Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder: 16 Top Sonar Units Reviewed

ice fishing fish finder article feature image of a fisherman holding a pike on the ice

Ice fishing is challenging due to not being able to cover large areas of water easily and quickly like you could in a boat. Instead, anglers are forced to manage their time by finding spots that hold fish without actually being able to see underwater features or fish.

The use of ice fishing specific sonar helps greatly when it comes to this style of precision fishing, and unlike decades past when you might never know if there’s any fish after you drill holes on a certain spot, anglers can now quickly determine if the areas are worth fishing, or moving on to better areas.

Here are our best picks for ice fishing fish finders on the market today.

Best ice fishing fish finder: our top picks

Best overall ice fish finder:

Garmin Panoptix Live Scope Ice Fishing Bundle

Find new fish-holding structure and spots and catch your limit with the Garmin Panoptix livescope ice fishing bundle. This fish finder is the most advanced on the market today and the features and tools are incredible, to say the least, and comes in as our best ice fishing fish finder on the market today.

The sonar on this livescope bundle allows you to scan up to 200 feet in any direction. Nothing stays hidden or a secret with live scope, allowing you to find brush, structure, and fish easier than ever before.

The Panoptix livescope ice fishing bundle also features a built-in GPS. Garmins’ LakeVu g3 maps, which have 18,000 topographic lake maps built into the unit, so if you fish one of those thousands of lakes you can find areas to fish that much easier.

The Garmin Panoptix livescope ice fishing bundle comes in a compact setup with a carrying case featuring a handle that makes it incredibly mobile, allowing you to move from area to area, drilling holes, scouting them with the livescope to determine if there is fishing holding structure or fish, and allowing you to decide quickly if you should stay or continue searching.

The ice fishing bundle also comes with two storage boxes, allowing you to carry a large number of jigs, spoons, and other lures to keep the amount of gear you have to carry around on the ice as minimal as possible.

Best value fish finder for ice fishing:

Lowrance Hook2 4X Bullet

The Hook2 comes in as our best value fish finder for a good reason, you get a great tool for a price that’s very easy on the wallet.

This is a no-nonsense fish finder built for ice fishing, it features a sonar/GPS setup and will help you discover fish-holding areas and the fish on them.

The Hook2 has an auto-tuning CHIRP sonar that adjusts for things like depth and zoom on the fly, so you spend less time fiddling with settings and more time fishing.

The GPS plotter on the Hook2 allows you to put waypoints on any spot that you find, so instead of drilling dozens of holes looking for one small specific spot like a brush pile, you will know exactly where it is every time, allowing you to fish with an efficiency that was unheard of in decades past.

The Hook2 comes with a 4″ high-resolution Solarmax screen allowing you to easily see the graph in direct sunlight.

This ice-fishing sonar kit is extremely mobile with a durable soft case and carrying handle, along with 2 stowaway boxes to hold all your jigs, spoons, and other ice fishing tackle.

Most versatile fish finder for ice fishing:

Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 Split Shot Ice Pack

With features that Lowrance is well known for like auto-tuning CHIRP sonar, down scan, and fish reveal, the Hook Reveal 7 Split Shot fish finder gets our pick for the most versatile ice fishing sonar unit on the market now.

Smack dab in the middle of the road price-wise, the Hook Reveal 7 fish finder gives ice anglers a ton of features and tools to help them be very efficient with their time on the water.

The Hook Reveal 7 CHIRP sonar isn’t just confined to the split shot transducer, and other options are available including the 50/200 HDI, ice machine, and triple shot transducers.

The Hook Reveal fish finder also comes with multiple GPS mapping options, from standard built-in GPS functionality to a 4,000 lake map option, and a C-Map contour package.

Screen size offerings weren’t forgotten about with this unit either, and you have multiple options to choose from with 5″ 7″ and 9″ screens, all with an easy viewing display even in direct sunlight.

Best ice fishing fish finder: detailed reviews

​Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS Fish Finder

Want a no-nonsense ice fishing fish finder that’s incredibly compact, has a small footprint and is light on the wallet? If so, look no further, because the Garmin Striker 4 might just be the one for you.

The Garmin striker 4 has a 3.5-inch screen and the entire package is nestled into a convenient small carry case with a zipper to enclose it for protection.

The Garmin Striker 4 has a simple GPS platform and it has CHIRP sonar and a flasher built-in. The Garmin Striker 4 is the perfect fish finder for those with a low budget, or for the serious angler that doesn’t need the fancy features of other pricey fish finders. What more could you really ask for at this price?

Key features

  • light and compact
  • flasher and sonar
  • GPS

Deeper Pro Smart Sonar – GPS Wi-Fi Fish Finder​

Want a fish finder that you can use all year round and isn’t made solely for ice fishing? How about a compact fish finder that you can use in conjunction with your smartphone or tablet?

The Deeper Pro+ is a castable fish finder that was designed to be cast by your fishing rod from shore, a boat, or a kayak, but it can also be used in an ice fishing capacity as well.

Simply tie it to a stiff, spare jigging rod or even just a piece of cord and drop in your hole, then use your smartphone or tablet to read the bottom, it’s as simple as that.

The Deeper Pro smart sonar is powerful, has dual-beam sonar that sends 15 scans per second and can read at a maximum depth of 260 feet.

Key features

  • incredibly portable
  • dual-beam sonar
  • Sonar accurate to 1″

​Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder

The Venterior VT-FF001 is so compact that it can literally fit in your coat pocket, making it most certainly the most mobile and lightweight portable fish finder you will find.

The Venterior VT-FF001 used the AAA batteries that everyone has laying around, making battery changes a breeze. And on a full battery, it will function for a continuous 4 to 5 hours.

The Sonar on this little fish finder is no joke and will send readings at depths as shallow as 3 feet and as deep as 328 feet.

You can also change settings like the unit of measure, backlighting, sensitivity, or activate a battery-saving mode.

Key features

  • 5 setting options
  • a portable fish finder with a compact design
  • uses common AAA batteries

​Vexilar SonarPhone with Transducer Pod

The Vexilar SonarPhone is an effective and simple concept and design. Simply throw the transducer pod in a hole while ice fishing, pull out your phone, open the Vexilar app, and voila, you have an effective ice fishing fish finder.

This fish finder will indicate depth and water temperature, it has a bottom zoom feature, a built-in battery with battery life indicator, and automatic ranging.

It can reach a maximum depth of 120 feet, has 4 hours of continuous battery life with a USB charging slot, and can send sonar data to your phone from up to 100 yards away.

Key features

  • Wifi Sonar pod design
  • 120 feet of depth readings
  • decent battery life with great charging options

​​Lucky Portable Sonar Handheld Wired Fish Finder

The Lucky Portable Sonar is another handheld fish finder design that will fit in your pocket, and also features a small wireless pod transducer design.

With 5-6 hours of continuous battery life on a full charge, you will have sonar for a full day on the water in normal use situations. The pod is wireless so there is no need to stuff a bunch of cables in your pocket, or deal with any sort of tangling.

The transducer will function with the unit while being over 300 feet away, and the sonar readings have a maximum depth of nearly 150 feet.

Key features

  • wireless transducer pod
  • long battery life
  • long-distance functionality and depth

​HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder

This very portable fish finder is not much bigger than a cell phone and comes with a wireless transducer ball as well, making it great for on the ice applications.

The Hawkeye comes in three different models, all of which are centered around the display of the sonar findings. You can choose between a dot matrix display, HD color virtuview display, or the virtuview icon display.

The Fishtrax 1C fish finder has a dual beam sonar that features Fishtrax intelligence, allowing you to make multiple adjustments as you need on the ice, and for those who like flashers, this sonar unit has a built in flasher as well.

Key features

  • can use flasher modes
  • adjustable dual beam sonar
  • multiple models to choose from

​Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System/Fishfinder

Marcum is well known in the ice fishing world for producing great flasher units. The LX-7 is one of those flashers, and just so happens to be one of the best flasher fish finders on the market today.

The LX-7 has a nice big 8-inch screen to stare at when trying to trigger a fish to eat, making it easy to see in detail even if you are standing away from the unit. You also have fully customized display options including water-column vertical view, vertical zoom view, flasher-dial view, and traditional horizontal LCD graph displays. 

You can also switch your sonar cone to display a particular area of the water column with 8 degree or 20-degree transducer cone areas.

This flasher comes in a great portable kit to make it easy to carry around on the ice, with a nice zip-up carrying case and an extending arm that holds your transducer and keeps it in position.

Key features

  • very portable
  • multiple flasher and transducer modes
  • large screen

​Anysun Underwater Fish Finder

The Anysun is a great underwater fishing camera that is very budget friendly. It features a full 9 inch color monitor with a sun hood/visor to reduce glare when used in bright and sunny conditions, something that is common while on the ice. The camera also features 12 infrared LED lights to give the angler optimum viewing of the area in deep or dark water conditions. This camera will also run for a total of 6 to 8 hours, giving you a full day of use on the water without having to worry about your battery dying.

Key features

  • long battery life
  • large screen
  • cheap

​Lowrance Hook-5 Mid/High PPP-18i Ice Fishfinder

The Hook-5 is a great sonar unit tailored to work in the ice and has Lowrance’s famous high CHIRP transducer. Of course when you have any sonar fish finder platform from one of the top companies in the market you also get loads of features like C-map GPS to mark your favorite spots, and the Hook-5 is also capable of using Navionics map cards.

This fish finder comes with a zippered carrying case making it a very portable fish finder, along with having to storage boxes to hold tons of ice fishing jigs and lures.

Key features

  • loaded with tons of features and modes
  • Lowrance high chirp sonar transducer
  • GPS with Navionics card capabilities

Humminbird 410990-1 Ice Helix 7

Possibly the absolute best ice fishing fish finder in its price range, the Helix-7 has everything you need to be successful on the ice.

Flasher? Check. Highly accurate GPS? Check. Dual spectrum CHIRP sonar? Check. You name it, this thing has it. Heck, you can even use this thing to charge up your glow-in-the-dark jigs when night fishing.

The Helix-7 fish finder has an ultra-bright and clear display with high definition screen to allow you to see what is happening in the water beneath you clearly and easily, and you can use the split-screen version to run down imaging sonar and the flasher simultaneously.

The GPS is capable of taking Lakemaster map SD cards and also has a chart plotter so you can make your own maps on the water yourself if it isn’t charted.

Key features

  • Chartplotter capabilities and Lakemaster card capable
  • Split screen modes
  • Dual spectrum sonar

Humminbird Ice 55

The Humminbird Ice 55 is one of the best ice fishing flashers you will find. With the Ice 55 you have 4 depth modes to choose from at 20, 40, 80, and 200 feet. It also features a dual-beam transducer with settings at 9 degrees and 19 degrees.

The Ice 55 has quite a few other settings that you can easily access on its 6 button pad for great ease of use and right at your fingertips. Setting options include zoom setting options, gain adjustment, noise adjustment, beam, target cursor, and color selections, all of which are fine-tuning.

  • fine-tuning and adjustable settings
  • 4 depth modes
  • dual beam transducer

Vexilar FLX-28

Velixar was one of the pioneers of flasher technology, and even today remains one of the top companies to produce flashers for the ice fishing market.

The FLX-28 is a no-nonsense ice fishing flasher that gets the job done. You can fine tune this thing to run with depth settings as shallow as 5 feet and as deep as 300 feet with 10 foot increments. It has a unique weed mode setting that allows to to see through the noise produced by vegetation to uncover what is hiding within it, helping you find and catch more fish.

The flasher has day and night brightness settings so you can see easily in all lighting conditions, a 5 color palette to select from to customize the sonar read colors at your discretion, and an awesome carry case with foam transducer float to keep things like the transducer cable neat and hassle free.

Key features

  • great depth settings
  • customizable color settings and display settings
  • up to 300 feet of accurate depth readings

MarCum MX-7GPSLI

The MX-7 series by MarCum is a lithium-powered sonar/GPS unit that gives you long-lasting battery life.

With a unique interference rejection system that’s so different from the competition it has its own patent, GPS to mark and plot your spots, and one of the best ice fishing-specific sonar transducers out there, this thing will more than get the job done for you.

The display runs the GPS mapping right alongside a vertical flasher display, giving you all the information you need on one screen.

The carrying case is also well designed and makes the package very portable.

Key features

  • intuitive display
  • Lithium batteries
  • excellent interference system

Ice fishing fish finder buyers’ guide:

What is the price range for ice fishing fish finders?

You can find sonar units that are either dedicated solely for ice fishing, or general sonar units that work well on the ice as well as open water, for anywhere from under $100 to nearly $3000.

Choosing an ice fishing fish finder depends on what features you need and the price. Not all ice fishing anglers can justify spending 2500 dollars on a fish finder. Whereas, for diehard anglers these are high-end units are a must.

Many sonar unit features may be considered a luxury to some and not necessary, but this all boils down to personal preference. It’s up to you to decide what you need out of an ice fishing fish finder.

What’s different about an ice fishing fish finder?

Many ice fishing fish finders today are the same regular fish finder that you would find in a boat, while others have some other features like flashers added to them, which are a common sonar display used in fishing on the ice.

Almost all ice fishing fish finders come with some sort of carrying case and storage to make it easy for fishermen to move with the sonar unit in one hand and a rod in the other. When drilling dozens of holes over an area holding fish you can then easily move from hole to hole with the unit in hand and determine if there are any fish present or if you should move to the next.

What’s a fish flasher?

The flasher variant of a fish finder is a circular representation of a vertical column of water that is the illuminated cone made visible by the sonar transducer.

Flashers have numbers that indicate depth on the outer circle, and any sonar readings in the circle will coincide with the depth displayed. Readings are typically shown in green, red, or yellow. Red is a solid reading, indicating the object or fish is directly beneath the unit, with green being the next in line for a solid reading, followed by yellow indicating a weaker reading.

These colors indicate not only the distance from the hole but also size with solid readings indicating larger fish and weaker readings smaller fish.

The width of the sonar bars also indicates distance and size, both color and bar width used in conjunction can help you determine fish distance and size.

Many novice anglers find flashers complicated and it can intimidate those who are unfamiliar with how they work. But with a little time and practice, you will quickly learn how to use them efficiently, and when it comes to finesse fishing they are hard to beat.

Ice fishing fish finder vs flasher

Many of the fish finders created and used in ice fishing today have both the modern digital view of the water and bottom where you are fishing and an ice fishing flasher, meaning you don’t have to choose one over the other. You can get both with options built into the unit.

Sonar displays like those featured on the top 3 models above have graphics that are the same as with sonar units found in boats, with more detailed depictions of the sonar readings of vegetation and fish arcs. These displays are great for finding fish and areas and can be used effectively for jigging as well. However, it should be noted flashers excel at jigging and lure presentations for individual fish.

An angler who is proficient with a flasher can determine loads of information from the flashing bars of varying colors and widths.

With a flasher you can even determine fish movements by viewing the pulsing of a sonar mark on the flasher, allow you to determine that the fish you’re trying to entice to bite is actively swimming towards or away from you.

Luckily with modern ice fishing fish finders you can easily flip between the two modes.

Battery life

Battery life is an important consideration when it comes to portable fish finders, and it’s important to ensure that your fish finder is at full charge before heading out to the lake, and in some cases keeping a spare battery with you or in your vehicle can go a long way to ensure that you aren’t on the lake with a fish finder that has a dead battery.

Sometimes, like when you find a spot full of actively feeding fish, you can turn your fish finder off or use it intermittently to check the activity in the water below you. This extends the time that you can use your fish finder and ensures you can use it when it is needed the most.

Final thoughts on the best ice fish finders

While similar to fish finders found in a boat, sonar units used for ice fishing need to be tailored to meet the specific requirements of ice anglers. Some units and be used well in both a boat or on the ice, and some are designed to do just that. But ice fishing units need to be portable and light, while packing a serious punch in terms of performance. This article highlights some of the best fish finders for ice fishing on the market today.

Author

  • Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species.

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