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Flashers are invaluable tools for finding and catching fish on the ice. There are many companies offering flashers and other sonar units specifically designed for the ice angler, and in this post, we will take an in-depth look at the best ice fishing flasher for shallow water.
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
The Humminbird Ice-55 is a great ice fishing flasher that was created by one of the top companies in fishing electronics.
The Ice-55 features four depth modes to choose from at 20, 40, 80, and 200 feet. It also features a dual-beam transducer with sonar cone widths of 9 degrees and 19 degrees, and the wider 19-degree setting can be advantageous in shallow water fishing, allowing for a wider cone to pick up more activity around the hole.
The Ice-55 has quite a few other settings that you can easily access on the ergonomic button pad design, allowing for quick changes even with gloves on.
Setting options include zoom setting options, beam adjustment, quick gain adjustment, noise adjustment to filter out noise from small fish or debris, target cursor, and color selections, all of which can be fine-tuned as needed.
The Garmin Striker is a great fish finder with a flasher mode for those of us on a tight budget. Right off the bat, you can see that this ice fishing sonar unit comes in a cool little compact carrying case, and the unit itself isn’t much bigger than some of the cellphones out on the market today.
The Striker has some great features for being a low-budget fish finder.
The Striker has a flasher mode and still comes with a traditional sonar display featuring the arc returns and a standard 2-D sonar picture display with a dual-beam transducer.
To top it all off, this unit also has a basic GPS built into it, so not only will it help you find fish, but you can also drop waypoints on productive areas, even on large lakes and deep water, to fish those exact spots again quickly and easily.
Many ice anglers know that when using a flasher in close proximity with other flashers that you can encounter interference from the sonar pings overlapping due to transducers being too close to each other.
Luckily, the Vexilar FLX-30 BB has up to 140 signal combinations to get around interference and boost clarity. It also has up to 20 interference rejection settings as well.
The thing that really makes this flasher special is the transducer. The FLX-30 BB features a broadband transducer. This transducer delivers a wide sonar frequency band that anglers can fine-tune from 19 to 8 degrees, and you can even fine-tune the target ID setting to get as accurate as ¼ of an inch.
Other features include three zoom zones to choose from, 300-foot max depth, three power level settings, a night mode for fishing after dark, and five color palette choices.
Ice fishing sonar units are an entirely new breed from 20 years ago, and ice fishing sonar units today are just as capable in many ways as the large and sophisticated units found in many boats. The ice version of the Helix 7 is a great example of that.
The ICE helix 7 has everything an ice fisherman could ever ask for, including a digital flasher, GPS contour mapping with Lakemaster or Navionics chip capabilities, and dual CHIRP sonar, which gives anglers a highly detailed 2D sonar image that is comparable to Humminbirds’ down imaging.
You can use the split-screen features of the unit to give you loads of information simultaneously, like running your flasher when actively jigging and looking at the contour map or down imaging at the same time.
On top of being tailored to ice fishing with a great carrying platform, you can also use this unit in your kayak or boat during the open water season, meaning that this is truly the best of both worlds for many fishermen.
The hook2 by Lowrance is another unit that gives anglers a ton of great tools for a very reasonable price, and Lowrance actually offers the hook2 in multiple different variants like sonar only, GPS/Sonar, and GPS only but with no ability to map out uncharted water.
The all-season+GPS pack is the package most anglers choose, and I would have to agree. With this package, you can use it year-round, and if they offer GPS, you might as well take it for the small increase in price.
The GPS plotter on the Hook2 allows you to put waypoints on any spot that you find, so instead of drilling dozens of holes looking for a tiny specific spot or area on a vast ice-covered lake, you can go straight to it and not waste precious fishing time searching.
And viewing the GPS on the run is easy, as the Hook2 comes with a 4″ high-resolution Solarmax screen allowing you to easily see the graph, even when you are viewing in direct sunlight.
It’s also a great sonar unit when you are on the move. The Hook2 comes with a durable soft case and carrying handle, and even a storage box for lures and terminal tackle, keeping your pockets empty and making your time ice fishing much more efficient.
Are Flashers Worth the Cost?
Many anglers who aren’t familiar with them might look at the price tag for flashers and ask themselves if it’s worth the cost.
The short answer to this question is, yes, it is worth the cost. Once you become proficient with using a flasher, you can read the information given to you by the spinning lights with ease. Weeds, fish, rocks, and branches will all stand out to you, and seeing your jig in combination with all these readings allows you to read the fish and see a fish coming to strike your lure.
Once I got proficient with my flasher, I told myself that I never wanted to fish without one ever again as it seemed like a waste of time. If you can find fish and not jig in a hole without anything there, why would you go back to that?
Is Reading the Flasher Display Difficult?
I have met many anglers on the ice who see my flasher and comment something along the lines of “I dont understand what your looking at” or “it just looks like colors to me” and feel intimidated by it.
Author Note: The truth is, once you understand what your looking at, “which isn’t difficult”, it will become second nature.
Flashers come with a circular display that the light display spins in, and many are now digital but still circular. Imagine that circle as a vertical bar, and the solid red band that you see is bottom, and everything else is either vegetation, fish, or something else.
The circular style is simply to make it functional by allowing the light to spin and flash readings at rapid speed.
How long do Flasher Batteries Last?
With the modern batteries featured in today’s flashers, you can easily fish with one for the entire day. It’s a good idea to turn it off for a while here and there if you think you don’t need it, but in most cases, you can run it hard for an entire fishing session.
If you are worried about battery life while on the water, you can always buy a second battery to swap out. This is a good idea if you forget to charge it at home, or if you cant charge it for a weekend at a remote location.
- Make sure your transducer is below the bottom level of the ice sheet. This will ensure that your sonar cone is not getting partially blocked by the ice.
- When bringing fish to the surface, be sure to pull your transducer out of the water, especially for larger fish. The line could get wrapped around the transducer from the fighting fish and inhibit your ability to fish and retrieve it.
- You can tell if the area you are fishing is hard or soft bottomed by the sonar returns. A solid and thick red band means that the bottom is hard, while a thick red band with green and yellow bands above it indicates that the sonar is penetrating into the bottom a little, indicating a soft bottom.
Flashers are an absolute game-changer for anglers who experience their power for the first time.
Not only will it help you figure out what is below the surface quickly, but it will also help you find fish, which means you spend your time on the ice efficiently.
After all, fishing is an efficient game, and the less time you waste finding fish, the more opportunities you will have to catch them.