If you have tried ice fishing than you know that it is one of the best times to go for a fishing trip, and it is also when you can catch the most fish if you are smart about it. I know a lot of people that go fishing when their local lake freezes in the winter, as the fish roam freely under the icy surface and most use this opportunity to make some excellent catches. However, ice fishing, as well as its tricks and, isn’t easy at all. First of all, you should have a good knowledge of the area and the species of fish located in that area, this translates into the choice of equipment and I should say that not all equipment is created equally and some can be utilized better than the others. This means that everything from lures, to rods and reels, should be optimized for the environment you will fish in and the fish you are trying to catch.
However, there is something that many beginner anglers overlook when it comes to ice fishing equipment and that is a fish finder. While you may know the area very well and may suspect where the fish are, I think that it is more than intuitive to have at least an idea where the majority of the fish are. You can spend a long time looking for fish in an area that they are not located, and your trip may not go as you would have liked, that’s why investing in a fish finder will tell you exactly where the majority of the fish are, so you can maximize your chances of catching them.
Then again, there are some tricks when it comes to choosing a fish finder for ice fishing since this is a different kind of sport compared to a boat, kayak, or shore fishing. The circumstances change, so you will have to employ different tactics and therefore you will need different qualities from a fish finder. While it is not as hard as it sounds if you don’t know where to start it is better to be informed, so you decrease the chances of making a mistake while buying a fish finder.
Today I have decided to write this buying guide so you will have the best experience when it comes to ice fishing, meaning that I will help you decide to buy the best ice fishing fish finder in the market. I will provide the best picks in the market, things you have to know before buying an ice fishing fish finder, and overall some general tips to know about fish finders.
Our Picks For The Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders
7. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar
Starting up the list we have an affordable but truly magnificent and portable fish finder that can be perfectly compatible with ice fishing without any modifications, the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar. This one is essentially a smartphone fish finder and I am pretty confident that you will put you on the right drilling spot and allow you to catch more fish than ever.
The first version of this product was excellent as well, however, with the updates that this product has received there is no way to compare with the old model as it is fantastic. Unlike most fish finders in the market, the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar allows you to check the water temperature and has a casting range of 330 feet and a depth range of 260 feet, complete with its amazing scanning ability. This makes it a truly versatile fish finder that you can use for all four seasons without any problem, this is a true beast among men.
One of the biggest features of the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is its small size meaning that you can carry it in your pocket easily, and it is fully waterproof and extremely durable so you don’t have to worry about that at all. The companion app works perfectly as well and completes with the fish finder they form an excellent power duo that allows you to have the most functionality. Combined with its affordability this product is super attractive.
6. Garmin Striker 4
Moving on with our list we have another capable fish finder that will be your best friend in ice fishing. This thing is extremely easy to install and operate, has a high-resolution display, is pretty compact, has a super affordable price and delivers premium features while still being marketed as an entry-level fishfinder, just wonderful.
In terms of functionality, the Garmin Striker 4 is super effective as it delivers smooth imagery while scaling both deep and shallow waters and is perfect for ice fishing without any doubt. On top of that this device is extremely durable and sturdy, it won’t break any time soon, plus on top of that, it has an IPX7 waterproof rating meaning that it can be submerged down to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
The Garmin Striker 4 has two functionality modes that deliver excellent versatility for different users, however, for ice fishing, it has the amazing Flasher mode that provides imagery of different depth levels and utilizes two sonars into one. In addition to that, it also has a Split Frequency and a Waypoint Map mode that will improve the functionality of the device even more. For the price, you won’t find a better-crafted fish finder any time soon.
5. Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SV
Next up we have a super-powerful device that is capable of finishing the job for any fish finding task that you might have for it, the Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SV. This beast is ultra-powerful and is packed with a large 9-inch screen, superb SONAR capabilities, SIdeVu, and DownVu SONAR, on top of its GPS that has pre-installed BlueCHart g2 maps, and while it may cost a little more, it is more than worth its premium price.
The first thing you will see on this device is its 9-inch display that can be split up into four ways to deliver four sonar readings simultaneously, so you can maximize your chances of finding most fish. I was super impressed with the overall sharpness of this large display, and it will be very useful to you.
Garmin has been one of the oldest companies in the navigation industry, and it always has delivered superb navigation tools, this one is one different as it has built-in GPS, and BlueChart g2 maps pre-installed to deliver amazing navigation, for coastal US, Bahamas, and countless US lakes, complete with depths tidal stations, currents, and so much more.
The Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SV’s SONAR capabilities are perfect and it works on two frequency settings, 77kHz, and 200kHz, and it goes deep to 2,300 feet in 77kHz for saltwater, and down to 1,100 feet in 200kHz. Super convenient and overall definitely one of the very best devices in the market, if you can afford it, definitely can’t go wrong.
4. Marcum LX-7
Marcum is a well-known company in the fish finder business, however, the LX 7 is one of its most well-known models, as it combines advanced design and superb technologies to make your ice fishing game much stronger than it already is. On top of that, it has tons of features that will make your job so much easier and has a huge LCD screen that will provide you tons of sonar information.
First off I have to mention you the amazing 8-inch LCD of the Marcum LX-7 with a resolution of 800×600 pixels, which is capable of bringing in a super sharp and amazing image. It is also equipped with four color palettes you can choose from and can also be adjusted manually to suit your preference. It is worth mentioning that the device comes with a 12V rechargeable battery and a charger cord, and right from the get-go, the device is ready to operate.
The biggest selling point of the Marcum LX-7 is its mighty SONAR engine which delivers real-time images of the underwater. It picks up the echo reading of the transducer and it instantly displays it on the screen. On top of that, it has a dual-beam transducer that delivers either an 8 degree or 20-degree cone angle.
Everything about the design is user-friendly and super intuitive, also without forgetting I should mention that it is very durable and sturdy, meaning that the Marcum LX-7 will be by your side for a long time.
3. Vexilar FL-8se Genz
If you are looking to get a specialized fish finder for ice fishing, that will deliver amazing performance and value for its price you have to check out the Vexilar FL-8se Genz. This product is one of the best ones in the market, as it has a great battery life, super identifiable colors, and great location performance on top of its super durable body that is waterproof.
The Vexilar FL-8se Genz is packed with a super nice 12V 7amp hour battery that comes with a charger as well, and you can charge it very easily in a wall outlet and the battery life itself is pretty lengthy and durable.
The Vexilar FL-8se Genz delivers amazing performance for locating and finding fish as it has the super intuitive three-color sonar flasher technology that shows the target in green, orange, and red on the screen so you can find them easily, on the intuitive LED-backlit screen that delivers amazing brightness and readability.
The Vexilar FL-8se Genz comes with 6 depth ranges you can choose from, ranging from 20 to 120 feet meaning that it is perfect for even deeper lakes. Everything about this device is super intuitive and you can start fishing in a few moments without any doubt, definitely one of the best fish finders for ice fishing.
2. Lowrance HOOK2 7
The runner up on this list is a super capable device coming in from Lowrance, the HOOK2 7. This device is definitely one fo the most versatile fish finders in the market, and will deliver perfect functionality even for ice fishing, and pretty amazing at that. This versatile beast comes with a 7-inch display, however, it also offers different sizes you can choose from ranging from 5 to 12 inches in size.
I also appreciated the amazing large buttons that were very simple to use and delivered amazing functionality, on top of that they are usable even with your gloves on, which was a great advantage.
In addition to all this, the Lowrance HOOK2 7 uses a TripleShot transducer which delivers also a down scanning sonar, a side-scanning one, and CHRIP, and you can use all three of them simultaneously and have them displayed on the screen, making it extremely easy to find fish hideouts, and it rocks a maximum depth of 500-foot meaning that it is more than enough for ice fishing.
With plenty of desirable features and attractive price the Lowrance HOOK2 7 is one of the very best in the market, and not just for ice fishing.
1. Humminbird ICE-55
Coming to the top of the list we have the Humminbird ICE-55, which is the definite best fish finder for ice fishing. It is the best flasher model in the market, and it combines various technologies from the company’s arsenal and it delivers to us with extreme ease of use, amazing power, great battery life, and many more.
The Humminbird ICE-55 is equipped with a backlit fiber-optic 6 color flasher LCD screen, which is the first one in the market to do so. The manufacturer has been very innovative and has set industry standards every time, and on the display, you will see the battery monitor let you know when you need a recharge. It also has an adjustable zoom when you need to zoom to see things better, and it also can be adjusted manually.
The transducer of the Humminbird ICE-55 has two cone angles from 9 to 19 degrees and it helps you achieve the best option regardless of the scenario. On top of that, the Humminbird ICE-55 has an interference rejection feature meaning that it runs on its frequency and won’t be disturbed by other frequencies from other fishermen for example.
Things to Know Before Buying a Fish Finder for Ice Fishing
As I said earlier ice fishing is a different kind of fishing that requires you to improvise your tactics and gear, to get better results, but don’t worry about it. I will tell you exactly what you should know and what features you should consider when shopping for an ice fishing fish finder.
Portability – The biggest feature you should consider when buying an ice fishing fish finder is its portability. This encompasses the weight, size and overall portability of the fish finder since you will also have to carry all your equipment over the freezing lake and it is pretty difficult and time consuming to do rounds if you can’t carry everything with the first time. So you better invest in smaller and more portable items if you can, however, if you want to opt for heavier and larger fish finders, I would suggest you invest in a heavy-duty cart so you can carry your equipment with ease.
Display – If there is a feature that you have to invest in a fish finder it is the display. It won’t matter how powerful the fish finder is or the sonar angle or any other specification if the display of the device isn’t detailed and you can’t easily identify where the fish is and you can’t read the details in the display. You can opt for fish finders with nice colorful, bright, and high-resolution displays to get the best experience, however, you can also invest in smaller displays, that lack color but deliver plenty of detail, which will deliver somewhat the same amount of functionality.
Sonar Beam Angle – When you are ice fishing there are some different things you need to consider, and one of the most important things will be the angle of the sonar beam, which is one of the clearest cut factors that will tell you whether or not you should choose a fish finder. For example, I can comfortably say that a fish finder with a narrower beam angle will allow you to spot fish right below your location comfortably, even if the lake is pretty deep at that point.
However, on the other hand, we also have wide-angle sonar beams, which come mostly on the side scan modules, are responsible for giving a wide field of view in the water. This is perfect if you don’t know what you are looking for and the search radius is a little larger, but the wider the signal is the shallower the signal will penetrate.
Power and Frequency – The Power and frequency of the fish finder you are considering also play a rather large part in the whole performance of the model. However, in our case, the frequency plays the biggest part in determining the performance of ice fishing. Let’s say that you are fishing in a shallower lake than a high-frequency model will deliver you the most performance, as it will deliver you the better distinction between different fish. On the other hand low-frequency fish finders, are not as clear as the former, but they deliver more detail in-depth and are mostly used in deeper lakes or bodies of water.
On the other hand, power is also a factor you should consider but not as important for ice fishing, and you should know that high power fish finders will have higher screen refresh rates, however, they will also run through the battery more quickly which is not the optimal choice.
GPS – GPS navigation is not only used in cars and smartphones these days since most of the electronics devices use GPS navigation and maps. For our purpose, it is a handy feature to have since it will allow you to know the structure of the lake and where the fish are hiding. Most fish finders in the market, that have built-in GPS, feature preset maps for the major lakes in the US and Canada. While it is not exactly necessary it is pretty useful if you can afford to opt for a model with GPS features built-in.
Durability – This one is pretty much essential when you are shopping for a fish finder for ice fishing since you will be mostly fishing in more extreme circumstances and the fish finder will be in contact with water most of the time. On top of that freezing temperatures, wind, and occasional drops will all take a toll on your device, so you better invest in a sturdy model built from high-quality materials, so you will get the most bang for your buck and can use your device for so many years before needing to invest in a new one.
Power Source – If you want to get the best detail from a fish finder you should invest in a powerful fishfinder as I mentioned earlier, however, higher rates and more power also make the battery of the device run faster. You can invest in better batteries or external batteries to have high power all day long without worrying about anything, but this will only decrease the portability of your gear.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is the biggest advantage of using a fish finder for ice fishing?
A: The biggest advantage of using a fish finder for ice fishing is convenience and knowing exactly where you have to drill without any guesswork. This is the best thing that a fish finder for ice fishing offers, since drilling a hole on ice is pretty taxing and takes a lot of time.
Q: Is every fish finder waterproof?
A: To be correct not every fish finder in the market is waterproof, however, most of them are with slight exceptions, however, all of them water-resistant, meaning that they can be exposed to the water and elements for certain amounts of time.
Q: Can you use regular fish finder for ice fishing?
A: This is one of the most commonly asked questions by anglers. I can say that to some degree you can use a regular fish finder for ice fishing, however, the performance will not be ideal and you might need to perform some DIY modifications to get the best out of it.
There you have it the best ice fishing fish finder guide! I think with this guide you can find the best fish finder for your exact budget and needs, as you will exactly know what you should be looking for in a fish finder for ice fishing. However, you can also check our top picks which are super safe choices and you definitely can’t go wrong with them. Until next time, my fellow anglers.