Ice Fishing Electronics
Home Forums I.C.E. Events Fish Houses Electronics Ice Augers Clothing Tactics Tackle Bait Video
Did You Know?

Minnesota waters have 158 different species of fish swimming in them.


Electronics for the Ice Angler

Ice fishing has come a long way in the last several years, and the use of electronics has grown immensely. Now we have advanced underwater cameras that can tell you the depth, water temperature, direction the camera is facing, as well as rotate while under the ice, and this list goes on and on. Flasher units have also evolved throughout the years, and have really improved our efficiency out on the ice. Flashers have taken away a lot of the guesswork that comes with locating fish and they act as the fish’s mood indicator, letting us know what they want. And along with underwater cameras and flashers we also have handheld sonar. These flashlight size pieces of equipment help enable us to find fish faster and easier out on the ice. Electronics are definitely an important part of modern ice fishing.

Underwater cameras come in all different models and makes. The purpose of an underwater camera is to allow you to “see” what is below the ice. I know this sounds obvious, but it has several meanings. First off, an underwater camera allows us to distinguish weed types and bottom content or structures that are below the ice. This can be very important in not only finding where the fish are, but also where the fish might eventually be in the future. If you locate a nice patch of weeds that are dying or dead, you might not find fish there, but you can be safe to say that fish might relate to that same area sometime down the road. Bottom content can play a key role in ice fishing, and knowing the type of bottom you are fishing can determine your success on the ice some days. This is especially true when trying to locate transition areas or areas where one bottom type switches to another. An underwater camera can help us pinpoint those areas. Second, an underwater camera will tell what type of fish you are marking on your flasher. A flasher is tough to beat when it comes to marking fish, but a flasher doesn’t necessarily tell us what kind of fish they are. An underwater camera will eliminate the guesswork and you can properly equip yourself for what types of fish are below you. And last, an underwater camera is a learning tool and can help you catch more fish. Understanding how fish react can go a long way, and knowing how fish react to different presentations can go even further. Directly watching a fish allows you to notice and pick out every subtlety in the fish’s reaction to a presentation. This not only allows you to refine your techniques, but it also makes you more aware of what a fish likes and dislikes, something that can be an important factor on tough days. Watching a fish slightly inhale your bait only to spit it out a fraction of a second later can be seen on an underwater camera and might be missed without actually watching it on screen. Underwater cameras can teach an angler important details about what’s going on below the ice.

Choosing an underwater camera that best suites you is important. Some underwater cameras come with all the bells and whistles, while other cameras are more basic models but still get the job done nonetheless. Some of the options available to us today are underwater panning viewing systems, which allows you to rotate the camera 360 degrees with the push of a button or remote control, temperature display, directional display, depth display, Nite-Vu lighting systems giving you more visibility at night and in darker water, video recording capabilities, as well as reinforced Kevlar cables. All of these features have been designed to help make things easier on the ice, and anglers have seen the advantages these features have. An underwater camera that excels in these features is the OVS 560 by MarCum Technologies. The OVS 560 comes in a nice neat package and is very mobile and easy to operate, and its performance is highly recognized by anglers. There are several other options beside the OVS 560 as well. There are other versions that have the same camera performance but with less features. Choosing an underwater camera that you are the most comfortable with is important. Other underwater cameras with less features will get the job done just fine and shouldn’t be frowned upon. Just like if you were buying a new car, going with the luxury edition is nice but isn’t always necessary, and the basic version will still get you from point A to point B just the same, but you just won’t have all the added features.

Flashers have also advanced in the last several years. New zoom features, more power, split-screens and more potent interference rejections have pushed flashers to a new level. Flashers have become an important part of ice fishing, and some might consider their flasher to be the most important piece of ice fishing equipment they own, I know I do. Choosing a flasher is similar with choosing an underwater camera, you want one that is going to best suite your needs and your style of fishing. A flasher acts as the fish’s mood indicator, and its main purpose is to mark fish. Being able to distinguish a fish from the bottom is important, and being able to distinguish a fish from another fish is important as well. Another important characteristic of a flasher is the ability to mark your presentation. Being able to see your jig on the screen and how a fish relates to it is very important.

In recent years flashers have developed some new features that make things more productive out on the ice. Zoom features are pretty popular lately. The ability to zoom in at a certain depth in the water column can have a big advantage in certain situations. When fishing suspended crappies in 40 feet of water, you have a tendency to focus on the depth the fish are coming in at, so with the new zoom features you can zoom into that 10 foot section where the crappies are showing up. The advantage of this is that everything is “magnified” and more precise in that 10 foot zoom window. Movements, both from the fish and your presentation, are more precise, and you don’t need to focus on unneeded space. But, we can take this one step further. The zoom feature not only allows you to see the 10 foot zoom window, but it also allows you to see the rest of the water column as well. This is possible because the screen of your flasher will split in half once the zoom feature is activated, and on one side you will see the zoomed in area, and on the other side you will see the whole water column. So now you get the best of both worlds. You not only get to see the level where the school of crappies is coming through at, but you also get to see when that crappie cruises under the ice shows up, or when that walleye hovering just off bottom decides to join the party. And the zoom feature can be distributed throughout the entire water column, not just on suspended fish. Adjustable zoom is a very useful and productive feature.

Power is another often overlooked characteristic of a flasher. Having more power means you can mark more objects in the water, and more precisely. Added power allows the flasher to distinguish between two fish holding next to each other, between a fish and the bottom, or between you presentation and the fish with greater ease. Movements are more noticeable and this can be important when focusing on bottom hugging fish. We don’t want to spend time on fish that are not hungry, but on negative days sometimes we might not have a lot of options, so being able to pick out small movements can be important when situations call for it. More power means better target separation and more marked fish.

Interference rejection can play an important role when fishing around other flashers. Interference only hinders our productivity out on the ice, so we want to minimize the amount of interference and maximize our productivity. The advanced features of interference rejections today allow us to block out opposing signals, and in return we get a clear screen. Adjusting the interference rejection is as easy as a push of the button now, and the results are phenomenal. No interference means fewer headaches out on the ice.

Flashers like the LX-3 by MarCum Technologies are equipped with these features. Adjustable zoom, split-screens, more power, better target separation and stronger interference rejections (IR) come standard with the LX-3. But just like underwater cameras, there are other models available that have fewer features but still get the job done.

Handheld sonar is a very efficient tool to have when trying to locate depths and structure. Being able to shoot through the ice with a push of a button has gained recognition immensely. With the emphasis being mobility, we want equipment that allows us to check a spot quickly and move on if it’s not what we want. Handheld sonar allows us to do just that. Now we can arrive to a spot on an ATV, snowmobile, truck, or by foot and check the depth without even punching a hole. Sure saves a lot of time and guesswork. The LX-i by MarCum Technologies is an example of handheld sonar that can be used to read through ice to check the depth without even taking your gloves off or wasting any extra time.

Electronics are continuing to make the angler’s job easier, and I can’t imagine what the future will hold. We now have the ability to see below the ice and watch the fish as if we are watching TV, we have the ability to watch a fish rise off the bottom and take our jig as its happening, and we can shoot through several feet of ice to get a precise and accurate depth reading. Electronics are helping us catch more fish!!!

Matt Johnson

Home Forums I.C.E. Events Fish Houses Electronics Ice Augers Clothing Tactics Tackle Bait Video
©2001-2007 Ice Leaders - The Leading Edge of Ice Fishing - All rights reserved.