With ice fishing season quickly approaching its time to start preparing and getting your gear in check. This year, why not step your game up a little and get an ice flasher. Ice fishing can be challenging, it presents a whole new set of elements that you need to work against; but it can be rewarding as well. A lot of trophy fish are pulled through the ice each year with the proper patience, technique, and most importantly equipment.
I’m sure you heard the old saying, with the right tools the job is half done. This has never been more true when talking about ice fishing. Knowing where the bottom is at all times when ice fishing is crucial. I’ve seen anglers miss predict bottom due to rod sensitivity issues and lack of skill only to wound up spending the entire day with their bait laying flat on bottom, lifeless. Naturally they would go home fishless.
Having an ice flasher makes all the difference. You will never mistake water depth when using one of these. Knowing the exact water depth is very important when ice fishing so you know how far your jigging off bottom. This allows you to track fish and to place your jig in target range for a strike.
Simply put, if you see fish are sitting 4 feet from bottom, you can jig your lure 3-5 feet from bottom so your within striking range at all times of them. You can do this in a very calculated manor, taking all the guesswork out of the game.
Ice Fishing Flasher or Fish Finder – Whats the Difference ?
Most serious fisherman will go with the flasher when ice fishing. This following questions come up time and time again. Readers ask:
- What the difference between the two ?
- While they are similar and perform the same tasks, a flasher is designed for ice fishing. It is very accurate and very quick to respond. You can quickly see when a dense object (a fish) is approaching your lure. Flashers are designed to handle very cold temperatures and will not malfunction out in the snow. Fish finders are often too slow to react when ice fishing. They typically have LED displays which will malfunction in extreme colds as well (especially cheaper portable units).
- Which unit should I purchase?
- There is a reason why serious ice fisherman go with the flasher. While they are more expensive than a portable fish finder, they perform much better for this purpose and will not malfunction in the cold temperatures.
So, if your looking to do some serious ice fishing this season then start researching one of these devices. Ice fishing season is just around the corner and its not too early to start getting your equipment ready to rumble. To help you anglers out, we reviewed our top 5 picks.
Top 5 Ice Fishing Flashers & Reviews
This is the Cadillac of flashers period. The panoramic 8-inch LCD is crisp & clear and performs great even in really sunny conditions. It is accurate, and responds very very quickly. The LCD is tried and testing in the extreme colds and has no problem withstanding the elements.
The digital dash displays all the following right at your glove tips:
- battery voltage
- range, gain
- interference rejection (IR)
- target adjust
While the older “tack” style flashers work fine, there is something to be said about having a nice LCD display. The unit is built tough, which is needed when ice fishing. The 8° or 20° transducer cone angles is more than you’ll ever need and the accuracy and response time is second to none.
The dual beam sonar is leading in its class, and provides very accurate data tracking; which at the end of the day is the main desire. Most users are happy with the battery life and it is rechargeable also. Its designed to handle extreme colds and wont under-perform in these conditions. The LCD display is a little battery heavy at times, but if fully charged is will last any ice fishing trip.
It does get a little bit finicky in the lower depths (under 5 feet) but with the proper sensitivity adjustments its usually not an issue.
The major plus with the unit is the large display and the ability to customize the screen. Having your graph, flasher, and vertical zoom all in one screen all at the same time is a luxury that any ice fisherman knows is a game changer.
The only downfall is the unit is a little hefty cost wise. Considering all the features you get, it is still a bargain and our top pick.
Humminbird ICE 55
The ice 55 is Humminbirds top of the line ice flasher. Humminbird has been in he fish finder and GPS game for decades now and has been making quality products. It has a fiber-optic flasher display and a backlit LCD that performs decent in sunny weather. The Dual Beam 9 Degree (240 kHz) 19 Degree (455 kHz) transducer is state of the art and is best in class.
The device is very easy to use and navigate and has easy to use buttons and dials on the right hand side. This makes adjustments easy to perform even with your gloves on.
This flasher provides you with up to 200-feet depth. You have the options of 20’, 40’, 60’, 80’, 100’ and 120’ adjustable depth scales. The machine is great and has excellent battery life. It comes with a solid 2 year warranty and is cheaper than the LX-7.
Vexilar GP1812 FL-18
Vexilar units are built very touch and have been tried and tested by ice fisherman all over. The unit offers six depth ranges of: 20, 30, 40, 60, 80, and 120 feet and 10 interference rejection settings. It has been created for ice fisherman by ice fisherman and is quite compact. It fits nicely inside a 5 gallon pale and boats a dual beam IceDucer transducer like the other more expensive skews above. The battery life is good and the machine is accurate.
The FL-18 offers a patented split screen flasher display also. This machine offers a shallow mode which makes fishing in the shallow much more accurate; an issue with many models on the market today. It has an upgrade-able version also that allows for 300 feet of depth (200 for the standard).
It boasts a 12 degree ice-ducer and is very easy to use. Its a great flasher at a great price and is worth the purchase.
MarCum M1 & M3 (M Series)
Another MarCum flasher to make the list. Both of these units in the M series are high performing and come at a reasonable cost. While they don’t boast the beautiful display that the LX models have, these units are still highly functional and better priced.
Both units have a 20 degree ice transducer, 12 step interference rejection, depth ranges of 20′, 40′, 80′, 160′. The M3 however packs 2000 watts of power while the M1 only 1000. Both batteries last long, but unfortunately there is no power display on the unit indicating battery life.
The M3 packs more power and better separation than the M1; giving it an edge in performance at a purchase price of about $100 more.
The ICE 35 is very popular, because of its price. This is the cheapest of all the units and is your best bang for your buck if your looking to get into the flasher market. While it doesn’t pack all the luxuries of the higher end units (GPS, Interference rejection, LCD displays) it has all the basics you need. The 526 segment 3-color fiber optic display boasts a dual frequency sonar and still has a 200ft depth capability. The unit is very accurate with a 2.5″ target separation and is perfect for those on a budget looking to up their game.
This flasher is very lightweight, portable, has a good battery life, and is simple to use. Sometimes simpler is better, especially for those looking to stay on a budget.
You can’t can’t beat the price on this unit which is why it remains the most popular on the list.