Ice anglers out there, wouldn’t it be amazing if you had X-ray vision and could “see” through the ice? Fish finders could help you with that, but not all fish finders work in the extreme cold the way you want them to, if at all. However, there are particular models that have particular features that will help them withstand low temperatures and give you accurate readings and other helpful information.
There are other considerations when looking for an ice fishing fish finder such as durability, portability, weight, frequency, and more. After reading our ice fishing fish finders reviews, you’ll have an idea just what would meet your ice fishing needs.
- Our Top Pick
- Product Reviews
- FAQ’s About Ice Fishing and Using a Fish Finder
- Things to Look for When Buying a Fish Finder for Ice Fishing
- Final Thoughts
Our Top Pick
The Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ is our top pick for an ice fishing fish finder. It comes with Wi-Fi technology so all you need is a smartphone with the Deeper app to get accurate data readings. It also works in both deep and shallow waters for scanning large areas or targeting small ones. With plenty of customization options, a weather forecast feature, and a calendar, you can use the Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ to plan your excursion and then take it with you.
We reviewed the best ice fishing fish finders on the market to make your decision easier. Our ice fishing fish finder reviews go into detail about features, functionality, battery life, and best uses so that you can make an educated decision about which one is right for you.
Garmin does a great job of offering performance at an affordable price point and the Striker 4 is no exception. The detailed color display provides a great view of what’s beneath the ice and this particular model has been rated highly for ice fishing.
Garmin’s ClearVu sonar and CHIRP transducer offers the best sonar performance available. With 50, 77, and 200 kHz frequency options, you’ll have the best readings in both deep and shallow water.
With the ability to display all the information you need, you have access to the technology that powers the reading of structures, fish, and other objects in the water. You have crisp, clear, detailed information regarding temperature, depth, shape, and contour.
You will enjoy a maximum depth of 1600 feet in fresh water and 750 feet in saltwater. The built-in flasher enables you to see sonar in a way that benefits ice fishing or vertical jigging. GPS gives you the ability to mark your favorite spots for returning later or record waypoints for navigation.
The audible alarm means you don’t have to have your eyes on the display all the time. You can enjoy a quiet moment to yourself or embrace the comradery of the fishing experience. The best ice fishing fish finder on a budget is within your reach.
The Garmin Striker 4 has 3.5, 5, or 7-inch color displays so you can pick the size that works best for you. It comes with a CHIRP sonar transducer, built-in flasher, GPS, IPX7 water resistance rating, and a great battery life. Learn more about the Striker 4 here.
Garmin’s devices are easy to install, have intuitive and easy-to-read interfaces, and offer superior customer service for any problem you might encounter.
Some of the most advanced features come on the Marcum LX-7. If you are a diehard ice fisher wanting to increase your catch rate and enjoy the latest technology, the Marcum LX-7 is for you. This is far from the cheapest product on the market, but it can be well worth the investment for someone who needs these tools.
The Marcum LX-7 features both 8 and 20-degree cone angles so it works well in both shallow and deep water. The powerful sonar system is specifically built to find fish under the ice. It uses one-half inch of target separation to display targets and identify their distance from you and your transducer.
It also features one of the largest displays of any other fish finder on the market. At 8 inches, the full-color, high-resolution, LCD screen has a resolution of 800×600, allowing you to see everything clearly accurately.
You have complete control over your dashboard settings so you can customize your view to show the most important information to you. Statistics like bottom coverage, depth, range, target adjust, interference rejection, gain, and battery voltage are all at your fingertips.
You also have the freedom to choose your own color palettes to make your view mode easier to see. Your view mode is also customizable and allows you to enhance your data with vertical zoom, graphs, sonar display, real-time flasher display, night screen, and more.
The Marcum LX-7 stands out because of it’s sophisticated and customizable features. The huge display shows you all of your favorite options in one of four color palette options with lots of other settings.
In contrast to the high price of the Marcum LX-7, the Venterior VT-FF001 is a basic fish finder that comes pretty cheap, is easy to carry, and works well for ice fishing. It can read depth, find fish, and tell you if the bottom is comprised of rock, sand, or weeds.
The depth range of the Venterior VT-FF001 is 3 to 328 feet, and it works within the temperature range of -4 to 158 degrees. The sensor beam angle is 45 degrees, the transducer is 4.6cm in diameter and comes with a float, it has 5 sensitivity settings, a back lit display, fish alarm, battery save mode, and 25-foot cable.
This bottom tier device still gives you everything you need to improve your catch rate and save you time on the ice. The only thing you may find lacking is its ability to tell the difference between one fish and many fish, but by adjusting the sensitivity, you can see large and small fish.
While the transmitter is water resistant, the receiver is not, but it’s portable, lightweight, and comes with a strap making it easy to carry. It works very well for the price and still comes packed with useful features.
The Hawkeye Fishtrax 1C has sophisticated settings with portability that makes it easy for you to move around the ice without it being a burden. Features like an HD, full-color, back lit display, and highly customizable settings make this the choice for many avid fishermen.
The beautiful display shows you what’s under the ice in plenty of detail. Icons are easy to read and interpret while the back lit screen gives you excellent visibility in bright sunlight or dark conditions.
FishTrax Intelligent Sonar makes this device superior, and it has excellent performance thanks to three different operating modes. You can use the fish finder mode to detect the location of fish, water depth, and bottom composition. Data mode helps improve visibility to the readings. An ice mode digital flasher gives you real-time readings via sonar just like any other ice fishing flasher.
Enjoy sonar at either 83 or 200 kHz frequency to customize your experience when moving from deep to shallow water. Multi-depth ranges, auto-zoom, 100-level adjustment for sensitivity, and audible fish and depth alarms make it easy to use in all situations.
One of the best and most convenient features of the Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ is its ability to connect to Wi-Fi. This is a powerful tool on the ice that allows you to transmit data to your smartphone or tablet.
Scanning depths of 260 feet allow this ice fishing flasher to work through the thickest ice, collecting data like bottom hardness, submerged vegetation, depth, temperature, and fish. Once the data is sent to your smartphone, the Deeper app shows it to you in a way that’s easy to see and understand.
The Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ is lightweight, compact, cable-free, and easy to use. 15-degree and 55-degree cone angles allow you to use both a wide-beam frequency for deep waters and narrow-beam frequency for targeting small areas. This model also features in our roundup of castable fish finders.
You can track and observe small objects in real-time using 0.5” of target separation and a zoom function. It’s also capable of operating between -4 and 104 degrees. GPS and mapping allows you to create maps of fishing spots and return to your favorite location later.
Adjust the sensitivity of your unit, switch between basic and detailed modes, customize your icons and alarms, and pick from three different colors. The weather forecast and calendar functionality allows you to plan your trips accordingly. With 5.5 hours of use, the battery life is plenty long enough for your greatest adventures.
FAQ’s About Ice Fishing and Using a Fish Finder
Q: Why should I use a fish finder?
A: You don’t always know where the fish are. Especially when you are ice fishing, there’s no visible activity on the surface. Drilling holes is labor-intensive and a waste of time if it doesn’t yield any bites.
With a fish finder, you can find the fish more easily. You’ll have access to detailed information about what’s under the water so you won’t waste your time drilling and jigging for nothing. It increases your catch rate and saves you a lot of energy.
A fish finder also shows you exactly what’s going on under the water that may be affecting fish activity. Bottom structures, depth, and a lot of other factors contribute to why fish like to swim where they swim, and by tracking trends and mapping activity, you’ll know where to come back for more fish the next time.
You can also study fish for reactions to your bait or jigging actions. Experiment with what attracts the most fish so you know what to do in the future to attract even more fish and increase your catch rate.
Your excursions can be more productive and more enjoyable if you have all of this data at your fingertips, ensuring that you don’t waste time or energy on doing what doesn’t work. Map the best spots and bring your friends next time.
Q: Are fish finders waterproof?
A: No, fish finders are not waterproof. It may seem counterintuitive, but the handheld portion of your fish finder contains a lot of electronic components, many of which would be damaged if they got wet.
However, many transducers are meant to go in the water, and there are fish finders on the market that have water resistant qualities. It goes without saying that when you’re using something near water, it’s bound to get sprinkled at least a little bit.
While no fish finder is completely waterproof, they are water resistant up to a certain point. Generally, fish finders are water resistant up to 3 feet for 30 minutes or less. Your fish finder should also be able to handle rain, splashing, or an accidental submersion, but they can’t handle being underwater for long periods of time.
Your transmitter is completely waterproof, but the receiver is not. Check your manufacturer for the water resistant capability of your fish finder.
Q: Is there a difference between a regular fish finder and an ice fishing fish finder?
A: An ice fishing fish finder is built to withstand extreme cold and still work properly. The materials that comprise ice fishing fish finders are specifically chosen for their use in cold weather.
A regular fish finder is not equipped for these frigid uses and don’t have any protection from cold or snow. Operating a regular fish finder at extremely cold temperatures could cause it to malfunction or give inaccurate readings.
Things to Look for When Buying a Fish Finder for Ice Fishing
The best one varies based on who you talk to. Everybody has different priorities, but the goal is ultimately the same. Catching fish is what you’re out there for, so making the right choice can be tough. Here’s a quick guide to picking the best ice fishing fish finder for you.
Most transducers are labeled with a cone angle. The cone angle identifies how far the sonar beam will spread as it travels under water. This angle is important because it tells you how the transducer will scan the water underneath the ice.
Depth of scanning, water area, and extreme detail of information are all things affected by the beam angle. A smaller angle creates a narrow beam that can hone in on individual fish or schools of fish and provide more detail of a smaller area. Large angles can scan expansive areas but won’t give you many details about that area.
For instance, you may not be able to tell the difference between an individual fish or a school of fish. All you’ll be able to tell is that there are fish in that location. Some fish finders come with two cone angles, allowing you to switch back and forth based on your needs or what you’re looking for.
Your ice fishing fish finder relies not only on the beam angle to scan the water, but the frequency with which it scans. The transducer emits energy that travels to the bottom of the water at a certain frequency. A high frequency returns more detail and is highly effective in shallow water. Low frequency beams won’t give you much detail, but are more effective in deep water.
An ice fishing fish finder with dual frequency capabilities will be more versatile and allow you to fish in both deep and shallow waters. You’ll be able to switch back and forth between the frequencies with ease, depending on your current needs.
As you traverse the ice, you’ll likely take your fish finder with you. It’s important to use it when looking for drilling locations. It’s unlikely that you’ll mount it to anything, although you may set it down or prop it up when you pause to fish.
Your ice fishing fish finder should be lightweight enough to carry with you without throwing off your balance. Walking on ice is hard enough as it is. Make sure the most important features to you come in a compact package.
The downside to having a portable fish finder is that the screen is small and it can be hard to view the information. There are large ice fishing fish finders available, but they are hard to carry around.
You may also find use in an ice fishing fish finder that has Wi-Fi. If your fish finder is Wi-Fi enabled, you can send data directly from the transmitter to your smartphone without the need for a bulky receiver.
This is especially useful when you’re already carrying a lot of gear, because you won’t want to add anything to it and you likely already have your phone with you. The downside to equipment like this is that you may not have access to Wi-Fi or data coverage if you’re fishing in a remote location.
Your ice fishing fish finder should be able to transmit signals in cold and extreme weather. A high-quality transducer will be durable and generate strong signals, no matter what kind of weather you encounter on the ice. It will be weather resistant and have more reliable performance than others.
Well-made fish finders should last a long time without giving you any trouble, and fish finders made for ice fishing are especially durable. They’re great equipment choices even if you don’t normally go ice fishing, because they’ll give you great strength and performance all the time.
The material of your fish finder goes a long way to preserving its durability. Plastic won’t absorb water and is waterproof, making it an ideal material for fish finders. It doesn’t expand or contract as the temperature changes.
Other transducers are made of fiberglass, bronze, stainless steel, and wood. Each material has its own benefits and drawbacks. Metal will expand and contract as the temperature changes, so going from near freezing waters to your warm garage may shorten its life. Wood, even if treated properly, will wear down over time with exposure to moisture.
Your screen resolution is key to showing information in detail. A large screen with a lot of pixels gives you the best view of the situation under the water. However, a large screen means a less portable device, so the key is to find the right screen size for you with the highest number of pixels so you can enjoy clean and clear images, even if they are small.
Your display also needs to be backlit. This makes it easy to read in adverse weather or in the dark. It can help eliminate glare and make the information on the screen easier to read.
Again, your ice fishing fish finder should be compact and lightweight, so a compact and lightweight battery plays a big part in that. However, make sure the wattage is enough that you get clear readings and great performance.
Wattage can affect the speed with which you receive your information on the screen while sufficient battery life will ensure you don’t get stranded on the ice without your trusty fish finder tools.
Large fish finders with a lot of features need bigger batteries and will drain the battery faster, while smaller or simpler fish finders can run on small batteries and will normally have longer battery life.
For most fish finder models with a castable transducer, setting it up for ice fishing is pretty basic. Here’s a video demo that we found.
There are so many more options out there, but we chose to review the ones we thought are the best. From small and portable to feature-rich technology and advanced customizations, you can bet that these are excellent devices for ice fishing that would serve you well. You can read about other types of fish finders in this post.
You can have the best of both worlds with the Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+, but it comes at a cost. If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, try out the Venterior VT-FF001 to see how you like it.
Only you know what is useful to you, but now you’re also equipped with the knowledge you need to make the right purchase. Whether you go with our top pick or choose one of your own, you’ll have all the tools you need to have a successful trip.