Best Ice Fishing Sonars Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Who says fishing can’t be a year-round pastime? Indeed, frigid temperatures welcome in a new style and nuanced approach to angling that can be just as fun--if not more so--than fishing during the summer.
That being said, there are a few tools that you can add to your arsenal to ensure that your winter fishing trips are as fruitful as they can be. Adding good ice fishing sonars and flashers to your kit can seriously up the success and enjoyment of future outings.
Through learning your way around a flasher or sonar can seem daunting, we’ve fished the web and read thousands of ice fishing sonars reviews to bring you the best of the best.
So whether you are an experienced user of flashers and fish finders or you’re a total novice, there’s a device on this list with your name on it.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
Adjustable gain and depth range
Dual sonar beam options
Built for the ice
Bright fiber-optic display
10 Best Ice Fishing Sonars
1. Humminbird ICE-35
Adjustable gain and depth range
Dual sonar beam options
Built for the ice
Bright fiber-optic display
Some issues with transducer cables
The Humminbird ICE-35 Three Color Flasher is considered by many to be the best flasher for ice fishing on the market. In fact, many find it to be as indispensable as a great ice fishing rod. This is an excellent mid-range option with great display and zoom so that you can tweak the device to get the best view of what’s happening underneath the ice.
Dual Sonar Beam
This device comes with two different beam styles to allow you to alternate depending on the type of fish you are after. The narrow beam works best for finetuning details in a more limited space while the wide beam works to show the basic happenings of a much larger area. We give points for Advanced Features here.
You’ll also be able to adjust the gain and your flasher’s sensitivity and you’ll be able to adjust for different ranges in depth (1x, 2x, 4x, and 10x) which allows you to fish in water that is up to 200 feet deep. We give points for Adjustability here.
Highly Visible Display
We love the display on this device. With fiber optics in 3 different colors, you’ll be able to clearly distinguish between the bottom, your lure, and the fish that you’re after. Plus, the images come through super brightly so you won’t have any issues making them out. We give points for Ease of Use here.
We also like that you can zoom in on areas of interest and depths with the simple turn of a dial. More points for Adjustability and Ease of Use here.
We award points for Durability as this product is made from sturdy materials in the United States and comes with a 2-year warranty. We also like that it was designed specifically for the ice and comes with a wader so you won’t have to worry about your device freezing over.
We like that this product comes with a rechargeable battery that can last for hours on end. We also love how compact this option is. You can fit it inside of a 5-gallon bucket for easy transport to your favorite ice fishing spot.
Cost and Value
The Humminbird ICE-35 Three Color Flasher rings up in the middle of our price range and we love its value because it offers up tons of accuracy and adjustability for different fishing conditions and because it comes with a 2-year warranty.
2. Garmin Striker 4
Can be used on boat or stationary
Equipped with GPS
Super sharp imagery
Comes with transducer
Has a rechargeable battery
Issues with moisture on the screen
The Garmin Striker 4 is another handy little tool that you’ll want to add to your ice fishing shelter this winter. This is an inexpensive item that can be used in the warmer months or on ice, and works with a standard transducer. Plus, this little buddy provides a boatload of information in a tiny package making it a super portable companion.
Multiple Display and Info Options
The Garmin Striker 4 offers up tons of information in a tiny package. You’ll be able to get super clear images (almost photographic) of objects and fish in the water underneath thanks to the sonar operating on high frequency and low frequency at the same time. Thanks CHIRP!
The Waypoint Map is a lovely little bonus, thanks to the GPS capabilities of this unit. You’ll be able to use this feature to mark and save different points that you’ve visited like brush piles or stumps, and it will also help you to find your way back if you get lost.
For these advanced features, we award major Adjustability and Advanced Features points. We also like that it can be used on the boat to detect your speed as well.
Easy to Operate
This unit comes with a surprisingly easy user interface. The keypad comes with dedicated buttons to make operation straightforward and less complicated. We award Ease of Use points here.
We like that the transducer comes with your purchase and that it is durable and effective. We also like that the battery is rechargeable and long-lasting.
While this unit is designed for all types of weather, you should take care to ensure that your transducer does not get caught in the ice.
Cost and Value
The Garmin Striker 4 rings up towards the bottom of our price range and we like its value because it offers up tons of versatility as it can be used all year round and on boats or in stationary positions and because it offers up a variety of different information and super crisp imagery.
3. Marcum LX-7
Comes with large LCD screen
Adjust color palettes
Displays tons of information
4 different view options
Great for all depths
The Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishfinder is the most premium option on our list, but just as you wouldn’t skimp on your ice fishing boots, so it is worth it for the serious anglers to shell out a little extra on a product that is a cut above the rest and built to last a lifetime. With a crisp LCD display and a design catered specifically for the ice, this product fits the bill.
Incredible LCD Display
The Marcum LX-7 comes with an excellent LCD display that puts other products on the market to shame. It measures in at a full 8 inches and comes with 4 different color palettes that the user can choose from. On the display, you’ll enjoy readings about the depth, temperature, battery voltage, gain, range, and interference rejection.
You can adjust these to your desired preferences and arrange them as you wish to make a custom interface, so we award points for Ease of Use and Adjustability here.
4 Different Views
This device allows you to access 4 different view styles. You can choose to go with a traditional flasher view, a widescreen graph, vertical zoom, or vertical water column. We like these Advanced features and award points here.
Users rave of this product’s durability and love Marcum in general for making premium products that actually live up to their dollar value.
Cost and Value
The Marcum LX-7 rings up at the tippy top of our price range but we love its value because it offers tons of customization options and will last for years to come.
4. Deeper Smart Fish Finder PRO
Hooks up to your smartphone
Saves helpful information
Works well in super deep waters
Built in GPS
Maps vegetation and fish
WIFI can be spotty
The Deeper Smart Fish Finder PRO is the first castable fish finder to make our list. You’ll attach this puppy to a fishing line and lower it down into the ice just as you would a transducer attached to a flasher and then the device will send the data to your smartphone or tablet for you to use.
Pairs with your Smartphone
The Deeper Smart Fish Finder PRO is the first product on our list to pair with your smartphone. Simply download the Fish Deeper app and you’ll be up and running. This product operates via WIFI instead of Bluetooth which makes transference faster, though this can be a problem if you are in areas without WIFI access.
We like that all of the information that is gathered while using the app is saved to the cloud for you to review later. You can save map info and mark certain places of interest for ease on your next trip out. We award Ease of Use points here.
Wide and Narrow Beam
This unit offers up tons of versatility as it features both a wide and narrow sonar beam. The wide beam measures 55 degrees (90kHz) and the narrow beam measures 15 degrees (290kHz).
You will also be able to use this product to scan to depths as far as 260 feet. For this, we award Adjustability and Advanced Features Points.
Plus, with the built-in GPS features, you’ll be able to get a clear picture of not only the fish underneath but the vegetation as well which can help you map the perfect place to drill your next fishing hole.
Cost and Value
The Deeper Smart Fish Finder PRO rings up in the middle of our price range and we love its value because it is nice and compact as is able to store helpful information for you to access later.
Super cost friendly
Easy user interface
Fish alarm feature
2 year warranty
Confuses fish size at times
The Venterior is by far and away the most inexpensive item on our list but it still delivers excellent quality that will help you on your next outing. It comes with a long transducer line and a super easy to use interface so that you won’t waste time fidgeting around with a finicky gadget while you’re out on the ice.
Ease to Use Transducer
The Venterior comes with a transducer and a cable that is 25 feet long. This cable comes with a float that you can remove and will help to ensure that you don’t lose your transducer and that it doesn’t get frozen into the ice. We award points for Durability and Ease of Use here.
This unit can be used in the day or night with its backlight mode. We like the information that is displayed on the simple screen and find it easy to interpret and understand, so we give more points for Ease of Use.
As for Advanced Features, we like that this device can report on the approximate location of fish, on the type of waterbed (sand, rock, and tall or short grass), as well as water depth. There are also a few cool settings including a fish alarm and selectable sensitivity, so we award points for Adjustability here.
Cost and Value
The Venterior rings up at the very bottom of our price range and we love its value because it is a straightforward product that delivers the goods at a price you will really love. Plus, it comes with a 2-year warranty so you can feel secure in your purchase.
Good in many depths
Light to attract fish on transducer
Ice can interfere with sonar
The LUCKY is another of the most inexpensive devices on our list. It comes with a few unique features like a light on the transducer that can attract fish. This device is wireless and can cast signals up to almost 200 feet away, though we encourage ice users to keep this puppy on a string so it doesn’t get lost under the ice.
Lots of Adjustability
The LUCKY may be an inexpensive device, but you’ll still be able to adjust the settings to ensure that you’re getting the best under-ice read possible.
We award points for Adjustability and Ease of Use here as you will be able to select specific settings for sensitivity, depth, brightness, zoom, units, and whether or not you’d like to utilize the fish alarm.
This unit also has a nice depth range for a more budget-friendly device. You’ll be able to use this in waters up to 147 feet deep so we award points for Advanced Features here.
Plus, we like that this device is rechargeable and that it can be used in a variety of different fishing scenarios so it doesn’t have to be relegated to just one season.
Cost and Value
The LUCKY rings up at the bottom of our price range and we love its value because it still offers up decent depth and adjustable settings so that you can enjoy this in an array of different fishing environments.
7. Lowrance HOOK²
Super powerful imaging
Crisp CHIRP sonar
Incredibly portable and easy to carry
Takes time to learn interface
The Lowrance HOOK² is a must-have if you are ice fishing walleye or any other slow-moving chilly fish. We love how compact this item is and the pure power of its sonar. Plus, it has almost double the CHIRP capabilities as other products its size and at its price point.
Major CHIRP Capabilities
The Lowrance HOOK² comes with almost 2 times the amount of CHIRP power as other units at this price point. You’ll get a 3-in-1 sonar action that is unmatched by others of this size.
With CHIRP which delivers a wide-angle scan, plus advanced DownScan and SideScan, you’ll get a crisper and more complete image of what’s below. We give points for Advanced Features and Ease of Use here.
Autotune Your Sonar
It also offers up the Adjustability option of autotuning your own sonar. This allows you a better shot at getting the setting that is just right for your spot and it will allow you to account for changing conditions.
And we love a product that is designed specifically with the ice in mind as you can be sure that the frigid temps won’t interfere with functionality, so we award Durability points here.
Cost and Value
The Lowrance HOOK² rings up in the middle of our price range and we like its value because it offers up tons of accuracy and adjustability in a nice and portable package which is great when there’s limited space.
8. MarCum M Series Flashers
Adjust the depth settings
Cancels out interference with ease
Built to last
Pricey for functionality
The MarCum M Series Flashers are another great premium option that will only cost you about half as much as the Marcum LX-7. But even so, this device offers up tons of cool features that will prove indispensable when out on the ice and that will definitely come in handy.
The MarCum M Series Flashers offers up some of the best interference running on the market. You’ll be able to cancel out interference from other flashers in the area with the multi-step cancelation method that MarCum has actually patented. We award points for Advanced Features here.
Select the Depth
This Marcum product also allows you to select the depth range which, in turn, enables you to get a better image of what’s happening below the ice. You will be able to select depths of 20 feet, 40 feet, 80 feet, and 160 feet. We award points for Adjustability and Ease of Use here.
Cost and Value
The MarCum M Series Flashers rings up on the higher end of our price range and we like its value because this product is durable and built to last in the icy conditions so we award points for Durability.
9. Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice
Includes a GPS unit
Can map and save maps
Includes CHIRP sonar technology
Has a handy carrying case
Mapping only works when trolling
The Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice is another great premium option if you’ve got a little extra change lying around. This product comes equipped with GPS and can trace multiple different bait types. Plus, it is super compact and easy to carry so you won’t struggle getting to your fishing hole.
The Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice comes with GPS capabilities that make mapping and saving maps a breeze. With the Quickdraw Contours technology embedded, you’ll be able to create crisp map imagery that you can then save for future study and use. We give points for Advanced Features and Ease of Use here.
Read Different Jigs
This unit also has the capabilities to let you read different types of jigs whether they are standard jigs or baits that are weighted. You are able to adjust settings for both so we score this product well in the Adjustability category.
This product also comes with CHIRP technology which means it can gather crisp images and tell you lots about what’s happening beneath the ice’s surface.
And we like that this product was designed with the ice in mind so that it can hold up to tough winter weather. We give points for durability here.
Cost and Value
The Garmin Striker Plus 5 Ice rings up in the high middle of our price range and we like its value because it is compact and designed for the tough winter conditions of ice fishing.
10. Vexilar Inc.
Lightweight and compact
Only functions to determine depth
Sometimes hard to read readings
The Vexilar Inc. Hand-Held is a handy little device that is great for a variety of different fishing conditions. It will function in waters that are super deep (up to 200 feet) and is even certified waterproof up to 150 feet. And with a nice display, you’ll be able to read this no matter the condition.
Great Little Depth Finder
This unit is not meant for detecting fish and is rather used for determining the depth of the water you’re fishing in. We like that the screen is easy to read and comes with a backlight for low light situations.
Though getting a read in the hole in the ice can be a challenge sometimes, this product floats which makes getting a reading a little bit easier. This product scores decently in the Ease of Use category.
As this product is just a depth finder, we dock points in the Adjustability and Advanced Features categories.
Super Durable and Portable
This unit is super lightweight and easy to carry. It is certified waterproof and can sustain shocks, making it one of the more durable products on our list.
Cost and Value
This device rings up towards the bottom of our price range and we like its value because it is super durable and straightforward to use.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When we consider a product’s adjustability, we look at the range of settings available and how well the user can adjust those settings in order to get the best set up for the best read on the specific location they are in.
When taking into account Advanced Features, we look at the availability of GPS, of lighting features, of screen features, and the particulars of the sonar, including CHIRP.
Ease of Use
Since some of these products can be tricky to use, we score devices on their user interface and on how long it takes a typical user to become familiarized with the settings to get full utilization out of the device.
As for durability, we score a product higher in this category if it is actually designed to handle the frigid temperatures of ice fishing. Other device’s electronics can be damaged by such extreme temperatures.
In terms of value, we give a range of basic and premium products. While many products will give insanely crisp images of the fish underneath, sometimes these features are overkill for your needs so we provide details on what you get for your dollar.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
So you’ve got your fancy new piece of equipment, but now how in the heck do you get it working? Don’t worry, with these simple steps, you’ll be running your device like a pro in no time.
1. Check your battery before the trip. Make sure you properly install the battery and check for appropriate power flow and sufficient battery. This will save you a lot of frustration from getting to your fishing hole and realizing your battery is dead.
2. Drill a separate hole. When using a flasher, you will need to drill an additional hole in the ice (to the hole you will be using to fish out of). You’ll want to ensure that the hole is large enough so that it doesn’t freeze over causing you to potentially lose your device.
3. Make sure the transducer clears the ice. The transducer is the part of your flasher that actually sends out sonar signals. While newer devices are much better equipped to send and read signal through ice, older or more basic models will have some difficulty doing so. To ensure that you get the clearest signal possible, make sure that your transducer clears the ice at the bottom.
4. Know your depth. Before hitting any type of water, it is important to be familiar with the general geography of the water’s floor. Not only is this a great safety measure, but it also increases the likelihood of finding the fish that you’re after.
Try to have a general idea of the depth of the water your fishing hole is over. Some sonars will even do this bit of work for you.
In any case, you’ll want to set the depth on your sonar as closely as possible to actual depth of the water floor to get the most accurate readings. To do this, round up to the next highest unit. So if the water is 32 feet deep, round the depth setting up to 35.
5. Get the right gain setting. When you think gain, think power. The higher the gain, the higher the sonar signal is that is sent out (and visa versa). For shallower waters, you will require less gain.
The best way to ensure that you are using the right amount of gain is to crank the gain up super high to where you are getting tons of confusing feedback and signals. Then, gradually cut back on the gain until the picture on your flasher starts to clear up.
6. Know your fish to zoom. The smaller the field of view that you’re focused on, the clearer the images will appear and the easier it will be for you to read. So know your fish before zooming. If you are fishing for something like walleye that like to hang out low, zoom in to the bottom 10 feet or so of the water you’re fishing on.
7. Isolate your jig. when calibrated correctly, you should see your own line clearly on the sonar as a straight bar that is not flashing. You’ll want this line to come through the reading as thin as you can make it, and you’ll be able to achieve this by tweaking the gain even more.
8. Wait! Once you’ve gotten all of your settings adjusted, all you’ll have to do now is wait for movement on your flasher screen! We also suggest taking note of the settings for your specific spot. If you return to that spot, you’ll be able to set up faster next time.
You may find it confusing to tell the difference between a flasher and a fish finder, and there are a few notable differences to take into account.
The main difference between a flasher and a fish finder is the way you read the sonar. On the flasher, you will have to watch the screen on the unit for any movement. With a fish finder, you will be looking at your smartphone.
However, there are some other differences that fishermen weigh in on in great detail. Here’s a quick summary:
Flashers may take a bit more expertise to use or interpret. However, with a little practice, this problem is eliminated. Some also find that fish finders have a bit of delay as they sent their signals through Bluetooth. Just something to consider.
Many find flashers to be more accurate, though they don’t provide as much information. Many fish finders can map the entire bottom of the water you’re on and come equipped with GPS technology. It’s worth mentioning that many fish finders also have a flasher setting, so you can get the best of both worlds with a purchase like this.
A final note is that flashers are typically designed specifically for ice fishing and are thus far better equipped to deal with the sub-zero temperatures, which means they’ll last a lot longer and function with greater efficacy when exposed to the elements.
Other Factors to Consider
Because you’ll be taking these products to your fishing hole, you want to be able to move them with ease. That’s why we value devices that come with their own carrying cases and that can easily be moved from your truck to your fishing hole.
While many of these are just for ice fishing, we like a product that can be used all year round for different fishing scenarios so that you can get more bang for your buck.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How do ice fishing sonars work?
Ice fishing sonars work just like any sonar device: they send out sound waves and wait for those sound waves to bounce off of objects in the water and use those echos to generate an image of what the sound waves have come into contact with.
q: How do I use interference reduction on ice fishing sonars?
Interference can occur for a variety of different reasons, such as having another ice fishing sonar close by or from heavy currents or motor noise. The later is less likely in ice fishing scenarios.
While many flashers are designed to fight interference, fish finders may have a bit more difficult.
If you are fishing in community holes, or you are fishing close to a friend who is also using a flasher, you will likely experience interference. Each device works differently to eliminate interference, and some can eliminate as many as 10 different other signals.
You’ll need to consult your manual to understand exactly how your interference reduction works. You won’t want the interference reduction to be too powerful because this can cause you to miss fish signals. You’ll want just the right balance and the device manual will tell you how to achieve this.
q: How will my device hold up in the ice? Can the ice damage it?
If you are using an ice fishing flasher then your device was made with the hard winter elements in mind. That means that you won’t likely experience issues with its operation due to weather and cold. However, if you are using a fish finder that is meant to be used on a boat or in water that isn’t frozen, you may experience some issues with functionality as the temperatures dip.
You’ll also want to ensure that your device doesn’t get trapped in the ice and frozen over. While there definitely is the potential to remove it from the ice, this will take a good deal of time and may result in your device being damaged anyway.