Ah, ice fishing! Nothing like looking for a good haul from fishing in the Arctic, right? WRONG! On the contrary, ice fishing, although necessary in those regions, is much harder because not only are the fish under a solid chunk of ice, you get poor visibility, more extreme temperatures and need to cover larger depths than plain water. To get some solid fishing done, you will need a really good fish finder that does all the aforementioned things really well. Not sure where to start? Well, we have you covered! Here is a list of the best ice fishing fish finder.
10 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder For 2019:
1. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder
We start off this list with Garmin’s Striker 4. This fish finder looks a bit like a fancy video recorder because of the built-in flasher, which pokes out from the bottom. The majority of the space on the fish finder is taken up by the screen, which is surrounded by a dark-grey portion that sinks slightly into the fish finder. Below this is a selection of buttons, with directional keys placed on a notch on the bottom of the screen.
The transducer has dual frequency capabilities where details from each are shown on the screen (more about the screen later). It sends out two beams simultaneously, with the 200 kHz wave at a 15-degree angle and the 77 kHz beam at a 45-degree angle. The good part of this transducer, though, is that you can set the frequency to either 50, 77 or 200 kHz to maximize depth.
With all this, the transducer can reach up to almost 490m deep in freshwater, but the standard that you should get is around 250m. Lower frequencies offer more depth for less information so you will want a balance between the two. Unless of course, looking deeper is your thing in which case, you do you!
The transducer uses CHIRP sonar for enhanced imaging. Although you can only set it to medium or high CHIRP, it allows you to get more precise information and fish positions. It also means that you get information while moving, not that you will need that when ice-fishing though!
It also uses an awesome GPS, courtesy of the Striker line. All Striker fish finders have a high-sensitivity GPS installed in them which does a lot of cool things. You can find yourself quickly, you can mark high-catch areas and landmarks, and best of all you can see a trace of the path you are taking.
Regarding the screen, you can set it to split-screen mode to see both deeper and accurate information. The top left shows depth and temperature information. Meanwhile, on the right, you get a depth scale to tell the exact depth of each fish. On the bottom right, it tells you the mode it is set on and the transducer settings.
Overall, given the built-in flasher for better vertical use and the choices you are given, this is a solid piece of fish-finding tech that you will love.
2. Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ - GPS Wi-Fi Fish Finder
Next on this list is the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar. At first glance, it looks like a ball-like gizmo with an elegant, modern design. It is pitch black, with white font for the Deeper logo, and an orange line encircles it slightly below the middle.
As the name gives away on its own, it uses wireless connectivity to transmit data to your smartphone via Deeper’s app. It has a decent range because I doubt you would let it wander about 260 feet from your position. Heck, when it comes to ice fishing you are most likely going to drill a hole into the ice and put this in, so connectivity shouldn’t be a problem.
What will get you going is the sonar it uses! Not only does the design allow you to cast it using a reel, once it is in the water it goes scanning DEEP. To do that, it uses double-frequency waves of 90 kHz and 290 kHz, with angles of 55 degrees and 15 degrees respectively.
What this allows you to do is first find patches where fish are gathered, and then changing to a higher frequency allows you to zero in on the fish you found so that you can target the fish of your choice. I know, ingenious right? What makes it better is that on top of the depth that you get by reeling it into the water, it has an impressive 260 feet sensing range.
Now, the GPS is where all the magic is at. Using the GPs and mapping technology, it shows you a colored map with bathymetry lines (go look up Bathymetry lines if you are interested!) which is stored into the app once it gets there.
Plainly speaking you can look at what is in the water to a great degree of accuracy without having it on, and even after you are done fishing for the day!
On the app itself, you get two views, an aerial view of the area of water and a sideways view to see what is available throughout the depth of the water. Because of this, you will be able to pinpoint exactly where something and the particular depth. Basically, it gives you three-dimensional information.And if all that pandering didn’t make you happy, it also has a separate ice fishing mode and color modes for day and night too. Ice fishing mode gives an extra, circular view to aid in fishing.
3. Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder
The Venterior VT-FF001 is another good portable fish finder for ice fishing. It looks like a gadget with yellow plastic edges while the screen is surrounded by black plastic. The buttons are located right below the screen and consist of 3 buttons.
There is a cable attached on the top which can connect to the transmitter which, in this case, is a transducer. You also get a float on top of the transducer.
The transducer cable is 25 feet in length and connects to the transducer, which has a cylindrical shape with a diameter of 4.6cm. The sonar on the transducer can scan below up to almost 330ft in depth.
By setting it deeper into the water you can scan much deeper into the water. The sensor has a beam angle of 45 degrees. It can also measure temperature between the ranges of -20 degrees and up to 70 degrees.
The screen is a basic TN LCD display. It isn’t anything impressive, much like the old-school gaming gadget screens. On the bright side, it shows pretty much everything you will need, from the various fish shown as icons, the content on the bottom of the water and a depth scale on the right.
You also get the total depth readings on the top-right and various details regarding the fish finder on the top of the screen. You are also spoiled for choice regarding what you can get with this. There are 5 different sensitivity levels which you can choose from, which will determine how accurate you want to scan the water.
You also get several other features like battery saving, backlighting for low-light visibility, fish alarm, and even the unit is used to measure (feet or meter being your choices). I know it may seem basic, but you don’t really need more than this.
The transmitter itself is also waterproof, giving you the choice of dipping it into the water without worrying about damaging it. The sensitivity determines whether you can find smaller fish, but a higher sensitivity uses up more battery and limits range too.You will also find that when the water is murky or experiencing waves, the fish finder isn’t working too well. Again, as unlikely as it is to occur when ice fishing, the problem still exists.
4. Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit
Although this may seem similar to the other Striker 4 on this list, Garmin made sure to make it different enough to consider it separately. The actual fish finder itself looks the same, with a gadget that has a default 3.5-inch screen that is wedged slightly inside while the buttons are directly underneath.
The key differentiator here is the carrying case though. Inside the case, the fish finder sits on some kind of pedestal that seemingly glorifies it, and holds it to the case too. Okay, maybe glorifying is a bit much, but it does seem to be nicely tucked in. The case looks like a miniature bag of sorts, but with it, you can take the fish finder out for any kind of use.
It uses a sonar that is similar to the Garmin Striker 4. It has 2 different modes, Medium CHIRP, and HIGH Chirp. The medium is obtained at 77 kHz frequency, while the high CHIRP is at 200 kHz. What this does is allow you to obtain different levels of details, with the higher frequency showing more on the screen, while the lower frequency shows a larger area.
This is possible thanks to the dual-beam setup, where the 200kHz beam covers an angle of 15 degrees while the 77kHz covers a larger 45-degree space. What this means is that just like the Striker 4, you can use it to identify clusters with the lower frequency beam, then zero in with the higher frequency beam for the individual fish. Neat huh? Bet Marlin would’ve found Nemo earlier if he had one of these!
This sonar also is able to scan up to 1600 feet deep in fresh water, and 750 feet deep in saltwater. However, one aspect where this differs is where the transducer is held. Unlike the Garmin Striker 4, where it stays on a transom mount, this stays in a suction cup mount.
There are some challenges with this, but since you probably plan on ice-fishing it won’t be much of a problem. Just throw the transducer into the water! Of course, the build means that there needs to be a different kind of mount for kayaks and boats, but that probably doesn’t concern you either.
Apart from that, the fact that the main fish finder is the Garmin Striker 4 itself means that you pretty much get what it has. And you know by now, it is pretty great!
5. Vexilar SonarPhone with Transducer Pod
Yeah, it is EXACTLY what it sounds like. This fish finder is the combination of a pod, which acts as the transducer that sends signals, and YOUR touchscreen smartphone via their app, which is actually just given the interface of a fish finder screen. I know, it sounds pretty cool already!
A pod is a ball-like object with a green top half. The green plastic extends to form ‘fins’ on two opposite ends, which is what helps keep it afloat. The bottom portion is basic white. One end of this has a keyring holder which, needless to say, is for you to use to throw into the water using a reel.
The fact that it connects to your smartphone means that you are limited in what you have to carry. I mean really, just think about it! Al you do is carry around a plastic ball and put it into the water.
It is also very light and easy to move around, so you can quickly move it from one place to another. This is really handy in icy terrain where you may have to frequently drill into the ice to reach the water.
An extra feature of the pod is that it activates when it touches the water. You know, kind of like you when the Winter water touches your butt in the toilet! Once you connect it to your smartphone you just dip it into the water and suddenly things start happening on your phone and you start to get a ton of information.
The transducer transmits a frequency of 125 kHz which is more than decent for the job at hand. You are, of course, limited to a single beam transducer that shoots beam out at a 30-degree wide angle. The beams themselves are quite potent too.
The pod generates up to 400 watts of power which really helps to scan deeper, more thoroughly and even in murky waters or areas full of weed.
Now, let’s talk about the app a bit. It shows you a lot of information on the screen. Initially, it shows you a vertical view of whatever is down there. This includes temperature readings, depth information and whatever is there on the bottom of the water body.
It also has a button layout with directional keys, zoom features, pausing the stream of information and changing between portrait and landscape view on your device.
Of course being a wireless device also means it has its own battery. The battery lasts around 4 hours after full charge, which isn’t a lot. But hey, with all that you are getting let’s let this one slide, shall we?
6. Lucky Portable Sonar Handheld Wired Fish Finder
This fish finder is more back-to-the-basics with everything. The fish finder device is a typical one that is made of plastic. The sides are made of yellow plastic with rubber grips towards the middle of the sides to make it easier to hold by hand.
As you go towards the middle you first get the portion of grey plastic where the logo and the buttons rest. There are, of course, only three buttons right beneath the screen, while the logo sits above.
You also get a typical transducer with the cable attached to the top of the fish finder. Now, this transducer has a scanning angle of 45 degrees in the water. It has a frequency of 200 kHz with it.
By now you probably know that this setting is good for finding groups of fish in a larger pool of water, but it becomes quite difficult to identify individual fishes on their size.
It also has a decent range of depth between 1m and 100m. Once you factor in the fact that the cable is 25 feet long, you get quite a decent range when ice fishing. You can put this inside the water, put it down quite a bit, and then once it is deeper into the water you can find fish much deeper into the water.
The screen is an LCD display. Unlike most other fish finders of this kind, this one is actually colored. No more classic but sucky old-school displays! The background is colored blue, and it uses icons of different colors to display information. You also get the total depth reading and the status of the fish finder.
Now, identifying fish sizes may be an issue but there is something on here that can fix it somewhat. There are five different sensitivity levels, where the highest sensitivity level can help identify larger and smaller fish. You also get the works: fish alarm, battery saving, backlighting.
This fishfinder may not be the top grade performer, but that is pretty much what you would expect at this price point. But this is quite good value for money and works exceptionally well for ice fishing. And that is what really matters, isn’t it?
7. HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder
This fish finder is a cute gadget that anyone might mistake for being used to play games. The gadget has a small, colored HD display. The screen is surrounded by red plastic which takes up more than half of the top of the fish finder. The bottom is black and holds several buttons that are needed.
This works similar to most others in that it uses a typical transducer. However, it comes in 3 different models. The basic one, the 1, well it produces a single beam that projects at a beam angle of 14 degrees.
The default frequency is quite high at 200 kHz, but it uses FishTrax’s Intelligent Sonar for enhanced detection. You also get 5 sensitivity levels, a fish alarm, backlighting, the basics that are, for all the newbies.
The intermediate model (1x model) goes a bit further with a Dot Matrix Display, dual-frequency capabilities with better, enhanced scanning, precise positioning, and 10 sensitivity levels to choose from. You also get a few more things to enhance your experience.
The expert model (the 1C) is the king of the lot. It adds a full, colored display and has three operating modes based on what you are aiming to do (Fish Finder, Data, and Ice-Mode Digital Flasher for ice fishing).
The expert version not only goes through the contents of the bottom, using the various modes you can get better depth, temperature and battery readings. It also has an impressive 100-level sensitivity setting to pick from. The rest of the features are similar to the intermediate model.
Regardless of model, you get a decent range of 75m. Using the combination of frequency and beam angle you can get more precise information as well. You also get a cable that is 15 feet long. The use of FishTrax’s Intelligent Sonar can be used for getting much better information. It is so precise that you can get different water temperatures at different depths.
The display is quite small, but it is colored and shows you various information, including temperature and seabed depth readings. The bottom content is shown using different colors.
Fish show up as black icons and their corresponding depths are written right above the icon. You also have 3 different sizes of fish (small, medium and large) to distinguish between fish.
You also get several mounts, including one for ice fishing, which makes it an excellent, versatile fish finder for you to get comfy with.
8. Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System/Fishfinder - LX-7
The Marcum LX-7 goes off in another direction compared to the others on this list. First of all, the display is HUGE. And I mean HUUGEEEE. The screen is an impressive 8-inch LCD display which rests on a large gadget.
The fish finder comes with a case, a small bag of sorts, with a small transducer connected to the fish finder’s bottom. The case also has a separate holder for the transducer.
Unlike the rest, this also uses Sonar Footprint technology. The transducer produces a single beam that can have a beam angle of either 8 degrees or 20 degrees. What about the range?
Well, you will be impressed to know that this will reach the bottom of any area of water no matter how deep. If the cake wasn’t good enough, you can even see each individual, separate fish from entire groups to find the one that suits your taste buds.
Now, the screen is where the magic is at. By default, you get settings for zoom and depth on both ends of the screen. On the bottom is a plethora of information including sensitivity levels, range, voltage, target depth, and a thing called interference rejection (the name speaks for itself!). The main screen display shows a flasher display, which is what you use for ice fishing.
This fish finder upped their game WAY TOO MUCH. You have the ability to customize this fish finder however you want. There are several displays that you can use to find fish, including a vertical water column display, flasher display vertical zoom, and even the traditional side-view display. Using the vertical zoom, you can zoom in on any depth level to find the fish that you are looking for.
But the real game changer, ladies and gentlemen, is the fact that this fish finder is future-proof. Huh? How is that possible? We’ll tell you how! This fish finder has software that can be updated from the company’s website. These software updates will make the hardware work better, showing more data is a more comprehensible manner.You probably know by now that this comes at quite the price. But if this isn’t a fish finding juggernaut, we don’t know what is. This is one of the best finders you will ever find.
9. Anysun® Underwater Fish Finder
You may have seen briefcase weapons in movies. Well, let us introduce you to a briefcase fish finder! Well, this isn’t exactly a briefcase, but it is close enough to look like one! Once you open the top you see the monitor tucked into the inside of the top part of the casing.
Also inside this case is a movable video camera along with a blue device which is the battery. Cables connect the fish finder to the camera. You can also find a float that you can connect to the camera.
Now as you can obviously see, unlike the rest this fish finder works by using an actual underwater camera instead of sonar. The camera looks cute, with a blue ring at the end and Anysun even put in fish eyes for good measure!
It is also waterproof, not that it needed mentioning since this does operate underwater. It is an IP68 fish finder camera and comes with a built-in light for nighttime work too.
It also gives really crisp images. It uses Color CCD and HD 700 TV lines in the camera. In simple words, you get to see a lot more and a lot clearer too. It works in the range of -20-degree to 60-degree Celsius temperature.
The sensor is a one-third inch CCD Sensor with an impressive camera angle of 92 degrees. When it comes to field-of-view, Anysun’s fish finder is the undisputed champion among fish finders.
Another good feature of this fish finder is the battery life. It uses a 12V 4500 mAH battery which will give you enough power to last a day’s fishing. With a life up to 9-12 hours, what more do you even need?
The battery is also rechargeable, which is why you get a charger as well. Once your battery runs out, all you need is another power source to get it charged and ready for use again.
The screen is also something. It is 7 inches in size and is a TFT LCD screen. You also get a sun-visor in the screen for visibility under the sun. And if that isn’t good enough, there is a retractable sun shield along with it.Overall, it is a solid piece of work that is quite different from sonar fish finders, but just as effective. Especially when you need to catch the ice fishy!
10. Lowrance Hook-5 Mid/High PPP-18i Ice Fishfinder
This is the last name on this list. The Lowrance Hook-5 is also quite different from the others on this list. The fish finder looks like an old camera, with a stand of its own. The entire body looks quite good, with a silver paint thronging the entire fish finder.
The transducer is given separately and has to be connected to the fish finder. It has a long cable which ends in the transducer, which looks suspiciously like a barcode scanner! The entire thing is a shiny black, so at least it looks good.
The screen takes up a bit more than half the space on the front. It is slightly tucked into the device. On the right of the screen are all the buttons, which include directional keys and a few other functional buttons. Overall, the overlay is quite minimal and with the color and design elements in place, it looks quite good.
The transducer uses dual CHIRP sonar for finding fish beneath the ice. The CHIRP technology allows you to get a complete view of everything that is going on beyond the ice, all the way to the bottom of the water. You have the option of choosing between high and medium CHIRP in this one too.
The difference is that with high CHIRP you can have some seriously precise targeting of fish and data retrieval from the water. What this means is that you can use medium CHIRP to find spots where fish are gathered, and then high CHIRP can help separate individual fish so that you can find the one you are looking for.
The screen is multifunctional, based on the mode you select you to get to see a particular type or set of information. One unique feature of this is that it has a built-in map of the U.S. and GPS information is accurately logged into it. The screens are set to show your location and readings from both CHIRP levels on 3 separate windows of the screen.You can also store data retrieved by the sonar and go back to view it, or mark points and look at landmarks or fish. You can also use your sonar logs to make custom maps (called insight genesis custom maps). All in all, this comes in a great package which will help you find fish in the icy biomes.
Why Get a Fish Finder?
Gosh, we talked so much about fish finders, we should tell you a little about why you should get them. The major reason you should use one is that it makes finding fish a lot easier. But that effect spills over to several others.
Catch More Fish!
Again, being Mr. Obvious here but repeating doesn’t hurt! You see where more fish are located, you set up your catching gear in that place, you catch more fish. Doesn’t really get more obvious than that, does it?
But the good part is that the increased catch isn’t minute, you can really up your fishing game by almost two times using a fish finder. Unless of course you suck, in which case that’s your fault………
Better Fish Targeting
Unlike the naked eye, fish finders will be able to identify fish much more accurately. Plus, if you are looking for a particular type of fish you most likely know what its habitat should be like.
Well, fish finders not only tell you the size of the fish, but also the water depth and temperature, of the fish and its habitat respectively. With a bit of aquatic knowledge and a bit of fish finding magic, identifying fish becomes a piece of cake.
Time is precious. And even if you have time to kill, why kill it simply looking for fish? Thanks to some genius engineers you can now let a gadget do the fish finding for you, and you can kill time actually catching the fish. You no longer have to move around here and there, look around till your eyes come across a fish in the water to find them.
There are various settings where you might be fishing in. You could be on a pier, moving on a boat or kayak, or fishing in the tundra. All of these will ultimately require a different approach to catching fish. Thankfully, fish finders won’t give you much hassle. They will still do their jobs whether you move, stay still, or stand on solid ice.
This may not apply to ALL fish finders, but it does go with many so we might as well throw this one in! These fish finders let you do complex navigational stuff, like marking your path, showing you where you traveled, what they were able to find there and what not.
Not only does this let you leave navigation to the device, but it also does a really handy job guiding you to your lucky fishing spots or even back to where you set off from. Even during long fishing trips, you can never get lost.
And of course, you can go back to that spot where you caught a bucket load! For icing on the cake, many of these fish finders also retain memory so that you can get this information on hand for future fish finding expeditions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About The Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder
1. What reading should I get when the fish finder is out of water?
A: The reading should be either 0 or the maximum depth range of the fish finder. Why these two, you ask? The answer is that fish finders use sonar, which is basically reflected back from objects in water to give you data. Outside water it either can’t travel anyway and once a beam is sent out it never returns. Either way.
2. How do I connect my wireless fish finder to my smartphone?
A: Well, while this does vary between various manufacturers the basic steps are the same. Most of these have a built-in wireless network which turns on when you turn on the device. You have to get your smartphone to connect to that Wi-Fi network and then verify your ownership of that particular device. Some fish finders use a code of some kind, for example. Once verified, you connect and the app detects the fish finder.
3. What should be the ideal battery life for a fish finder?
A: That depends completely on you. Although the ideal fish finder should be usable for a long time, the batteries and the fish finder tends to get bulky as battery lives get higher. Take into account the time you intend to spend on fishing and take that into account when buying a fish finder.
4. How do I use a fish finder on ice?
A: You start by placing it on top of the ice. This will yield an initial view of the fish present under the ice. If it meets your needs, you drill a hole into that particular spot, drop the fish finder into the water underneath and get down to business from there.
Phew, that was quite a bit of learning, wasn’t it? Since you worked so hard to learn about great ice fishing fish finders, we can certify you are now a MASTER!
Okay, maybe that was a bit much. But what we know for sure, if you were Marlin the Clownfish in Finding Nemo, the movie would end in 15 minutes. Just saying…….