Fish Finder Tech

Ice Fishing Fish Finder vs. Flasher

Ice fishing is one of the most popular ways to fish in colder climates. There’s a totally different feel and culture to ice fishing, so it’s no surprise that many anglers who prefer ice fishing are curious about which fish finders are best for their needs.


Let’s get one thing squared away: Flashers are a type of fish finder. It’s a square-rectangle scenario - all flashers are ice fishing fish finders, but not all fish finders are flashers. In other words, flashers are a particular kind of fish finder, tailored for ice fishing.


In this article, we’re going to look at the difference between a flasher and a traditional fish finder. We’ll also consider which one might be best for different types of anglers. Let’s get started.

The differences between ice fishing fish finders and flashers

Modern fish finders and old school flashers work on fundamentally the same technology: They use transducers in order to send sonar signals into the water, then display the data received by the transducer


Where they differ is in how this information is displayed, as well as in complexity. Flashers are sometimes referred to as one-dimensional sonar, as they simply display what’s occurring below the water at any given point in time. Modern fish finders, on the other hand, are called two-dimensional, because they display a scrolling graph which gives anglers insight into both data received in the past and the data being received in the present.


Many anglers prefer flashers for ice fishing because historical trends aren’t as important - you’re not going to be moving around often, and real-time data is really all you need.


Another key difference between the two is the display itself. While modern fish finders use LCD displays and often come with high-definition screens, flashers use much simpler LEDs in order to display information.

How do the features of ice fishing fish finders and flashers compare?

Ice fishing fish finders are much more feature dense than flashers - whether or not that’s a good thing depends heavily on your needs. Here’s a quick comparison between the advantages of both types of fish finders:

SpecificationIce fish finderFlasher
Battery lifeAverageLong
Feature denseYesNo
All-season useYes*No


As you can see, the flasher wins out of the box for simple ice fishing - they’re portable, they have great battery life, and they’re easy to use.


Ice fishing fish finders, on the other hand, are much more feature dense and can come with GPS functionality. They can be used in all seasons if you purchase an iceducer - using a traditional transducer with an ice fishing fish finder can lead to problems. If you’re planning on using a traditional fish finder for ice fishing, we highly recommend purchasing a warm carrying case to protect the unit for all-season use. Carrying cases also improve portability.

Which one should I choose?

You can purchase flashers and ice fishing finders at similar price points, though the most expensive ice fishing finders can far exceed the price of the most expensive flashers.


That means money isn’t the deciding factor when it comes to choosing between flashers and modern fish finders. We think that for most anglers, the big decision will be in how you plan on using the device.


For all-season anglers, modern chartplotter/fish finders with the appropriate conversions for ice fishing are the obvious choice. You can change the display on almost all modern fish finders to flasher mode, so if you prefer the one-dimension display for ice fishing, that’s no issue. You’ll only need to buy a flasher if you want better battery life or don’t want to put in the effort of removing your fish finder from your boat, changing the transducer, and getting a carrying case.


For anglers who fish exclusively on the ice, a flasher may be the best choice. They’re designed for ice fishing, and you don’t need many of the bells and whistles available on chartplotter/fish finder combos.


We hope this article has helped you decide which fish finder is best for you. If you haven’t made up your mind, click here to learn more by visiting our website to see which fish finders we’ve ranked as the best for ice fishing. 

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