Just because your favorite fishing spot has been turned into a giant block of ice, doesn’t mean you have to totally give up fishing.
Dedicated anglers will go out come hell or high (frozen) water. Nothing can stop us!
And while it might be fun to use guess work when it comes to locating your catch, you might be in for a long wait if you’re not employing some cutting-edge tech to help you out.
Particularly in frigid temperatures.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of the best ice fishing flashers of 2020.
A buyer’s guide with some top tips and advice will follow.
Just don’t venture out unless you have a pair of good quality ice fishing gloves, too.
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.
Table of Contents
- The 8 Best Ice Fishing Flashers of 2020
- 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?
The 8 Best Ice Fishing Flashers of 2020
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.
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.
Take the guess work out of winter angling with one of the best ice fishing finders of 2020. 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.
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