The Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders Reviewed
If you are an ice fishing fan, you know the importance of having a good ice fishing fish finder. It can become discouraging really quick sitting in your ice fishing shanty after spending time using your auger to create the perfect ice fishing hole – only to catch no fish.
These are some of the best ice fishing fish finders reviewed so you will at least be able to know what is going on underneath the ice. You may not be able to catch all of those fish, but you will at least know you are in a good spot – and having the potential to catch fish is half the battle!
Editors Note: List has been updated for 2017!
What we look for in the Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders
Personally I am a big fan of traditional flasher fish finders when ice fishing or doing any type of vertical fishing. If you aren’t familiar with what a flasher is, it basically shows the water column in circular form.
The inside numbers indicate the depth, and the group of flashing lights indicate the bottom. Different colors will mean different things, but you are going to be able to track your lure and lure depth, and you will be able to see the fish actually move towards your bait.
Most traditional fish finders that are used for warm weather boat fishing do have an ice fishing kit that can be purchased to turn them into an effective ice fishing unit.
The kit will include a bag and battery mount, plus a charger and an ice fishing transducer. As long as the unit has the capability, you can also turn the screen from a more traditional depth finder to a flasher.
Vexilar Ice Fishing Systems
Vexilar is a company that has been around since 1960, and has been making some of the best ice fishing gear for years. When it comes to ice fishing, that have 3 different ice fishing cases and 6 different ice fishing flashers to pick from.
The Vexilar FL-8 is a 3 color flasher. The transducer is placed in the water and the flasher will change color based on how close the fish is to your bait. Green means they are kind of close, orange means they are getting really close, and red means you need to set your hook very soon!
This model has been around for around 25 years, but seen numerous updates, including bright LED lights that make it much easier to read. This is a great unit.
The Vexilar FL-12 is the updated version of the FL-8. It has just about all the same features, including a 3 color flasher. The big difference is the screen. The FL-8 is not a flat screen, the FL-12 is, meaning you have a better sight line with it.
The Vexilar FL-18 was the first system to have a split screen design. The split screen design lets you focus in on the bottom 6 feet of the body of water. For example, if you are fishing in 40 feet of water, you can zoom in on the bottom 6 feet, and have a much more focused flasher screen. This is ideal for Walleye and Perch fisherman that need to focus on the bottom of the water column.
The Vexilar FL-20 is the flat screen version of the FL-18. It has two different zoom zones – a 6 foot and 12 foot zone. The flat screen also really helps with your sight lines. If you are in an ice house, you are going to be able to see the screen much easier, you don’t have to just sit in front of it.
The Vexilar FL-22 is for the hardcore ice angler that does a lot of shallow water fishing, especially crappie, pan fish, or even walleye. It can function very well in shallow water. The depth range is up to 60 feet, and is broken down into 10 feet range increments.
The FLX-28 is the cream of the crop. There are almost too many features to list, so Vexilar basically calls this their super unit. It has auto ranging where it auto selects the depth range for you, it has a depth display on the dial, it has a simulation mode, 5 color modes, multiple zoom zones, and basically everything you need to catch fish. It is great for deep or shallow water ice fishing, and the bright LED screen makes it super easy to ready. This is the best of the best from Vexilar when it comes to Ice Fishing.
As for cases, you have the Genz Pack, the Pro Pack, and the Ultra Pack. The Genz Pack is named after ice fishing legend Dave Genz, it is a durable case that is designed to fit on top of a 5 gallon bucket.
The Pro Pack is a round base case designed to be able to sit in a 5 gallon bucket. It has a rod holder and a small tackle box attached to it, but more importantly, it has a digital read out that shows water depth – making it easy to see how deep the water is when using your flasher. This is the most popular case system they make.
The Ultra Pack is the newest carrying case that has rod holders, tackle boxes, a great handle, the digital water depth reader, and even a power access point that allows you to run your system off electricity. It is still has a round base that fits into a five gallon bucket. The handle and the power access point are the big selling point for these cases.
Humminbird Ice Fishing Fish Finders
Humminbird also has some great fish finders for ice fishing. The ICE 688CI HD Combo is the top of the line option from Humminbird. The display screen is a 5 inch, high definition, color screen. For ice fishing, you will want to activate ice fishing mode which gives you a traditional, circular flasher display.
It has a GPS feature built in for chart plotting, and there is a memory card slot that allows you to save maps or waypoints. There are different preset buttons that help you save your favorite settings, and you will get accurate depth readings up to 1500 feet.
It comes with an ice transducer and this combo package normally costs around $600. This is the best, #1 choice for ice fishing.
Humminbird makes a very good traditional ice fishing flasher with the ICE 55. This unit has a 6 color flasher display that Humminbird calls the industry best fiber optic flasher! It is supposed to give you better distinction between fish targets found in the sonar beam, and will work in depths of 200 feet.
What is really neat about this unit is it has a purple target line that can be set at a specific depth. You can than track your jig in comparison to that target line, giving you valuable information as to what adjustments you need to make on your end.
Unlike other ice fishing flashers, this unit will instantly find the water bottom and sets the flasher scale automatically for you, relieving you of any guess work. Prices can range upwards of $500 for this dependable unit.
The Humminbird ICE 45 unit is a cheaper alternative fish finder flasher than the ICE 55. It still works in 200 feet of water, but instead of a 6 color flasher, it has a 3 color display. It is cheaper, normally in the $400 price range.
The Humminbird ICE Helix 5 is a more traditional fish finder that can be used for ice fishing. The 5 inch, backlit color display screen makes it easy to read. An ice fishing flasher can be turned on in the menu settings.
It comes with a battery, and the reviews on battery life have been very good. It comes with built in GPS as well, and you should expect to pay around $450 for this unit.
Lowrance Ice Fishing Fish Finders Reviewed
Lowrance makes a group of very good fish finder packages designed for ice fishing. These packages include an ice fishing transducer, a carrying case, battery and charger, mounting bracket, installation hardware, and user manuals.
The Hook-5 Ice Machine, Hook-4 Ice Machine, and the Hook-3X All-Season Pack are the most popular packaged options that come with the above listed materials. They are all very similar except for small details like screen size.
The Lowrance Hook-5 Ice Machine is one of the best ice fishing fish finders you can buy. The high resolution, 5 inch color display makes it easy to see what is going on below the ice. Since the sonar is adjustable, it makes it easy to differentiate between bait fish and target fish. These fish finders will also adjust settings for you automatically, so you don’t have to spend all of your time manually adjusting everything (unless you want to).
This unit also features a built in GPS antenna and navigation features that allow you to mark different fishing spots (and find the way back to those spots later on). The GPS/Mapping features include over 3,000 built in U.S. lake and river maps. Custom maps can even be created using your saved sonar data.
The large screen is the major buying point here, but it also makes this the most expensive option, costing right around $500 most of the time.
The Hook 4 Ice Machine is very similar to the Hook 5, with the Hook 4 having a high resolution 4 inch screen instead of a 5 inch screen. Both units are fully portable with the carrying cases keeping everything organized.
With a cost of right around $400, you are getting a smaller screen, but still getting all those great features that make Lowrance fish finders so popular.
If you couldn’t guess it already, the Hook 3X All-Season pack is going to come with a 3 inch screen, with a 320 x 240 resolution, so it is smaller and less clear than the other two options. It also does not have the built in GPS features and maps, but the price is the most affordable, usually costing around $250 for the package.
Underwater Fish Cameras for Ice Fishing
For something a little different, you can use certain underwater fish cameras during ice fishing trips. These will literally allow you to see what is swimming around beneath the ice.
The Vanxse UnderWater Fish Camera System is a popular underwater fishing camera. It comes with a portable 7 inch monitor, and once you drop the camera into the water, the screen will display everything it is seeing. Water quality is important here – extremely dirty or murky water makes it tough to see what is going on.
The cable length connecting the camera is 30 meters, and it should work in water temperatures of -20 degrees or warmer. It is just really cool to be able to see fish swimming in their natural habitat.
Portable Ice Fishing Fish Finders
There are a number of different portable fish finders that can be used for ice fishing. These units weren’t necessarily built for ice fishing, but they have a lot of benefits. They will either connect to a smart phone or a small display screen – and either a wire connected or wireless connected sonar will be used to gather data.
They are not going to be as accurate as some of these units or flashers, but they can be way more affordable. The screens do also tend to be smaller, making it a little more difficult to view all the necessary information. For more detailed information on portable ice fishing fish finders I would encourage you to read the linked article.
There are a lot of good units available that were specifically designed for ice fishing, from some very trusted brands like Humminbird and Lowrance. All of these units should make your ice fishing trips more enjoyable – we would just recommend purchasing the unit that fits most comfortably into your price range. While they won’t guarantee that you will catch fish, here are some good ice fishing tips that should help beginners!
If you want to learn more about our top choice, the ICE 688CI HD Combo from Humminbird, check out this cool video!