Fishing – but make it extreme. Or in other words, go ice fishing. Only a handful of dedicated anglers know the feeling of sitting out in the dead of winter, dressed to the nines in thermals, sitting next to a hole in the ice trying to find the perfect catch’s hiding place.
If only fish were always so easy to find as on sunny days. Unfortunately they’re not and any gadget to make it easier is welcomed with open arms.
The aim is to catch fish, after all, and a fish finder would sure come in handy when all you can see is snow and ice around you.
On the surface, ice fishing may seem rather complicated, however it’s one that can be learned easily, especially with the best ice fishing fish finder. Whether it’s summer or winter, a portable sonar fish finder will come in handy for any fisher.
A fish finder will emit a series of sound signals until they find a fish and report the news to a receiver. This will then calculate the distance away from the object with how long the signal took to bounce back.
The most advanced fish finders will not only make you aware of what’s under the water, but also show you the best fishing spots, let you save the information, make maps, share the data, and even sometimes more.
We’ve made you really want to get on your next ice fishing adventure now, haven’t we? Before you go, make sure to read through our top five ice fishing fish finders, buyers guide and FAQs so you’re well prepared and equipped with the most valuable bit of gear to make your next ice fishing experience like none other before.
Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders – Reviews
- Easy-to-use 4” color fishfinder with built-in, high-sensitivity GPS
- Includes dual-beam ice fishing transducer with Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar for crystal-clear images and remarkable target separation
- Includes built-in Quickdraw Contours mapping
- Find fish; mark and return to hot spots, docks and ramps
- Rugged, portable carrying case to fit accessories
- Available in five screen sizes: 4", 5", 7", 9" and 12"
- High-resolution, solarmax display
- Autotuning sonar
- Double the CHIRP sonar coverage of most fish finders
- Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar: See high-resolution returns of individual fish, bait and structure on both the flasher and traditional 2D sonar views at greater depths and range, with target separation...
- CHIRP Interference Rejection: Six settings keep competing sonar signals from cluttering your screen, providing a clear view in both sonar and flasher modes.
- Adjustable Sonar Zoom: Hone in on fish, whether they are tight to the bottom, or suspended high in the water column. Utilize 2X zoom on the flasher screen, or up to 16X zoom on 2D sonar view.
- Ultra Bright and Detailed LCD Display: The ICE HELIX screen provides everything you need to know, on a crystal-clear display with adjustable brightness. Whether in a fish house or on open ICE, you'll...
- What’s Included: ICE HELIX 5 CHIRP G3 fish finder, Dual Spectrum CHIRP ICE transducer, 9Ah battery and charger, ICE shuttle, hardware, power cable and portable bag.
- Panoptix LiveScope bundle includes an ECHOMAP UHD 93sv touchscreen combo with keyed assist plus transducer with GLS 10 sonar black box and swivel pole mount
- Live, real-time scanning sonar allows you to see up to 200’ in any direction
- Two modes in one transducer — LiveScope Forward and LiveScope Down — adapt to your fishing technique; locate schools of fish, and know exactly where to drill your next hole
- Preloaded LakeVü g3 inland maps with integrated Garmin and Navionics data cover more than 18,000 lakes
- Ability to create custom combination screen to include map and sonar views
- MEGA Live Imaging: See fish, bait and structure in real-time with no gaps in sonar coverage, powered by the unmatched detail and clarity of MEGA Imaging throughout the entire sonar view.
- Includes an ECHOMAP UHD 73cv touchscreen combo with keyed assist and three types of sonar: narrow beam Garmin CHIRP traditional, Panoptix LiveVü Forward and LiveVü Down
- Includes Panoptix PS22-TR transducer
- Preloaded LakeVü g3 maps provide exceptional detail on more than 18,000 lakes
- Ability to create custom combination screen to include flasher, map and Panoptix views
- Rugged, portable carrying case fits all included parts and is perfect for ice fishing
Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders – Buyers Guide
Power and Frequency
Wattage is crucial when it comes to buying the best fish finder as readings are affected by the wattage. More watts will trigger faster readings whereas fewer watts will inevitably lead to slower readings. For more real-time viewings, choose a fish finder with a higher wattage.
Fish finders will have a frequency of either single, dual or multiple – higher frequencies work best in shallow water and give you the most detail because the sonar waves sent are higher and vice versa for lower frequencies. Most models come with the option to customize this between 83 kHz and 200 kHz, but bear in mind the kind of waters you’ll be fishing in.
Material of Transducer
Transducers can come in a variety of materials. The most common is plastic as it can’t retain water and is weatherproof, making them perfect for casual fishing trips. However, if you’re more into intense fishing trips, you may need to consider choosing a transducer made of stainless steel, bronze, wood or fiberglass. These will likely increase the cost so decide what kind of fishing you’re into. Plastic transducers will work fine for ice fishing as plastic is durable enough and resistant to freezing temperatures.
Colored screens will make it easier to read solar translations compared to black and white versions. A colored screen will also allow for the fish to stand out from the debris and stones – no one wants a fish finder which makes you stand for hours trying to get a rock to bite. Colored screens are also easier to read in the dark or poorly lit conditions.
Backlit LED lights also make it easier to distinguish differences between the objects underwater.
Another thing to consider is glare resistant screens, as the winter sun can be relentless when ice fishing and while you’re trying to cover the screen enough to comprehend it, a whole school of ultra rare fish just swam past the hole. Depending on your budget, a colored and glare resistant screen are very beneficial features for ice fishing fish finders.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is ice fishing?
Ice fishing is a long haul sport that involves cutting a hole in the ice of a body of water, setting up a line and sitting on a stool waiting for the fish to bite. Ice fishing takes more preparation and equipment than regular fishing and you’ll need to bring a shelter, stool, sled, propane heater, flashlight and compass as well as your usual fishing equipment.
Ice fishers will need to wear thermals to combat the freezing temperatures. Ice fishing involves trying to find popular hiding spots fish like to reside in during the freezing temperatures. Common catches include panfish like bluegill, crappie, yellow perch and sunfish, northern pike, walleye and lake trout.
What’s the difference between a regular fish finder and an ice fish finder?
Regular fish finders serve best in the warm, non extreme temperatures, opposed to ice fish finders perform best in low temperatures and freezing conditions. The latter is usually made from durable and weather resistant and corrosion free materials to cater to anglers who enjoy fishing in the most extreme weather conditions.
Ice fishing fish finders can often be used in the warmer months as well, however regular fish finders may have a hard time acting as an ice fish finder, so an ice fish finder will be more adaptable and be likely to suit you best if you’re thinking about going ice fishing.