The 5 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder & Beginner Buying Guide

by Thavius | Last Updated:   April 11th, 2022
The 5 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder & Beginner Buying Guide


Ice fishing is one of the most fun activities for winter. However, you need to have the right gear for you to truly have a great time. Asides from guaranteeing your safety and comfort, you also need to ensure that you catch as many fish as possible.

To ensure that you have a successful ice fishing trip, you need to invest in the best ice fish finder. Ice fishing fish finders were invented to make it much easier for ice anglers like you to locate your favorite species beneath the ice.

Several models of ice fishing fish finders have been introduced over the years, making it difficult for inexperienced ice anglers to find the best product. So, I’ll be simplifying your search for the best ice fishing fish finder by reviewing the top 5 available on the market. I will also be providing information on how to find the ideal ice fishing fish finder for you.

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Reviewing The 5 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders

Humminbird ICE H5 HELIX 5 

Humminbird is one of America’s leading makers of outdoor fishing equipment and the Helix 5 is its most popular product. Though it lacks some of the features of premium ice fishing flashers, it offers vital features at an affordable price.

One of the best features of the Helix 5 is that users mark specific depths with a purple target line. So, you will always be able to return to any depth range that you detect fish. It also features a GPS and all your waypoints will be displayed on the chart. What’s more, it comes with a microSD card slot for saving your waypoints.

Additionally, there is a dual-beam sonar that you will make your ice fishing trip smoother. The wide beam will enable you to scan a wide area while the narrow beam will allow you to get more details by zooming in. You will also find the wide beam useful in shallow water. The device has an adjustable zoom function that will enable you to magnify sections of the readout. This will be particularly beneficial when the fish are at the bottom of the water.

Furthermore, the device has a spacious LED screen that displays both a digital depth reading and a circular flasher reading. I also like the color display and backlight. These features will allow you to read the device both night and day. Finally, you will be able to use the device for any form of fishing as it is built to withstand extreme temperatures.

Pros
  • It offers an excellent display
  • It features a dual-frequency transducer
  • It is suitable for extremely cold conditions
Cons
  • You will have to get a transducer separately

Garmin Striker Plus 4 Ice Fishing Bundle

Here is a budget-friendly ice fishing fish finder that comes with all necessary features. It features a dual-beam ice fishing transducer and CHIRP sonar technology for premium flasher performance. The technology will provide high-quality images and accurate target separation.

Additionally, the bundle comes with a built-in GPS that will make ice fishing much simpler for you. Whenever you find a fishing hot spot, you will be able to easily mark it using waypoint marking. This will enable you to easily return to the spot and catch more fish in the future.

Another thing I love about this fish finder is how easy it is to use. It is easy to install, so you should be able to set it up in a matter of minutes. It also comes with buttons for smooth navigation. As for the screen, the color display will allow you to read information with utmost clarity.

If you would also like to fish in the summer, here is another reason to invest in this fish finder. It supports the Garmin Clearvu sonar, so all you will have to do is to replace the ice fishing transducer with a Clearvu transducer. The useful accessories that you will find in the package include a rechargeable battery, tilt/swivel mount, foam float, carry bag, and AC charger.

Pros
  • It has a high quality display
  • It features a built-in flasher
  • It can be used in the summer since it is compatible with Clearvu transducers (sold separately)
  • It comes with a carry bag for easy transportation
Cons
  • The battery isn’t waterproof

Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder

The Lowrance Hook Reveal brand has been in the market for several years and the Hook Reveal 5 is designed for both amateur and experienced anglers. It is easy to read the data provided by the device and the display is also customizable. Despite the usability of the device, it is quite sophisticated.

My favorite feature in this fish finder is the FishReveal technology. It will notify you of the presence of fi on the screen so that you don’t miss any potential catch. The fish finder does this with the aid of CHIRP sonar technology and DownScan Imaging. Also, the CHIRP technology in this device autotunes to provide better coverage and images.

Additionally, this fish finder provides information on land and coastal contours by accessing C-MAP Contour inland and coastal charts. With it, you will be able to access thousands of lakes in the US and Canada. You can also put in a memory card if you would like to create custom maps of your favorite fishing spots. What’s more, the fish finder has GPS mapping for plotting waypoints, routes, and trails.

Furthermore, several anglers have found it difficult to read ice fish finders on the water, especially on sunny days. To solve this problem, the device features a SolarMAX display that makes it easy to read even in direct sunlight. I also like the split-screen option as it allows users to select what they see on the screen. So, you can easily have several options such as mapping, SideScan, and DownScan imaging on your screen at once.

Pros
  • It is easy to use and learn
  • It has a high visibility screen
  • It is highly functional
  • Accurate results and GPS readings
  • It is a versatile fish finder
Cons
  • You may need some adjustments to mount it on certain watercraft

Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

The Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit has remained a popular choice amongst ice anglers due to its low price and great functionality. It offers several features that will come in handy during your ice fishing trip. This fish finder is designed to monitor the speed of your kayak or boat and in doing so, allow you to maintain the right speed for your fishing technique.

Additionally, the fish finder features a Garmin CHIRP instead of a traditional transducer. This will provide you with greater visibility and clarity. The fish finder is also equipped with ice fishing sonar technology that produces high-quality fish arches with improved target separation. It does this by transmitting several frequencies and interpreting them separately.

A waypoint map with high sensitivity GPS mapping has been included in the device to help you discover your location quickly and accurately. It will also enable you to mark spots where lots of fish are located so that you can easily return to them. Another feature that I like is the built-in flasher. This feature will show you what’s going on at the bottom of the water while ice fishing or jigging.

As for the display, the screen comes in various sizes including 3.5, 5, and 7 inches. It will display all the underwater details that you need. These include details such as underwater objects, topography, and fish locations. The fish finder also comes with a rechargeable 12V battery. This battery features an indicator and depending on usage, it can last up to three days.

Pros
  • It is budget-friendly
  • It has a durable design
  • It is easy to mount on a kayak
  • It is portable and easy to install
Cons
  • It doesn’t include a microSD card slot

HOOK2 Fish Finder

Whether you are an experienced or amateur ice angler, the Hook2 Fish Finder is worth considering. It is one of the most affordable fish finders from Lowrance but it still has the basic features that you will need during your fishing session. It comes with two transducers, a battery, a bag, and a charger. Let’s take a closer look at its most vital features.

Lowrance is a highly rated company when it comes to CHIRP sonar technology so it is no surprise that the technology is featured in this fish finder. But unlike higher-end models, it doesn’t allow users to change the frequency settings. So, you will have to settle for a collated image. This shouldn’t be an issue unless you plan to use your fish finder professionally.

Additionally, the display isn’t the best that you will find on a fish finder but it ticks the necessary boxes. It has a 4-inch screen and features a 4-inch SolarMAX technology that will be particularly helpful on sunny days. The screen’s brightness will also be automatically adjusted based on the amount of light that is shone on it.

Though the fish finder provides a wide-angle sonar beam, it offers just a single beam. This means that you will be able to scan a wide area with this device but it won’t provide detailed information when you are directly over the fish. On the brighter side, the machine’s functions have been streamlined to make it easy to use. It has several mounting options too.

Pros
  • It supports various mounting options
  • It is affordable
  • It is suitable for both fresh and saltwater
  • The screen supports several viewing angles
  • It has an IPX7 waterproof rating
Cons
  • It doesn’t come with a battery

Our Top Choice

As promised, I have reviewed the top 5 ice fishing fish finders that are available on the market today. You can trust any of these products to serve you excellently on your ice fishing trips. But if you ask me what the overall best ice fishing fish finder is, I would choose the Humminbird Ice H5 Helix 5.

The Helix 5 is an easy choice for the best ice fishing fish finder mainly because it was specially built for ice fishing. It also offers all the right features. These include superior accuracy, excellent views, mapping, cold-weather technology, GPS, etc. That said, the Garmin Striker Plus 4 Ice Fishing Bundle and the Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder are good alternatives.

How To Find the Best Ice Fishing Fish Finder: Buying Guide

As you should know by now, fish finders come with a wide range of features. Even tech-savvy anglers may find it difficult to wrap their head around these devices. If you are looking to purchase your ice fishing fish finder, here is a breakdown of all you need to know:

Types of Fish Finders

Before buying a fish finder, you have to understand the difference between a regular fish finder and other options. Though the differences between them are minimal, you won’t get the expected performance from a fish finder that isn’t suitable for your fishing style.

Traditional Fish Finders: This is a device that obtains information about underwater conditions and displays it in graphical form. The different forms of data that they provide include depth, temperature, underwater structures, vegetation, and most importantly fish. Traditional fish finders are usually mounted on boats and other structures.

Fish Flashers: Ice fishing flashers come in simple designs and they provide three types of information. This includes the depth of the fish, your lure, and the water beneath you. Despite the simplicity of these devices, they are known to be highly effective. The best ice fishing flashers are ideal for anglers that prefer simple devices and have no use for multiple functions. They are also a great choice for ice fishing and deep water vertical jigging. You should expect the best ice fishing flasher to cost more than a regular fish finder.

Castable Finders: These are portable fish finders that are built to work with smartphones and tablets. To use this type of fish finder, you have to cast it into the water like a lure and then reel it in. The device will develop a map of the underwater conditions and then transmit it to your mobile device. Castable fish finders are commonly used by shore fishers due to their portability. If you will be taking long walks across the ice, you will find great value in this ice fishing fish finder.

GPS Capabilities

If you will be doing lots of fishing in remote fishing locations that may be difficult to find again, you should get a fish finder with a built-in GPS. You will find this feature highly beneficial when you need to mark ice fishing spots that have no distinguishing spots.

Display

If you will be buying a traditional fish finder, you should opt for the best display that you can afford. A fish finder can only be as effective as the quality of its visuals, especially devices that have to display lots of data.

Remember not to skimp on this feature. You should opt for cheap ice fishing gear if you can afford something with a bigger screen and better resolution.

Additionally, you should consider the visibility of the colors under different overhead conditions. If you don’t consider this factor, you may end up with a screen that is easy to read at night but difficult to read on sunny days.

Furthermore, you need to think about how the information will be displayed on the screen. Several ice fish finders are equipped with fishID technology and it shows you the location of fish and structures by displaying arcs of different sizes. It is the easiest to read.

Some other fish finders utilize a color-based technology to tell you where to fish. The colors used include green, red, and yellow. You should use this feature before you begin to drill to save time and energy.

Flasher Capabilities

If you are an ice fisher that also enjoys fishing from a kayak, you should consider investing in a traditional fish finder that features a flasher. It would cost you more money, but its versatility will bring you good value in the long run.

Portability

For you to have an enjoyable ice fishing trip, your fish finder has to be of the right weight and dimensions. The environmental factors in play in the middle are different from those in play on nice summer days.

You will get tired easily if you have to carry heavy equipment over long distances on foot. The right amount of weight should depend on your physical capabilities. Most of the products mentioned in this guide are portable and they also come with carrying cases for easier transportation. You just have to ensure that the case is waterproof.

Frequency

You may have seen frequency (khz) is something that many ice anglers see but fail to pay attention to because they don’t know what it stands for. However, it is something that you need to pay attention to.

The frequency that a fish finder transmits may either offer high accuracy or deep penetration in the water. So, you should opt for an ice fish finder with a high frequency if you will be fishing on shallow waters while a device with a low frequency will be ideal for deeper water.

If you want to enjoy the best of both worlds, you should get a product with dual frequencies. This will give you more control over the locations where you can use your ice fish finder. All that you will have to do is adjust the settings to suit the situation.

Imaging

The type of imagery offered by your fish finder will depend on your transducer. Many transducers today utilize sonar technology, an advanced tech that transmits a pulse that consists of a wide range of frequencies. It provides more accurate imagery and data than single, double, or triple pulses.

Some other terms are also associated with imaging. They include DownVu, SideVu, DownScan, Sidescan, etc. These terms describe a type of sonar that travels vertically or horizontally in a straight line. Each of them has its importance.

To start with, you won’t be able to change your fishing spot by simply moving in another direction when ice fishing. Hence, a fish finder with a side scanner will be beneficial but such a product isn’t easy to come by. An ice fish finder with down scanning is easier to come by and it will provide an image of everything below you at a particular radius. This feature does the trick for the majority of ice anglers.

Power

The power of an ice fishing fish finder will have a major effect on its speed. High-powered fish finders are known to produce images faster. But since they require more power, they tend to drain batteries faster. So, you should always carry an extra battery whenever you are having an extended fishing session with such a device.

Additionally, you should note that batteries drain faster in cold conditions. This makes it necessary that you get high quality and long-lasting battery. Most ice fishing fish finders come with a battery that is usually of good quality. But if you would be purchasing a battery yourself, consider getting a lithium-ion battery as they hold their charge longer.

Versatility

If you are going to be fishing all year, you should consider getting a fish finder that is suitable for both warm and cold water. Several products on Amazon are designed this way. The only fish finders that are suitable for winter alone are those with dedicated ice fishing transducers. They are made for avid ice anglers that do lots of ice jigging. A good example is the Humminbird Ice Helix 5.

However, you should consider taking a different approach if you will only be going on a few ice fishing trips a year. Note that ice fishing transducers can be gotten for most fish finders. Hence, it may be a good idea to get a regular fish finder and then make the necessary adjustments for ice fishing.

Usability

Usability is another vital factor. Since the manufacturers are always trying to introduce more advanced technology, the devices are becoming more complicated. However, a fish finder is easy to use and this is a major reason why I always choose the major brands.

Top brands such as Garmin, Lowrance, and Humminbird provide fish finders with clear instructions and they also have reliable customer service and warranties. You should be able to set up your fish finder in a matter of minutes and master its controls as you go.

Watch this video to learn how to read a fish finder:

The Advantages Of Using A Fish Finder

Since buying this fishing accessory will require you to make a significant investment, you need to know the benefits that you stand to gain. Here are some of the most essential benefits:

Find Fish Faster

The number one benefit of investing in this device is that it will help you locate fish faster. Many anglers spend more time trying to locate a good fishing spot than on casting. This isn’t a good way to fish and fortunately, you can avoid such situations by using a fish finder. The device will provide you with vital information such as depth, structures, and fish locations so that you can spend more time fishing than searching.

Improve Your Skills

Several anglers choose not to use fish finders because it makes them think that they are cheating or ruining the fun.

But what’s fun about having to search for fish for hours?

You should think of a fish finder as a device that helps you to improve your angling skills. Also, using the device doesn’t make you a cheat since only provides information. You will still have to analyze the information yourself.

Embrace this technology and transform your fishing adventures forever.

Learn About the Landscape

Fishfinders are equipped with features such as GPS plotting and mapping to help users learn more about fishing locations. By using these devices to learn about currents, depths, and underwater structures, you will become a better angler in no time. It will take you several years to learn about these things without a fish finder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use your regular fish finder for ice fishing?

There isn’t a straightforward to this question. You can try using your regular fish finder for ice fishing, but it won’t provide expected results unless it’s of high quality. There is a high chance that the transducer in a low-quality fish finder will become damaged in cold conditions. So, you should avoid using a regular device for ice fishing unless it’s a high-end product from a reputable brand.

Does the fish finder have to be waterproof?

Products from the best brands usually have a good level of waterproofing but your fish finder doesn’t have to be waterproof. Most products come with plastic cases or similar waterproof materials. So, while such devices aren’t waterproof, they are protected by their cases.

Is the fish finder price important?

You can always find a low-priced fish finder that will serve you well, especially if you are an amateur or casual angler. There are several high-quality fish finders under $200. However, you should note that the higher the price of your device, the more features it will have to offer.

How can I use a fish finder for ice fishing?

To locate fish underneath the ice using a fish finder, you have to first ensure that the surface of the ice is smooth and clear. You should also remove any air between your transducer and the surface by wetting the ice before placing your device on it.

What is the best frequency for a fish finder?

Many anglers tend to overlook the frequency of their fish finders and you need to avoid this mistake. Devices with higher frequencies scan wide areas accurately but are more suitable for shallow waters. On the other hand, devices with low frequencies offer better penetration and are, therefore, better suited to deep waters. You should get a dusk frequency fish finder if you want flexibility.

I've been a fisherman for over 35 years. From catching small bullheads with my grandfather at his pond to catching strippers on the backwaters of the Chattahoochee, I love to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water.