TOP 8 Best Ice Fishing Flashers Reviewed 2020 + Buyer’s Guide


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.

The 8 Best Ice Fishing Flashers of 2020

Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System

The Marcum LX-7 might be a bit on the pricey side – especially if you’ve never delved into the world of fish finding tech before – but there’s a very good reason for that.

From the interface to the construction, the read out to the accuracy – this unit is top drawer.

The large, eight-inch dashboard is easy-to-read, and digitally displays all the information you need right at your fingertips – which is invaluable for fine-tuning your strategy. The multifaceted sonar display features an LCD window, water column vertical, vertical zoom, flasher-dial and traditional widescreen graph option.

And to cap it all, you have Sonar Footprint technology that allows you to see the area of bottom coverage at any depth, with 8 or 20 degree cone angles.

Pros

  • Very powerful.
  • Excellent range and depth levels.
  • Four selectable color palettes.
  • 1/2-inch target separation.
  • Highly upgradable.

Cons

  • One of the more expensive units out there.
  • Still has a tendency to sell out.

Takeaway

Simply the best flasher for ice fishing on the market, the LX-7 is the most advanced fish finding unit for winter angling out there.

Humminbird ICE-55 Six Color Flasher

For over 40 years, Alabama-based Humminbird has produced some of the best and most widely used fish finders and sonar in the business. It’s fair to say they’re a tried and trusted name in the sport – no matter the season, but this is their ICE-55 six-color flasher that will seriously give you the edge through the winter.

Made with premium materials, the three-color, backlit, fiber-optic display illuminates the bottom, your lure, and the fish with accurate precision, and will still operate at peak performance in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. And if you’re out when it’s that cold – then you really must love to fish.

Pros

  • Market leading brand.
  • Selectable beam options.
  • Bright, easy-to-read display.
  • Digital depth reading.
  • Highly rated and popular.

Cons

  • Transducer system uses two cables.

Takeaway

A well-designed and made ice fishing flasher from the fish finding specialists. That dual-cable transducer might be a bit on the bulky and inconvenient side for some, though.

Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

Multinational technology company Garmin are experts in a huge range of GPS and navigation systems, with a focus on portable, and often wearable products. This is firmly in the former category, a compact fish finder that won’t slow you down.

Suitable for use during regular fishing trips, it’s included here as it has a built-in fishing flasher, should you wish to ice fish or simply enjoy vertical jigs.

Featuring high-sensitivity GPS, a CHIRP sonar transducer, and a portable carry-case to keep you on the go, this is also one of the most affordable units on the market and probably the best entry level ice fishing flasher available.

Pros

  • Great price for what you get.
  • Name to trust.
  • Upgradable design.
  • Versatile use.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • Not as powerful as a more dedicated ice fishing flasher.
  • Can be on the slow side.

Takeaway

The best ice fishing flasher on a budget, this is a quality unit that smacks of Garmin’s trademark GPS technology. And the fact that you can use it year-round as a regular fish finder is a huge plus.

Vexilar's FL18 Genz Pack Ice-Ducer Combo

Vexilar is another industry-leading brand when it comes to fish-finding technology, and you’ll often find that many anglers start and finish with their trusty Vex.

That’s probably because they’re built-to-last, with a super-simple interface and read-out that will have you catching fish faster, without the need of any unnecessary bells and whistles.

Reliable in all weather conditions, the FL18 features a high-resolution display, a high-speed, real-time read out, and a back-lit depth scale that is visible in low-light.

And it was the first fish finder with auto zoom and bottom lock for viewing the bottom six feet of water and keeping your position even if moving on a boat.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Highly rated and popular.
  • Powerful range and depth.
  • Portable design.
  • Easy-to-use.

Cons

  • If you find one – let me know.

Takeaway

This is “just as valuable as your ice auger.” While that’s a bold statement, that isn’t wrong. And if you also happen to be in the market for a new hole-cutting tool, check out this review of the best ice augers on the market.

Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice Fishing Bundle

We return to another Garmin offering now with their Plus 5 ice fishing bundle.

Housed in its own protective carry case, the display provides a bright image that’s readable in sunlight, with Garmin’s trademark built-in GPS and an ice fishing transducer.

This unit supports CHIRP technology for a wide range with clear fish arches and easy-to-read target separation. Mapping software also allows you to create and store maps with one-inch contours, for up to two million acres.

Made from durable materials, and offering excellent battery life, the Plus 5 is highly water-resistant, and can withstand a punishing day exposed to the elements.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Versatile use.
  • Large, bright display.
  • Split screen option.
  • Affordable price.
  • Water temperature reading.

Cons

  • At this price, it’s hard to find fault.

Takeaway

As far as ice fishing flashers go, this offers a lot of bang for your buck, and can be used as a regular fish finder in the warmer months. Check out this review for more ice fishing finders that can be used year-round.

MarCum M5 Flasher System

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so we’re including another MarCum fishing flasher in this review – this time it’s the coveted M5 model.

With a true color patented MBC brushless lighting display, you get a crystal-clear read out even in the brightest sunlight and poor weather conditions. It also uses the dual-beam 8/20 ice transducer, so you can see a wider range or zero in with pinpoint accuracy to a specific spot.

Capable of a depth of up to 160 feet, you can certainly cover a lot of water under the surface with this powerful machine. And with .75-inch target separation, you can easily distinguish the next catch from unwanted noise.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Dual beam.
  • Excellent battery life and power.
  • Whisper quiet operation.

Cons

  • The screen and buttons might be a little on the small side for some.

Takeaway

A quality fish flasher that offers a lot of power for the price, and the dual beam function and depth range is a real winner when it comes to locating those bottom feeders like walleye.

Humminbird ICE Helix 7 Chirp

With a built-in GPS plotter and base map, this unit is a versatile performer no matter the season, helping you find and catch fish all year round. For the ice anglers out there, it includes plenty of features for when the lake is frozen over, like the jig charge mode and split screen views to give you the edge over everyone else on the ice.

The colorful, seven-inch LCD is ultra bright, and the unit offers dual-beam CHIRP sonar – which will show you much more detail than a regular unit is capable of.

Clearly identify your bait and fish with a 3/4-inch separation to make it a real easy day at the “office.”

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • CHIRP sonar technology.
  • Multi-use unit.
  • Six settings for interference rejection.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • One of the more expensive units.

Takeaway

Possibly one of the best all-rounder fishing finders out there, it’s a big investment, but you can use this baby 365 days a year and never look back.

But don’t forget a pair of these game-changing ice fishing boots if you are out in the chill.

Vexilar FLX-20 Genz Pack

We finish with one of the most popular models of fishing flasher from the ever popular and reliable Vexilar.

This is the FLX-20, with a sunlight-readable display, 12 degree ice transducer, and enhanced interference rejection that offers 20 settings so you can be sure nobody is treading on your toes.

A built-in low power mode helps to conserve battery, while MST matching sonar technology ensures maximum sonar performance and long life by balancing the transmitter and receiver to the transducer crystal.

Plus, pre-drilled holes for optional accessories allow you to upgrade and pimp out your Vex to turn it into a beast – any more than it already is.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Powerful unit.
  • Night vision mode.
  • Quick-charge technology.
  • Solid, durable construction.

Cons

  • None that I can find.

Takeaway

No nonsense, no fluff. Just an easy-to-read display and interface from a unit that does exactly what it says on the tin. Buy one of these, and check out this complete ice fishing gear list and you’ll be all set.

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.

ice fisherman reeling in a fish

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.

Display

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.

Portability/Size

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.

winter fishing on ice

Battery Life

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.

Cone Size

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.

Cost

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.

man is fishing from a hole on ice

FAQs

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.

Summary

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.

Bob out.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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