Ice Fishing Fish Finder vs Flasher: Which One To Buy?

Ice Fishing Fish Finder vs Flasher

Finding fish is not always easy, especially underneath the ice. Luckily, today we have the technology that can make this task easier.

Fish finders have been around for a long time, but technology development and mass production by famous brands made them easily accessible and affordable for many anglers.

Except fish finders, you can find flashers too. So, ice fishing fish finder vs flasher, what is the difference and which one to buy? Both devices use sonar technology to give you info about what is under the surface, but flashers have different displays. Both have certain benefits and choosing the right one is a matter of your personal preference.

In order to make the buying decision easier for you, I decided to write this simple guide that will explain all similarities and differences between these two.

No matter if you are a beginner, or an experienced angler, fish finders/flasher can significantly improve your angling experience and help you catch more fish.

I would like to add that there is a third option too, and that is having one of the best ice fishing underwater cameras, but that topic is also very wide and I will not include it this article.



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Ice Fishing Fish Finder vs Flasher: What is the Difference?

Both devices will tell you the depth, show you fish if there is any, and depending on additional features some models have, show you some other information too.

As I already mentioned, the biggest difference is the display. But, with that, you will discover that the user experience is quite different.

Fish finders, especially modern ones, have displays that show you detailed images of what lies beneath the surface. You can scroll to see the situations from a few seconds ago, which is an advantage.

Flashers can also show you very detailed situation, but their displays and the way they show it are different. They have different colored lights that flash to show you the depth, fish, and lure movement.

This may seem strange, but when you get used to it, you will be able to recognize the same amount of detail.

Also, flasher batteries will last longer, due to the fact that they do not have large displays that consume a lot of power.

Fish finders have additional features like GPS and maps, which can help you navigate the location, and you can find places which are likely to contain fish easily. Also, some models have chart plotters as an additional feature.

Another difference is that fish finders can be used year-round, and can show you detailed images even when moving on a boat.

Flashers are meant to be used on ice, and have limited possibilities in open water.

Here you can learn more about how does a fish finder work ...

Ice Fishing Fish Finder vs Flasher - Difference

Do you Need a Fish Finder or Flasher for Ice Fishing?

Ice fishing is adventurous, a bit dangerous, and not very easy. So, if you are having some difficulties finding a fish, then yes, you need one.

Some anglers will say that this is “cheating”, but we can say that for any kind of modern equipment. Also, beginners will benefit from these devices.

Also, this is important when ice fishing at night. Fish finders/flashers will make your life easier in those harsh conditions.

And it is not just fish finders and flashers that will make your life easier. Many anglers use tip ups for ice fishing, or even ice fishing tip downs, to cover more water and increase their success. Some may call it lazy; I call it efficient!

Of course, people fished under ice when these devices did not exist, however, that was very hard. Yes, you can still manage without it, but as a recreational angler in this modern day and age, you have so many possibilities when it comes to fishing electronics that it would be a shame not to use them.

My personal opinion is that fish finders and flashers are useful and great to have!

Fish Finder vs Flasher: Which One Should You Buy for Ice Fishing?

So, now when you know the basic differences, maybe you are wondering which one to buy.

When you make a decision and choose one of those devices, make sure you check out all the available models and read all the details about them, to make an informed decision.

If you are one of those anglers who enjoy fishing year-round, and fish in multiple locations and situations, I would advise you to buy a fish finder.

Those devices, especially a bit more expensive models, have all the necessary features to fish anywhere and anytime. Fish finders can have separate transducers for fishing on a boat or ice fishing, so you can simply invest in different transducer.

Those who want to ice fish only, could benefit from a flasher, especially if you are not used to complicated LCD screens.

Both of these work in a same way and use SONAR technology. Some say that LCD fish finders have delays, but those delays are not significant.

Flashers, when you get used to them, are a bit easier to use and are easily portable. It would be ideal to have both to have all situations covered, however, that can be a bit expensive.

Here is a quick ice fishing fish finder vs flasher comparison chart to get the idea.

Battery life Shorter Longer
Cost Wide price range Wide price range
Ease of use A bit more complicated Relatively easy
Versatility of use Year-round in all situations Limited use, best for ice fishing
Portability Requires a case Easily portable
Screen LCD LED
Depth screening Some models more than 60m/200ft Up to 60m/200ft
GPS, Maps, Chart plotting Yes (depending on a model) No

What Are the Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders and Flashers [Models and Brands]?

I always say that you have to buy from reputable manufacturers, and fish finders/flashers are no exception.

There are many popular fish finder/flasher models, mostly produced by Humminbird and Garmin.

Humminbird has 2 similar, and great fish finder models, and those are ICE HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2, and the ICE HELIX 7 CHIRP GPS G3.

The latter one has a bit bigger screen, while both offer many useful features. Both are compatible with Lakemaster and Navionics.

There are also options without GPS, which are basically flashers.

Garmin has a few great models too. One of them called Panoptix LiveScope, but this is a very pricey option. Among cheaper models, you can find Garmin Striker 4 and 5.

If you are not a fan of these, Velixar FL models are great. Macrum is another popular ice fishing flasher manufacturer, and consider LX 7 and 9.

As the time goes by, flashers and fish finders begin to look a lot like each other. Velixar offers split-screen models, while Garmin offers flasher view on fish finders.

There are dozens of options, and beside your needs and wishes, you should consider the price too, as some high-end models come with a hefty price tag, especially when it comes to fish finders with additional features.

Can You Use Your Fish Finder or Flasher Anywhere Else?

Both of these devices can be seen as essentials for ice fishing, but can they be used anywhere else?

Many anglers fish year-round, and would like to have a device to use in any season.

As I already mentioned, fish finders can be used anywhere, anytime. You can mount transducer on a boat, get a detailed image when you are on a move, and you can use them for open water fishing too.

Of course, there are different types of fish finders too, and all of this depends on a specific model, however, you can get all these options for a certain price.

These devices can also be used as chart plotters and navigation devices, so it is safe to say that you have all-in-one with them.

Unfortunately, flashers will not give the best results while on the move, and that is why anglers love to use them for ice fishing. Another use is any fishing situation where you are static, like anchored on a boat. Unfortunately, as great as they are for this purpose, you can`t use them for anything else, and if you want to see maps, or have any kind of navigation, you will have to use separate devices for that.

Ice Fishing Fish Finder vs Flasher - Models and Brands


Ice fishing is a great activity, but many anglers, especially those with less experience face difficulties when trying to locate fish.

Buying a fish finder, or a flasher, will make it easier and more enjoyable. When it comes to device selection, ice fishing fish finder vs flasher, you should choose in accordance with your needs and personal preferences.

Take into consideration all the differences mentioned here and see which one suits your needs better. Both devices perform well and you can rest assured that no matter which one you choose, you will be satisfied.

And never underestimate the ice! Is ice fishing dangerous or not is a common debate among people, and no matter what you think about it, always take precaution measures to avoid accidents.

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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