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Whether you’re a seasoned ice angler or just starting ice fishing you are likely to invest in an ice fishing fish finder. Fish finders have become an essential tool to have for ice fishing. Having the ability to see underwater, watch your lure, and watch how fish respond to your presentation in real-time helped every angler to catch more fish consistently.
Given its features and benefits, a fish finder comes with the price. However, with so many options available on the market, picking the right one can be intimidating. In this article, we cover the things to consider, and reviews our top picks, to help you get the best value for your money.
Top Ice Fishing Fish Finder Overview
1. Lowrance HOOK² Ice Fishing Fish Finder
- Dual-frequency 2-in-1 CHIRP sonar
- Maximum depth: 500 feet
- Massive lake and rivers library
2. Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit
- CHIRP 77/200 kHz transducer
- IPX7 water rating
- Maximum depth: 1600 feet in freshwater
3. Humminbird ICE HELIX 5 Fish Finder
- Dual transducer angles of 20° and 60°
- Built-in base maps for over 10,000 lakes
- Adjustable sonar zoom
4. Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice Fishing Bundle
- 2D CHIRP Sonar, ClearVü capable
- Depth Capability: 800 ft
- IPX7 waterproof
5. Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Fishfinder
- 8-inch LCD (800 x 600px) display
- User-defined on-screen Dashboard
- Multifaceted Sonar Display
Buying Guide and Features to Consider
Ice fishing fish finder can be intimidating to use for first-timers. It will take a bit of practice to get a hold of things and familiarizes their functions. But once you pass that learning curve, you will never forget it and reap all the benefits.
First of all, you should know what you need and choose the features that best suit your needs. We will lay out here the relevant features that you should consider when looking to buy your fish finder for ice fishing.
Before you can find the perfect spot to dig your hole and start fishing, it still going to involve a lot of walking from one spot to another. So you must get the one that you can comfortably carry. The bigger the display comes with additional weight and can be a hassle to carry. But if you choose a lighter one, you’ll get a smaller display.
It’s important to easily read your fish finder output on the display all the time, regardless of weather conditions. It’s your only way to assess the underwater layout and see if you’ll get more catch for the day. A fish finder that has a real-time sonar (RTS) window that shows the history of what happened a few seconds ago is particularly useful in detecting and tracking fish movement.
Depending on the model and battery size, you’ll get from 4 – 12 hours of use out of a single full charge. The LCD screen brightness can suck up a lot of battery, so make sure to adjust it to low if it’s too bright. Disable the GPS if you don’t need it, can save you a lot of power as well.
Transducer Cone Angle
The cone angle determines the underwater area covered by your transducer. A wider or larger cone angle provides a greater area coverage but less detailed output. Whereas a smaller cone angle provides a more detailed output in exchange for coverage. Some fish finder models feature more than one bean in different angles, giving you much wider coverage and a clear underwater picture.
The details of the sonar output depend on both the cone angle and frequency. The higher the frequency gives more high-quality detailed output, but it consumes more power. It is best to use for shallow waters. But if you’re into deep-sea fishing, low-frequency beams do the work.
GPS and mapping
Fish finders with built-in mapping and GPS make it easier to find the perfect fishing spot where fish is abundant. Most latest models also have lake’s base maps and detailed contour maps.
If you plan to use your fish finder during open water season, make sure to get the multi-season models. Mostly it comes with ice transducers and boat transducers which is a good value out of your single purchase.
What are the Differences Between Flashers and Finders?
The flasher display has a basic interface with multicolored lights that represents all the objects that the sonar detects underwater. It can take a lot of practice to interpret the flasher dial. While the fish finder LCD is easier to understand, it can be difficult to see in bright direct light. Some models come with an RTS window that lets you see a history of what the device has scanned previously.
For battery life, flashers take the lead of having a long battery life. Most units last 18 hours or more on a full charge. On the other hand, a fish finder that has a large LCD screen requires a lot of power, thus resulting in shorter battery life.
Fish finders that have built-in mapping and GPS making it easier to find the right fishing spot. Newer models even come with lake base maps and contour maps. This feature is not available on the flasher, so you may need to use a separate handheld GPS.
Fish flashers are specifically designed for ice fishing, so they’re only meant for one-season use. Fish finder on the other has multi-season models that come with 2 transducers, one to use on ice and the other to use on the open water.
Ice Fishing Fish Finder Reviews
The table above compares the most important specs of the top 5 models side by side. Now let’s take a look at each model in more detail.
The Lowrance Hook² comes with a full-color display, easy to navigate menus with high-resolution sonar yields. It has a single transducer with a wide-angle sonar cone that allows an expanded coverage. It uses a 2-in-1 CHIRP sonar system. The Sidescan/Downscan combo does a great job differentiating the fish from the lures and other structures. You’ll get coverage of up to 300 ft. on the side from the side-scan sonar. This expanded coverage makes it easier to see fish and track lures and bait as they fall through the water. It has built-in GPS and is preloaded with detailed maps of over 3000 US lakes, so you can easily find the best fishing spot. It stores detailed information like depth, best fishing spots, and shorelines. It comes with an SD card, so you can upload maps that you need that aren’t preloaded, or update the maps and add more features.
This fish finder is also easy to use. With its auto-tuning sonar, you don’t have to manually turn the dial and do adjustments. The device does the sonar settings automatically.
It comes in 4 display sizes that feature a no-fading technology and adequate brightness level keeping it visible any time of the day.
If you get the all-season pack, it already includes a carry case, 2 transducers, battery, charger, and 2 tackle boxes.
The Garmin Striker 4 is a great ice fish finder for those on a tight budget. It is cheaper than most fish finders, and it still gets the job done. It features an easy-to-use device, decent display, and accurate Chirp sonar. It has a compact design with a bigger and dual-screen function where you can display both the GPS and sonar output.
Its built-in flasher makes it ideal for ice fishing. Its sonar also can scan up to 1600 feet deep in freshwater, though, deeper measures appear less accurate. It doesn’t come with preloaded lake maps, but it includes a GPS and waypoint map, so you can save the locations of any previous fishing hotspot you’ve been to and easily find them the next time you go fishing.
It also features IPX7 water-resistant rating and comes with a carrying bag that protects the unit from the cold. While its regular transducer may not be suitable for ice fishing frequent and longer use, you can upgrade and buy a separate ice transducer for maximum performance.
You can purchase the Garmin Striker 4 alone or with a portable bag, which is recommended for ice fishing.
Humminbird Ice Helix 5 Fish Finder is specifically designed for ice anglers so it’s one of the ultimate choices for ice fishing. But with the latest software update, it now can switch from ice mode to open water mode makes this an all-season fish finder. Simply install an accessory transducer, power cord, and mount on your boat and you’ll be ready to go fishing on open water.
It features exceptional accuracy, a great display, cold-weather technology, built-in GPS, and mapping, and much more. It has built-in GPS and built-in base maps that include charts of more than 10,000 lakes, so you can easily find the best fishing spot with a clear view of underwater terrain and surrounding points. It stores detailed information like depth, best fishing spots, and shorelines.
Your purchase will include the unit, dual spectrum CHIRP transducer and cable, battery and charger, mounting bracket and hardware, and portable ice bag.
The Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice Bundle is an ice fishing pack that includes the Garmin Striker Plus 5cv unit, an ice transducer, and the carrying case with the battery and charger. It features the built-in high and mid-range CHIRP sonar. It can cover between 24° and 16° and a maximum depth of up to 800 ft. in freshwater.
The unit is equipped with an internal GPS and quickdraw contours feature but doesn’t include built-in maps. You’re free to mark your waypoints though. You can save up to 5,000 points within the unit’s memory and track your trail with its track plotting function.
The control unit features a 5″ diagonal display, 800H x 480V pixel resolution. It has an adjustable LED backlight for better readability in direct sunlight. It also features IPX7 water-resistant rating and comes with a carrying bag that protects the unit from the cold.
The Marcum LX-7 is known to have the most advanced ice fishing systems on the market today. It comes with an exceptional 8-inch 800 x 600px LCD with multiple color palettes to ensure you get the clearest image and better readability in direct sunlight. The user-defined dashboard makes it easy for you to customize your settings, fully optimize them to your liking. It is easy to use and you can customize the range for depth finding.
The transducer with either an 8° or 20° transducer cone angle adjusts with two pushes of the cone angle button. It uses Sonar Footprint technology that can displays scan areas at any depth and the detail and response are phenomenal. The larger screen fits multiple viewing options. It allows you to see the entire water column in detail, and the separation it shows is outstanding.
The versatility and powerful setting it has comes with a price though. It is more expensive than other options but it’s definitely worth the price. Your purchase will include the unit, padded soft packs, rechargeable battery, and charger.
Surely fish finder is a useful tool for increasing your odds the next time you head out ice fishing. We hope this guide provides you with useful information for you to get the right one that best suits your needs. But if you are still not sure what to get, we recommend going with a multi-season model that you can use all year round.