Compared to other types of fishing, ice fishing is tougher because you need to find these fishes in their hiding places. To do that, you need to have the best ice fishing fish finder to locate these fishes easily. After all, staying outside in frigid temperature for a long time and not catching anything is not very ideal, right?
The best kinds of fish finders can be differentiated from other counterparts in the sense that they have unique features that are specifically useful for ice fishing. Because of these features, it will be easier for these ice fishing enthusiasts to know what’s going on under the thick sheets of ice. If you’re an angler or a novice ice fisher, finding how ice fishing fish finder works can help step up your ice fishing game.
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- Top 5 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders (Summary)
- 11 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders Reviewed
- 1. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar
- 2. Lucky
- 3. Garmin Striker 4
- 4. Deeper PRO Smart
- 5. Humminbird ICE Helix 5 G2
- 6. Eyoyo
- 8. Marcum LX-7
- 9. Vexilar's GP1812 FL18
- 10. Garmin Striker Plus 5
- 11. Vexilar FLX-28 Ice ProPack II Locator
- What Is an Ice Fishing Fish Finder
- Benefits of Using Ice Fishing Fish Finders
- How Do Ice Fishing Fish Finders Work
- Pros and Cons of Ice Fishing Fish Finders
- Types of Ice Fishing Fish Finders
- How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder
- How to Use and Read an Ice Fishing Fish Finder
- Ice Fish Finder vs Regular Fish Finder
- Does More Spending Mean More Quality
- Do’s and Don’ts With Ice Fishing Fish Finders
- FAQ About Ice Fishing Fish Finders
Top 5 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders (Summary)
For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
Because there are various ice fishing finder types available in the market, choosing the best one can be tough. Ordinary fish finders can also be used in finding out the location and hiding places of fishes. However, the issue with this kind of finder is how they function in various environments.
Some of these fish finders cannot function properly in colder weather. So, the perfect tool to use for ice fishing is an ice fishing finder. With this kind of fish finder, even in frigid temperatures, you can still catch fish. Plus, if you can catch more fish. If you do, use the electric type since an electric fillet knife has more accurate cuts.
11 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders Reviewed
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar Fish Finder is a versatile device that can be used to troll for fish from a boat when casting from the shore or used during ice fishing. It gives you all the information you need to improve your fishing game.
You can easily cast out the device to get instant water depth and temperature readings. As you reel in the fish finder, it thoroughly scans through the water and picks up data such as the vegetation areas, the hardness and consistency of the bottom contour.
The device uses WiFi to connect to your mobile device and transfers data quickly with strong connectivity. Its transducer can send up to 15 images per second, allowing you to find out how depth changes in different spots and locate the prime areas for fishing.
It has a casting range of up to 100m and can scan as far down as 80m. It features a wide scanning beam and a narrow beam that allow for easy coverage of broad areas and detailed scanning. An in-built GPS sends the results of all the scans to the cloud and can be assessed at any time.
- Provides a thorough and highly detailed scan of the water
- Has a casting range of 100m and a scanning depth of 80m
- Uses WiFi to transfer images to smartphones quickly
- Might display incorrect fish locations after an extended period of use
Lucky Fish Finder is designed for people with a beginner level of expertise. It is suitable for all kinds of fishing environments, such as offshore fishing, ice fishing and kayak fishing. It can be used on a boat that is moving at speed below 5mph.
The device scans, detects and displays water depth, different vegetation, temperature and the bottom contour of the water. It also pinpoints the approximate location of fish and gives you alerts when schools of fish are passing by.
It has a depth range of 100m and a 45° beam angle underwater. The sonar sensor comes with a 25 feet cable and a detachable transducer float. It features a 2-inch LCD display screen for viewing the results of scanning.
It has five levels of sensitivity options that can be easily adjusted, allowing you to use the device for different types of fishing and is powered by 4 AAA batteries, which can provide up to 5 hours of continuous operation.
- Can be used in different fishing environments
- Depth range of 100m
- Scans and displays water depth, vegetation and contour on its 2-inch LCD screen
- Doesn’t detect the size and depth of located fish
Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder for Ice Fishing comes equipped with various premium features that make it easier to find fish. You can mark and return to your hot spots easily and also share your routes with other users.
It uses a CHIRP transducer, which provides a higher level of clarity and detail for fish and water structures. The transducer sends out a wide range of continuous frequencies that provide more detailed information.
A high-sensitivity GPS allows you to easily view and navigate to locations on the water. Combined with a 3.5-inch color screen, this device is easy to use.
You can easily see the speed of your boat on the screen, allowing you to ensure that you are trolling at the right speed for the lure you are using. It comes with a portable kit that makes the device easy to carry and transport.
- High-level transducer that provides a high level of clarity
- GPS with high sensitivity
- Shows fish, water structures and the speed of your boat in great detail
- Screen isn’t waterproof and might be easily damaged
Deeper PRO Smart Fish Finder allows you to clearly visualize the events going on deep inside the water. It makes it easier for you to locate fish and the best conditions for catching them, whether on a boat or while you are ice fishing.
This product features GPS onshore mapping, which allows you to create detailed maps on your smartphone screen when you cast out and reel it in. When combined with the Deeper app, you can determine fish location and size and also locate underwater vegetation, bottom contour and hardness.
It features a dual-beam sonar frequency, a 55° wide beam and a 15° narrow beam, which can be used to scan both shallow and deep waters. It generates its own WiFi signal, which has strong connectivity, allowing you to connect to your smartphone anywhere and at any time.
You would have free access to Lake Book, the device’s bathymetric platform where you can easily save, review and analyze all your scans and maps.
- Features dual beam sonar frequency for various water depth
- Makes it easy to locate fish and determine the bottom contour of water
- Generates its own high strength WiFi signal
- Battery might get drained quickly
Humminbird ICE Helix 5 G2 allows you to easily visualize what is going under the ice. It is a product that can be used with ice or during warmer weather when the ice thaws.
With a 5-inch color screen that has a high-resolution, this product lets you select how the results of the sonar appear. It has a flasher and a 2D sonar view, which can be displayed on the screen at the same time.
It features a dual spectrum Chirp transducer that helps you to easily see fish, your lure and the vegetation and contour along the bottom of the water. It has up to 6 interference rejection settings that prevent your screen from getting cluttered with sonar signals.
It allows you to find and mark your hotspots easily, thereby helping you to find fish quickly. The dual-frequency sonar has adjustable beam settings that allow you to control the sonar coverage as you wish.
- Has a transducer that helps to easily visualize fish
- 5-inch color screen with a sharp resolution
- Adjustable sonar beam settings
- Transducer might become defective and depth measurements might be inaccurate
Eyoyo Fish Finder is a modern video camera system for underwater that has excellent features, all directed at helping you catch fish quicker and easier. This product can be used in all fishing conditions, during the day or at night.
It features a seven inch large TFT color screen that has a removable sun visor in case of bright environments. Its camera has a definition of up to 1000TV lines, which helps to deliver a much clearer picture.
It has 12 pieces of infrared LED lights which help to illuminate the fishes clearly in a dark environment and operates on a lithium battery that can provide up to 8 hours of consistent operation on a single full charge.
The camera has a frame made of metal and it is fully waterproof. It has a scanning depth of up to 30m and a viewing distance of up to 5m. The item comes with a small waterproof suitcase which is portable and easy to carry around.
- Night vision feature
- High definition camera with a clear color screen
- Waterproof frame
- Camera doesn’t work well in muddy or fast-moving water
Vexilar FL-8SE Genz Pack is a pre-assembled product that can be used to fish right out of the box. It comes equipped with an in-built 12-volt battery with a charger and instructions on how to operate it.
The device has a built-in Ice-Ducer transducer that can provide target identification down to at least 1 inch. It features an interference rejection technology with ten levels of adjustment that help to prevent interference from other nearby fish finders.
A LED screen displays in three colors: green, orange and red. It has six different depth ranges, allowing you to get as far down as 120m into the water. A backlit scale decal and ultra-bright LED display are suitable for low lighting conditions.
A waterproof case is sturdy enough to sustain high impact without getting damaged. The battery compartment is partially enclosed and can be easily accessed for maintenance or replacement.
- High strength transducer with interference rejection technology
- Has six depth ranges
- Sturdy waterproof case that helps to prevent damage
- Battery might not last on a full charge
Marcum LX-7 Fish Finder is an innovative product that was built with the specific purpose of delivering optimum performance in ice fishing conditions. It has several unique features that provide a wide array of fish finding information.
A panoramic 8-inch LCD screen displays images in four vivid and rich color palettes. It features an on-screen dashboard that displays the battery charge, digital depth, range, interference rejection or target adjust.
A multifaceted sonar display provides fully adjustable window views such as vertical zoom, flasher dial and horizontal LCD graph displays. It has a sonar footprint technology that displays scanned areas at any depth with either 8° or 20° transducer angles.
It comes with a rechargeable, high-quality batteries and a battery charger and prevents other nearby fish finders from picking interfering pulses with its full range of patented features.
- Wide and vivid 8-inch LCD screen
- Can display scanned areas at any depth
- Interference rejection properties
- Bulky and difficult to transport
Vexilar’s GP1812 FL18 is carefully crafted from high-quality materials to ensure optimum performance and durability. It is designed for the angler that wants to enjoy a relaxing fishing experience on all kinds of water conditions.
It features an Ice-Ducer transducer that picks clear images of fish and their location, your lure and other contents of the water. It can scan down to a great depth and display vivid images on its display screen.
A user interface is easy to understand and operate by both beginners and expert anglers. It comes with an in-built battery that powers the device and a battery charger.
It comes with a small carry bag that makes the device easy to carry and prevents it from getting in contact with water and is a suitable option for ice fishing as it helps with visualization.
- Features high-quality materials for optimum durability
- Easy to operate
- Displays clear color images on its LCD screen
- Battery might get drained quickly with consistent use
Garmin Striker Plus 5 Fish Finder is a device that contains all the features necessary for a great ice fishing experience. It is optimized to provide the clearest images with a user interface that is easy to understand.
A bright 5-inch screen is readable in sunlight with an in-built GPS. It uses a ClearVü scanning sonar and a high-quality Chirp transducer to provide crisp and clear fish details and excellent depth coverage.
Together with its GPS, the built-in quickdraw contour mapping software allows you to create and store maps to mark your favorite spot, enabling you to easily find it later.
A built-in flasher helps you to see your bait and determine the depth of the fish as they swim into the sonar beam. It has a rechargeable battery, a tilt/swivel unit mount and a foam float.
- Inbuilt GPS with mapping software that allows you to mark your favorite spot
- Has a high-quality transducer and scanning sonar
- Features an in-built flasher
- Display might get blurry as the sonar beam reaches a far depth
Vexilar FLX-28 Ice ProPack II Locator is specifically created for ice anglers that want a clear and vivid rendition of the deep contents of the water. It features a single flasher sonar system with an extensive array of useful components.
There are a digital depth readout with an auto-range setting and two zoom zones. Its display screen features up to five color palettes to select from for maximum visibility.
It has a maximum range of 300ft with five-foot depth range adjustments starting at 10ft. It features day and night display brightness mode settings and its low power option is suitable for fishing in shallow waters.
A unique weed mode ensures excellent performance while fishing in weeds. It is a high-quality fish finder that ensures optimal display at all times.
- Maximum depth range of up to 300 feet
- Has day and night display modes
- Unique weed mode that is useful when fishing in weeds
- Might get interference from other fish finders in the same location
What Is an Ice Fishing Fish Finder
Before we learn about ice fishing fish finders, let’s get to know what ice fishing is first. Ice fishing is a good mix of camaraderie, recreation, and sports fishing during frigid winter months. Purists think of ice fishing as something as simple and basic as making a small hole on ice, setting a lineup while relaxingly sitting on a stool waiting for the fish to take the bait.
Those who want to busy themselves while waiting for the fish build big ice houses or bring over their satellite TVs and fully-stocked refrigerators. In the past, native people used to cut holes into freezing cold Great Lakes in search of food.
Their goals back then were significantly sustenance-driven. Now, modern-day ice fishing is hugely all about sport, despite the fact that many anglers eat whatever they can catch. Looking back, you can say that ice fishing has indeed come a long way.
Ice fishing is widely popular in the northern parts of Europe, as well as the northern parts of America, including New York, Ohio, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Alaska. In North America, some of the most known ice-fishing lakes are Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Houghton, Lake Champlain, Mille Lacs Lake, and Lake Simcoe.
To maximize your success at ice fishing, it’s best to work with the right fishing gear. Ice water can be hard to analyze from the surface because of the thick ice layer that hovers over it. Given this difficulty, specialized tools like ice fishing fish finders can come in handy.
These fish finders are specifically designed to work optimally and efficiently, even under freezingly cold conditions. Generally, they also need to be highly-accurate, waterproof and portable.
Before you go on an ice fishing adventure, the first thing to check is whether or not the thickness of the ice is safe for you to venture out and fish. Afterwhich, layer yourself up for warmth before you head out with your ice fishing gear.
When you finally reach your destination, check which is the perfect spot for you to drill a hole. With the help of an ice fishing fish finder, you can easily locate where the fishes are. Once you figured out their location, you can start drilling a hole and get started with your tip-up traps and jigging rod.
Benefits of Using Ice Fishing Fish Finders
Here are some of the benefits of using an ice fishing fish finder.
Though ice fishing fish finders vary depending on the manufacturer or brand, most of these fish finders are versatile as they allow a hassle-free operation. It has an LCD screen that displays all the information that you need to know to visualize what happens under the thick sheets of ice.
Catching Smaller Fish
If you want to catch smaller fish species, then ice fishing fish finder can help you achieve your goal. This device can help you detect and catch even the smallest fish out there. Though not all ice fishing fish finders are the same, most of the devices have this option.
Since you are more efficient in finding the species you want, you’ll not have a hard time catching them later. Since ice fishing is more challenging compared to regular fishing, using a fish finder can help you plan your ice fishing well.
You can’t see through the thick ice if you will be casting the rod. Make sure to check your fishing line since the fly fishing line needs to have a strong drag system, too. You can also catch a catfish with a specialized rod.
The ice fishing fish finder is portable and comes in a handy size. So no matter where you go fishing, you can bring your device with you. This is the whole point of having an ice fishing device. It’s not that heavy, either. You won’t get tired carrying it on your back, so you can focus more on ice fishing.
Better Battery Access
Most ice fishing fish finders function only on batteries. Some devices are charged automatically, while some need replacement of old batteries. The main point is that these fish finders are easy to use and totally accessible. When it runs out of battery, you can have them replaced easily. As a pro tip, remember to carry spare batteries all the time. Through this, you will never be inconvenienced by a non-functioning fish finder.
Comes in Various Designs
The good thing about this device is the variety of options you can choose from. Each option comes with different specifications and designs. If you have a hard time choosing which one will work best for you, you can always ask the manufacturers for recommendations. If not, the internet is home to reviews and customer feedback about anything. With more information, you can decide better before making a purchase.
How Do Ice Fishing Fish Finders Work
This device works just like the types of units on your boat. Though they vary on the features, they generally work in the same manner. An external transducer needs to be placed on the hole on ice to read the situation underneath the thick sheets of ice.
On its LCD screen, you’ll see various colors representing different signal types that alters depending on the object’s hardness. You will not only view your fish at various depths, but you can also get a glimpse of the lake and water column’s habitat composition.
Just like an ordinary fishfinder, an ice fishing fish finder works with the help of the Sound Navigation and Ranging system. Aside from the fish’ location, the fish finder’s LCD screen can also show the CRT type. Now, it was even upgraded to include such technology as radar, electronic compasses, and GPS. With all these technologies available in one device, ice fishing has never been this accurate and easy.
Fishfinders usually pair with a transmitter placed on the ship. This transmitter sends signals through the waves. After that, the SONAR system makes use of the echoes it received to reflect the waves back to the transmitter. These reflected waves are then recorded while a signal is also being sent to the device screen.
To make sure that the received signals are not false ones, the waves that follow the reflected ones are displayed differently compared to the ones from the corals, stones, and other obstructions. Because of this, echoes also differ in form and size when fishes are in the water and when they’re not. Other things apart from the fishes are displayed with the use of different symbols.
The device’s display screen also shows the fish presence in the water with the use of a symbol that looks like a fish. Sometimes, these fish symbols also change into arches when boats are cruising over that very spot in the water where they are located. Then again, the display representing the fishes is always unique so that the one monitoring the screen will never mistake it for other things like stray weeds or underwater plants.
Pros and Cons of Ice Fishing Fish Finders
To help you come up with an informed choice, here are the pros and cons of buying an ice fishing fish finder.
- Versatile: Most of these fish finders are versatile as they allow a hassle-free operation. It has an LCD screen that displays all the information that you need to know to visualize what happens under the thick sheets of ice.
- Capable of catching smaller fish species: This device can help you detect and catch even the smallest fish out there. Since you are more efficient in finding the species you want, you’ll not have a hard time catching them later.
- Portable: The ice fishing fish finder comes in a handy size. It’s not that heavy, either. You won’t get tired carrying it on your back, so you can focus more on ice fishing.
- Better battery access: The main point is that these fish finders are easy to use and totally accessible. When it runs out of battery, you can have them replaced easily. You can even get those models that need to be recharged instead of replacing its batteries.
- Variety of available designs: Each option comes with different specifications and designs. If you have a hard time choosing which one will work best for you, you can always ask the manufacturers for recommendations.
- Get more accurate information on what happens underneath: On its LCD screen, you’ll see various colors representing different signal types that alters depending on the object’s hardness. You will not only view your fish at various depths, but you can also get a glimpse of the lake and water column’s habitat composition.
- Easy to operate: Since everything is shown on the screen, you won’t have a hard time guessing what’s the status of the fish you want to catch and the environment where it thrives.
- Other pros: The features of each ice fishing fish finder vary, but most of the time, these devices feature a quicker sonar reading generation, updatable software, sharp and clearer images, and longer warranties. Some devices also come with an agile fly fishing rod. You can use this for fishing, too.
- Battery connectors can get loose: Some models come with loose battery connectors, so when you’re busy fishing and the battery gets disconnected, you’ll have to reconnect it properly to start monitoring again.
- Replacement batteries availability: There are also models with batteries that are hard to find and replace. You have to constantly follow-up with the manufacturer to get one.
- Price: Because these are specialized fish finders, they can get more expensive than your regular fish finders.
- Mapping feature: There are also models that bought ice fishing fish finders with an unreliable mapping feature.
Types of Ice Fishing Fish Finders
In this section, we will be discussing the two different types of ice fishing finders. In the discussion, you’ll find how these types work and what are its salient features.
Ice Fishing Flasher
The ice fishing flasher is used to display the condition at the bottom of the lake, the lure, the fish, and any cover present. The colors on the flasher stand for the size of the fish, as seen on your sonar. Red means large, yellow means medium, and green for small.
The moment you drop the transducer in the ice hole, your flasher will immediately show the bottom of the water as a large red bar. If there are vegetation and weeds underneath, these will be displayed as green bars.
If your fish is holding tight, you’ll see yellow or green lines at the bottom. If you’ll see yellow or red lines a little above the bottom, then that means a fish is there. When you drop your lure, your flasher will also display it as a yellow or green bar, which means it’s moving through the water columns.
Cones and Bottom Circumference
Once you get used to your ice fishing flasher’s basic functions, you need to understand the flasher cones and bottom circumference, too. If you master these areas, you can find fish faster. The flasher’s sonar is the cone at the transducer that expands all the way down to the bottom.
As the water’s depth increases, the cone’s overall circumference also gets bigger. The fish found outside the cone will elicit weaker yellow and green returns to the flasher. Also, if the fish is found directly under your transducer, the return will show thicker red lines, which means it’s stronger.
When you drop the bait, the fish located outside the cone will move towards your bait. Because the lure is located directly below the cone, red and yellow bars will also get larger as they draw closer.
Sonar GPS Combo
If you want to see what’s underneath the ice surface, you can use a standalone ice fishing fish finder. These devices’ huge display screens can show you the situation below the ice surface. For a lesser cost, you can make the most out of your device’s performance. If you have a small fishing boat for inland lake fishing or you’re under a tight budget, go for a standalone fishfinder.
However, if you want one with a chart plotter, go for the Sonar GPS Combo type. If you have a mid-sized boat, combo units will make the most sense for you. The GPS aspect can be used for fishing ground navigation. The display output can be viewed only by the fishfinder or through a split-screen.
If you have black box sounder modules, these can be used to turn chart plotters into a combo unit with the help of a transducer. Another advantage of this type is you can save fishing location and date with fishfinder and GPS combo.
How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder
Here are the factors that you should seriously pay attention to when choosing the best ice fishing fish finder to buy.
Weight and Size
If you live somewhere in Northern Europe or Canada, you have to pay special attention to the weight and size of your ice fishing fish finder. You need to make sure that it’s small enough for you to conveniently carry through piles of ice and snow. It’s battery should also be moderately sized like the main unit. Since you need to discover new drilling spots, a bulky fish finder and battery can make the task especially daunting.
The transducer of every fish finder is made for scanning the water underneath the ice and generating signals thereafter. The device’s beam angle is another feature you need to consider when choosing the right fish finder. The cone angle will tell you how wide the sonar beams spread as it travels through the water.
The water depth and area size the transducer can scan are both affected by the angle. Aside from that, it can also affect how much detail can be picked up.
If you have a smaller angle, this means that you’ll get a narrow beam that works best if you’re targeting the fishes found deep in the water and if you want better environment details. If you have larger angles, this means it scans a wider area, but you’ll sacrifice a bit on the details.
Type of Frequency
Aside from the beam angle of the transducer, the ice fishing fish finder’s area and depth of coverage will also largely depend on the beam frequency. This refers to the energy pulses count that leaves the transducer every second and travels down to the bottom of the water.
If you get a higher frequency, you also get more details. This means you can differentiate a single fish from a school of fish. If you get the typically high frequency of 200-kHz, then you can use this to effectively scan shallow depths. On the other hand, if you get a low frequency of 50 or 80 kHz, you can navigate well in the deepwater since these frequencies scan better in wider areas. Then again, you’ll sacrifice a bit on the details they transmit.
Most ice fishing fish finders available in the market offer multiple or dual-frequency. These fish finders offer various frequency options, so you can choose the best frequency for the details and coverage that you want.
Since wattage greatly affects the reading clarity, ice fishing flashers with higher power or wattage can deliver optimum performance when detecting objects underneath the ice. If you have a device that carries more watts, it can read faster. On the other hand, if you get one with fewer wattage, then you can expect a slower reading, too.
As you already know, battery life is also a crucial consideration. Go for ice fishing fish finders with a battery that has sufficient enough life to last your normal fishing hours. Get a backup battery, too. Simpler ice fishing fish finders don’t consume that much battery to run and also have a more compact battery. Larger units, however, may have better features, but their batteries don’t last that long.
Number of Pixels
In terms of the pixel numbers, this will determine whether or not your screen resolution and information quality are displayed vividly. If you have a bigger screen with a higher pixel number, then it can offer you the best visibility. This means you can see even the tiniest detail underneath the thin sheets of ice.
Purchase a fishing finder that has a higher screen resolution to fully enjoy clean and crisp image representations and information display. With this, you won’t be struggling in figuring out what you’re viewing.
With a colored screen, it’s easier to read the device display whether there’s glare, it’s bright, or you’re out there fishing in lower light conditions. Regardless if you’re fishing on a gloomy winter day, or in the morning or evening, you can easily fish. Also, if you have a backlit display, the information is shown on screen is more visible and you can easily distinguish between objects regardless of the environmental conditions.
Material of the Transducer
As you already know, the transducer carries a lot of crucial functions. To make sure it functions accordingly, it’s best to buy a transducer that’s made from durable and quality materials. Its materials will also affect the quality and durability of the device. Though plastic is popular since it doesn’t absorb water and is waterproof, it cannot withstand extremely cold conditions. Instead, invest in transducers made from any of these materials — wood, bronze, stainless steel, or fiberglass.
Go for an ice fishing fish finder that is both lightweight and compact. These models are easy to carry and will even fit in your pocket. Those that you can comfortably hold in your hand is the best model. If you carry heavy gadgets while you’re walking on ice, it can slow you down. And at worse, you might lose your balance and miserably fall on ice. Aside from the portability of the main device, make sure that its battery is also light and compact.
If you need to hop from one ice hole to another, your best partner is a portable, lightweight ice fishing fish finder. The only downside is you might have to compromise on the size of the screen. Since the device is already small, you can’t expect a larger, more vivid display screen.
This can make viewing information harder. Bigger fishing electronics can offer more functionality and features. They can also be more accurate. However, they can also be heavier and larger and cumbersome to move around the ice.
The best fishing electronics can withstand extremely cold weather conditions while transmitting clear signals for as long as you are ice fishing. The transducer’s quality is crucial as it generates the signal. A good quality transducer will not affect the reading quality, but also the unit’s overall durability. An ice fishing fish finder can offer more durable qualities as they are built for cold weather. They also need to be reliable even in icy or chilly conditions.
Since you’ll be submerging your device on cold, icy water, it needs to be fully waterproof. Go for ice fishing fish finders that feature a rated waterproof design. It’s also equally important that it is cold-resistant so that you can go on ice fishing without the hassle.
As you already know, the ice fishing fish finder’s area and depth of coverage will also largely depend on the beam frequency. If you get a higher frequency, you also get more details. This means you can differentiate a single fish from a school of fish. If you get the typically high frequency of 200-kHz, then you can use this to effectively scan shallow depths.
On the other hand, if you get a low frequency of 50 or 80 kHz, you can navigate well in the deepwater since these frequencies scan better in wider areas. Then again, you’ll sacrifice a bit on the details they transmit. If you want a more accurate fishing electronics, go for those with three beam frequencies. This type has the best accuracy.
Go for ice fishing fish finders with built-in GPS waypoints and navigation. Also, it would be best if you choose the fish finders with high-resolution maps of different lakes and bodies of water. This can make marking of fishing spots easier. Also, this can help you identify the areas where fishes are before you start drilling an ice hole. There are also devices that accept SD cards where you can upload your maps and integrate them into the fishing device.
Since there are various ice fishing fish finders available in the market today, you can also see a lot of add-ons to the standard features of these devices. These add-ons can come in the form of mounting boat accessories, underwater ice fishing camera, and so on. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you’ll add these accessories to your basic ice fishing fish finder.
How to Use and Read an Ice Fishing Fish Finder
After you have decided what ice fishing fish finder to buy, the next thing you need to understand is how to use your device properly to get the most out of it. Since ice finders require some effort to operate, you need to study it carefully.
Step 1 – Find a place to drill an ice hole
The very first step in using your fish finder is to drill an ice hole. With your knowledge about the lake and the fishes that thrive there, choose the best place to start drilling. If the lake is deep and fish most likely stay at the bottom, you have to go towards the lake’s center before making a hole. However, if the fish most likely congregate in some areas around the lakeshore, it’s best to drill a hole near the shore.
This will ensure that you’re drilling on a safe and solid area that can hold your weight even after you’re done drilling. Inspect the area under the ice after drilling a hole. And once the hole is drilled, dip your transducer into the ice-cold water. Ensure that your transducer is dropped at the bottom of the ice. The hole can interfere with the functioning of your sonar beams and create an unclear signal.
If you’re familiar with the depth of the lake, adjust the fish finder frequency or your fish flasher’s depth setting. You can use a wide beam angle if such a feature is supported by your fishfinder. This will give you the information you need about the possible areas near you. If the hole you drilled is not exactly where fish congregate, you can switch to the down scanning beam of your sonar. This can allow you to see what’s happening at the bottom of the lake directly below you.
Step 2 – Choose a fishing spot
Since you already discovered what’s the real situation underneath the ice surface, it’s time to get a better view of the location and depths where these schools of fish are hiding at. Move over to where your SONAR points you to go. Then, base on your personal assessment, drill another small hole and set your fishfinder up again. This time, if you managed to get their location correctly, drill a wider hole so that you can fish directly on the area adjacent to your fish finder hole.
Ice Fish Finder vs Regular Fish Finder
The main difference between an ordinary, regular fish finder and an ice fishing fish finder is their purpose. While the former is used for fishing under normal water conditions, the latter is specifically designed to work reliably and efficiently in extremely cold environments. While the latter can work well even if made from plastic, the latter needs to be built from more cold-resistant materials like wood, bronze, copper, or fiberglass.
The latter also uses a color code system to show what’s going underneath the ice surface. It also uses flasher technologies that work best in extremely cold environments. Regular fish finders are not equipped to operate reliably in frigid temperatures. They also don’t have the necessary protection against cold and snow. Lower temperatures can significantly affect the device’s performance and can also damage ordinary fish electronics.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
Just like in any other materials or products, a heftier price tag does not always mean better quality. In the case of ice fishing fish finders, however, a higher price may mean better quality in the following – LCD pixels and resolution, beam angle, frequency type, power source, colored screens, the material of the transducer, portability, durability, waterproofness, accuracy, and GPS navigation and maps. A more expensive model can also mean more and improved add-ons.
Do’s and Don’ts With Ice Fishing Fish Finders
To make the best use of your ice fishing fish finder, check these dos and don’ts out:
- Choose your fishing device based on the basic and standard features
- Carefully read the salient features of every device before you buy
- Know and understand fully how to use your device before heading out for an ice fishing expedition
- Buy a fishfinder with an amazing sonar
- Always observe safety procedures when ice fishing
- Always adjust the seat in your fishing kayak and only use the world’s best kayak fish finder
- Use a baitcasting reel with an ergonomic grip
- Use saltwater baitcasting reel when fishing in saltwater
- Buy because of the brand
- Forget to maintain your device after every ice fishing trip
- Use a regular fish finder when fishing in cold and frigid fishing environments
- Buy fish finders made of plastic for ice fishing
- Forget to study the lake you’re fishing
- Forget your premium ice fishing boots
FAQ About Ice Fishing Fish Finders
Here are some of the answers to the commonly asked questions about ice fishing fish finders.
Can you use a regular fish finder for ice fishing?
Yes, you can do that, but you have to consider a few important factors. First, if you will be pulling your fishfinder off your fishing boat, make sure to undo the transducer’s wiring. This can be tricky as one wrong move can damage the wiring entirely.
So, if you haven’t done it before, leave the task of unwiring to somebody knowledgeable. Next, you need to create a separate transducer platform so that it stays on the dry surface when you need to put the device into the ice hole. And lastly, you need to find a way to power your fish finder up. Take note that most fish finders for ice fishing run only batteries. Boat-based ones run on AC power.
How long should my ice fishing fish battery last? How cold conditions affect it?
Most ice fishing fish finders last around six to eight hours. The battery life can, however, be reduced if you use a high-wattage fish finder. It can also last shorter than six hours if you keep your fish flasher high on. Aside from that, even if the ice fishing fish finders are specifically designed for cold environments, the batteries can act up or struggle in these conditions. As a result, they may run out quicker than you expect. To avoid any inconvenience or hassle, remember to bring a battery backup.
What’s the best ice fishing sonar?
Currently, the Marcum LX-65 sonar system ranks first in most surveys for best ice fishing sonars. They have an almost perfect score when it comes to accuracy, ease of use, brand, protection, and durability. Its selling points are its good size, better response time, excellent battery life, suitability to hard water, and seamless screen modification. It has the newest and best software.
Will a transducer work through the ice?
Yes, it can, but you need to keep your transducer on the ice level or create a separate transducer platform so that it stays on the dry surface when you need to put the device into the ice hole.
How do you use a boat transducer for ice fishing?
First, you need to undo the transducer’s wiring. Next, you need to create a separate transducer platform so that it stays on the dry surface when you need to put the device into the ice hole. And lastly, you need to find a way to power your fish finder up. Take note that most fish finders for ice fishing run only batteries. Boat-based ones run on AC power.
What does an ice fishing flasher do?
The ice fishing flasher is used to display the condition at the bottom of the lake, the lure, the fish, and any cover present. The colors on the flasher stand for the size of the fish, as seen on your sonar—red means large, yellow means medium, and green for small. The moment you drop the transducer in the ice hole, your flasher will immediately show the bottom of the water as a large red bar.
If there are vegetation and weeds underneath, these will be displayed as green bars. If your fish is holding tight, you’ll see yellow or green lines at the bottom. If you’ll see yellow or red lines a little above the bottom, then that means a fish is there. When you drop your lure, your flasher will also display it as a yellow or green bar, which means it’s moving through the water columns.
Finding the best ice fishing fish finder can take time, research, and effort. Also, you need to understand how it works to be able to get the most out of it. It is only after you purchase the most suitable ice fishing fish finder device and understand its mechanisms extensively can you truly enjoy fishing on the ice.
Photos from: urban_light / depositphotos.com, kaninstudio / depositphotos.com, Ohotnik / depositphotos.com, scottlit / depositphotos.com, stevemc / depositphotos.com and Baloncici / depositphotos.com.