Find what flasher fits your needs
The ice season is upon us and many of us have been fishing on the hard water for weeks. With this excitement to fish, comes the opportunity to update electronics that will have a big impact on our fishing success.
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From Vexilar, the FLX-28 Ultra Pack is the leader when it comes to Vexilar’s legendary, dependable flashers. It features a digital display, combined with auto ranging capabilities. This not only sets the depth range appropriately for you, but also displays the depth digitally. With five color palettes, you can choose the one that best fits your needs. The traditional pallet is still my favorite, but when fishing crappies in the evening, many times the plankton rising out of the lake bottom clutter your screen with green returns. Now you can filter all green returns from your readout and see only the yellow and red signals. Simply turn up your gain until your jig shows a thin yellow line, so all you will see is your jig and the fish. There is also an option for color blind fishermen, allowing them to distinguish three separate shades for the first time from Vexilar.
Marcum Technologies has an entire line-up of digital screen units that offer best-in-class options and customization for the tech savvy angler. The RT-9, LX-9, LX-7, and LX-6 all allow you to pick the screen displays that you like best. You can choose from a traditional flasher display, scrolling sonar, vertical flasher, as well as different zoom options. The RT-9 and LX-9 also give you the option to integrate an underwater camera, allowing you to view your sonar and camera feed simultaneously. This will allow you to gather all of the information possible as you fish so you don’t miss any of the action. The RT-9 can also bring GPS data to you using Navionics lake mapping, so you always know where you are on a piece of structure. The 9 series units are awesome in a permanent fish house, as you can share your screen on a TV, allowing you to have a huge display in front of you as you fish. The LX-6 and 7 are more compact units that shine in more portable situations, moving around the ice and covering lots of ground.
Humminbird introduces the Helix-7 Ice unit this year, adding the 7 inch display to what the Helix-5 brought to the ice last year. Now anglers have the ability to run their Lakemaster chips on their GPS screen side by side with sonar, making it easy to move around a piece of structure and make waypoints in the holes that produce the best action. This allows you to keep track of where the fish are located, so when you pair this information with the open water transducer on your boat, you have information for year long fishing. On both of these units, you will get digital readouts of your depth and the ability to customize your sonar layout with the colors you like best. These units are gaining lots of attention with the value that is added when you outfit your boat to accommodate the Helix head unit.
The FL-20 has been a standby unit for a lot of anglers for many years now and for a good reason. The flat screen display and color coded depth ranges make it easy to read and easy to understand your depth when fishing. It also features two zoom levels, 6 and 12 feet from the bottom, and also has unique night and day modes. This allows you to dim the display in low light situations, such as when you are fishing twilight hours or inside a portable fish house. It makes it much easier on the eyes during these times. When out in the sunlight, switch to day mode and you will have a bright, clear display right in front of you.
Marcum has been famous for their LX-5 unit for many years. It was their top end unit until a few years ago when they launched the digital displays, but is still a great unit for the money. Now featuring a lower profile screen for easier reading, it comes standard with a dual beam transducer, allowing you to pick the cone angle that fits your situation. When you are fishing shallow and your jig is marking larger than you would like, you can turn on the SFL or super fine line feature to reduce the size of your return, adding to their already outstanding target separation. This unit also features a very cool zoom system. Most units only allow you to zoom on the bottom, here you can move the zoom up and down the water column, allowing you to see the exact area you want. Being able to zoom in on suspended fish and see your jig among multiple targets is just another great feature of this unit. It comes packed with a very sleek case and bag, making it ready for the ice right out of the box.
The ICE-45 and 55 were the first mainstream true flashers to integrate a digital depth display and auto ranging features you now see in higher priced units. They also feature a larger than normal flasher screen so your jig and the fish are larger and clearer than many other units. The zoom feature does not split your screen like other units out there, it simply magnifies a section of the water column that you pick. You can roll the zoom range up and down very quickly from the bottom of the lake to the top of the water if you see fish coming through higher. Now you can quickly focus on this range and see your jig and the fish larger with a much greater target separation.
Entry Level Flashers
The FL-8 and 18 are without a doubt the most recognizable ice flashers ever. Vexilar changed the way we ice fish when they started mass producing some of the first ice units for fisherman. They are extremely dependable as well as effective. The FL-8 is a great entry level unit that you can count on. Simple operation, a very easy to use set of controls and a very clean display make this an affordable way to see what is going on under the ice. Step up just a bit in price and you can add the Auto-Zoom feature of the FL-18. All of the great features of the 8, but now you have the option to zoom in 6 feet and get the great detail of what is happening right on the bottom. This is a must if you are going to be targeting walleyes, as they typically relate very closely to the bottom of the lake. Once the zoom is turned on, there really is no hiding from it as you can easily see the fish separate from the lake bottom and track your jig with great accuracy.
The VX-1I opens the line up from Marcum. It has one clear advantage over some of the other units in its price point, you get the zoom feature! This is typically a top end feature, but this unit brings it to you at a very appealing price. It also has a very bright and low profile screen which is very easy to use, and the controls are as simple as it gets. Set your depth, adjust your gain and get to fishing! Packaged on the same compact platform as the rest of the Marcum flashers, it is ready to go fishing right out of the box.
Humminbirds Ice-35 is a great unit that will not break the bank, and along with the rest of the ICE series flashers, it gives you a unique advantage over other brands. It runs on a different sonar frequency than other brands, allowing you to fish tight quarters with other anglers and not worry about interference on your screen or theirs. This makes it a great unit for families as well. When you have the kids with and want everyone to have a unit to read, add this one or one of its fellow units to keep everyone happy, looking at clear displays. It also has their adjustable zoom system so you can roll the zoom range to wherever it suits you best. This is a great unit from Humminbird, as it is packed with in demand features at a great price.
Summer unit conversion
Along the lines of what Humminbird did with the Helix units, there is a great way to get an ice unit without breaking the bank. Lowrance and Humminbird both offer kits to get you set up all season by taking your summer units and converting them into ice packs. One option that stands out if you are looking for an all season unit is pairing up a Hook-5 from Lowrance with their ice kit. SCHEELS has a great buy on the Hook-5 summer unit at $299.99. This comes with sonar and down imaging transducer, a Lake Insight Pro mapping card that covers all of the U.S., as well as Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake. To finish it off, a sun cover is included as well. Now, take this great buy and pick up the Lowrance ice conversion kit, and for less than $500 dollars you have everything you need to fish all year round. GPS with awesome mapping, an ice kit with appropriate ice ducer, carry case with bag, battery and charger, as well as integrated tackle boxes. It is truly one of the best ways to spend your money with the entire fishing season in mind. So come on in and check this option out, it may be the best way for you to get great electronics you can move from boat to ice kit and fish every month of the year.