It’s fun to use guess work when it comes to locating your next catch, but you might be in for a long wait if you’re not employing some cutting-edge tech to help you out.
Which can be particularly challenging when ice fishing.
So, what’s the answer?
This review of the best ice fishing flashers has you covered – updated for 2023 and including all the latest gadgets for fish finding beneath the hard water.
A buyer’s guide with some top tips and advice will follow. Just don’t forget to wear some good quality ice fishing gloves, too.
Table of Contents
- Ice Fishing Flashers – A Brief Guide & TOP 3 Picks
- The 9 Best Ice Fishing Flashers for 2023
- Vexilar FLX30 Sonar Flasher Fish Finder
- Humminbird ICE Helix 7 Chirp Flasher
- Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit
- Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System
- Humminbird ICE-55 Six Color Flasher
- Vexilar's FL18 Genz Pack Ice-Ducer Combo
- Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice Fishing Bundle
- MarCum M5L Sonar Flasher
- Vexilar FLX-20 Genz Pack
- How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Flasher for Your Needs
- What is an ice fishing flasher?
- Do you need a flasher for ice fishing?
- Are ice fishing flashers worth it?
- What’s better for ice fishing – a flasher or camera?
- How do you read an ice fishing flasher?
- What is the best ice fishing flasher?
- How does a flasher work for ice fishing?
- Can you use a regular fish finder for ice fishing?
- What is the difference between chirp and sonar?
- Is an ice fishing flasher the same as a fish finder?
- What is the best Vexilar for the money?
- What does every ice fisherman need?
Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.
Ice Fishing Flashers – A Brief Guide & TOP 3 Picks
But when it comes to ice fishing flashers, the learning curve is a little steeper.
That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the features and factors you need to look out for when in the market for this kind of technology. Especially if it’s your first time using one.
- Display – look for sharp images that are easy-to-read in all weather conditions. Is it in color? Is it digital or analogue? Maybe both?
- Gain and range – How deep are you fishing? Deeper water = more sensitive gain required.
- Portability/size – Not too technical – but still important. Is it easy to get the device to your favorite fishing hole – along with all your other gear? Make sure you have a good sled!
- Battery life – How long do you intend to stay out for? Relative battery power is key.
- Cone size – How wide is the readout when you lower the transducer into the water? Do you prefer a pinpoint readout, or coverage of a wider area?
- Cost – These units aren’t cheap. Before blowing your budget, make sure it has the features you need, and nothing that you don’t. And purchase a device relative to how much use you will actually get out of it.
Following the reviews, our buyer’s guide will take a look at each point in more depth, and there’s an FAQ section in case we miss anything.
To get you started, here are our top three picks for the best ice fishing flashers currently available.
First up in the latest and greatest fish flasher technology, the Vexilar FLX30 has to be at the top of the food chain. A revolutionary new system, it’s packed with all the features an ice angler could ever want, and sets the bar for sonar technology in the public domain. You’ll never need another fish flasher with this investment.
Humminbird’s Ice Helix 7 is all but neck-a-neck, and easily makes the top three – which might as well be in no particular order considering the caliber of devices on offer. Also filled to the brim with features and the latest sonar technology, it also includes CHIRP, GPS, and the Hummingbird basemap for underwater terrain and navigation.
Finally, for a more budget-friendly option, the popular Garmin Striker 4 is a compact but powerful fish finder with a built-in flasher. For more casual ice anglers, this could be the best option as it gets the job done without the eye-watering price tag. It’s also highly portable, which is ideal if you already have a lot of gear, and/or a long way to go.
Do you agree with my picks? Take a look at the following reviews and find out.
The 9 Best Ice Fishing Flashers for 2023
How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Flasher for Your Needs
In the deep, dark, depths of the article below, you’ll find a buyer’s guide and FAQ section on what to look out for when you’re buying an ice fishing flasher.
Why Use an Ice Fishing Flasher?
While some folks prefer to cut holes in the ice and let a tip-up do the work, this isn’t practical for everyone. Especially if you don’t live anywhere near the fishing spot.
Others will simply resort to guess work in the hope of landing a catch, perhaps using a combination of skill, luck, and experience to hit the right spot with a lure.
But for anyone who really wants to up their game ice fishing – and all but guarantee success – then using sonar is the way forward.
While the technology and capabilities might differ from unit to unit (and depending on how much you’re willing to spend) for the most part, an ice fishing flasher is going to show you fish activity, quantity, and depth.
Naturally, this gives you a huge advantage when it comes to knowing where to fish, and how deep to position your lure.
You’ll also be able to read how the fish are behaving, which gives you an additional edge in the quest to catch one.
Most ice anglers who have made the switch absolutely swear by a fish flasher – and wonder why they ever bothered without one.
How to Read an Ice Fishing Flasher
Regardless of the brand or make of the ice fishing flasher you end up choosing, they will all – more or less – use exactly the same technology when it comes to how the unit works, and how you read its data.
Because science works.
But rather than go into great length here on just how you do that (which would take an article unto itself) you should check out the informative visual guide below. Also known as a YouTube video.
The display of an ice fishing flasher is where you will translate all the information given to you in order to successfully land a fish.
As such, it should be streamlined and uncluttered, with a sharp read out of accurate data. Also, you should consider if you prefer digital or analogue displays, but most fish finders will use a combination of both.
Look for easy-to-read displays that are visible in all weather conditions. Backlit displays are ideal if you happen to be fishing in bright sunlight, and night-mode options are also useful if you like going out after dark.
Gain and Range
More powerful sonar technology is going to cost more money – it’s as simple as that. Look for a product that best suits your needs for the depth you will most likely be fishing at.
Gain is basically how sensitive a fish finder is. The deeper the water, the higher the gain will need to be.
Adjust the gain so you can see as much as possible, and then dial it back down so your screen is less cluttered and you can hone in on the target area you want.
Gain controls should be easy-to-use and understand, while the range of the unit should give you the best possible chance of covering the area you want to fish – and with readable clarity.
Important to some anglers, not so much to others. The portability and overall size of the unit should be taken into consideration if you fall into the former category.
Of course, by the very nature of ice fishing, you’re not moving around as much as you would on a boat.
That said, getting to and from your favorite spot is much easier with a lighter, smaller unit. And check to see if it comes with its own carry case for easy transportation, storage, and protection when not in use.
Nobody wants this kind of tech suddenly powering down on them when they’re out stranded on the ice and miles away from the nearest wall socket or charger.
All the technological advancements in sonar and transducers is only as good as the battery source it’s powered by.
Check to make sure the unit you’re interested in won’t let you down when you’re out in sub-zero temperatures.
Cold weather can seriously affect battery life – so you need something that will stand up to the elements.
The cone refers to the size of the reading around the transducer as it’s lowered into the water.
A thin line will represent a more pin-point, targeted reading, whereas a wider cone might cover more area, but it won’t be as detailed.
Keep an eye out for dual-beam systems that offer the best of both worlds, helping you to more easily identify fish, your lure, and the structure of the water column below.
Quality ice fishing flashers don’t come cheap – that, unfortunately, is their greatest disadvantage.
And it will often be the main reason why more anglers choose to fish with the old ways, rather than splashing the cash.
Of course, it’s entirely up to you and your personal angling preferences – as so long as you’re enjoying yourself, it doesn’t matter how you fish.
But consider an ice fishing flasher a serious investment, and help to keep your freezer well stocked through the winter. Over time, it will pay for itself.
What is an ice fishing flasher?
An ice fishing flasher is a battery-powered unit that uses sonar to reveal objects in the water directly below. The information is then relayed on a circular display.
The angler can then see useful data such as the amount, size, and behavior of the fish, and use this to his or her advantage when positioning a lure.
Do you need a flasher for ice fishing?
No, not at all. All you need is a hole in the ice and a rod, line, hook, and lure in which to put through it.
But you will have no idea if there are any fish located at that spot, nor will you know what depth fish activity is taking place.
While landing a catch using this method is more traditional and challenging, if you really want to get fish to bite under the ice then you need to use a flasher.
Plus, successfully using an ice fishing flasher isn’t without its own rewards and merit.
Are ice fishing flashers worth it?
Yes. Admittedly, when I first saw the prices, it knocked the wind out of me. But let me tell you, after using one for several seasons now – we ain’t hungry anymore.
Anglers across the globe who enjoy going out on the ice to continue their love of the sport even in the dead of winter will all say the same thing.
Ice flashers are a game changer – and they’re a great investment that will serve you well for years to come.
What’s better for ice fishing – a flasher or camera?
For ice fishing, an ice fishing flasher is the clear winner here. The success of an underwater camera will depend on the time of day, the water clarity, and the depth.
As such, under a sheet of ice, they’re going to be pretty much useless.
That’s not to say they don’t have their uses when it comes to fishing – far from it. It’s just that in this match up, a flasher wins hands down.
For more information, check out this article which explores the flasher vs camera debate in more detail.
How do you read an ice fishing flasher?
While it might look intimidating at first, an ice fishing flasher is actually very easy to read, and once you have the hang of it, you’ll be landing catches like there’s no tomorrow.
On the digital display, you’re simply looking at an image of the water column below. The numbers represent the depth, and those flashing lights represent the bottom, any other debris or object in the water (such as your lure when you drop it) and of course – the fish.
Watch the video below for an easy-to-follow, in situ demonstration of how to read an ice fishing flasher.
What is the best ice fishing flasher?
Anglers have differing opinions on the answer to this question, as it really depends on personal preference and what an individual has tried and tested with or without success.
All the ice fishing flashers in this review could claim the title for one reason or another. There is no definitive answer.
Let me know which you think is the best.
How does a flasher work for ice fishing?
It works by using sonar to take a read out of any objects that are directly below the transducer in the column of water.
This information is then passed to a digital display, which can be interpreted by the angler in order to locate fish, and then coax them to take the lure – which is also registered on the display.
Usually, a solid line that’s moving indicates a fish coming up to investigate your jig, and when the two combine, that is nearly always your next dinner.
Can you use a regular fish finder for ice fishing?
It is possible to use a regular fish finder as an ice fishing rig, but you will likely need a conversion kit to do so – which will be sold separately.
Unless, of course, you’re choosing one of the multi-use units that come with ice fishing features built-in.
And while a boating fish finder might be more versatile, they’re just never going to be as good, or as powerful, as a dedicated ice fishing flasher.
What is the difference between chirp and sonar?
CHIRP stands for Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse, and is a technology that was developed by the Navy for a better understanding of the depths.
They transmit a longer pulse than sonar, while transmitting a sweeping range of frequencies, meaning more detailed and accurate information is passed back to the receiving unit.
Check out this video below for a bite-sized guide to CHIRPING.
Is an ice fishing flasher the same as a fish finder?
Yes and no. They utilize the same principles – but an ice fishing flasher is used to find fish or objects that are directly below the point of entry into the water – your fishing hole.
A fish finder offers a broader range and is more often used while in motion – hence why fishing finder technology is commonly utilized on boats, while an ice fishing flasher takes up a more static position to explore a water column straight down.
What is the best Vexilar for the money?
That’s a great question, and you generally can’t go wrong with most of Vexilar’s products, at either end of the price scale.
In this review, I like the Vexilar GPX2012, as I think it’s one of the best ice fishing flashers available.
That said, you might also like to try the cheaper Vexilar FL-8SE, which also comes highly rated, and has plenty of useful features at a more affordable price point.
What does every ice fisherman need?
I could write a whole article as an answer to this question.
Wait a moment – I have!
Go here for a guide to all the essential gear you need to start ice fishing – but you can add a fishing flasher to that list when you’re ready to up your game.
Take the guess work out of winter angling with one of the best ice fishing finders in 2023. They might not be cheap, but you’ll wonder why you ever bothered without one.
And you can keep the family happy with tasty Friday night fish fries through the colder months.
Let me know which model you’ve gone for and why – and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date with all the latest gear, tech, and equipment for the great outdoors.
Stay cool, people.