Fishing is a rewarding pastime, but ice fishing is a bit of an adventure. Not everyone is willing to brave the cold, but there’s something special about looking out over a frozen lake. The only thing that makes it better is coming back with a good catch of fish. That’s what modern fish finders enable you to do. Here are three of the best ice fish finders you’ll find.
1. Humminbird Ice Helix 7 CHIRP GPS G2
Humminbird’s GPS/Sonar combo introduces an updated Broadband CHIRP digital system that includes both flasher and 2-D modes. The Helix 7’s SwitchFire Sonar shows high-resolution separation of images for more detailed views, and at a deeper level than previous models. It also includes five settings to help you prevent someone else’s sonar from affecting the clarity of your signals.
You’ll get 20 degree and 60 degree coverage from the DualBeam PLUS. The transducer provides 130-250 kHz multi-range signals for more complete views. You’ll get 20 degree and 60 degree coverage. It will reveal depths of up to 1,500 feet in freshwater. There are Clear and Max modes so you can focus on your targets.
The Helix 7 provides a 7″ LCD display in full color at 800 x 480 pixels. It’s backlit by LEDs to allow the same anti-glare or low-light displays in all lighting conditions. There’s also an 8x zoom function.
You can utilize split-screen displays such as flasher-chart or flasher-sonar. Six different display views will also show critical information on lure and swivel depth, water temperatures, and a fish ID function so you can focus on the size or species of fish you’re looking for. It provides 2.5 inch separation for stacking multiple fish images.
You can see the fish, the bottom, and your lure clearly so you know what’s happening at all times. An fast and accurate GPS mapping features also allows you to mark your hot spots for future reference, even after the ice has gone. The UniMap cartography shows the U.S. coastline as well as most inland lakes and rivers. The display is constantly redrawn from super-fast RAM. You can set up to 2,500 waypoints and 45 routes into memory, or save screenshots and sonar recordings.
An empty SD-card slot is provided for expansion. It’s also compatible with AutoChart, Navionics, and LakeMaster cartography. You’ll be able to download free software updates from Humminbird’s website.
The Helix 7 comes with a carrying case, hardware, gimbal bracket and shuttle, and 12-volt battery with charger. Though designed primarily for ice fishing, you can use it just as well in warm weather for a smaller boat. It includes an 8-foot transducer cord.
In sum, the Ice Helix 7 is a quality, reliable, versatile instrument that will provide the visibility and detail you need to find the fish. It works promptly and efficiently even at considerable depths and below a thick cover of ice. Considering what it can do, it’s a good investment that performs up to expectations every time.
2. Garmin Striker 5 Ice Fishing Bundle
Garmin’s Striker 5 was designed for ease of use. A bright 5″ display and Garmin’s CHIRP sonar transducer make it simple to explore your favorite fishing spots. Garmin has been making these products for years, and the Striker 5 comes with all the portability and features you expect of an ice fish finder, and more.
The CHIRP ClearVu sonar provides viewing of fish, obstacles, and contours at up to a 750-foot depth. It comes with the 4-pin, dual-beam Garmin GT8HW-IF transducer operating at 150 to 240 kHz and 250 watts of power for up to 750 feet below. You can also add the 300-watt GT20 Garmin transducer at 77 to 200 kHz for deeper imaging of up to 1,600 feet in continuous sweeps. Adjustable beam width allows you to change instantly from 16 to 24 degree angles, perfect for ice fishing. AutoGain technology ensures optimal clarity of images and reduced interference.
The display offers an 800 x 320 pixel display with HGVA color. Though not the caliber of some other images, it still provides clear underwater displays on a backlit 5″ screen. You get A-scope depth measurements on the sonar signal cone so you know exactly where your jig is, what depth obstacles lie at, and where the fish are swimming. Built-in flasher and alerts help you track what’s happening in even the muddiest water. It also provides a bottom-lock feature to stay focused on the same point and water temperature logs and graphs. The display also allows zoom, split-screen, and fish ID capabilities, plus a sonar rewind feature for review.
A high-sensitivity GPS technology receives a 1Hz signal for fast and accurate updates on your position. Garmin’s Striker 5 mapping lets you mark your routes and waypoints with a combination of both STRIKER and echoMap software. You can replay waypoints and use a data cable for sharing information with other Garmin devices.
At 8 pounds total weight, it comes with a portable carrying case so you bring it along easily across the ice or out on the dock. This includes the battery and charger, and float and swivel mounts. A silicon-coated transducer cord stays ice-free in the coldest weather. The Striker 5 also includes transom and trolling motor mounts so you can use it on your boat when the weather warms up. It ships with a comprehensive owner’s manual. Other available accessories include a protective lens for the display and a full set of mounting hardware.
While not providing the full bells and whistles of more advanced units, plus the limitations of the smaller screen, the Striker 5 bundle is also half the price. It’s easy for beginners yet provides many reliable features. That makes it a great deal for the casual or occasional ice fisherman who still wants to get the most out of every trip onto the ice. The Garmin Striker 5 is a mid-range fish finder that doesn’t skimp on quality.
3. Lowrance Hook 5 Ice Machine
Lowrance’s Hook 5 Ice Machine is a rugged package for the serious ice fisherman. It’s very solidly made, with the unit, transducer, and cable weighing in at about 25 pounds. It does not come with a carrying case so you’ll have to pack it along the best you can.
Downscan Imaging lets you easily monitor fishing conditions below the ice. The Hook 5 transducer is specially designed for ice fishing and sub-freezing temperatures with an IPX7 waterproof rating. The transducer cable is an impressive 20 feet in length. There are two dual-beam sonar settings at 50/200 kHz and 85/200 kHz using 500 watts of signal strength for depths up to 1,000 feet.
The 5″ LCD backlit screen makes underwater views almost photo-quality with 480 x 480 resolution and 256 colors at up to 4x zoom. You can adjust views and navigate pages with a one-finger control mechanism so you don’t have to take your gloves off. It has both adjustable and automatic settings to refine your image the way you like it, plus depth alerts and water temperature readings.
It can also be used in warmer weather, although a sunshade cover is recommended to preserve the quality of the display in bright sunlight. The Hook 5 display also comes with a dimming feature to adjust for operation in lower light for reduced eye strain.
The Hook 5 comes pre-loaded with over 3,000 images of U.S. rivers, lakes, and coastlines including bottom contours. You can also create and save your own customized maps with Downscan Overlay and the built-in Insight Genesis mapping technology. The unit provides an empty micro-SD slot for adding upgrades such as Lake Insight, Navionics, and Nautic Insight.
The Trackback feature allows you review waypoints, routes, and sonar recordings. It allows storage of up to 100 routes and 3,000 individual waypoints. You can log up to 10,000 points on a single route. It comes with a built-in GPS antenna but you can also buy an external antenna to increase reception and accuracy even further.
This fish finder is very sensitive and does a great job of eliminating noise to provide crisp images from below the ice, while still being perfectly suitable for summer fishing. It includes mounts for attaching to fishing craft. It’s very easy to use and performs exceptionally under the worst conditions.