Before drilling a hole in the ice to catch fish, wouldn’t it be great to know how many fish are waiting below? Fish finders can help you with that.
Modern technology has definitely changed ice fishing. Fish finders use sonar to help you get a sense of what’s underneath the water and where the most fish are. Many of these products are highly advanced and offer tons of features. With so many out there, I made a list of 9 of the best fish finders for ice fishing.
Garmin Echomap Plus 73SV
The Garmin Echomap is a premium device full of impressive technology.
It sports a 7-inch touchscreen, along with buttons, which can sometimes be easier to use, especially when wearing gloves. The screen is designed to be bright enough to be visible on sunny days.
This fish finder has GPS built-in, so not only does it help you to locate fish using sonar, it has a lot of other helpful information to give, too.
The software on this device will amaze you and help you see fish underwater, meaning you won’t have to cut as many holes. With sonar modes which Garmin calls LiveVü Forward and LiveVü Down, you can watch fish beneath the ice up to 100 feet around you.
Another highly useful feature of this device is the maps you can view on it. It includes over 17,000 detailed maps of U.S. lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. And 13,000 maps show the depths of the lakes, too! Because of that, you can quickly know where the deepest parts of the lake are found. Imagine how much time this could save!
The maps also contain information about roads and designated fishing areas, so if you are looking for general information on where to fish, they will help with that, too.
Thick ice can cause some slight confusion when using sonar, so this device aims to get an incredibly clear picture by emitting more signals. Instead of just sending one frequency, the device sends many different frequencies. The computer handles each one individually, interpreting the results and then showing all the helpful information onscreen.
If you’re an expert fisherman who is familiar with devices like this, you will be happy to know that the user interface on this product is customizable. This means that you can keep just the things you want to see onscreen and not worry about unhelpful information.
You can even have many different readings onscreen at once, thanks to the large screen. For example, you can look at a map and a sonar view at the same time. This is much more efficient than switching back and forth between screens. Even if you are now a novice, this feature is probably something you will quickly learn to love.
This device is pretty incredible, and should really come in handy when ice fishing. With the sonars it uses, plus all the map data it can access, there’s nothing better to help you figure out where to cut a hole and drop your fishing line.
However, such a high-tech product does cost quite a bit of money, so it’s not for everyone. It’s certainly not by any means a must-have if you are ice fishing for the first time, but for those who love the sport, it may become a valuable friend.
You can find the Garmin Echo Map Plus 73SV on Amazon.
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar
What if your smartphone running iOS or Android (i.e. pretty much any new smartphone on the market right now) could help you find fish? With the Deeper PRO+, it can!
This idea is super cool. The Deeper PRO+ handles the fancy sonar scanning, while the data it gets is relayed back to you on your smartphone, which it connects to via wireless technology.
And no, you don’t need to have a signal on your phone for this to work.
The great thing about it is that the device is meant to be lowered beneath the water. This is sure to bring back useful information to help you find fish! And you can lower it incredibly deep–down to 260 ft, in fact.
By dropping it into a small hole in the ice, you can quickly know if the spot you’ve picked is worth your time. It can measure and record the depth of that spot. You’ll get a great reading of the surrounding area and how many fish could be nearby.
The Deeper Pro+ has a built-in GPS. In fact, it’s the only castable fish finder on the market with this feature. Why would you want GPS? Because the device knows where in the world it is, you can start marking exact locations where you find success using the software it connects with. Or you could mark each hole you drill.
Being able to create your own personal maps is especially useful thanks to the fact that you can access them on your home computer. By examining the data you’ve gathered, you will be able to make plans to catch even more fish the next time you go.
It’s also helpful that the device is small and light. Unlike devices with large screens, carrying this one around will barely add any weight. You probably carry your smartphone around with you to begin with, so the extra footprint of this bit of gear is minuscule.
As far as using the companion software on your phone goes, the app provides both simple features and more advanced ones. It can use simple graphics to show you where a lot of fish might be, or it can display traditional sonar readings. This makes this product useful for novices and experts alike.
The free app is even updated monthly, so it will only get better over time.
The Deeper PRO+ is an impressive little product that utilizes the power of smartphones to do the heavy lifting. This device will help make ice fishing much more efficient.
Get the Deeper PRO+ on Amazon.
Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5, Chirp Di GPS G2
The 5-inch display of this Humminbird device makes it easy to see all the information it will provide.
This fish finder has built-in GPS. It comes with an SD card loaded with maps of over 21,000 lakes and other bodies of water in the U.S. and Canada. That is some extensive coverage.
However, these maps can be upgraded to even better ones that provide more detailed information about lake depth. To do this, you would want to buy a LakeMaster card for the region you will be in and swap out the included card for that one. These do cost at least $100, though. Having this data could definitely save time on the lake, however.
The GPS is also used to record map data as you go, so the more you use this device, the more information you will have. When ice fishing, though, you probably won’t get as much as you would if you used the device in a boat, so keep that in mind.
It’s worth noting also that you can make your own markings on the maps whenever you want. If you find a spot you really like, be sure to mark it. Thanks to GPS, you will be able to come back to that exact location on another day.
The sonar of this device can be used in two different ways: it can do a wide scan to get information about a large area, or a narrow scan that brings a lot of details about a smaller region. So, you will want to do a wide scan when looking for the best spot to go, and the narrow one to see where exactly the fish are.
There are two different display modes, and you can choose what information you want to see. For example, how much detail do you want to see?
A surprising bonus of this device is that it uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone for the purpose of displaying notifications your phone gets. That way you don’t have to take your phone out and end up accidentally dropping it. That shouldn’t be that much of a problem for ice fishing, though, unless you’re very unlucky. But this feature could come in handy anyway.
When it comes to ease of use, this fish finder looks like it’s more on the advanced side of things so there will be a learning curve for most people. But once you do learn it, it will be a powerful tool.
See the Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5, Chirp Di GPS G2 on Amazon.
Garmin Striker Plus 5cv
Here is another fish finder with GPS built in. Unlike some other fish finders, this one does not have any map data stored out of the box. What it does instead is let you “draw” the maps.
As you venture across the ice (or wherever else you go with it), this Garmin device will record data and create maps. It can store up to 2 million acres of maps with 1-foot contours. With that much space, it’s very unlikely that you’ll run out.
Your maps won’t fill in particularly fast when on foot, of course, but given enough time, you will certainly have plenty of detailed information. Personally, I love the idea of filling in my own maps. After several years, I would feel proud to see the device full of places I’ve been.
I reiterate that the only maps on this device will be the ones you fill in yourself. You cannot get directions to the lake on this fish finder.
Now filling in these maps is not a difficult task, since the software does the work for you. All you have to do is turn it on and go.
Now considering how easy it is to find maps online today, and that this can be done from many places with a smartphone, you will probably not mind the lack of built-in maps in this fish finder much. But if you would like to see some detailed topographical data on lakes before you even get started, there are other options you should consider.
Otherwise, you will find this fish finder very useful for ice fishing. You can mark your favorite spots, or even just mark locations where you cut holes in the ice. Thanks to GPS, you will be able to return to the very spot you were at before.
The Garmin Striker Plus gives a very accurate picture of what’s going on below the water. This will make it easy to tell where the fish are.
The screen is 5-inches (there are similar Striker models available at different screen sizes and different prices), which gives ample space for you to see the sonar information. Note that this is not a touchscreen, so you’ll be using good old-fashioned buttons.
Learning to read the readings on this device will take a bit of time if you have never used such technology before. As you gain experience, this fish finder will become a powerful tool that will serve you better than a simpler GPS would.
This is a good mid-range fish finder device. The more expensive fishfinders may offer fancier maps and better scanning in some cases, but this fish finder will get the job done at a reasonable price.
Get the Garmin Striker Plus 5cv on Amazon.
LUCKY Wireless Portable Fish Finder
This is a more simple fish finder, and more affordable too.
It is a castable fish finder, meaning that it has a part that is dropped into the water and a handheld device that displays information. This type of fish finder is great for ice fishing because you can cut a small hole, drop the sensor in, and know whether you’re in a good spot, if there is a better spot nearby, or if you should look elsewhere.
The sensor connects wirelessly to the handheld device. The sensor must be charged, but the charge will last 10 hours. Since it can charge via USB, it’s easy to find somewhere to charge it, and you can even charge it on the go if you need to.
The display on the screen of the handheld device is simple. It even shows fish icons to tell you about where the fish should be. It also has a “fish alarm” to alert you to when fish enter its view. This seems particularly useful for ice fishing. It even communicates the relative size of each fish.
There aren’t really any bells and whistles beyond that. It’s good at just telling you where the fish are. It doesn’t have GPS or any maps. So, using this device is very simple.
I love the ability to mark maps that other fish finders offer, but this fish finder is compelling because it’s considerably less expensive. If it helps you achieve your goal of catching more fish, that may be all you need.
It can scan underwater down to 135 feet before going out of range of the handheld device. A scan like that will tell you a lot about the lake and help you find fish that are hiding deep underwater.
The screen is just 2.4 inches, which is definitely small, especially compared to any modern cell phone, but is enough to show the necessary information. Nothing fancy or detailed is being displayed here, so a bigger screen is not needed.
This brand exclusively offers inexpensive fish finders, so they really can’t be considered as trustworthy as other brands. The accuracy of their devices’ readings are not as good as other, more expensive options. Even so, this device should still help you find more fish.
While all the extra features of other fish finders are very cool, some people may want a fish finder that just finds fish. If you are not going to frequently go ice fishing (or normal fishing), the GPS features of fancier products are probably unnecessary, to begin with. For someone who just wants to make it easier to find fish, this device should do the job.
Here is The LUCKY Wireless Portable Fish Finder on Amazon.
Humminbird 410150-1 PiranhaMAX 4
This fish finder is again on the simpler side of things when it comes to features, but it is powerful.
Its sonar can be used for a wide scan or a narrow one. A wide scan will, as you’d expect, give you a look at a large area, while a narrow one will give you a detailed look at a nearby area.
Frankly, the user interface is not very welcoming to newcomers. But since there aren’t a lot of features on the device, learning it would not take long for anyone who put some time into it. There is also, of course, the usual learning curve of learning to interpret the readings from sonar.
Luckily, there are features to make catching fish easier, such as fish alarms and depth alarms. The fish alarm is designed to let you know when a fish has come into view, so that’s definitely easier than simply trying to interpret different colors on a screen.
The other thing this device has going for it in terms of simplicity is the controls: there are only four buttons on the front, aside from the power button. So once again, learning to use it is possible for anyone, even if it comes off as intimidating at first.
With all that said, the sonar data here is detailed, so once you get the hang of it, you are going to find this device very useful. If you plan to do a lot of ice fishing, you will be glad, over time, that you chose this one instead of a device that tries to oversimplify things.
The screen is 4.3 inches, and it’s not a touchscreen, so I think that size is just right. A touchscreen isn’t great for ice fishing anyway since you would have to take your gloves off to use it, so it’s actually good that these buttons can be used while you’re keeping your hands warm.
There are no GPS capabilities in this fish finder, so if you want maps, you’ll have to bring them yourself. At this price, this is definitely not a dealbreaker.
If you’re not looking to spend hundreds on a device to help you find fish, this is a great option. You’ll be able to get a good sense of the depth of the lake and where the fish may be located. You won’t get extra GPS features, so look for a different device if you really want those, but otherwise, this is a good product for ice fishing.
Find the Humminbird 410150-1 Piranha Max 4 on Amazon.
ZACX Sonar Fishfinder
Here is another smartphone-connected device. I love the idea of a fish finder that goes underwater and connects with your smartphone. There’s a good chance you have a smartphone already, so a sensor that sends data to help you find fish directly to your phone could be perfect for you.
Just cut a hole in the ice, drop your line with the ZACX device attached into the water, and use the app on your phone to see what’s down there. By doing this, you can easily search for the best fishing spot.
This is way better than drilling a hole based on a guess and spending a long time there not catching anything. And the data you’ll get deep underwater should be more accurate than that of a fish finder designed to stay on the surface.
The device can connect with your phone submerged down to 157 feet. Any more than that, and it would go out of range.
It uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone. Bluetooth provides a very stable connection and is used for things like wireless speakers, so it will be great for sending data to your phone, but obviously, it has a limited range.
Your phone will not need an Internet connection to connect to the device. This is important, since you may be fishing in areas without good cell service.
The sensor sports a blinking light to help attract fish, which is cool. It has multiple purposes for fishing, in that sense, and fish finders that stay on the surface can’t claim that.
The app design is not all that beautiful, but it is designed to be simple. It shows icons of fish of different sizes swimming around. Any novice fisherman can understand what’s going on there and use the information to catch lots of fish.
The “shell” of this bobber-shaped device opens up, and inside is where you plug in the charging cable. It charges via a Micro-USB cable, which is a standard type. Conveniently, a cable is included, one that plugs into a USB port, not a wall, so make sure you have some sort of adapter for that.
Users have reported over ten hours of battery life, so chances are it will outlast your phone if you spend all day on the frozen lake. It’s not of much use without your phone, so you’ll have to plan around that.
If you already have a smartphone, I definitely recommend this product over standalone fish finders in the same price range.
The ZACX Sonar Fishfinder is available on Amazon.
Deeper Start Smart Fish Finder
The Deeper Start is another product from the makers of the Deeper Pro+ I discussed earlier, and like that one, this is a device that connects with practically any modern smartphone. It is not as powerful as the Deeper Pro+ and does not have GPS functionality.
Like similar devices, you use it by putting it on a line and lowering it beneath the water. Then you open the app in your smartphone, look at the images that appear and adjust your fishing accordingly. It will show you where fish are, the water bottom contour, and vegetation.
The interface of the app is easy for a novice to understand. This particular model is geared more towards beginner fishermen, so the amount of information it provides is just right for them.
The app is updated monthly, which is reassuring. If there are bugs, they will hopefully be eliminated over time, and maybe even new features will be added, though there is no guarantee of this.
The device can stay connected with your smartphone from down to 165 feet underwater. It does not use Bluetooth, but a form of Wi-Fi instead. This technology has a longer range than Bluetooth, and it is more reliable.
No Internet connection is needed on your phone for it to work, so don’t worry about that when traveling to more remote areas.
The battery is rechargeable and can last up to about 6.5 hours.
While the sensor does not have a GPS, you can use your phone’s GPS to mark locations on the app. To be honest, for ice fishing, this is just as good as having it built into the sensor since you will be right next to the holes you make anyway. Marking locations on a map is very helpful for keeping track of the best spots.
This type of fish finder is great for ice fishing because of how easy it is to drop it into the hole you cut and know quickly if you’ve found a good spot or not.
It’s a neat and useful device that will serve you well when ice fishing.
Get the Deeper Start Smart Fish Finder at Amazon.
Garmin Striker 4
When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, this Garmin fish finder is a strong contender.
It has GPS. However, it does not have map data. This means that the device can’t actually tell you anything about the area you are in. It just knows the coordinates of where you are, and that’s all.
The GPS is used to keep track of your position in relation to waypoints you can set. Simply put, you can mark a good spot, leave it, and then come back to that exact spot later. This is only really useful for ice fishing if you are making a bunch of holes and want to easily remember where they are.
When it comes to the sensors, this device is very good. The transducer it uses can even be upgraded later for more accurate long-range data. The picture you get with this device will be very clear and informative.
The screen is 3.5 inches, which is not the biggest out there but is still plenty big to display the data.
It can show two different images at once, which is nice because then you don’t have to switch back and forth between modes.
Using it is easy enough, but could be tricky for the first couple hours since there are several modes. As usual, newcomers will have to learn how to interpret the data displayed.
This is a very powerful fish finder for such a good price. It doesn’t do a ton with its GPS features, but if you are concerned about getting lost or just keeping track of the holes you make, you will find the ability to mark waypoints and see your position relative to them very useful.
Find the Garmin Striker 4 on Amazon.
Which One I’d Pick
Out of all of these, I would pick the Deeper Pro+.
Choosing between these devices was not easy since they all have different strengths.
The LUCKY would be my last choice because even though it’s the cheapest, it also appears to be the lowest quality, and a better device can be found for just a few more dollars.
The Garmin Striker 4 was very tempting, but since its GPS functions are not actually that useful for ice fishing, it didn’t make sense to choose it. It is a strong product though.
The Garmin Echomap is definitely the all-around best device here, but I personally would rather not spend $700 on a fish finder, especially not just for ice fishing. If you are going to spend that much, though, you will certainly be getting something great.
I like the Deeper Pro+ partially because I think the idea is very cool. I have a smartphone and being able to use it in combination with this device as a fish finder is exciting to me.
The ZACX product is similar to it, and less expensive, but not as high quality. You might consider that one instead if you want to save money.
When it comes to ice fishing, there are advantages to being able to put the sensor in the water. The Pro+ will bring back a wonderful picture of what’s deep under there and help find the fish that are hiding.
The GPS and map functions it offers are great as well, and very useful.
So, the Deeper Pro+ is my personal pick for a fish finder for ice fishing.