Planning on ice fishing this winter? You should be.
A good fish finder or flasher is essential for a successful and enjoyable outing. With all the different models to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you. That’s why we put together this article for the best fish finders and best ice fishing flashers for ice fishing.
After testing both ice fishing flashers and fish finders, we found that the Vexilar FL-18 is the best choice for ice anglers.
If you prefer to have a unit for both the ice and open water we recommend the Humminbird Ice Helix 7.
Every angler has different parameters, so we have broken down all the best options available, along with a guide and answers to frequently asked questions.
Let’s dive in!
Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder
Humminbird “All Season” fish finders check all of the boxes for both the ice and open water. This unit is loaded with all of the technology of a modern fish finder while tailored towards fishing on the ice which is why we think this is the best ice fishing fish finder.
Best Ice Fishing Flashers
The “M” series from Marcum is the flagship series and has features that are ahead of the curve for ice fishing. The battery strength of the M Series is impressive as it known to last all day without needing a charge.
There are many reasons why Vexilar is the most popular Ice Flasher manufacturer. They make user friendly and dependable ice flashers that are reasonably priced. The FL-18 is by far the most advanced of the Vexilar lineup while still bringing along the durability and performance of older models.
Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders Reviewed
Humminbird Ice Helix 7
- Internal GPS antenna
- Preloaded maps with over 10,000 lakes
- Dual beam sonar angles or 20 and 60 degrees
- Transducer mount for boats
The Humminbird “All Season” fish finder checks all the boxes for both the ice and open water. This unit is loaded with all the technology of traditional fish finders while tailored towards fishing on the ice, which is why we think this is the best fish finder for ice fishing.
Find the fish faster with 1-foot contour maps of your fishing spots! Humminbird’s new technology lets you create a real-time map, on the ice, that makes identifying humps and drop-offs as easy it gets.
The Humminbird CHIRP Sonar technology takes imaging deeper and wider than other forms of sonar. With its dual spectrum capabilities, it can help identify bait or structure better as well better than other fish finders in this class.
Lowrance Hook2 7 Ice Machine
- Easy to use
- Wide Angle transducer(Double Coverage)
- Side Scan and Down Imaging
- Basic navigation without maps
- Optional mapping upgrades
Along with Humminbird, Lowrance is another well-known and dependable name in marine electronics. This unit is made for the ice but is also effective in open water. It is user-friendly, so you won’t have to waste time adjusting settings, and produces high-resolution images with its wide-angle CHIRP sonar.
The high-resolution SolarMAX display allows you to see every detail of your underwater world with incredible clarity.
Hook2 Autotuning CHIRP Sonar simplifies the process of tuning your sonar so that you can spend more time fishing and less dialing in tune. It’s a plug-and-fish kind of tech, making catching fish easier than ever!
With fewer keys than other fish finders, you can make adjustments with a simplified menu layout and efficient keypad.
The Lowrance CHIRP Sonar is known for its high-quality views and advanced technology that makes it easier to locate fish.
Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice Fishing Bundle
- Built in GPS
- Waypoint Marking
- 2D CHIRP
- Dual sonar frequency
- DownVu Imaging
- 800′ Depth Capability for deep water
- No Charts
This unit was hard not to claim as the best fish finder for ice fishing. This unit has all the great features of the Garmin Striker series but also includes an ice transducer (GT8HW-IF), a rugged carrying case, battery, and charger. The only downside with this Ice Fishing bundle is the fact that you need to buy either a GT8 or GT15 transducer to make this unit ready for the open water.
Sporting a 5″ display with built-in GPS, ice fishing transducer, and Garmin ClearVü sonar. This Striker model is the perfect tool to help you get back to your favorite ice holes. It has an easy interface, so it will be quick for anyone who is not so familiar with navigating through multiple menus!
The high, wide Garmin CHIRP ice fishing transducer provides crisp and clear images to help detect fish arches. With an excellent target separation capability, the included transducer provides more than enough depth ranges.
Garmin Quickdraw Contours feature lets you create and store maps on the go. With 1” contours for up to 2 million acres, you won’t be limited by lack of storage or capabilities. It offers the most accurate depiction of topography, making it easier than ever before to create maps.
The built-in flasher on this unit lets you see what’s happening in the water as fish are moving through the water column. This feature is perfect for confident fishermen who want to know when their jig or bait will be in the right spot at the right time.
Best Ice Fishing Flashers Reviewed
- Split Screen Display
- Auto Zoom Mode
- Shallow Water Mode
- 3-color LED Indicators
- 200′ Depth Capability
There are many reasons why Vexilar is the most popular Ice Flasher manufacturer. They make a user-friendly and dependable ice fishing flasher that is reasonably priced. The FL-18 is by far the most advanced of the Vexilar lineup, while still bringing along the durability and performance of older models.
The Genz Pack is an all-inclusive fishing kit that can conveniently fit on any five-gallon bucket. It’s equipped with a 12-volt battery and charger, as well as an ice fishing transducer for those cold days on the water!
The patented split screen flasher display on the FL-18 allows you to zoom in and watch your water column at once! You’ll be able to see all of those nooks that would otherwise go unnoticed.
It’s perfect for bass fishing, walleye, or panfish — no matter what type of fish are biting, it makes catching them much easier with its real-time capability.
The new features offered by this product make certain types of fishing more accessible than ever before, making sure everyone can enjoy themselves while using this flasher.
This pack comes fully assembled, so you don’t have to worry about putting it together yourself!
- Customizable zoom depth ranges
- 20 degrees angle transducer
- 160′ Depth Capability
The “M” series from Marcum is the flagship series and has features that are ahead of the curve for ice fishing. The battery strength of the M Series is impressive as it has known to last all day without needing a charge. Pair that with the customizable zoom settings, and you have yourself everything you require for a successful day on the ice.
With its ability to zoom anywhere in the water column, this unit will make a great addition for any fisherman looking not just find bottom dwellers like walleye but also suspended fish such as bluegill and crappie.
The M3L packs a whopping 2,000 watts of power through its whisper quiet and maintenance-free brushless motor, all while displaying max brightness and clarity even in the direct sunlight.
The Marcum M3L is the rock of the Marcum lineup, built on decades of experience. It has been improved and modernized for the new generation of ice anglers. It comes complete with a deluxe padded soft case that provides years’ worth of protection in transit or use!
Humminbird ICE 45
- Adjustable zoom
- 200′ depth capability
- Dual beam sonar of 9 and 19 degrees
- Depth Alarm
- 2 year warranty(limited)
This unit from Humminbird is the best option for anglers on a budget, while also boasting all the features you will need. I also love warranties when I am shopping, so with a 2-year warranty on this fish finder, you will have peace of mind knowing if something does break, you will be covered for 2 years.
The ICE HELIX Series is a revolutionary new sonar system that offers you the choice of how your lure and fish history appears.
With flasher views, 2D images can be seen together on one screen for the first time ever! Unlike other units which only show an intermittent flashing light.
The innovative design in this product allows anyone ice fishing at any level great insight into what’s happening under those waters right now.
What is the difference between a ice flasher and fish finder?
Some people may call a flasher and a fish finder the same thing, but in reality, they work differently. These two gadgets offer real-time sonar images that tell you what is happening under the ice. They both show you the depth ranges, and whether there are any fish around or not; plus they provide feedback on how your lure is working to attract them!
So what is the difference?
Just looking at a flasher and fish finder beside each other, it is easy to say the biggest difference is the display and appearance of both.
In my opinion, the biggest advantage of using a flasher is the superior battery life when compared to a fish finder.
An ice fishing flasher can last up to a whopping 24 hours, while a fish finder is expected to last between 5-10 in cold weather.
GPS and Maps
Many units will come preloaded with maps and a built-in GPS, which make finding the perfect fishing spot a lot easier. It is also a great way to store coordinates to your favorite ice holes.
An ice fishing flasher does not have GPS capability or maps, so I recommend tote a handheld GPS with you.
Year Round Use
Flashers are strictly used for Ice Fishing, while many of the fish finders on our list are considered “All Season” tools, as they can be used on a boat during the warmer months while also being sufficient on the ice.
Are fish finders different for ice fishing?
No, not necessarily, the deciding factor for being able to use a fish finder on the ice is whether it is portable. A fish finder can be considered an “All Season” unit and uses the same systems whether on the ice or open water. They can also be used on a boat during warmer months, and most can be used for ice fishing by adding a “portable kit”.
Can you use a regular fish finder for ice fishing?
Yes, the fish finders we have listed here would be considered “regular” and “portable” which give them the ability to be used for ice fishing.
Is Vexilar or Marcum better?
To answer this question, you would need to consider which fish finder is best for your needs. Vexilar and Marcum both offer quality products but they are not identical in design or features – so it’s a matter of what you prefer!
I will share our experiences with both.
We found that Marcum has a slighter edge when it comes to having better technology and a more advanced product. But with that comes the greater chance for malfunctions while the technology may still be in the BETA phase. All in all, they have a cutting-edge product that is intuitive and effective.
They may be just slightly behind Marcum when it comes to releasing more advanced and up-to-date products, but we have found that Vexilar offers a more dependable and durable product.
Marcum vs. Vexilar
You will have to decide which is best for you, depending on your needs and how much risk you are willing to take with investing in a more fragile but cutting-edge technology.
Do not forget that there are many other units out there—these are two of the top brands we found, but it doesn’t mean they are the best for you.
What is the best portable fish finder to buy?
While portable and ice fishing, fish finders are in very similar categories. We decided to cover portable fish finders in another post in great detail, along with providing a buyer’s guide to use when choosing a portable fish finder.
We felt this was appropriate because you may need a portable fish finder but have no intentions of using it for ice fishing.
Read our guide on the best portable fish finders here.
Are Ice Fishing Flashers Worth it?
Do you need a flasher to catch fish? Obviously not, but I have found that they are most certainly worth it and also make ice fishing a more engaging and fun way to fish.
An Ice fishing flasher can be one of the most worthwhile investments of ice fishing gear for those who spend their time on ice. They will allow you to know if there are fish below, which helps save both energy and tackle as well!
All in all, ice fishing flashers have completely changed my perspective on going out and catching fish. I can tell what the fish are doing just by watching them in real-time, which makes it feel more like a live video game than ever before, whether that is a good thing or not.
Ice Flasher vs. Fish Finder-Which Should you Buy?
If you are an avid ice fisherman and only venture to warmer weather for fishing occasionally, we suggest opting for an Ice Flasher rather than a Fish Finder. Although a fish finder will have more flexibility, a flasher is designed to be the master of finding fish beneath the ice. If summer fishing is on the horizon, and you don’t want to buy another traditional fish finder, then you should opt for a fish finder.
One of the main reasons we suggest a flasher over a fish finder for ice fishing is the battery life. The ice flashers on this list will all last you a full day of fishing, while a fish finder may last just a half-day in cold weather.
We hope that this article has helped you find the right ice fishing fish finder to suit your needs and budget. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there are plenty of options out there for all skill levels!
If you prefer a fish finder over a flasher, we recommend the Humminbird Ice Helix 7
For an ice fishing flasher, we recommend the Vexilar F-18
Be sure to check out all the articles on fish finder’s below:
- Best Fish Finder Under $300
- The 5 Best Fish Finders Under $500
- 7 Best Fish Finder GPS Combo’s Under $1000
- Best Fish Finder GPS Combo
- Best Fish Finder Brands
- Best Fish Finder for Shallow Water
If we missed anything in this article, don’t hesitate to reach out with suggestions to email@example.com. Now GO Fishing!