If you have ever gone fishing in the ice, you know that the main challenge is that you can’t see if there are fishes around. Cold temperatures often decrease fish activity. Thus, you must present the lure or bait in such a way that it will be irresistible for fishes.
However, it is quite hard to do it since you can’t see what will trigger a reaction, unless you have an ice fishing fish flasher, of course. These devices will increase your catch rate not only because you can see whether or not there are any fishes around. But because you can see what triggers them.
So, let’s get down to business and review some of the best ice fishing fish flashers you can find in the market.
Comparison Table of 7 Best Ice Fishing Fish Flashers
|Display||Frequency (kHz)||Maximum depth (feet)||Cone angle|
|Humminbird ICE-45||526 segmented 3-color LCD screen||240 455||200||198|
|MarCum LX-7||8 inches 3-color LCD screen||50200||300||208|
|Vexilar GP1812||3-color dial||200||200||19|
|Garmin Striker Plus 5||5 inches full color screen||5077200||2300 freshwater1100 saltwater||N/A|
|MarCum M1||TrueColor 3-color dial||60||160||20|
|Humminbird Helix 7||7 inches full color screen||50/82/200140-200/150-220/180-240 (CHIRP)||1500||N/A|
|Deeper CHIRP||Depends on your smartphone or tablet||100290675||300||71647|
Our Reviews – 7 Best Ice Fishing Fish Flashers
The Humminbird name is legendary in the ice fishing community. The brand is responsible for making some of the best ice fish finders in the market. However, they are not cheap at all. To solve this, the company made several different models of the ICE finder. Each one with various features to fit different budgets.
Here we will talk a little about the ICE-45 flasher. It has a backlit LCD screen, which can be seen easily in low-light environments. The display shows the depth readings. Unlike the ICE-35 version, here, you have to read the depth in the analog dial.
Around the display, you have the classic red/yellow/green lights which show the bottom, underwater structure, fish, and lure proximity. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to read them. We will show you how at the end of this review.
The flasher has two operational modes: Manual and automatic. The first one has four depth markings, while the latter has seven. We recommend using the finder in automatic, especially if this is your first time using it. The ICE-45 will automatically set the depth scale, so you don’t need to worry about it.
The ICE-45 works swimmingly in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius. Thus, you should have no problem using it. Plus, it has a dual-frequency sonar. The unit works in a unique, Humminbird frequency to avoid interference with other fish finders.
There is another version, the ICE-55, which comes with extra features, such as six color flashers and a carry-on bag. But we believe that the Humminbird ICE-45 is a better value for your money.
Let’s begin with the main drawback: The price. But you will get one hell of an ice fish finder if you are willing to pay for it. The MarCum LX-7 has an impressive 8-inch LCD screen with an 800×600 pixel resolution.
One of the great things about this ice fish finder is that it has four different color palettes. Thus, up to four anglers can use it at the same time. Just choose your color, and the MarCum LX-7 will create a profile with your settings.
The display shows what is below the ice, as well as the traditional depth lecture. But this is not its only functionality. You can use the buttons to display the gain, adjust your target, see the battery voltage, view the water column, and check for interference. The last one is quite important since you can use it to prevent interference with other non-MarCum ice fish finders; just like the Hummingbird, we’ve reviewed before.
Additionally, you get a vertical zoom mode. It is ideal for those moments where the flasher lecture, in the circular display, is not clear enough. The transducer is so sensitive that you can distinguish between several fishes with 1/2” separation between them. There is also an option to enable the night screen mode, which is perfect for low-light situations, such as ice fishing during the night. With this many functionalities, it is easy to forget how to use this magnificent ice fish finder. Check this video. It shows all the features. Plus, they give some useful bits of advice on how to use the device.
Furthermore, the MarCum LX-7 receives continuous software updates directly from the manufacturer. Just as if it were a smartphone, which means that your device will work without bugs for many years to come.
The MarCum LX-7 works with either 8º or 20º transducer cone angles.
At first sight, the Vexilar GP1812 FL18 looks like an ancient machine. But looks are deceiving indeed. Yes, it has a vintage look, but this is quite a sophisticated ice fish finder.
The main drawback is that it isn’t user-friendly. You must first learn how to use a 3-color ice fish flasher before making any purchase. Apart from that fact, this is an amazing machine. It has six depth ranges: 20, 30,40, 60, 80, and 120 feet. As you might have guessed, you must manually swap them.
The unit comes with the Ice-Ducer, which is the transducer. It yields accurate readings. You can easily see them thanks to the 3-color LED display.
The panel has three knobs: One for the range, another for the mode, and the last one for gain. You can manually set them to your liking.
The Vexilar GP-1812 comes with a rechargeable 12 volts battery, which can easily last the entire day.
The unit weight might be a deal-breaker for some. The 10.23-pound ice fish finder is not portable at all. Therefore, make sure that you are comfortable with the weight before making any purchase.
The Garmin name equals quality. And this is no exception. The Garmin Striker Plus 5 is an amazing evolution from the Striker 4. So, since Stricker 4 is such a fantastic device, we expect the same (and more). The good news is that Striker 5 is a super ice fishing fish flasher.
The Striker 5 comes with a protective bag, which shields the unit from the element. On top of that, this ice fishing fish flasher has IPX7 water protection. Thus, no need to worry about water splashes.
The screen is another remarkable feature. It has a WVGA- colored 5 inches with an 800 x 400-pixel resolution. The big display is more than enough to show all the information without overlaps or missed details.
Like many other Gamin flashers, this one comes with in-built GPS. You can take advantage of it to store your waypoints, location, and routes. Plus, the Quickdraw software gives a clear mapping of the area.
The Garmin Striker 5 has two operating modes: Flasher and regular fish finder. The first mode shows a lot of information like the bottom composition, fish size and depth, and your lure. Each one has a different and unique color, thanks to the broad color palette.
The second operating mode has a lot of features that will come in handy when deciding where to poke the hole. For instance, you have an in-built software that will help you to identify fish. Plus, Ultrascroll technology increases the refresh rate, so you don’t miss anything. And, if that is not enough, the device sets the gain by itself, giving you clear pictures.
As expected, the Striker 5 uses the state-of-the-art CHIRP sonar to scan the waters. The dual-frequency beam accurately displays even the tiniest fish or debris, leaving nothing to the imagination.
In short, an all-round tool, especially if you happen to have 350 dollars lying around your house. Not convinced yet? If so, check this awesome video.
Three different models comprise the MarCum M series. The M1, M3, and M5. Here we will talk about the M1, which is the basic model of the series.
The main downside of all the models is that you must read the depth from the analog dial. It is not a deal-breaker, of course. But digital displays make our life easier.
You can change the range by rotating a knob in the lower right corner. You can choose between 20, 40, 80, and 160 feet, which is more than enough for the average angler. Similarly, you can adjust the gain using a knob in the upper right corner.
All models in this series have a 3-color dial: Red, green, and yellow. But, the M1 shows all targets with at least 2 inches of separation. Whereas both the M3 and the M5 come down to 1 inch.
The MarCum M1 also comes with a zoom button. It enables a split-screen mode, which shows, with a higher sense of detail, what is happening along the water column.
Like all MarCum ice fishing fish flashers, the M1 comes with a patented interference rejection system. Keep it might, though, that it won’t work in the presence of other MarCum devices.
Humminbird makes some of the best flashers available. The Helix 7 is a standing proof of that fact. It has a 7-inch display. But you can also purchase it with a smaller, 5-inch screen. The 800×400 pixel resolution and LED backlighting keeps the screen clear and visible at all times. Reading the flasher is easy and quick, thanks to this amazing digital display.
Like the Garmin Striker Plus 5, the Humminbird Helix 7 brings the best of two worlds. It has the classic, 2D sonar mode, and the flasher. The latter is better for vertical jigging and ice fishing. And you also get two different flasher modes: Flush and A-scope. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Here you have a video that talks about how to use each flasher style. But having the option to use a fish finder could come in handy during your trips. Plus, it allows you to use the same device throughout the entire year.
The Helix series comes with an in-built GPS. The preinstalled mapping software provides information like depth and structure. This feature comes in handy when deciding where to poke a hole in the ice. And you can take advantage of the split-screen mode if you wish to see several readings at the same time.
The dual CHIRP sonar yields extraordinary details about the underwater layout. Check this video if you wish to know more about the Helix 7.
The Deeper PRO+ is a super fish finder, but wouldn’t it be great to have all its functionalities, plus the precision of a CHIRP sonar? Thankfully, this is possible. The CHIRP smart sonar works similarly to the Deeper PRO+. You need to download the Deeper app, which is available for both iOS and Android users. Then, connect the device to the phone using the auto-generated WiFi.
The Deeper CHIRP smart sonar has two operating modes: Flasher and fish finder. What we love about this device is that it is very small. Thus, it won’t be a problem to carry it during your ice fishing trips.
The device uses a CHIRP sonar with three different frequencies. As a result, the flasher shows all targets with, at least, a 0.4-inch separation. Amazing, right? Plus, the sonar scan has a 330 feet depth range, which is greater than the Deeper PRO+.
You can also use the device to create your own bathymetric maps, thanks to the in-built GPS. You can then check them from your smartphone by accessing the Deeper cloud service. Plus, the Deeper CHIRP is not limited to ice fishing. You can also take it for a boat, kayak, or shore fishing, making it one of the most versatile devices on this list. And it also happens to be one of the easiest ice fishing flashers to use. All that you need to do is connect the device, choose the operating mode and configuration you wish, and cast it. As simple as that.
And the Winner Is: MarCum M1
The MarCum M1 is one of the easiest ice fishing flashers you can use. It Only has two knobs: One for the range and one for the gain. And two buttons to enter the zoom mode and interference rejection. Thus, it is arguably the easiest flasher to use. And it has everything you need for ice fishing. It doesn’t have the flexibility of the Deeper CHIRP flasher. But it surely outperforms in ice fishing.
You can use the zoom mode to see, with more detail, what’s beneath the ice. Yes, we know, other models, like the MarCum LX-7, do this. Still, the M1 comes at a lower price, which is something far more attractive for some anglers.
Buyer’s Guide: Getting the Best Value for Your Money
You might notice that ice fishing fish flashers are not cheap at all. But paying for them is totally justified. Having a flasher will greatly increase your catch rate. Thus, making your ice fishing trip more enjoyable.
Still, we know that it is quite hard to invest 200 dollars (or more) in a device that you will use only for ice fishing. So, keep reading a little longer if you wish to get the best value for your money.
The main drawback of ice fishing flashers is its weight and size. Typically, flashers are bulky devices that are quite difficult to transport if you don’t have a snow vehicle or a carry-on bag. Thankfully, most models fit inside a 5-gallon bucket or have a bag/handle to carry them around. Still, they aren’t as portable as regular fish finders.
The best ice fishing fish flashers in terms of portability are those with dual operating modes. That is devices such as the Garmin Striker 4 or 5, and the Deeper CHIRP sonar.
Related： Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders
All ice fishing fish flashers either have a digital or analog display. When we say analog, we are referring to those flashers that have a fixed depth scale in the dial. In contrast, digital flashers display the depth in the screen. Most high-end models use the second display type. The downside is that they are more expensive. In the end, it is a question of likes rather than performance.
Furthermore, all ice fishing flashers come with at least 3 different colors. For example, red, yellow, and green, which is the most common color combination. But some flashers use up to 6 different colors to show what’s beneath the water.
The meaning of each color could change depending on the flasher. Thus, make sure to check the owner’s manual before using the device.
After reading this extensive review, you might be wondering, what frequency is. It refers to the number of waves or pulses that the device sends per unit of time. Naturally, the more pulses, the more detail. Hence, higher frequencies are desirable. But the bad news is that it draws more battery.
In contrast, lower frequencies prolong battery life at the expense of less detail.
Many anglers often overlook this feature. We can say that target separation is the ability of the sonar to differentiate two targets that are close to each other. For example, some sonars have a 2-inch target separation. So, if two fishes are closer than 2-inches, the sonar will interpret them as only one fish.
So, the lower the target separation is, the better. Of course, this also means that the device will cost more.
Bean angle is another, often overlooked feature. It sets the bean spread. Naturally, wider cones mean that the bean will cover more area. But the lecture will have less detail. In contrast, a narrower angle means more detail at the expense of water coverage.
Another important thing that you should keep in mind is that wide anglers work better on shallow waters, while narrow ones are more suitable for fishing in the depths.
Most ice fishing fish flasher wields rechargeable batteries. But the important thing is that they should have enough charge to last an entire day of fishing. Thus, try to get a flasher that offers, at least, 5 plus hours of continuous use. As long as the budget allows it.
It might sound crazy, but not all ice fishing flashers are waterproof. Of course, you must be extra careful if you happen to purchase one without such protection.
Fortunately, most fish flashers come in a protective case that shields the device while you use it.
Some flashers have more than one operating mode. For example, some have in-built GPS to create maps that you can analyze later on your PC, while others come with a pre-installed fish finder software. These devices are better if you are looking for an ice fishing fish flasher that you can use throughout the year.
The downside is that some of these flashers come with a hefty price tag. So, sometimes it is cheaper to purchase a fish finder separately.
How to Read a Fish Flasher
All flashers have at least 3 different colors: Green, yellow, and red. The device assigns a color to each target depending on its size. Red is for large targets, like the bottom or hard structure. Yellow (in some cases orange) is for soft bottoms, while green indicates the presence of small fishes.
The circular dial also has several marks with a depth scale. Thus, the flasher indicates both the size of the target and its position.
We know that it is unlikely that you will understand how to use a flasher by merely reading how. So, we invite you to check this video, and in under 2 minutes, you will learn how to read a flasher.
What’s better for ice fishing: A flasher or a fish finder?
Ice fishing means that you will be fishing through a hole, making it impossible to see whether or not a fish is approaching your bait. So, a flasher is an obvious tool to use, since it provides a real-time screening of the water column.
However, many people use fish finders for ice fishing purposes. It all depends on your style. In our case, we prefer flasher over fish finders. Although we acknowledge that a fish finder comes in handy when deciding where to drill a hole.
Conventional sonar produces a beam of a given frequency at a time. But a CHIRP emits a steady flow of pulses with different frequencies. The result is an image with a higher resolution and detail. CHIRP stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse and is the latest tech in the sonar niche.