Fishing Kayak Models & Buyer’s Guide
We all love to fish, who doesn’t? There is nothing like getting away and cracking open a cold one, sitting on the shore, and casting. It’s not just very meditative, as you’ll be able to drift away from thought and clear your mind, but it is also very challenging and exciting. It takes real skill to catch some of those smarter, sneakier fish who’ve escaped their fate for decades, not to mention a bit of coin if you want the right tools for the job, for instance high priced reels or the best fishing kayak.
One of the things I love about this sport however, is that it is incredibly flexible, and there is room for just about everybody no matter what their tastes are. Whether that be saltwater casting on a pier or boat, trout jigging near a stream, or throwing some flys out on a lake that has a legendary 50 year old catfish. It’s this kind of broad availability that generates a ton of interest, and a mass following, allowing me to share my favorite hobby with just about anybody no matter what gender or age group.
From among all of these broad niches however, by far my favorite way to fish is through kayaking, and I feel like I have enough experience here to make a few recommendations. These make my list if you are looking for the best fishing kayak for the money, I try to include different types, just in case you have different tastes.
There are some incredibly expensive models in here such as the Old Town Predator 13 or Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14, but their cost is some people, so scroll down to my “top 5 list”. Or if you are just doing a bit of research, I’ve included a list of attributes to consider when making your purchase. Happy angling!
Top 5 Models
Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak
One of the more popular fishing kayaks, this is a sit on top model which has space for three, but I’d suggest using two at most. It comes with two paddles, a dry storage compartment, 10 feet of space which is plenty, along with all the rigging and trays you could possibly need. For the money, this is the best fishing kayak on the market. However, it isn’t perfect. The rod holders are not water tight, and this isn’t particularly pretty to look at.
Old Town 10 Feet Vapor 10 Angler Recreational Fishing Kayak
Old Town is one of the better branded kayak retailers, and they have a great bargain model in their 10 Feet Vapor model. This is a 10 foot sit in model designed for one person, but it has a ton of room! The seat is incredibly comfortable, with floor braces and thigh pads, it is one of those models that are way more comfortable than they should be. It has the rigging that you need, including rod holders located near the rear, an anchor, a dash board, cup holder, and paddle pack. Plus, its constructed using polyethylene, so its light yet durable. This is the best sit in if that is your cup of tea, I just like the on top kayaks better, which is why this is number 2.
Sun Dolphin Excursion sit-in Fishing Kayak
The excursion comes in two different models, the 10 foot model, and the 12 foot model. Both of these models are sit in, but we like the 10 foot model the best in terms of bang for the buck. What’s to like? Well, it’s incredibly cheap and well constructed with a polyethylene hull, so if you are just getting into this hobby and don’t want to shell out a lot of money, this might be a good option. It comes with two rod holders which are stationary, and a swivel holder near the front. It also gives pretty good tracking and turning, due to its weight(40lb), and narrow base. Some negatives include a lack of paddles, a small storage area, uncomfortable angle of the seat, and an awkward body style which makes it difficult to lift.
Perception Sport Pescador 12 Angler Kayak
Another nice sit on top kayak is the Pescador by Perception Sport. This has virtually everything you can ask for, including 3 rod holders, paddle parks, and an anchor kit. One of the rod holders is a Scotty baitcaster. Plus it’s 12 feet long, which is incredibly spacious for a one man kayak. This is very similar to the Wilderness Systems Tarpon, which was perhaps the best mid range kayak on the market in 2008, but it comes at a fraction of the price(Perception Sport and Wilderness Systems are owned by the same company).
Sevylor Inflatable Colorado Hunting Canoe
This is sevylors 2-person inflatable canoe model, but it might as well be a kayak due to its maneuverability and steering control. It is extremely well built, with a double hull and raised bow which gives it additional ruggedness for when you are dealing with rugged waters. It has a reinforced bottom as well, for those times that you inadvertently scratch a lake or seabed. Finally, the bucket seats are elevated, so you will get somewhat of the benefit of a sit in kayak, and a sit on top one.
Sit on Top versus Sit In
This is one of the huge differences between fishing kayaks and others, and the preference is roughly split down the middle. Sit on top kayaks are just as the name suggests, kayaks which allow for you to it on top. These are very advantageous for fishers because it allows for easy access to poles and tackle, and gives you the ability to use your legs a bit more in the case that you have a particularly strong fish on the other end. There is also the rare chance that you have to get out and wade through the water, so most anglers overall choose this type.
Sit in Kayaks aka (SIK)’s, are also exactly what the name describes, and you sit inside of them. The amount of cockpit room here is vital, as the more room that you have available, the more room you have to fix bait and maneuver. There are a few advantages to this style as opposed to the sit on top style. The first and most obvious, is that you will have a lower center of gravity, allowing you to paddle, or pedal easier. The second advantage is comfort. I like my sit on top kayak but I’ve been in one of these before, and I wanted to fall asleep. The third advantage is that they protect you from the elements, water can get cold, and the air out on open water can be particularly cold, so these have a distinct advantage in that regard. Just make sure that you check inside the cockpit before entering, snakes like to make these their home.
Paddle versus Pedal
All kayaks come with paddles, however not all come with pedals. For 95% of us, non-pedal kayaks work just fine, however if you are particularly lazy, you can purchase one of the more expensive paddle varieties. These cost about double the price. I’m not going to lie, they are much easier to use, and are quicker, but you’ll have to carry a paddle with you just in case they break down for some odd ball reason. Maybe I’m just biased because I love my sit on top kayaks(all pedal kayaks are sit in), so you may prefer pedals, I just don’t believe they are worth the extra price.
Ocean versus Fresh Water Design
Lakes are usually nice and calm, unless there is a storm. Oceans are never calm, and if there is a storm they can be a nightmare to navigate. Recently here in Florida a couple of kayakers went out into the gulf right before a storm, and were never heard from again. The main difference between these is their construction. Ocean kayaks require a much wider base in order to withstand the choppiness from the rise and fall of the ocean wave crests. The bottoms of these kayaks must also be nice and smooth, and the hull has to have a U-shaped design in order for you to maintain stability in rough waters.
Freshwater kayaks on the other hand, you can get away with just about any design, including the use of an ocean kayak. However, the wider bases of the ocean styled variety tend to slow you down and greatly reduce maneuverability. For this reason, fresh water varieties are made to have a narrower base and a little extra length, which allows for additional turning capacity in narrow curvy waterways. Finally, fresh water kayaks have a V-shaped hull, which allows for additional stability in still water.
The biggest difference between your standard kayak, and angler varieties, is the rigging. You will need a rod older and additional rigging if you plan on casting, so whatever you choose to go with keep in mind that it will eventually need attended to. If you are trying to save some coin, you can go with stock kayaks, and attach rigging yourself, however there are plenty of angler models available so if that isn’t your thing, you can pay the little bit extra and buy it standard. This is what I would suggest if your new, however if you’re a bit of a handyman, it’s always better to customize your stuff the way you like it.
Tandem versus Single
If you have a fishing buddy, you don’t have to worry about going it alone, as there are models that are particularly made with this in mind. Tandem fishing kayaks are a bit more expensive to accommodate for the additional space, but you will definitely save money in the long run as opposed to purchasing a second kayak. Plus, who doesn’t like an additional set of hands to paddle your way back to shore?
Inflatable versus Hardened Flat Surface
These are very niche, but can be very advantageous for many. Inflatable’s are usually cheaper than standard models, although some can be incredibly expensive if they are designed to handle rapids and such. Not just that, but if you live in an apartment or lack space to transport the real thing, these can be a god send. There are a few problems however. The first, is that they can be damaged easier, obviously. The second issue with these is that they can only carry so much weight, and the cheaper models won’t support enough weight to allow for paddling, which defeats the purpose of the design completely. Do your homework before purchasing one of these, but they can end up being the best fishing kayak for your circumstance.