Searching the Depths with the Top 5 Best Ice Fishing Sonars
What is the best ice fishing sonar on the market today? That’s exactly what we will attempt to answer now. If you’ve already begun your search you will know there’s a ton of options out there.
Price point, depth capacity and extra features such as waypoint maps and tracking are all things to consider when choosing the right ice fishing sonar for you.
To help you we have selected 5 top-rated sonars and put them through their paces. For our findings at a glance, just head to the table below. For an in-depth review of each of our chosen picks, keep on reading.
By the end of this article, you will know which tool to buy for better fishing beneath the ice.
Best ice fishing sonars – Top 5
Ice Fishing Sonar Reviews
1. TOP PICK: Garmin Striker 4 With Portable Kit Review
The Garmin Striker 4 is among the best fish finders today mostly popular for its great functionality and affordability.
It comes with excellent features that make your fishing experience great and fruitful. It is very convenient as you can carry it anywhere and no need for a drilling mount on your boat. It’s effective as you always get to know where your catch is.
Furthermore, it is budget-friendly.
1. Chirp Sonar
Unlike the traditional fish finders that featured 77/220 kHz transducers, Garmin striker 4 has the 77/200 kHz Garmin CHIRP.
This ensures that you enjoy better clarity and visibility levels. The Chirp sonar technology offers better target separation as it generates crisper fish arches.
You can upgrade the transducers to high-performance ones offering more remarkable resolution and target separation.
2. Waypoint Map
This fish finder features a built-in and high-sensitivity mapping system that allows for the accurate and fast location of your position.
It helps you to mark specific points with plenty of fish, allowing you to return to the location in the future.
The waypoint map also guides you while navigating the lake as you can also mark the various locations such as the docks or boat ramps.
The waypoints created can also be shared with other strikers.
3. Built-in Flasher
The Garmin Striker 4 with a portable kit also lets you see the bottom of the lake especially when jigging or ice fishing.
This helps to determine if the bottom is muddy or solid. You can also tell if the fish are moving away or towards your jig.
4. Portable kit
The portable kit included in the Garmin fish finder allows you to take it wherever you want. It comes with a compact bag that helps you carry and move it easily.
The kit also features a built-in cable management, swivel or tilt mount, a suction cup transducer and a rechargeable battery as well as its charger.
The Garmin Striker 4 with Portable kit offers anglers a great fishing experience and a reason to explore the waters.
It has great features that guarantee a successful experience, all available at a reasonable and friendly price.
When you balance price point, features and overall build quality it is easy to see why this is our top pick ice fishing sonar for 2020.
2. Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ Review
The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ has taken the fish finder world by a storm with its groundbreaking and remarkable features.
The fish finder efficiently helps you to fish from the boat as well as from the shore. In addition, it can be used for ice fishing.
The smartphone fish finder’s ability to fish from the shore has given anglers an experience that was previously possible only when on a boat.
The Deeper fish finder enables you to locate and see the fish from the shore. You only need to cast the hooked unit to your preferred location, and then monitor the sonar on your tablet or smartphone.
1. Smart phone compatible
The Deeper Pro+ is compatible with most smartphones running on Android 4.0 or later, as well as tablets with ios 8.0 and above.
The downloadable app for your mobile device also features a weather forecast, a solunar forecast calendar, and fish notes.
2. WiFi (Connect up to 330ft)
As long as the castable unit and your phone are charged, you can use the independent Wi-Fi connection to operate it from anywhere, even in areas without cell services.
WiFi is a great leap from the previous versions that used Bluetooth that often experienced numerous disconnections.
Using the independent Wi-Fi connection is essential as it offers a wider connection of up to 330 ft, unlike the Bluetooth connection which goes as far as 140 ft.
3. Ice fishing flasher
Its ice fishing flasher is helpful when you need to examine the underwater column. You can also choose to use the split-screen mode to see the normal sonar readings.
With its affordable price, the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ provides a great experience to anglers as you can fish from the shore, monitoring it from your mobile device.
The castable fishfinder offers more features, more power, and the best scanning depth and casting range. It offers top-notch marking and scanning from the shore, kayak, and boat as well as on the ice.
It is one fish finder that comes highly recommended.
3. BEST PREMIUM BUY: Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System Fishfinder Review
If you have a larger budget, the Marcum LX-7 fish finder is the product to buy.
It comes with a variety of high-quality features, making it a fantastic unit. When compared to all the other finders in our top 5 it has a better and larger screen size, with even higher resolution.
It is flexible with numerous settings making it suitable for all needs. It allows you to get the ultimate fishing experience with a whole new innovation level.
1. Excellent LCD Display
The Marcum LX-7 is available with a larger 800 X 600-pixel screen featuring an incredible resolution. It has an easy to read as well as customizable display.
There are numerous windows designed for underwater. These include a circular flasher, vertical zoom, and a widescreen graph. The LX-7 sonar technology enables you to target and monitor the fish even in deep waters.
The fish finder unit provides a wide range of settings allowing you to choose from a variety of combinations. Various options are displayed on the screen including target adjusts, interference rejection, battery voltage, and digital depth.
Also available in four color schemes and color palette settings, that can be changed both manually and automatically.
For enhanced performance, you can upgrade the software to the latest technology. It also comes with a 9A rechargeable battery and a charger.
3. Sonar Technology
The sonar technology employed on this fish finder is designed to help generate images quickly from under the water.
The sonar is able to target and transmit an image to the transducer in a fraction of a second. The sonar is powerful enough to help you penetrate into deep depths.
It provides excellent targeting, enabling you to monitor the lure with great target spacing.
The Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System has received numerous positive reviews and rating and has earned its fair share of fans.
Getting its detailed and sufficient information on how it works can offer you an amazing fishing experience.
If you have the budget and are after the highest quality ice fishing sonar on the market today, this is the unit to buy,
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The Vexilar FL – 8se Genz Pack is a legendary fish finder that is popular for its three color flasher.
It utilizes advanced technology that is set to display green for a weak target, orange for a medium strength target and red for strong or deep depth fish targets.
It comes with a bright LED technology designed for use in direct sunlight. This is combined with a highly durable Blue Box, personally designed by one of the legendary ice fisherman, Dave Genz.
The Blue box holding case is multi-functional, designed for numerous purposes. Also have a 12 voltage battery, a charger as well as a Vexilar 19 degrees transducer.
1. Easy to assemble
The fish finder comes while completely assembled and ready for use, combined with an instruction video to guide you through your fishing expedition.
2. Durable design
The classic Genz pack fish finder is designed to be nearly indestructible and durable and a redesigned compartment for the battery storage.
It also features a universal holder system for the transducer.
3. High resolution, bright LEDs
The unit provides a resolution of 525 segments, super-bright LEDs, six depth ranges as well as 10 different settings for interference rejection.
4. Holds all essential Vexilar accessories
The Genz Pack Blue box design is able to hold all the essential Vexilar accessories including the flex light, dual-beam ice-ducer transducer, as well as the battery status indicator.
It is big enough to fit a five-gallon bucket and is suitable for easy handling and access during your fishing activities.
The Vexilar FL – 8se Genz Pack with 19 Degree Ice Flasher comes with a great display featuring three color readout, green for the weakfish targets, orange for medium-strength targets and red for deep depth fish targets.
The whole unit contains a cable compartment, sonar system, an inbuilt transducer holder and a battery compartment. In addition, it comes with a 2 years warranty.
5. Humminbird ICE – 35 Three Color Flasher Review
The Humminbird ICE – 35 Three Color Flasher is a standard or basic fish finder with a design meant for down dropping or ice fishing and features numerous fish finding elements.
Though it can only run a single frequency at a time, the flasher has the capability of using 2 sonar beams, one at 455 kHz and the other at 240 kHz.
It also features 19 and 9-degree transducer, allowing it to deliver detailed readings. Just like similar higher frequencies units, the ICE-35 has a quite modest maximum depth capability as it goes up to 200 ft. However, it is ideal for shallower lakes and rivers.
1. Fish detection
With the help of the high-frequency transducer, one can target fish from as deep as 200 ft. The hardware delivers the readings of the underwater contours and structures.
2. Target separation and zoom
The Humminbird has a target separation of 2.5 inches, allowing you to see even the tiniest fish targets. Its wide range zoom capability allows you to focus on clear and full detail readings.
3. Color display
The fish finder has a three-color display with a 526 segment resolution, giving excellent visuals on the readings.
However, it lacks a user interface. The flasher is only meant to help you differentiate between different objects such as the bottom surface and the fish.
With the help of the three-color indicator, you can also distinguish between various target sizes, with green being for smallest, middle-sized indicated with orange and red for large targets. The screen display is pretty much straightforward.
The Humminbird ICE-35 Flasher features a three-color range display and includes a portable swivel mount, battery, charger as well as an ice transducer.
It is ideal for fishing up to 200 ft in depth and has been considered to be among the most affordable fish finders.
Ice Fishing Sonar Buyer’s Guide
There are a number of factors you should consider when buying an ice fishing sonar. Here’s a few of them now.
Display & Screen Resolution
Screen size and resolution are something you should think about. There could be a lot of glare while you’re out on the ice, or maybe you are fishing at night.
Either way, having a device that can display the relevant information clearly in all environments will definitely be beneficial.
Backlit screens make help display data more vividly, and of course, a larger screen will help too. The latter needs to be balanced with portability, however, as you will want a sonar that is easy to carry around. But more on that now…
Weight and Portability
Weight and portability are two important factors and are obviously connected. A lightweight unit that can be easily carried to your fishing spot, while also being easily placed in your fishing holdall, should be the preferred choice.
Dimensions are also an issue here, as while you want durability with the aforementioned adequate screen-size, a small unit will be easier to store once the fishing day is done.
An ice fishing sonar is going to get its fair share of knocks and bumps. It just comes with the territory with any outdoor pursuit.
To ensure your chosen device is up to the task it should be robust in design, (i.e, well made), using materials that can handle cold temperatures and contact with the hard ice.
Don’t be tempted to use a normal fish finder in below zero conditions. They are not designed for such tasks, and will not have the durability and resistance to the cold exposure, a true ice fishing sonar will have.
Connected to durability is the level of water resistance. Melting ice, rain, the waters you are fishing in, could all end up on the surface of the sonar. To have sufficient resilience against all of this is a must.
Besides, water can seep through and damage the electronic components of the fish finder.
So far we have covered how the sonar is built in terms of size, portability, and strength. Now let’s look at the components and features that go into a high-quality device.
One of these variables is the beam angle. Inside the unit, you have a transducer that scans the water beneath the ice, using sonar to detect the presence of fish.
The sonar beam angle is how far your device will be able to scan the water. Narrow beams with greater depth will provide data in deeper waters, while a wider beam will provide a larger range, albeit over shallower depths.
Some devices will allow you to alter beam angles, while others will not. Check the specifications of the sonar you interested in, to ensure it has the capabilities you need.
The frequency will also impact the scan area and depth of an ice fishing sonar. High frequency will provide you with more information over shallower depths, while a lower frequency device will be able to scan deeper with fewer details.
As a practical example, a sonar working at a frequency of 200kHz will give you a lot of data points over shallow waters (especially combined with a wide beam).
However, if you find yourself regularly fishing deep waters, a lower frequency of between 50kHz and 100kHz, would be a better choice.
Again, many devices will allow you to select different frequencies, so bear this range in mind before you buy.
Battery life is very important if you are out for a long day’s fishing and do not want to worry about how long your sonar will operate.
High-quality devices with built-in Lithium-ion batteries are the best choice here. The charge life is much longer, and you should get more than enough power while you are out on the ice.
4-6hrs is the average amount of time you should expect, with top-end devices lasting up to 8 hours or more. Anything less than 4hrs is a sign of an inadequate system.
Having a budget in mind before you buy is always a good idea. This, along with your requirements are the best way to narrow down your buying choices. At the same time, you have to be realistic.
f you don’t have the budget, your wish list might need to be reduced. If you can’t budge on that, you may have to find more money to buy the device that best suits your needs.