When the colder winter days approach, the water in many cities begins to freeze over sealing most of the fish under a thick layer of ice. When this happens, you have no choice but to go ice fishing for walleye, perch, trout, crappie, sunfish, pike and bass, amongst other fish.

Once the weather and ice conditions have been carefully inspected and you are ready to venture out, there are a variety of other factors that need to be taken into account.  Locating the perfect fishing spot can be difficult.

ice fishing lake

This is where an ice fishing fish finder comes in handy as you will be easily able to locate the fish. Once you have located the fish, you can then begin to drill a hole and start fishing immediately, using your tip-up traps or jigging rod.

It’s a type of fish finder that aims to alleviate the unnecessary hassle of trying to guess where the fish may be and minimizes time spent drilling holes in the wrong locations.

An effective ice fishing fish finder has been hailed by fishing enthusiasts as the must-have product for those cold winters, making your trip into the wintery cold conditions worth it.

Getting the correct equipment is crucial to ensuring your safety as well as landing some fish on your trip. There is a wide range of ice fishing fish finders on the market today, some including various add-ons and gadgets, and some that are relatively straight forward but perhaps not as advanced. With so many options, finding the best fish finder for ice fishing will depend on the kind of angler you are.

”There is nothing I love more than fishing. It’s a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life and just relax.

The thrill of the catch and the places that fishing takes you all add to a great past-time. Thankfully working for Focus Fishing gives me the opportunity to mix business with pleasure and wet and line as much as possible.

Matt, Focus Fishing.

Focus Fishing Matt

Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders 2019 - Reviews

1. Deeper Smart Sonar

This dynamic ice fishing fish finder is wireless and castable, featuring a built-in GPS system. What makes this product unique and versatile is its suitability for trolling, ranging from a boat or kayak to casting from the shore or using it as an ice flasher for the winter season. This gives you an all in one product that can be used for just about all your fishing needs.

The advanced technology connects to your smartphone or tablet, displaying the fish location, size, suspended depth, as well as the water depth and temperature. This product goes a step further, displaying underwater structures, bottom contour and hardness, and underwater vegetation. 

Smaller than a baseball, as light as a bar of chocolate, and completely cable-free, this product can cast up to 330ft and down to 260ft, getting further out than most fish finders on the market.

It also features a 15° cone and 55° cone angle, enabling you to easily scan larger areas as well as pinpoint specific targets. With an operating temperature of -20° to 40°C, and an ice fishing sonar mode capable of 0.5” target separation, you will be able to track the tiniest targets in the coldest climates.

This product gives you full control over the sensitivity, display and colour modes as well as alarms and alerts.  It also comes equipped with a weather forecast and calendar, useful to plan any future trips. Furthermore, the battery power lasts up to 5.5 hours with a single charge.

Main Features

  • Casts up to 330ft
  • Scans down to 260ft
  • Built-in GPS so you can create bathymetric maps
  • Free access to Lake Book
  • Generates own WiFi signal

Pros

  • All round versatility for all types of fishing
  • Ice fishing flasher mode
  • Compact size and portability
  • Lightweight and cable-free
  • Modern technology linking to smartphone or tablet
  • Advanced target separation and scanning depth
  • GPS mapping feature

Cons

  • Readings are sometimes not 100% accurate in real time view, which can be a problem for jigging

2. Venterior Portable Fish Finder

For those who are looking to spend a little less on an ice fishing fish finder, the Venterior is a great, affordable and compact device. Created to help you save time and energy on the ice and to improve your overall catch rate, this product is perfect for ice fishing.

This product is the perfect choice for beginners and ice fishing anglers who are just getting started. With its easy to use design, you will be able to set the sensor down, see some fish, cut a hole and drop the sensor down to find out more.

This device is considered a more ‘general’ ice fishing fish finder, as it does not give you an exact idea of the size of the fish if there is a big shoal passing by. However, for a beginner, this device is ideal because you will almost certainly catch a fish on every try.

Designed for ice fishing at -20° to 70°C, with a depth range of 3-328ft, it will assist you to accurately locate fish whilst reading the depth, and will also display any short or tall weeds, rocks or sand on the seabed. This handy device can function on lakes, rivers or seas as well as fishing on a boat, off the dock, or for ice fishing, ensuring your fishing experience is never limited to one specific terrain.

The round transducer has a diameter of 1.6 inches and includes a sensor beam angle of 45°, a 25ft easy-to-use cable, and a removable transducer float. It is also equipped with an adjustable 5 sensitivity settings as well as a fish alarm, backlight mode, water depth display and battery save function.

This product comes with a 2 Year Warranty, which guarantees your device stays with you for a long time.

Main Features

  • Depth range 3ft to 328ft
  • Round transducer with 25 ft cable float
  • Operating temperature -20 to 70 degrees C

Pros

  • Can be used on a variety of terrains
  • Can be used from the shore, or a boat or for ice fishing
  • Adjustable 5 sensitivity sensors
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty

Cons

  • Cannot identify size of fish if there is a large shoal present
  • May identify a group of fish as one fish
  • Not wireless

3. Hawkeye FishTrax Fish Finder

The Hawkeye FishTrax 1c is one of the best portable ice fishing fish finders on the market. Equipped with advanced settings, designed to meet the needs of advanced and avid anglers. The design is compact and portable, making it easy to use and move around with on the ice.

What makes this product unique is its high definition full-colour LCD display, which has excellent visuals under the ice as well. Using icons, it is able to depict the date in an easy to understand way, making your experience that much easier. Additionally, this product features an LCD backlight, enabling you to clearly view the device’s screen in both high and low-light scenarios. 

It has three superior operating modes including 1) the fish finder mode which detects the location of the fish as well as bottom composition and depth; 2) the data mode which is used to enhance the visibility of any displayed readings and 3) the ice-mode digital flasher which gives you real-time sonar readings that you would find in a classic ice fishing flasher.

This device has a beam angle of 14/26°, offering a 100-level sensitivity adjustment and a multi-depth range including auto- zoom bottom tracking. Its sonar includes both 200 kHz and 83 kHz frequencies, ensuring you get the most accurate sonar readings in both shallow and deep waters. The audible fish and depth alarms add value to its all-round functionality.

This dynamic product is created to give you the most accurate real-time date as quickly as possible, enabling you to make the necessary adjustments you need to land that fish. Furthermore, the additional features enable you to utilize this product during winter as well as during the warmer seasons when the ice melts.

Main Features

  • VirtuView HD Color Display
  • Dual-Frequency FishTrax Intelligent Sonar 
  • Ice-Mode Digital Flasher Portrayal
  • Fish Depth Identifier
  • Portable or Boat Mountable

Pros

  • HD colour LCD with backlit display
  • Portable and compact
  • Includes digital ice fishing flasher for more accurate readings
  • Easy to use
  • Wide variety of settings and additional features
  • Modular and expandable

Cons

  • Poor Battery life, may require additional batteries

4. Garmin Striker Portable Fish Finder

Over the years, Garmin has become a household name. So it would make sense that its ice fishing fish finder would also be second to none. The Striker includes a superior CHIRP Garmin ice fishing transducer, and can also include flasher technology with A-Scope, which offers you real-time information and data.

As Garmin is one of the leaders in the GPS industry, they have included one in this fish finder, which makes it easier for you to take note of the good spots to be used at a later stage or simply for the next season. This feature has proven to save you not only time but also money.

The built-in GPS is ideal for storing waypoints, and the built in flasher offers you the conventional ice fishing display style. You are able to enter waypoints in 3 different ways: 1) by entering the exact coordinates; 2) by using the waypoint map itself and 3) by simply using your current location.

These features add to the overall functionality and efficiency of the product, ensuring you are able to find the right location in just about any way.

This device is easy to use and detects and displays fish, depth and other details with ease. It also offers superior colour LCD display.

Main Features

  • 5-inch colour fish finder
  • IPX7 water rating
  • Max depth – freshwater 1,750ft and saltwater 830ft
  • Built-in GPS

Pros

  • A-Scope provides more accurate readings
  • Advanced ice fishing flasher and GPS technology
  • GPS allows you to store locations for future use
  • Compact design and excellent portability on ice
  • CHIRP sonar transducer technology
  • Advanced onboard GPS
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Reviews state that the GPS is not particularly user-friendly
  • No maps included

5. Hummingbird Helix

The Hummingbird Helix encapsulates innovation and efficiency. Built with a wide variety of advanced technologies including an intuitive reflex interface, accurate and precise broadband CHIRP, superior sonar images, and advanced mapmaking power, this product is sure to tick just about every box.

This dynamic and industrial design includes up to date user interface and operating system with an 800H x 480V, 5″ 256 colour display with backlight. It also includes a CHIRP dual beam plus sonar and internal GPS, ensuring you are given precise and accurate real-time images and data.

The Hummingbird Helix is able to penetrate deep below the surface, while still giving you precise readings. It also has a long last battery life which ensures your ice fishing won’t be interrupted due to low battery power. This unit is great for ice fishers looking to get on to a more professional angler level.

Main Features

  • 5-Inch Color WVGA Display
  • CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
  • Precision Internal GPS Chart plotting with built-in Anima cartography
  • Micro SD card slot for optional maps or for saving waypoints

Pros

  • Easy to set- up and use
  • Advanced LSD display
  • Built-in backlight for easy readability on sunnier days
  • Precise readings and advanced sonar images
  • Advanced interface and operating system
  • CHIRP dual beam

Cons

  • This product is more expensive than other similar models

Buying Guide – What To Look For When Buying An Ice Fish Finder

What’s the difference between traditional fish finders and ice fishing fish finders?

When thinking of a more traditional fish finder, most people would imagine something connected to a boat with an LCD screen showing what is happening below the water’s surface.  This would be correct and as long as you are able to safely disconnect the transducer and the screen from the boat (or device), there is nothing stopping you from using that fish finder in an ice hole also. However, not all traditional fish finders can be used for ice fishing. 

Ice fishing fish finders, also known as flashers, contain more advanced technologies and are sonar based portable devices. These ice fish finders or flashers are created to give the user a wider variety of data and information with relative ease. Most flashers will give you the exact depth of the water, as well as the size and location of the fish and sometimes even where your bait is.

This device is more advanced and usually requires some contextual knowledge and familiarity in order to understand what’s being displayed on the LSD. This device is far more advanced than a traditional fish finder and can give you access to extensive information and data on site.

Features To Consider:

Weight

For your ultimate convenience, it is important to find an ice fish finder that is lightweight and portable. It should be easy to carry around, and should not affect your balance when on the ice.

Beam angle

When choosing an ice fishing fish finder, it is important to know the beam angle capabilities. The cone angle indicates how much the sonar beam is able to spread out when it travels through the water. The angle of the beam will affect the area size and water depth the transducer is able to scan and reach. This will also affect how much detail and data you will be able to pick up under the ice.

Small angles generally mean a narrow beam, and that is ideal for targeting specific fish that are located further down in the water. Larger angles are better for scanning a wide area.

Display

It is imperative that you are able to read the display of your ice fishing fish finder at all times, whether it is bright and there is a glare, or you are simply fishing at night or during gloomy winter days.

We find that a backlit display makes it easier to read the data on your device clearly, and will help you to distinguish between the objects and fish below you, despite the weather conditions.

Portability

Portability is important depending on what exactly you’re planning on doing. Most fish finders will be mounted onto a boat so they will usually provide a fixed image.

As technology advances and the industry develops, more and more compact and portable ice fishing fish finders are emerging on the market. This makes them easier for you to use on the move, while still having access to all the conventional features and more. Devices can now be linked to your smartphone or tablet, making it 100% portable and accessible.

Durability

Like any product, durability is crucial, especially when you are likely to use your product during the cold and wet seasons.  The best ice fishing devices are built to withstand extreme conditions and still transmit clean signals for a long period of time.

The quality of the transducer that creates signals is also an important thing to take into consideration. This is because it affects the overall quality of readings and general durability of the unit.

Frequency

The area and depth covered by an ice fishing fish finder will also depend on the frequency of the units beam. Frequency refers to the number of energy pulses that are emitted from the transducer per second and travel to the bottom of the body of water.

The higher the frequency, the more accurate and detailed data you will get. You will be able to differentiate between a single fish and a school of fish with ease. On the market, there are single, dual, and multiple frequency fish finders. This allows you to select the ideal frequency for the coverage and data you require.

Power source

The wattage of the unit will affect the clarity of the readings you obtain. Ice fishing fish finders with higher power wattage will generally offer the best performance as higher wattage is likely to give you faster readings.

Battery Life

Like any product, long lasting battery life is imperative. We recommend you select a unit with sufficient battery life to last for the entire duration of your ice-fishing trip. Some devices now include a backup battery. 

Simpler fish finders generally do not require large amounts of battery power. The more advanced units have a variety of additional features, which is likely to affect your battery life making it slightly shorter.