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Fishfinders

 

Fitting electronics is probably the part where kayak fishermen differ most from their sea kayaking cousins. For sea kayakers, less is more, while for us kayak anglers, whoever dies with the most toys is probably more accurate.

A fish finder is one of the first electronic  toys that you are likely to fit, and is simply a transducer which bounces sound waves out below the boat, and listens for the returning echoes, the transducer is linked to a head unit which turns all that information into a picture that we can understand. The term fish finder is actually a bit misleading as its unusual for a fish finder to actually find fish, more often you use it to find structure on the bottom that is likely to attract and hold fish.

Installing a fish finder means that you have to mount the two parts, transducer and head unit, join them together with cables, and finally add a battery to power it all.

When it comes to mounting the transducer there are two main options, either inside the hull, or in a dedicated transducer mounting scupper, as found on most of the Ocean Kayak range.  If you've got an Ocean Kayak kayak, then the transducer can be positioned below the hull, in the water, and a threaded rod used to hold it in place, this also lets the control cable pass through the hull, as such they are a brilliantly simple way to fit a fish finder, the methods works particularly well with Humminbird fish finders as both companies are owned by the same parent company so the products are literally made for each other.

If you decide to stick the transducer inside the hull, then use a dedicated sealant such as Sikaflex 291 or Marine Goop, as a lot of sealants won't work on polyethelene. It really helps if you rough up both the inside of the hull and the base of the transducer before you try and stick them together.

With the in hull method you then have to get the cables through the hull and up to the head unit. The biggest problem here is usually the plug at the back of the head unit, and this can require a hole as large as 20mm to get through the hull. Index Marine make a range of waterproof glands that I have used a lot over the years, and have never had one leak yet.

Finally you have to connect the battery, and the easiest and cheapest way I have found is to simply put the battery inside one of those locking plastic boxes sold in most major supermarkets. The cable should be fed into the box via another cable gland, and a fuse fitted inside the box. Its a good idea to have a few spares in there as well.

The next stage up from a plain fish finder is to add chart plotting capabilities as well, although this increases the price, such units are really useful for returning to certain points, such as wrecks, and are also very useful for finding your way home in reduced visibility, although you should never entirely rely on your electronics! Nowadays most sounder/plotter have an internal GPS antenna, so installation is pretty much the same as for a fish finder.