The Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders and Flashers

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 ice fishing fish finders and ice flashers.

After testing both flashers and fish finders we found that the Vexilar FL-18 is the best choice for ice fishing.

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 of the best options available along with a guide and answers to frequently asked questions.

Let’s dive in!

Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders

Best Ice Flashers

Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders Reviewed

Humminbird Ice Helix 7

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.

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 the open water. It is user friendly so you won’t have to waste time with adjusting settings and produces high resolution images with its’ wide angle CHIRP sonar.

Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice Fishing Bundle

  • Built in GPS
  • Waypoint Marking
  • 2D CHIRP
  • DownVu Imaging
  • 800′ Depth Capability
  • No Charts

This unit was hard not to claim as the best ice fishing fish finder. This unit has all of 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.

Best Ice Flashers Reviewed

Vexilar FL-18

  • 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 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.

Marcum M3

  • Customizable zoom depths
  • 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 known to last all day without needing a charge. Pair that with the customizable zoom settings and you have yourself everything you need for a successful day on the ice.

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 of 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 the peace of mind knowing if something does break you will be covered for 2 years.

FAQ

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, 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?

Display

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.

Battery Life

In my opinion the biggest advantage of using a flasher is the superior battery life when compared to a fish finder.

Flashers can last up to a whopping 24 hours while a fish finder is only expected to last between 5-10.

GPS and Maps

Many fish finders will come preloaded with maps and a built in GPS which make finiding the perfect fishing spot a whole lot easier. It is also a great way to store coordinates to your favorite ice holes.

Flashers do not have GPS capability or maps so I recommend to tote a handheld GPS with you.

Year Round Use

Flashers are strictly used for Ice Fishing while many of the fish finders 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 or not it is portable. Fish finders can be considered “All Season” tools and use 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 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.

Marcum

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.

Vexilar

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 fish finders 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 if not the same, we decided to cover this in another post in great detail along with providing a buyers 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.

Ice Flasher vs. Fish Finder- Which Should you Buy?

best ice fishing fish finder

If you are an avid ice fisherman and only venture to warmer weather for fishing occasionally, we suggest to opt for an Ice Flasher rather than a Fish Finder. Although a fish finder will have more flexibility it is not the master of finding fish beneath the ice.

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.

Wrapping Up

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!

For Flashers we recommend the Vexilar F-18

For the best ice fishing fish finders we recommend the Humminbird Ice Helix 7

Be sure to check out all of articles on fish finder’s here.

If we missed anything in this article, don’t hesitate to reach out with suggestions to team@afellowfisherman.com. Now GO Fishing!!