Few leisure activities are as reliant on proper equipment as ice fishing. Not only do you need to keep yourself safe and comfortable, but you also want to ensure that your trip out onto the ice is as productive as possible.
Ice fishing is an activity that involves a big investment in time and can get quite physically demanding. Hence, it is doubly important to do whatever you can to ensure a rewarding catch.
Fishing gear manufacturers are constantly outputting new products to aid fishermen who won’t let a bit of freeze get between them and their bounty. One of these is fish finders. These are sonar devices that fishermen use to scan the watery depths below. Also called ice fishing flashers, these tools help anglers find the most productive areas to fish.
Top 10 Ice Fishing Flashers & Fish Finders
In this post, we’ll take a look at the 10 best fish finders available to ice fishermen. We’ll also briefly discuss what you should consider when selecting a device of your own.
- Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit
- Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System/Fish Finder
- Humminbird ICE-35 Three Color Flasher
- Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer GPS
- Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar
- Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder
- HawkEye Fishtrax 1C
- Anysun Underwater Fish Finder
- Lowrance Hook2 5 with SplitShot Transducer
- Garmin 010-01872-20 Striker Plus 5 Ice Bundle
Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit
- 3.5 inch color display
- Integrated GPS
- 77/200 kHz CHIRP transducer
- Integrated flasher
- A-scope real time display
- Water temperature sensor
- Transmission power: 200 W
- Maximum depth: 1,600 ft (freshwater) and 750 ft (saltwater)
- 20 ft transducer cable
- Chirp sonar transducer results in very high level of display detail.
- Real time display works extremely well and displays fish as the pass through the sonar.
- Built-in flasher for ice fishers and others using vertical jigging.
- Portable carry-case is ideal for fishers who change location frequently.
- Users have the option to upgrade CHIRP with either a GT8 or GT15 transducer (sold separately).
- No integrated cartography.
- Instructions provided are a little vague and need additional research.
Packed with features at a very reasonable price, this ice fishing finder is a great place to start for novice and serious fisherman alike. The integrated flasher makes it an excellent finder for static fishing on the ice and vertical jigging. The integrated GPS makes marking your favorite spots as easy as the click of a button. The portable kit allows for quick, easy and safe transportation around the ice. It’s the most user-friendly and accessible fish finder out there.
Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System/Fish Finder
- 800 x 600px 8-inch LCD color display.
- Multifaceted Sonar Display for a wide variety of simultaneous on-screen data.
- Includes Marcum’s Sonar Footprint technology, scanning at any depth with either 8° or 20° cone angles.
- Ships with rechargeable 12V, 9-amp battery.
- Offers target separation at 1/2″.
- Offers both Infinitely Adjustable Zoom and Bottom Lock Zoom.
- Ships with a comfortable padded carry bag.
- Customizable color palette allows you to find the most ideal display for conditions.
- Highly flexible user interface allows you to create your ideal “dashboard”.
- Industry-leading technology for an unmatched fish-finding experience.
- Large screen allows for very high level of visual detail.
- Excellent battery life despite the size.
- The amount of features doesn’t come at the cost of usability.
- Extremely effective interference rejection (IR) technology.
- Large unit that may be difficult for some users to transport. Especially on long expeditions.
- The price could be a deterrent for those on a budget.
- Less effective in very shallow waters.
For the fisherman who can spare the expense, the Marcum LX-7 represents the latest and greatest in digital fish finding technology. Make no mistake; this device is peerless when it comes to finding the ideal spot on the ice for reeling in the fish. Sometimes it’s worth specializing in a specific niche and this is what Marcum has done with the LX-7. If you’re not constrained by budget and you’re looking for the best that money can buy, look no further than what is surely the best ice fishing sonar on the market today.
Humminbird ICE-35 Three Color Flasher
- Dual Beam Sonar capable of assessing depths up to 200 feet.
- Built-in GPS with Humminbird Basemap.
- CHIRP interference rejection.
- 526 Segment 3-Color Fiber Optic LCD Center.
- 800 W output.
- Weight: 5.4kg
- Constructed from extremely durable material.
- Upgradeable with optional transducer for summer fishing.
- Wide selection of viewing options – each tailored to the needs of the ice fisher.
- View your Sonar history to identify successful spots and lures.
- Capable of withstanding temperatures as low as -20°.
- Helpful “demo mode” helps novices learn flasher functionality.
- Lacks the depth of features and functionality of certain similarly-priced fish finders.
A cheap ice fishing flasher is the ideal device for ice fishing purists. Their stripped-down features make them simple to operate while the lack of hi-tech distractions means that your attention will be on the ice. This doesn’t mean that the device doesn’t provide excellent functions for finding the fish! On the contrary, the Humminbird ICE-35 is one of the best ice fishing flashers. It offers more than enough fish finding features at a reasonable price.
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer GPS
- ClearVu Sonar displays fish and structures in a very high level of detail.
- 3.5″ display.
- Maximum depth: 1,600 ft (freshwater) and 750 ft (saltwater)
- Integrated waypoint map.
- CHIRP 77/200 kHz sonar transducer
- Integrated flasher.
- 200 W transmission power.
- Easy to use interface.
- Physical buttons make this device ideal for use in low temperatures.
- Excellent price for a very high-quality device.
- The integrated flasher is ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging.
- Upgradeable with high performance Garmin transducer.
- Lacks the clarity of higher-end CHIRP sonar transducers.
The Garmin Striker 4 is one of the most affordable fish locators for ice fishing. Despite its extremely affordable price, it offers several excellent features and boasts a very high build quality. This is a device that caters to the fundamental needs of the ice-fisher but doesn’t compromise on quality.
- Castable fish finder ideal for shore anglers and ice fishers.
- Excellent ice fishing depth finder.
- Displays fish location, size, and depth along with underwater structures and vegetation.
- Integrated GPS.
- Dual beam sonar frequency
- 55° wide beam (90kHz) and 15° narrow beam (290kHz)
- Weight: 91 grams.
- CHIRP sonar technology.
- GPS enables convenient bathymetric map-making.
- Easily identify locations that fish congregate around.
- GPS onshore mapping – cast the device, reel it in to build a detailed database of fishing spots.
- Excellent casting range of 330 ft.
- Extremely lightweight and convenient for traveling.
- Dependent on smartphone or tablet integration which may not be ideal for some fishers who want to get away from their digital devices.
Castable fish finders aren’t particularly popular with ice fishers, but don’t let that put you off this device. If you are looking for versatile ice fishing electronics for both ice and shore fishing, this is the ideal device for you. The Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar Fish Finder offers features that are ideal for shore fishing but is a more than adequate ice fish finder and it comes at a very reasonable price. The lack of a screen (the device connects to your smartphone or tablet) makes this lightweight device the ideal portable fish finder for ice fishing.
Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder
- Displays water depth, approximate fish location, as well as vegetation and structure details.
- Convenient backlight
- 5 user-defined sensitivity settings.
- Integrated alarm sounds when schools of fish pass nearby.
- Round transducer at the end of a 25 ft chord.
- Includes an adapter for side-scanning.
- Extremely affordable.
- Backlight mode ensures that the device can be operated at night.
- Displays all the basic information an ice fisher needs.
- The device is very versatile and can be used for almost all types of fishing.
- Features and functionality may be slightly basic for fishers looking for more advanced fish finding assistance.
The Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder is one of the cheapest ice fishing locators available on the market today. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that affordability results in a lack of quality and usefulness. This extremely portable unit offers more than enough accuracy to ensure that your trip on the ice is a fruitful one.
HawkEye Fishtrax 1C
- High-definition color “Virtuview” display.
- Features Hawkeye’s dual-beam FishTrax Sonar.
- Capable of boat mounting.
- Three operating modes: Data Mode, Fish Finder mode, and Ice Mode.
- 100-level sensitivity setting.
- Two frequency settings: 200 or 83 kHz at a 14 or 26° angle.
- Dimensions: 2 x 3 x 6 inches.
- The three modes ensure maximum versatility and usefulness depending on the fisher’s needs.
- For the ice fisher, Ice Mode converts the HawkEye Fishtrax 1C into a high-quality traditional ice flasher.
- Landscape painting enables you to see a detailed rendering of the world below the water.
- Extremely user-friendly interface and operation.
- Doesn’t pick up and display the fisher’s lure.
- Battery life is not as long as competing products.
The HawkEye Fishtrac 1C is another product that offers great versatility. The three modes mean that you can easily switch between functionality and display settings that are ideal for ice fishing or boat fishing. This product is a great all-rounder and offers excellent features at a very affordable price.
Anysun Underwater Fish Finder
- IP68 camera with night vision.
- Fully waterproof camera with 15m cable.
- 7″ cold-resistant and waterproof color monitor.
- 9 to 12-hours of operation on a fully charged battery.
- Real time visibility of the exact conditions below the surface.
- Integrated sun-visor for excellent visibility even in bright conditions.
- High-quality display (700 HD TV lines) ensures excellent visibility of fish and conditions below the surface.
- Short cable length means that this ice fishing locator can only be used in relatively shallow waters.
Real time camera technology may very well be the future of ice fishing technology. The Anysun Underwater Fish Finder offers ice fishers the opportunity of watching to see how fish respond to their lure. As “eyes-on” technology improves and becomes more affordable for the average fisherman, expect products like the Anysun to become increasingly effective and popular. At a very reasonable price, this amazing device gives you access to an unprecedented level of real time visual information.
Lowrance Hook2 5 with SplitShot Transducer
- Wide-angle CHIRP sonar.
- SplitShot transducer.
- Preloaded with detailed maps of 4,000 US lakes.
- SolarMax display for excellent outdoor visibility.
- 5″ display size.
- Weight: 1.4k kg.
- Dimensions: 18″ x 10″ x 6″.
- Extremely easy to set up and operate.
- SplitShot transducer offers multiple sonar views: DownScan (ideal for vertical jigging and ice fishing) and CHIRP sonar (for a wide arc).
- Boasts double the coverage of traditional fish finders.
- Slightly more expensive than some of the other options on the market today.
The Lowrance Hook2 5 is one of those fish locators for ice fishing that knows ice fishers want to spend time fishing rather than messing with their electronic gear. That’s why it offers highly-effective auto-tuning sonar and easy-to-navigate menus. Don’t let this priority fool you into thinking that effectiveness has been compromised. Despite the focus on automation, this is one of the best ice fishing sonar devices on the market today.
Garmin 010-01872-20 Striker Plus 5 Ice Bundle
- 5″ display.
- Integrated GPS.
- Garmin CHIRP transducer.
- Includes Garmin’s QuickDraw software.
- Integrated flasher.
- Dimensions: 13.4″ x 10.1″ x 8.2″
- Weight 5.4 kg
- High-end Garmin transducer results in unmatched clarity and target separation.
- Experience high quality contour mapping as enabled by the remarkable QuickDraw software.
- Ships with a convenient portable carry-case.
- Focus on showing jig movement.
- Excellent screen visibility in all conditions.
- Best for ice fishing but requires additional peripherals for summer outings on a boat.
- Slightly more expensive than some fishers on a budget may want to spend.
The 010-01872-20 Striker Plus 5 is an advanced ice fish finder flasher combo. It comes at a relatively hefty price when compared to the other options in this list. However, you get what you pay for. An industry-leading transducer and fantastic display quality make this a must-have for ice fishers who can afford it.
Tips for Buying
Fish finders offer a very wide spectrum of functions. Even the most tech-savvy fisherman may find themselves overwhelmed with questions. If you are new to fish finding technology and looking to buy your first unit, here is a breakdown of the important factors to consider.
Types of Fish Finder
- Traditional fish finders: These devices typically gather information about the conditions beneath the water surface and display it as a graphical representation of the physical reality. Along with information like water depth and temperature, they also display underwater structures, vegetation, and fish. These types of finders are most commonly used on boats but they can also be mounted on other structures.
- Fish flashers: These are quite rudimentary in design and the information displayed is typically limited to three data sets: The depth of the fish, the depth of your lure and the depth of the water directly below you. These units are simple to use but extremely effective. Flashers are appreciated by many anglers who prefer to keep things simple and don’t necessarily want to interact with a wide range of functions. Flashers are usually the most popular choice amongst dedicated ice fishers, although they are also widely used by those who do any kind of deep water vertical jigging.
- Castable finders: Castable fish finders are extremely portable and designed to be integrated with a smartphone or tablet. Before you start fishing a specific spot, this type of fish finder is cast into the water and reeled back in. As this happens, the unit builds an underwater map of the area which is then displayed on the mobile device. Popular amongst shore fishers, castable finders are the most portable of all the devices on the market. If you value a device that accommodates frequent moving or long treks across the ice, this is the product for you.
If you regularly fish in remote spots that may be tough to find on a subsequent trip, consider a unit that has an integrated GPS. This is an especially extremely useful feature when you need to “mark” a particular area on the ice that has no distinguishing features visible to the naked eye.
Display Quality and Flexibility
When opting for a traditional finder, you’re always going to want the best display component that falls within your budget. The quality of a fish finder’s visuals is directly related to its effectiveness. This is especially true for units that have a large amount of on-screen information visible at one point.
Do not skimp on this feature; it is one of the most important considerations. If you can afford a device that has a larger screen with a better resolution than a cheaper model, don’t hesitate to buy it.
Another display factor to bear in mind is how visible the display colors will be under varying overhead conditions. Some finders do not offer configuration in this regard, meaning that the on-screen data may be perfectly visible at night, but hard to read in harsh sunlight.
For an ice fisher that also does a lot of boat fishing, a traditional fish finder that can emulate the functionality of a flasher is often a good investment. This may come at an additional cost, but the versatility this offers is definitely worth the price.
The weight and dimensions of a fish finder plays a very important role in the ice fisher’s day or night on the ice. Traveling long distances on foot with a large collection of gear can get tiring, and the last thing you want is for your fish finder to be too cumbersome.
This is obviously quite a subjective factor since some anglers may be quite comfortable carrying a large device around with them, or some may use an ice fishing sled to carry heavy gear. Still, portability is not something that should be overlooked.
If it’s within your budget, consider opting for a unit that offers CHIRP technology in its transducer. CHIRP is next-generation tech that emits a pulse containing a very wide variety of frequencies as opposed to the single, double, or triple pulse that is offered by many finders. CHIRP sonar results in imagery and data with much higher accuracy.
The sonar signal that a transducer emits to gather information on the underwater world can either be ideal for high accuracy, or depth of penetration. A fish finder that offers flexibility in this regard is obviously ideal, but some anglers may not have the budget for such a device.
If this is the case, it is important to consider the following: Lower frequencies are better for depth, while higher frequencies are better for detail. While greater detail should always be the goal, this may not be possible your finder is exclusively built for performance in deeper water.
A Quick Note on Reading Fish Finders
All fish finders will come with a manual that will show you how to read a fish finder. Since there are many types and each unit has its own unique display, it’s best to consult the unit’s documentation or search for additional online documentation.
While many fishing purists will insist on using their instinct or that involving technology compromises the essence of fishing, there’s still no feeling like reeling in a big one.
Fish finders allow ice fishers the opportunity to do what they love best: going home at the end of a hard day or night on the ice with a trunk full of fish.
More and more fishermen are turning to technology to help them make the most of their time on the ice. Isn’t it time you do the same thing? If a fish finder isn’t for you, an ice fishing camera is another great way to find fish underwater.
Choose one of these top-rated fish finders for ice fishing, as well as other ice fishing gear on Fishmasters!