Ice fishing is one of the things that Northern anglers most look forward to each winter, and most anglers that do this would fish even if they did not catch anything. But there is no doubt that catching fish makes the experience a whole lot more fun. One of the things you can do to increase your chances of having a good catch is to bring a flasher — aka fish finder or sonar – along with you when you fish.
The ice fishing flasher is a sonar-enabled device designed to improve your odds of catching fish. They have a design that displays real time sonar so you can see the depth, if fish are passing through, where your lure is, and you can see how the fish are responding to your lure. They take a lot of the guessing, and waiting, out of fishing.
A good fish finder can make sure you are on the fish, instead of sitting 20 yards away from them while you catch nothing.
3 Best Ice Fishing Flashers or Fish Finders
Humminbird ICE 55 Ice Fishing Flasher
Anglers know that the name Hummingbird represents fish finders that are accurate, dependable, state of the art, and easy to use. Most anglers know that a Humminbird should be on any short list of possible flashers. The Hummingbird ICE 55 will meet or exceed all of the expectations you have for a fish finder.
You know that winter days create visual limitations. This fish flasher has been specifically designed with a fiber-optic display and a backlit LCD screen so that it is easy to read no matter what level of light you are experiencing on your trip.
It has a 6 color display with an overlay depth scale that allows you to quickly identify the depth the fish are at so you can know exactly where your lure needs to be. The backlit LCD screen shows the depth readings in large, easy to read numbers so you can tell the depth at a glance and do not have to stare at the screen to determine the exact depth you need to fish at.
You can operate the flasher on a manual setting or an automatic setting. On the manual setting you will have four depth scales. These scales are at 20 foot, 40 foot, 80 foot, and 200 foot. If you choose to operate the device on the automatic setting you get seven depth scales. These depth scales are at 20 foot, 40 foot, 60 foot, 80 foot, 100 foot, 120 foot, and 200 foot.
You get a control pad that has 6 buttons so you can fine tune the device to your preferences. You can adjust the gain, the noise, the beam, the color selections, and even the target cursor. The color palate can be set to display as Vexilar or Marcum. The device comes with a soft sided carry case, and it weighs only 15 pounds. It measures only 13.1” x 11.9” x 7.1” so it is easy to carry and does not take up a lot of room in your ice fishing shelter.
It comes with a rechargeable 9amp hour, 12 volt battery and the charger it requires. It has an LCD battery voltage indicator that alerts you to the condition and strength of your battery. It does have a splash proof waterproof rating so you do not have to worry if a little water gets on the device when you are landing your fish.
Lowrance HOOK2 5 – 5-inch Fish Finder
One of the things that make a fish flasher better than other fish flashers is how easy the device is to use. This Lowrance fish flasher has an auto tuning sonar so you are not sitting in the cold turning dials hoping to get the sonar tuned in properly. The machine adjusts the settings automatically so your sonar is perfectly set. It also has a phone style menu so it is easy to see what numbers you have to put in to make the device do what you want it to be doing.
The sonar cone it has is a wide angle cone that allows you to have about twice the amount of coverage that the other flashers provide. All of this power is made available through a single transducer. You can easily mount this on a transom, on a trolling motor, inside the hull or through a scupper hole. It is the ideal solution for ice fishing or people fishing from small vessels like kayaks or small fishing boats that have very limited amounts of console space.
You get sonar readings from straight down via the Down-Scan sonar, and up to 300’ on the side from the side scan sonar, along with the CHIRP sonar that gives you fish views.
This device is preloaded with detailed maps of U.S. lakes. It contains the detailed maps of 4,000 lakes so you can easily find the best fishing location according to the water you are fishing in. You can quickly input information that will allow the device to find underwater structures where fish like to hide. These include drop offs, ledges, and other covers.
Do not worry about forgetting where you fished the last time, or getting lost trying to find your fishing spot. The GPS on the device will make finding your favorite hole a breeze. You can even add waypoints and there is an SD card slot so you can use software in the future to make upgrades to maps, or add new features as they become available.
It comes in four sizes. The 5 inch screen, 7 inch screen, 9 inch screen, and a 12 inch screen.
Vexilar FL-8se Genz Pack
Perhaps we saved the best for last. Two names that are synonymous with ice fishing are Vexilar and Genz. And here, you have them rolled-in to one.
If you are going to talk fish flashers then you are going to need to mention the Vexilar FL-8se Genz Pack ice flasher. You know that you can rely on Vexilar products, and this flasher is not going to disappoint you. It has long been what ice fishermen reach for when they know they don’t want to waste their time trying to find fish. It is a popular flasher with the ice anglers in the north country, with a borderline legendary status.
The flasher uses three colors to display the strength of the target it is sensing. The green is a weak one, the orange is at medium strength, and if you see a red light then it is the strongest visual of the target.
You get six depth ranges. 20 feet, 30 feet, 40 feet, 60 feet, 80 feet, and 120 feet.
It uses LED display technology, so you can see and read the screen whether the sunlight is bright and blinding, or the light is dim.
The base of the device easily fits into a five gallon bucket. It has a semi enclosed battery compartment to protect the battery, and it carries the unique distinction of being tried by Dave Genz, and declared to be nearly indestructible!
What to look for in Ice Fishing Flashers
Reliability- You want an ice fishing flasher that is durable, and reliable. When you get out on the ice and turn your flasher on you want to know that the device is going to work properly. If you have to spend several minutes trying to get your device to power on properly, or if the machine powers off because it gets too cold, then it really is not benefiting you to have a flasher.
You can read the reviews of people who have actually purchased the items, and used the items, to determine the amount of reliability you can expect.
Lightweight – When you have to carry everything out on the ice where you will be fishing the weight of your equipment starts to matter a great deal. If your equipment is lightweight it is easier to carry, and it allows you to be able to carry a wider variety of items to use to your advantage.
Accuracy – Accuracy is of vitl importance. If the machine you are using is not accurate then you are simply using a device to make your best guess. You want a machine that has received excellent reviews from actual anglers that have actually used it. Those reviews will help you determine the real accuracy the device has.
Ice Fishing Flashers FAQ
Are larger screens better on ice fishing flashers?
Having a larger display screen makes it easier to see and identify what you are seeing. The drawback is that the larger screens drain the batteries faster, so the larger display screens may not be operational for the same length of time that the smaller display screen would be.
Can I use the same fish finder for ice fishing that I do for summer fishing?
Not recommended. The models listed above are all built with ice fishing in mind. With ice fishing, you need more durability, because the flasher will often be bumping around in a pickup bed or on a sled. You also need more portability, because unlike with a boat, you typically don’t mount is once and forget about it. You will bundle it up with your ice fishing shelter and other gear. Finally, you need a stronger standalone battery life than a summer rig, because cold weather eats up your battery quickly and you don’t have a boat engine to feed the power from.