In the age of modern fish finder, is ice fishing flasher still has any relevance? Should we still invest our hard-earned dollars in this classic circular graph? The straightforward answer is yes, we should and yes, the ice fishing flasher still holds relevance. At least in the kayak, vertical jigging and in ice fishing, it does. That’s why you’ll see experts still switching to that colorful circular screen every once in a while.
There are numerous ice fishing flasher flooding in the market every season. Which one should you go for? That’s where we come in with a list of the best ice fishing flasher. Each fishing flasher of our choosing offers peer performance to match their price tag.
Table of Contents
An Ice Fishing Flasher allows you to-
- Take this portable Sonar unit anywhere, anytime at any weather condition.
- Whether you’re fishing in the ice or in normal condition, a fishing flasher will show you if there are any fish at your spot.
- You can determine the size of the fish and present your lure accordingly.
- You will see information like depth range, water temperature, time, etc on the circular screen.
- You’ll see any approaching fish to your jig and respond appropriately.
- Overall an excellent budget option if you manage to pick the best ice fishing flasher and know what to look for.
You also have to pick the best ice fishing rod to land a fish. Without a proper set of baits and tackle, using an ice fishing flasher won’t reel up your next fresh meal. I also noticed a lot of us are a little ignorant about the ice fishing boots. Without proper insulation of your feet, and important ice fishing accessories kit, your ice fishing experience will suffer, at worst your health too.
Best Pick: Best ice fishing flasher
1. Humminbird ICE-35 Three color Fishing Flasher
Overview: If you’re looking for a basic fishing flasher, then the Humminbird ICE-35 should fit right in. It’ll make ice fishing and down dropping easier and more efficient. Don’t expect this unit to use for GPS or any other navigation features. So, is this the type of flasher you’re looking for? Let’s find the answer.
Sonar & Transducer: The hummingbird ICE-35 is a basic fish flasher with the exception of dual-beam sonar frequency. But don’t get your hopes up. Since the device doesn’t feature dual-beam plus feature, so you won’t be able to use two frequencies at once. And the sonar will only shoot a single frequency per beam since it’s not CHIRP tech.
The XI 9 19 transducer is an ice type ABS with a conical shape and very durable. The stabilizer floater comes with a long enough 8 feet cable. You won’t be able to detect water temperature with the help of Humminbird ICE-35 fish flasher. Once you drop the transducer, use the frequency of 240 kHz at 19° to operate a wider view. And for more narrow and higher frequency, there’s 9° at 455 kHz available frequency.
Despite the unit not being a dual-beam plus, you can still take advantage of both frequencies via the switch button. So it’s easy to switch between both frequencies. The unit has enough depth scanning ability up to 200 ft. Which is enough but you won’t be able to track your jig if you go deeper than 120 ft? So beyond that depth, it’s still usable. You just need to be subtle and sense the absolute slightest tug on the line. But if you want the whole package than the ICE-55 and Helix 5 ICE are better options.
The main unit: Right out of the box, you’ll see a crispy three colored fiber optic 526 segment display. The color patterns are similar just like any other circular fishing flasher unit. The number zero indicates the water’s surface. Those thick red color indicates a hard bottom and hence the flasher receiving a strong signal. The orange and green light indicates medium and soft return intensity such as fish, debris, suspended objects, and the jig.
The ICE-35 unit doesn’t have any front display like it’s next models.
Accessories: Unfortunately, you won’t get the signature Humminbird soft-sided case with the ICE-35. But on the contrary, you can easily carry the case using the plastic swivel mount. For juice, right out of the box you’ll get a 12 V 7 amp-hour battery with a charger included. You can use the fish flasher for a day with its 8-12 hours battery life.
Our thoughts: The unit doesn’t offer a map or navigational features. But, if detecting and catching dish is your main focus, and you need less complication, the Humminbird ICE-35 is the right choice for you. With its long battery life, reasonable depth scanning and a dual-beam transducer, you won’t return with an empty fish bucket.
2. Vexilar FL-8se Genz pack with 19 Degree Ice Fishing Flasher
Overview: Vexilar FL-8se Genz pack 19 is the perfect example of how a well made classic ice ducer fish flasher is still worth it.The first thing that stands out of this ice flashers durability. Of course, if maintained well, this thing will see you through decades of Decembers ahead. Now let’s find out if this classic is worth your hard-earned dollars or not.
Sonar & Transducer: The unit has a built-in ice-ducer transducer holder that fits any sizes. You can throw a dual-beam ice-ducer transducer with the FL-8se Genz pack. The three colors bright backlit display is sharp under direct sunlight. The three different colors show specific information. It’s also known as the Vexilar very own three-color Sonar flasher.
Its colors weak target as green, medium category targets with orange and full ranged bottom targets in red. Along with bright display and three-stage color sonar, you’ll also get 525 segments of resolution. That means the 480 vertical lines and 59-60 Hz display is smooth and clear enough as if you are watching digital television.
Others: You’ll also have 10 interference rejection settings, and 6 steps adjustable depth finder. Excellent for all-season applications. Right out of the box, you’ll have a battery status indicator, a Vexilar Flex light or a dual-beam ice-ducer transducer. The Genz box is also designed to sit on a five-gallon bucket for easier accessibility.
Our thoughts: In terms of durability and performance, Vexilar FL-8se Genz pack 19-degree ice fishing flasher is an excellent choice. The only issue I have is the depth range. So if you’re gonna be limited to lakes and small rivers, go for it. And remember, the people say ‘old is gold’ for a reason.
3. Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System/Fishfinder
Overview: Marcum LX-7 ice fishing Sonar has amped up the ice fishing game. The unit is a blend of a digital fish finder and a part of Marcum LX flasher. This remix of techs has allowed the LX-7 to stand the test of time and render relevancy to date. Let’s see if the work of a classic with a modern touch works for you or not.
Sonar & Transducer: To see how accurately the transducer sends data, you need to look at the display first. It’s a cool 8 inch LCD display. The UI is simple so you’ll understand it’s proceedings right away. Also, you can select between four vivid color palettes.
Sonar works by sending a pulse frequency at the bottom. The pulse then collects data and received by a transducer. From there, the data gets converted into an actual digital image of the bottom.
As for Transducer, it’s high-end and offers a three-dimensional image of the depth. You can scan at two cone angles like 8° or 20° at ½” target separation. Such angles are actually good for ice fishing tasks. It’s the transducer that brings efficiency into the sonar technology.
Others: You’ll find a flexible cool looking dashboard once you turn on this fish finder. The settings offer a variety of features such as digital depth, interference rejection also known as the IR, target adjust and battery voltage.
There’s an option to choose 4 different colors from the color palette. You can also choose between manual and automatic range setting. There are four available zoom settings. Out of them, you can select your preferred zoom window. You can even zoom in an inch while on the current window.
Our thoughts: MarCum LX-7 Ice fishing Sonar fish finder is a combination of classic and modern tech. In its category, the LX-7 outshines it’s rival by quite a margin. So, if you’re a mechanical flasher user, give this one a go. I’m confident that you won’t bring back your manual flasher, again.
4. Garmin Striker 4 portable Ice fishing kit
Overview: Whether you’re looking to fish from a kayak, canoe or in blazing winter for ice fishing, the Garmin striker 4 with the portable kit is suitable for all these fishing scenarios. What I like about this fishing flasher that Garmin put the effort into both software and hardware features. You’ll have the privilege to enjoy CHIRP technology as well as advanced map features. The unit includes a carrying case to complete the circle.
Sonar & transducer: With the introduction of CHIRP, the Garmin Striker 4 portable ice Fishing Kit will attract anglers of all experience levels. The transducer is capable to scan mid and high at a typical frequency of 50/77/200 kHz. Youll be able to see a crisp detailed scenario below the water for both fish and objects.
The dual-beam feature enables the sonar to send two continuous sweeps of frequency ranging from low to high. The return beam interprets with smooth scaling graphics and provides a clear view of fish arches with great target separation. And you can upgrade the sonar with G8 or GT15 transducer.
This hardware improvement will increase the quality of sonar image and depth readings. Even at a higher speed, the bottom contour stays clear and noiseless depth details will help you interpret the whole underwater structure.
GPS & Navigation: The striker 4 portable ice fishing kit features high-precision GPS. Your position is easily determined by the waypoint you have already marked. The waypoint map can be utilized to view, mark and navigate to different spots such as weed beds, brush piles, stumps, and docks. You can also see the boat speed which will help you to up your trolling skills. You can store up to 5,000 waypoints.
The main unit: Once you open the case, you’ll see a 3.5 inches 480х320 pixel matrix diagonal display. The cool thing about using the Garmin Striker unit that it has the ability to switch between traditional fishfinder to fishing flasher view from the menu. About the display, it’s an HVGA color screen that can be clear under direct sunlight.
The led backlit display will help you detect every single detail. Don’t worry if your fish finder gets splashed by water. The IPX7 waterproofing will protect from any casual splash. But it’s better to avoid saltwater. Unfortunately, you won’t get any micro SD card reader or NMEA connectors. But you can share waypoints between any echoMAP enabled unit via data cable.
It’s called a portable kit so you will find a portable bag with base and handle for the unit. For mount, there’s a suction cup mount, a kayak in-hull mount and foam float for the transducer. There’s also a tilt swivel mount included. With the kit, you’ll get an AC charger and of course a rechargeable battery.
Our thoughts: The main selling point of any product is price. We want affordability with a reasonable price tag. Plus, the integration of CHIRP technology and dual-beam sonar has placed the Garmin striker 4 portable right on top. Yes, it does have some limitations like the absence of an SD card and the inability to upgrade with any charts. But at the end of the day, it’ll serve you some good of both worlds.
5. Garmin Striker 5 Plus Ice bundle
Overview: Garmin has been producing quality fish finder for decades. We are seeing the rise of fishing flasher for the last decade or so. Garmin improvised their existing Striker series line up with portable ice fishing kits and rechargeable batteries.
Introducing the Garmin Striker 5 with ice-ducer and portable ice fishing kit included getting the better of both seasons. Should this find a way to your angling instruments? Let’s find out.
Sonar & Transducer: Whats sets the Striker 5 plus from its sibling models is the GT8HW-IF ice transducer. It has a traditional frequency of 50/77/200 kHz for high and mid-range CHIRP. Obviously, the transducer has a stabilizing floater and a very handy 8 ft long cable. For freshwater operation, the transducer can scan up to 800 ft of depth which is significantly in saltwater.
You’re gonna love the detail information of the fish flasher screen. Apart from current depth, there is other information like time, voltage or water temperature available to display in the center of the circular flasher feature.
You can switch in a classic 2D sonar view for the user menu at any time. Since it’s similar to the Garmin Striker 5cv model, it has Clearvu Sonar. You just need to buy either GT22 or GT23 instead of that given ice-ducer transducer.
Navigation: In terms of navigation features, the Garmin Striker 5 comes with an internal Chartplotter without the built-in charts. You won’t be able to upgrade to any latest charts either. So you should mark your interest with the waypoints. You can do this up to 5000 times so no worries mate.
Other noteworthy functions are:
- Track plotting to record your trail
- Quickdraw contours to create a map with 1’ contours and depth labels of any water bodies with Sonar and GPS data
- Maximum of 1500 hours of map recording device storage
- Depth range shading function
The main unit: The higher resolution diagonal 5” display has a WVGA color. You can adjust the led backlit for easy night time and under direct sunlight view. The unit can save itself from occasional water splashes. Thanks to its IPX7 waterproofing. There’s a couple of downside of this unit. You won’t be able to connect this unit to any network. It doesn’t have any NMEA or Ethernet connectivity. It can’t even support a microSD card, not a card reader.
For portability and convenient carrying the unit comes with a carry bag and amount for the device. You’ll also get a charger and a battery.
Our thoughts: This is basically a Garmin Striker 5cv unit with an ice-ducer and ice fishing pack. The battery and the unit house into a portable carry case. With the ability to traditional CHIRP Sonar frequency and the unit capable for ClearVü, it’s a complete and one of the best ice fishing flashers on offer. And don’t forget the nifty navigational capability with Quickdraw and waypoint markers.
What is Fishing Flasher?
For those new enthusiastic anglers, they should have a clear idea of what is a fishing flasher is. The first appearance feels like a colorful watch without any details. It’s not that complicated like some fish finder. Basically, the flasher is a portable sonar that detects anything in its frequencies.
So basically the ice fishing flasher is a sonar device that detects objects within the beam into the water column. And data then reveals itself in the clock like a circular screen.
How to read a fishing flasher?
Reading a fishing flasher is easier than you think. You’ll see different colors like orange or red, green and yellow. Their sizes represent the size of the target. Green means small fish, yellow or orange means medium and red is for those big ones.
The 0 in the fishing flasher means water surface and different colors at the number of 12 or 14 means bottom. So basically it’s the water column in a circular form. I already told you how each color means and once you drop your jig or lure, you’ll see green or blue color (depending on the manufacturer) slowly climbing towards a higher number. Means towards the bottom.
Once any of those colors come in contact with your lure color, you will feel a tug on the line. Once you drop your lure make sure to adjust the gain and zoom level. Whether it’s for ice fishing or any sort of vertical fishing, the fishing flasher is very effective, both in cost and performance.
Adjust your gain up slowly, until you start to see a strong bottom return. Even if the red return stays weak, don’t worry. Because of the bottom may be soft or sandy. You won’t get a solid signal without hard bottoms. Beware, ice fishing requires a specific type of transducer that has a float to keep it leveled once you drop it into the water.
Advantage of Fish Flasher
I still remember last winter I was with one of my buddies on an ice fishing trip. We just started to jig when suddenly a green light indicated in the flasher right beneath the lure. The fish went on to investigate our offerings when my friend started to reel the jig down hopes a strike.
We saw the green line turned into the red as it joined with our blue jig light. But, no tug was felt on the line. He then reeled the jig up and saw nothing happened. The point is, don’t make any sudden movement of your offerings. Let the fish do the work and be more subtle with your jigging skill.
You can jig down a smaller offering right at the bottom. Your flasher will only show red bottom at that time. But once you locate a fish, slowly reel it up. Most of the time the fish will follow and you will feel the all familiar tug on the line.
Where the advantage lies is in cost-effectiveness and easier interface. A typical fish finder may cause some limitations in portability and usability. Especially in the harsh blazing cold, it would be a Hassle to carry a fish finder unit and a heavy battery. Whereas most of the fishing flasher manufacturers provide a bag where the unit and battery can be housed and easily accessible.
Ice Fishing Flasher
When Sonar made its debut in the market, fishing flasher also became a popular device to detect fish. Flasher is dwelling in the market for a couple of decades now. But still, they have demands left in the angler community for the low price tag and easier interface.
You probably heard the term called RTS ( Real-time Sonar ) which displays the ongoing fish movement and other details below the ice. Many anglers find it easier to track fish and present their lure accordingly. Lately, manufacturers have featured an adjustable sonar beam cone along with the ability to change the color pattern for our convenience.
Flashers are excellent to detect hard or soft bottom. Let’s say you cranked up the gain and adjust the range until the sonar beam hit the bottom. Now see it the red light is steady or just flickering. If it’s flickering than the bottom is not hard. Most ice fishing flasher comes with an LCD display panel which makes it easier to read in the dark as well as under direct sunlight.
Ice Fishing Flasher with Sonar GPS Combo
You could see that these types of ice fishing flasher have added features of GPS to attract more serious anglers. Apart from RTS, you’ll also get a split-view screen, a window for zoom adjustment, digital lake maps, GPS waypoints. Sure they cost is a bit higher than the classic fishing flasher but, you’ll be able to use this combo device in all seasons.
Ice fishing battery-saving tricks
If your flasher is a combo unit, the power demand is high. And an LCD display unit consumes three times more power than any conventional screen. So smart management is a must if you want your flasher to last all day. Or, you can install a more powerful battery like a 9-Amp-hour gel battery to last all day. And if you’re planning an ice fishing tour for a couple of days, consider packing a spare battery. The stock battery is less likely to last all day.
Whether your ice flasher or other battery-powered electronics, strategically saving energy is a good habit. When the sonar isn’t needed, turn it off to stop pinging. Also, dim the LCD backlit when daylight is low or at night. Powering down the sonar operation is easy in some fishing flasher. Because they have a manual button for that.
The ordeal depends on the weather condition and your fishing location. If it’s near your neighborhood than a proper ice fishing boot along with ice tackle and an auger. If it’s not snowing than there should hole left by other fellow anglers. But in general you should at least take these following items:
- Small jigs
- Baits & bucket
- Proper warm clothing
- The fishing pole consists of a spring bobber
- An ice fishing flasher ( optional )
I think you’ll find this ice fishing gear checklist pretty helpful.
Well, if your water body is shallow and full of weed beds and brush piles, you’ll hook some bluegills and crappie. Veteran anglers will present their lure with minnows and roaches to attract big catches like the Muskellunge and Northern Pike. And if the lake you’re ice fishing is deep with cold water, a few perch will find your bucket. Also, there’s always some occasional winter bass up for grabs.
In a straightforward answer, live bait works better than artificial lures. You can start by tossing up a couple of maggots and increase the offerings depending on your preferred species. But sometimes, artificial lures outshines as well.
When it’s snowing heavily, the light gets obstructed from entering underwater. Such conditions are perfect for tossing up plastic vibrant colored lures. You’d want to keep your live baits from freezing out. To prevent this, bring them in an insulated tackle box. Even a fiber plastic box will do as well. I keep my live baits in airtight polythene and bring them in a fiber plastic box. You should give it a try.
Simple yet can be confusing for some of us, especially for those new anglers. There’s no operative difference between a fish finder and a fishing flasher. The difference lies in the way they show information. A traditional fish finder will show you a digital portrait of underwater structures, bottom, fish, vegetations. It looks like a color x-ray video.
Whereas a typical fishing flasher will show a circular graph consists of different colors. Each color representing your lure or jig, fish and bottom. Some flasher displays multiple information at once such as water temperature, time-depth range, etc.
In most classic fish finders, you’ll find an option to switch into a fishing flasher window.
In a nutshell
The whole ice fishing scenario and its success more or less depending on the best ice fishing flasher or fishfinder. That’s just one side of the story. You’ll still need proper gears and most important of all, the will to face the cold white blizzard.
I hope our list of ice fishing flashers will convince you to at least opt for one of these. If not then our information section holds the key to identify your next best flasher. We just want your next ice fishing trip to be more bountiful and safe. Stay frosty folks!