Side Imaging Fish Finder Install on the Old Town Bigwater PDL 132

Helix 5 mounted on kayak

Affiliate Links: This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning I may get a small commission, at no cost to you, if you decide to make a purchase through my link. Please read my DISCLOSURE for more information.

I mounted my Humminbird Helix 5 SI on the Bigwater PDL 132 as soon as the kayak came in, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied with how it was installed. There were just some small details that I thought needed some improvement. After experimenting with the fish finder and transducer locations and trying out different mounting options, I feel like now I have the perfect setup. Read on to see what improvements I made!

Transducer Mounting:

Old town Transducer Mounting Plate
Old Town Universal Transducer Mounting Plate

Most of the new Sportsman series kayaks come with a universal transducer mounting plate. While that plate makes it easy to mount almost any fish finder transducer, its not perfect for my Humminbird XNT 9 SI 180 T transducer and included transom mount.

As you can see in the images above, I mounted the transducer as far into the recess as possible. When viewed from the side, this offers the transducer a lot of protection, but the hull interferes with the side imaging signal. You can tell when there is interference from the hull when your side imaging returns look like the following:

The vertical “waves” pictured above are the result of bad transducer placement.

What should look like a flat mud bottom shows artificial “waves” starting from under the kayak and moving out towards the sides. The edges of the signal, at 100′, are also quite weak. These are clear signs that your transducer does not have a clear view to the left and right of your boat. In my case, the edges of the hull are causing interference.

On my second try, I moved the transom mount down to allow a clear view for the transducer. This cleaned up my signal, but now the transom bracket was sticking out from the hull. It works, but its not a very clean looking installation:

With the right depth set on the transducer, the transom bracket now protrudes from the hull.

I know I’m not alone when I say that there must be a better mount. Enter Navarre Kayak Fishing. Nick, over at NKF, has been using the Bigwater/Predator PDL kayaks for years and has put an insane amount of seat time in these boats. In his quest for improvement, he’s designed some simple but elegant solutions for these kayaks.

The mount he designed is a 3D printed bracket and was made specifically for the Humminbird/Garmin transducers. His one bracket replaces both the Humminbird Transom mount and the Universal Mounting Plate. It also has the added benefit of tucking the transducer closer to the front and providing a bit more protection from getting caught on weeds or when beaching the kayak.

Navarre Kayak Fishing Humminbird Transducer Mount
The transom mount and mounting plate are no longer needed!

Wiring:

Next on my list was cleaning up the wiring. I initially ran the wires through the scupper and into the front hatch until I had a feel for how I wanted things mounted. Again, it works, but we can do better!

This year, Old Town designed and built some wiring glands that were used on the new AutoPilot series of kayaks. I know a lot of people have been using the Wilderness systems and Hobie wiring glands but I thought, since its an Old Town kayak, I should see if I can get their glands. So, I called the factory up and had some shipped over to use on my Bigwater.

If you’d like to order the glands for your boat, you have to call Old Town directly and place your order. To make things simple, the part numbers are as follows:

  • Thru Hull Wiring Base – 01.1315.1001
  • Thru Hull Base Gasket – Item #: 01.1315.1003
  • Thru Hull Sealing Foam – Item #: 01.1315.1004
  • Thru Hull Blank Cap – Item #: 01.1315.1005
  • Thru Hull Wiring 3 Hole Cap – Item #: 01.1315.1002
Old Town Thru Hull Wiring Kit – screws not included.

Mounting the Head Unit

As I was browsing the Navarre Kayak Fishing Shop, I came across his 3D printed handle replacement. The replacement handle allows you to mount a T-slot bolt and then put accessories right next to you. I thought this was the perfect place to mount my Helix, and installation was super easy. In Nick’s videos, he uses the Ram Mount and is then able to swivel it out of the way, very handy indeed!

The Navarre Handle keeps the Helix at my side.

The more time I spend in the Bigwater PDL 132, the more I appreciate the little improvements. I can see why people like Nick, who spend countless hours in their kayak, dream up such cool improvements. I also appreciate when anglers make those improvements available to the masses, whether that’s though sharing ideas and pictures on forums or making those inventions available through a store. Your contributions to the community benefit everyone! Thanks!

If you’re interested browsing the other accessories offered by Nick at Navarre Kayak Fishing, check out his store here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *