After recently purchasing and reviewing a new Ride 135 for kayak fishing, Travis Abner decided to add on a new PiranhaMax 160 Fishfinder from Hummingbird. He originally posted this DIY for installing the fish finder on his blog (The Lost Hiker) and shared it with us. Thanks Travis!
Once I got the initial setup on my boat with all of the rod holders and anchor trolleys, I contemplated adding a fish finder. A lot of people out there choose not to add a fish finder to their fishing kayak, mostly because they fish rivers and a fish finder is of little use and just gets in the way. Fish finders will work ok on larger rivers, but for many it’s just not worth the trouble. My goal was to make it as little trouble as possible. I fish a lot of smaller lakes and reservoirs, and it would be nice to at least see the depth and temperature of the water I’m fishing in. Finding actual fish is a nice perk as well…
I opted to go with the Humminbird PiranhaMax 160 that AustinKayak.com carries. It has a dual-band transducer for 20 and 60 degree angle readings, allowing a good wide view of what’s below you. It also has a very nice backlight and is waterproof. I’ll get around to posting an in-depth review soon of the PiranhaMax 160, but I was once again impressed by ACK’s prices, shipping, and customer service. They’re actually one of the few retailers I trust that carry the 160 (most others only carry either the 150 or the 170 for some odd reason). I considered the 160 a steal for $90 shipped, especially given the dual band transducer, backlight and weatherproofing. I didn’t want to go with something too expensive, mostly because I only really needed basic functionality for now. I may change my mind sometime in the future as I fish more lakes and really get to researching thermoclines, but the little 160 fits my needs perfectly for now.
I wanted to mount my recently purchased PiranhaMax 160 in a way that it was easily removable for when I do not want it or need it on river and creek trips. I researched a few ways to mount it by purchasing adapters for a rod holder base, but in the end I decided to make my own. The total cost? About 50 cents.
I was going to purchase a mount made specifically for the Piranhamax series by Scotty, which is very nice, but it didn’t have the option of routing the cables through the actual mount, which is ultimately what I wanted. I was then going to do the same as Paul from Palmetto Kayak Fishing and make a custom mount base like his, but it also wasn’t designed to have the cables routed through the mount.
I decided to start with a Scotty Flush Mount Bracket, which has a nice low profile and a plug that you can remove from the bottom for, in my case, routing cables. I still wasn’t sure how I was going to interface the base of the fish finder to the flush mount bracket, until I got to peering at the bottom of the fish finder’s base. As it turns out, below the hole in the base of the fish finder, there is a 1/2-1/4″ long tube or shaft that extends down. The circumference of that little tube appeared to be the same as the outer circumference of 1/2″ PVC. I tried a 1/2″ PVC coupler and it fit perfect! Snug enough that it takes a pretty good grip to pull it back off, but one could probably secure it with a little GOOP or Lexel for added security. I then cut a small piece of 1/2″ pvc (maybe 2.5 to 3 inches long) to go in the other end of the coupler, long enough to fit in one end of the coupler and extend down into the bottom of the Scotty flush mount bracket.
As evident from the pictures, I painted it gloss black (the visible portion anyways) to give it a nice sleek look that matched the fish finder and flush mount. The 1/2″ pvc fits down into the flush mount base perfect. It has a little “play” at first, but once you work it past the notch that’s down in the flush mount bracket, it locks in pretty decent with enough resistance to keep it from moving around or falling out if you happen to flip your boat. As an added measure of security, I may eventually drill a small hole through both the pvc shaft and the shaft of the flush mount big enough to put a small lynch pin or PTO pin through. Keep in mind that if one does go with that method of securing their fish finder to the base, pull the cables before you drill the hole, then push them back through after drilling, and use a small enough pin that won’t pinch the cables when you push it through to lock it all in place.
Once everything was secured, I routed my transducer and power cables up through the base and plugged them into the PiranhaMax 160. [Pro-Tip: Run the transducer cable up first, then the power cable] When I’m not using the fish finder, I simply pull the cables back down into the hull and secure them with a twist tie, then flip the rubber cap down on the flush mount to keep water out or stick a Scotty rod holder in there.
I’m currently working on creating a waterproof battery box, to power my fish finder and a few other accessories that I plan on adding on later. The box will be secured in the center of the hull between the two “towers” formed by the scupper holes (Ride 135 owners will know what I’m talking about. As for the transducer, I opted to “glass” it to the hull using a carved out foam block and some Lexel. I’m not sure how I’ll like the transducer mounted like that though. I’ve heard it has no signal loss, but it does throw the water temp reading off a bit. If it becomes a huge issue, I’ll opt for a flip down transducer mount. For now though, this setup should work ok for me, now I just need to get it on the water and try it out this weekend!
About the Author: Travis has been a part time whitewater guide on the Cumberland and Big South Fork river for 9 years, but his day job is in IT for Eastern Kentucky University. He grew up fishing on Laurel Lake, Lake Cumberland, and Lake Cherokee. Recently, Travis started river and creek fishing, and enjoys hitting up the Elkhorn, Cumberland, and Rockcastle rivers for smallmouth in KY.