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How to fit a fishfinder to the Barracuda Kayak Fish Pro

I have been asked on many occasions how I have fitted my Fish Finder the Barracuda kayak Fish Pro.. Here is a rundown of the install; this install will be of use to anyone mounting a transducer inside the kayak to read through the hull

Before we go into my installation I will just briefly touch on another question which is “do you need a fish finder”? in my experience having a fishfinder really helps to know what going on below, weather you’re looking for the right depth, signs of baitfish, signs of reef and structure or the elusive deep hole …times when it is really useful are when I am fishing any new area without local knowledge. Whilst fish feeding habits at your local spot x can be predicted by the experienced anglers there is no guarantee the fish will be in the same spot every time. You could literally be placing your bait on the wrong side of a reef or meters from a hungry school… who for whatever reason are not prepared to come to your bait or lure. You need to go to them and it helps if you can see them.

Equally… seeing the fish you want to target verses the ones you don’t (be them the wrong species or undersized fish) will save you wasting time, bait and/or tackle and help you to become a more productive angler. So it’s fairly clear from that I am on the side of “yes get a fishfinder” I guess the best way to summarise how a fishfinder can aid to increase your catch and awareness of the habits of target species and their habitats is to call it “calculated risk”

You don’t have to take out a small mortgage to get a sounder that will give you results and be user friendly in a kayak environment. I am using and recommend the Garmin ECHO 300c purchased through a local store here in NZ called Baymarine electronics… From them you can pick up the Garmin’s Echo 300c, 12v/7amp battery and 2 stage charger for NZ$379.00 (RRP $439.00)…this package will see you with all the essentials at a great price. I have chosen this sounder myself because of the amazing clarity the 3.5” colour screen offers and the powerful 300w output can find fish up to 80m down. The dual beam means I can scan a larger area in the shallows, and the compact size of the unit itself makes it very user-friendly on the kayak.

Colour v black and white… simply put colour you can distinguish what you are looking at better, The Echo 300c bright sunlight readable screen means even when the sun is full on the screen you can see clearly what is being displayed…its economical on the battery I get on average 14 hrs of run time from a single charge of the 12v/7amp battery. The B&W versions are cheaper but I promise you will not regret spending that little bit extra for a colour version.

Garmin echo 300c sounder & GPSMAP 78sc

What about GPS?  Great idea…I would not be without a GPS when fishing now that I have been using them, the reason quite simply is that if I can go direct to a spot X in the shortest route that’s a good thing. Having GPS coordinates to find that spot x or to mark a new one is priceless. The hard part is getting others to part with their GPS marks. I have used the fishfinder/GPS combos in the past but as I paddle my sea kayaks both single and double on many occasions I like to have the ability to take the GPS with me on those trips also, for this I have gone with the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc, is waterproof it floats and the screen display is excellent. It has a 2.7GB memory and has both NZ & AU marine charts pre-loaded. Using the RAILBLAZA mobi device can easily mount the GPS to any of my kayaks where the unit is in full view and easy reach.

Now back to the installation

With the Barracuda Fish Pro or Tourer kayak it is a read through the hull transducer fit out…meaning the transducer will be mounted inside the kayak where it is safe from damage. Most transducer technology these days offers great read through hull capability. The material used to make the Barracuda kayaks (Vacuum thermo formed plastic) means, when installed correctly, the transducer can read through the hull without loss of reading unlike that of roto molded kayaks. The only inaccurate reading may be that of the water temp which not a big deal to most users is.

My installation of the transducer is what is called a wet box set up, whereby the tranducer is mounted into a custom made sealer foam box that has been glued to the hull of the kayak. You can also just simply epoxy the transducer straight into the hull,  I have not used opoxy to fix the transducer permanently because I want to have the option of removing the transducer if ever I get a new Fish pro kayak

  1. Get together all the gear you will need. This includes a foam box shaped and cut so the transducer will be a tight wedge fit when pushed in. mark out the shape for the transducer then cut with a knife, smooth over with some sandpaper.
  2. Identify where you will mount the transducer, the best spot on the Fish Pro is directly under the seat to one side of the keel strip. Clean the area with ISO, marks out where the foam box is to be fitted then glue it in using Ados or similar contact adhesive. Making sure not to get any glue on the surface (centre of the foam box) where the transducer will be touching. For best seal use a little sealant around the outside of the base of the box, it will be difficult to get a tube in this area so use a small amount on your finger to spread around the box. I recommend Bostik all clear or Selleys all clear, leave to set for 24hrs. 
  3. I simply fill the transducer cut out with a little water at the beach before each trip, then push the transducer into place and that’s it for every trip, the transducer is immersed in water the whole time. The other option which I did try but not successfully due to not sealing my box the first time, is to pour a small amount of glycerol into the transducer cut out, then wedge the transducer tight in and in contact with the hul, pour more glycerol over the transducer until it’s completely covered leaving about 1.. from the surface of the box, you will then need to mix some 5min epoxy which is then floated on top of the glycerol (like layer Baileys liquor in a shot) …this is a fiddly job but the end result will be a cap over the glycerol trapping it inside which will give you a permanent wet box. Mine failed because the box was not sealed; the result was cleaning all the glycerol out that had leaked from the box into my rear compartment.
  4. Identify where the head unit of the sounder will be mounted. I have used the RAILBLAZA adjustable mount pad to fix my Garmin Echo 300c. This gives the flexibility t move the unit to any StarPort that is close. Otherwise mount directly to the Perspex lid in the recess that is designed for the sounders, if you are using a tourer without centre console the there is plenty of space to mount on the centre deck section. 
  5. Decide where to mount the battery… for best results and trimming of the weight I have chosen to mount mine in the front compartment using a custom foam box that is glued (with Ados) both to the hull and the bulk head. Make it a wedge fit and you should not quire a lanyard for the battery. The other reason for this is that the power cables supplied with sounders are generally much shorter than the transducer cable so it makes sense to mount the battery closer to where the head unit will be. Always use a waterproof fuse one the power cable, some are supplied with the sounders otherwise pick one up from your local marine store. 
  6. Running the cables.. Both versions of the SoT Ultralight have 2 bulkheads, 1 near the end of the foot wells the other just under the seat. You will have to run your cables between the bulkheads…so for the case of having your transducer under the seat … 
  7. Important , All SoT Ultralight kayaks manufactured from 2012 onwards have 2 rubber grommets fitted to the keel strip standard. The keel strip runs between both bulk heads and the rubber grommets are locate at each end of the keel strip accessible through the tankwell hatch and the bow hatch. The grommet is sealing a 10mm hole, this hole is there so you can easily run your cables between the 2 bulkheads without compromising the 3 sealed compartments. The keel strip is completely sealed. If you have one of these models then simply remove the grommet, Drill a hole through the centre of the grommet (do this at both ends) large enough to push the transducer plug though so the grommet is now like a ring around the cable. Fee the cable in the stern end and out the bow end then again poke the plug through the other grommet making a ring. Leave it like this, you will go back to these grommets and put them back over the 10mm keel strip holes, using some sealant where the ring is over the cable seal any spaces so that the holes are now sealed again. 
  8. For all 2011 made SoT Ultralight kayaks you have 2 options for running the cables from stern to bow. 1. Carefully, drill a hole in the keel strip yourself (your warranty will not be valid) and run cables as per number 6, seal them with some foam when done…this is the option I chose but only because I had the tools at hand to do it and access the Barracuda factory if all went terribly wrong and I drilled into the hull..i strongly advise option 2… 2. Using a length of stiff wire (like a coat hanger) you are going to thread the cables through the foam bulk heads. Each foam bulkhead is 40mm thick. Start at the bow end and push the wire it through both bulk heads so there is wire out both ends, tape the plug from the transducer cable to the wire end in the stern hatch then from the front hatch, pull the wire through until the plug is through and all the cable you need is out. Then seal the holes with the cable running thought with some sealant.
  9. Assuming both cables are now in the front hatch, using a marine sealing plug that has been fitted to the foot well wall of the kayak, feed the cables through so you can plug both the power and transducer cables direct into the unit.
  10. Power up and go fishing!  I hope that helps, don’t hesitate if you have any more questions or if I have missed something.
  11. Garmin Echo 300c fitted to Barracuda Fish pro kayak

 

 

 
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4 Comments  comments 

4 Responses

  1. bradley

    I live in the US, but i was wondering if there are stores online that i can buy the foam block from.?

    • Hi Bradley..the Foam I have used is some offcuts of bulk head foam..high density foam.. get in touch with a kayak manufacturer and see if they have some offcuts.. cheers

  2. Brian McIlravey

    Hey Paddle Guy

    I am fairly new to kayak fishing, and thoughtful wife gave me a garmin 300c for my birthday.
    Never having used one before, I am exploring rigging options, but one thing I cannot find is what I need to power this. Can I ask what size and type of battery you are using for yours and how long it lasts on the water.

    Brian – Ontario Canada

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