Why a fish finder?

Ok, help me out. I’m new to the kayak fishing scene. Most of my fishing has been wading in trout or small mouth streams with a fly rod, or bank fishing with fly rod or spinning rod. Some canoe and row boat fishing, mostly trolling and whatnot.

Really new to fishing from a kayak, or dedicated boat fishing.

Why do folks swear by depth/fish finders?

On most lakes/streams/rivers does it really make that much of a difference?

Should I sweat one if I’ve never really used one, or just stick with what I know?

Thoughts opinions, rants, raves, etc?


Just my opinion but here goes!
I have a fish/depth finder. I fish fresh water primarily for bass, northern pike and waleye. I use it about 10% of the time and that’s about it. I use it early in the year to measure water temperature to help me locate where I believe early bass may be and I use it in unfamilair waters to locate underwater structure or if I am fishing for late season walleye and want to find the deeper holes. Hope this helps.

If you fish any kind of lake or stream that’s deeper than about 10 feet over significant portions of it, a depth finder is VERY helpful. Much of the time, bottom changes are places that hold fish…drop-offs, submerged creek channels, ledges, old road beds, and even places where the composition of the bottom changes, like from mud to gravel. All of these things will be shown on a good depth finder (IF you know how to read one), along with submerged trees and big rocks and other forms of cover. On smaller rivers, a depth finder is usually of little value, since the water isn’t deep enough that you can’t figure out by reading it where the fish will be.

In bass fishing, for instance, without a depth finder you are relegated to either pounding the banks and visible cover (like a whole lot of other anglers) or else blind casting to water off the banks that looks featureless from above. Bass in lakes and reservoirs do NOT all spend all of their time along the banks.

Stick with what you know, but for bigger
waters, a finder can help you find holes and understand bottom contours as well as locate underwater structure. The finder is really a optional piece of equipment, especially if you primarily fish for trout in streams.

90% of the time I’m fishing in less than 2’ of water.

During the cooler months I’ll venture into deeper water in search of sea trout or crappie. That’s where the FF comes in handy.

As mentioned… always nice when exploring new waters.

Gotta have it? Absolutley not. Like it? Yep.

Fish finders
I never use a fish finder in a river or stream. Fish are pretty easy to catch there…look for structure. However, in a lake, finding structure is not always so easy. That’s when I breakout the fishfinder. I’m not looking for fish, but structure…find the structure, you’ll find the fish.

The finder is useful on big rivers
especially as the structure and holes may be more difficult to find by sight or blind casting. Even on smaller streams, I’ve found a few holes that were unexpected, though its not as necessary.

Lookee here…
Here is site for charts. If you don’t want to mount a fishfinder, you can get numbers from these charts and put them in a handheld GPS.


While not foolproof, it might be a way for you to see some local waters and plan a trip to promising marks.

Handheld depth finder
I fish coastal/back channel waters at night and this depthfinder/thermometer combo has been a big help. Now after paddling around in the dark for hours, I can tell if I am fishing in 2 ft. or 12 ft. in a matter of seconds.