Best ice fishing fish finder

Fishing

A fish finder uses sonar pulses to create a real-time image of the lake or river floor underneath your boat.

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Which ice fishing fish finders are best?

It’s important to learn how to properly use a fish finder, especially if you want to have a successful winter fishing trip. Fish finders are affordable and widely available, and ice anglers can use these devices to catch all kinds of fish, including perch, bass, panfish, walleye and trout. The Garmin Striker 5CV Fish Finder is a stellar ice fishing fish finder that will benefit amateur and experienced anglers alike.

What to know before you buy an ice fishing fish finder

What is a fish finder?

A fish finder is a device that uses sonar pulse to create a real-time image of the lake or river floor underneath your boat. It utilizes a hull-mounted transducer to send out sound waves which then bounce off objects to create a detailed image of the area under your boat. This display allows you to see fish natural features in the water, as well as individual fish and schools of fish. 

If your tool comes with a depth finder, you can see how deep these features and fish are. The finder will also note the temperature of the water.

How to use

Modern fish finders do an excellent job of interpreting different transducer signals. However, you need to learn how to use the device to get the best results. You should also know which signals the transducer may mistake for other things. For example, your device may mistakenly read several underwater plants as a school of fish. This is why it’s important for you to be relatively familiar with the area where you’re ice fishing. 

Bring a charger

Consider bringing a portable pack with charging accessories since smaller fish finders tend to eat up battery power quickly. 

What to look for in a quality ice fishing fish finder

Transducer

The transducer acts as the eyes and ears of a fish finder device. It’s like a submarine sonar, which sends out a ping and listens for an echo. The most common place to mount a transducer is on the stern of the boat. You should place it on a transom, shoot-through or through-hull. 

The transom is a flat section outside of the hull. It’s easy to place the transducer on this portion of the boat, but it increases the likelihood of interference due to the boat’s motion.

You can also glue the transducer on the inside of the hull, known as the in-hull or shoot-through. You should only try this with fiberglass hulls since it’s difficult to get an accurate reading with this setup on foam-sandwiched, aluminum or wood hulls. 

Finally, you can mount the transducer by drilling a hole into the bottom of the hull, also known as the through-hull. While the through-hull offers accurate readings of the water under the boat, there will be a permanent hole in the hull.

Screen

Modern fish finders have full-color screens with color-coded data, making it easy to figure out what’s under the boat. It will identify individual fish, schools of fish, clear water and contours of the sea bottom or lake. The screen can also give you extra info, including boat speed, water depth, water temperature and time.

GPS

High-quality fish finders incorporate a GPS to locate the position of the boat compared to other navigation points, like the docks or the shore.

How much you can expect to spend on an ice fishing fish finder

Ice fishing fish finders have a wide price range and cost between $99-$699. Handheld ice fishing fish finders with smaller screens only cost about $99-$179. Mid-range fish finders with 5-inch screens go for $254-$399. High-end fish finders with 7-9-inch screens typically cost about $499-$699.

Ice fishing fish finder FAQ

How do you improve your fish finder tracking?

A. If your ice fishing fish finder isn’t bringing back good data, try peaking the transducer. This technique will help you fine-tune the settings and give you a better picture of your surroundings even in poor conditions. There are three steps to peaking your transducer. First, change the fish finder range to three times the actual depth of the water. Next, increase the sensitivity until you can see a second bottom underneath the first bottom on the primary screen. Finally, slowly decrease the sensitivity until you have a good read on the first bottom result. Place the range back on its original setting and see if your readings are any better.

What does it mean when an ice fishing fish finder is running behind?

A. Your fish finder sends out a sonar pulse, which takes some time to return to your boat. If your boat moves too quickly, you may pass the spot you just surveyed. You may also miss the fish near your boat if your screen scrolls too slowly. If something intriguing pops up at the far right of your screen, boost your screen’s scrolling speed and slow down the boat to investigate.

What’s the best ice fishing fish finder to buy?

Top ice fishing fish finder

Garmin Striker 5CV

Garmin Striker 5CV

What you need to know: This fish finder has accessible controls and an excellent viewing screen. You can control everything with just a few buttons.

What you’ll love: It comes with a built-in flasher making it perfect for ice fishing. It also has a big scanning area for improved resolution and a multi-frequency sonar that detects different kinds of fish in the water. 

What you should consider: This product’s depth finder doesn’t work correctly at speeds over five miles an hour.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top ice fishing fish finder for the money

Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder

Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder

What you need to know: This affordable ice fishing fish finder comes with a transducer and plenty of other valuable features found in more expensive options.

What you’ll love: It features a built-in sonar to update the data screen with more accurate info and simple access way point navigation. The small and simple design is easy to hold, too.

What you should consider: The connection cables that come with this product are susceptible to disruption and interference. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Garmin Striker Plus 7SV Fish Finder

Garmin Striker Plus 7SV Fish Finder

What you need to know: If you want a premium fish finder, this one includes plenty of helpful features to make ice fishing simpler.

What you’ll love: The built-in GPS enables way point creation and pinpoint water navigation to mark various spots. You can also develop and store maps with the fish finder’s specialized software and control finding through the phone app.

What you should consider: It doesn’t include basic navigation functionality.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Alex Kilpatrick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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