Obviously when you are selecting an ice fish finder, portability is essential. There is not the luxury of a boat to mount electronics on. The number one consideration when looking at that various options for fish finders which can be used for ice fishing is the size. The next consideration to look at is the power source.
You will need to find a battery which is small enough to carry around, yet powerful enough to power your unit for a period of time long enough to allow you to enjoy fishing all day long. Once you have narrowed down options you think would work for the size requirements you need, then it is time to consider how to carry it around, and the transducer.
Many of the major fishing electronic companies offer ice fishing packages, paring some of their most popular compact fish finders into a pre made ice fishing setup complete with a carrying case for both the electronics and power source, as well as a portable transducer to put in the water. This is a great way to easily select a small fish finder which has already been proven to be effective.
In fact if you want to get fishing right away, just go to your favorite fish finder company website, and pick out the ice fishing package that fits your budget. Of course there are more consideration which we will detail in the following, as well as explain how you can convert your compact fish finder you use in the summer for ice fishing.
Flasher vs 2d sonar
A major consideration when making your selection is determining what you want to see when reading the water below you. There are the tried and true flasher units, which do not offer a graph of the details below, only a real time look at what lies beneath. Even though this is basic and old technology it still offers an extremely reliable way to look at the bottom and everything in between.
There are still many units being sold and developed with new features, and almost all of them are exclusive to ice fishing use. This is a great option, however not everyone is comfortable with purchasing a unit only for ice fishing, or may not like the way the flasher displays information about the water below.
The next option is to go with 2d sonar. This is a great alternative to the flasher as many of these units can show a graph of what is happening below, or switch to a flasher mode with emulates the look of a flasher unit. In my opinion this is the best option as it gives you the best of both worlds, and allows you to compare what you see between both options. In addition to this it also allows you the option use the unit for summer time best fish finder needs.
With a little planning you can easily switch the unit from your boat to the ice when needed. Beware many of the compact 2d units will not have a flasher option, so you are stuck with a normal graph only, so if it is your intention to find something which can do both, make sure to read the specs of the fish finder which interests you.
Sonar cone size Before you make your final decision, another factor to consider is the size of the sonar beam below you. Since you are in a static position and not moving like you would normally in a boat, a wider beam is very handy. This allows you to not only see right below you, but around the hole the as well. Normally the manufacturer will provide the information on the size of the beam and type of beam you can expect. Use this in your consideration. Look for a wide beam, dual beam, and any other option which may be of use.
Converting a normal fish finder for ice fishing
Many people do not have the budget or the desire to purchase a standalone ice unit. Maybe you are someone who only goes ice fishing a few times in the winter. The good news is that it is easy to convert a normal unit you have on your boat to something which can work on the ice.
The first step to do is look up the company who produces your fish finder. You can then purchase another transducer for your fish finding unit. This is what you will use exclusively for ice fishing. They also sell soft packs where you can fit your fish finder and battery making it one self contained unit which is portable. To setup the transducer for use in the ice you want to make it like a bobber.
This can be accomplished by adding some foam. A great option is a pool noodle that you used as a kid. Just cut a small section from this to resemble a donut. From there you can mount the transducer without worry of it sinking in the water. There are many great tutorials online on how to convert a transducer for ice fishing use.
If you would really like to see what is happening under the water, something relatively new on the market is underwater cameras. This is a great learning tool because it allows you to watch what the fish are doing.
It can tell you how you need to move your lure in a way which makes the fish strike, this information is invaluable on those days you just can’t seem to get the fish to bite. This is also great because anyone can figure out how to use a camera; it just gives you eyes underwater.
A consideration to make with these unites is the brightness of the screen which you view the images on. Some units are not bright enough to see on a sunny day, and are only meant for inside a ice fishing hut. Other units are very bright and can be seen in any condition. I recommend the later.
This is a basic overview on what to look for when selecting ice fishing electronics. You can go much further in depth with certain specs and features; however this is beyond the scope of this article. Perhaps in the future I will analyze these more technical features.