Do You Need A Fish Finder For Ice Fishing?

Do You Need A Fish Finder For Ice Fishing

We all know how essential fish finders are for fishers and how they can make you a better angler. However, fish finders are very expensive for the right equipment. Some of the models cost even more than three thousand dollars. However, do you need a fish finder for ice fishing?

Most fish finders come either boat-mounted side or with the down-imaging units. However, that’s not it. Fish finders also come in various other forms, like portable fish finders for fishing on the bank, flashers for ice fishing, and even castable fish finders for fishing at the bank.

But when we come to the question, are fish finders necessary for ice fishing? The thing is, fish finders are not only used for efficiently catching the fish, but they are also needed to get valuable information like water depth, water temperature, the topography of the waterbed, availability of the fish, scrap, and as well as the other information like details on the weeds, rocks, shelves, and laydowns. It’s not impossible that you cannot catch fish without the fish finder, but using the aid of electronic equipment will highly spike your game, and the results would be multiplied.

Do You Need A Fish Finder For Ice Fishing?

It is not a debate that fish finders improve the catch rate. Professional anglers say that ninety percent of the fish (catchable) is concentrated in only ten percent of the water. Using fish finders in that frozen water makes that easy. You waste less time, there is more action (catching), and you rely on your instinct less.

Do You Need A Fish Finder For Ice Fishing

Most the anglers initially worked with sonars mounted on their boats, and one can tell how effective they were when catching the fish.

But what about when the same water freezes? Does that mean your expensive equipment will rot in your garage unused?

Like all other anglers, I also wondered if I could use a regular fish finder for ice fishing, and with a bit of DIY and an additional conversion kit, I may have found the answer.

So, regular fish finders can most certainly be used as flashers for ice fishing. However, you may have to tweak them to make it work. All you need is a portable power source and a way that can level or balance the transducer in the ice hole. Most fish finder manufacturers sell sounders that are readily convertible from boat to ice and help a lot.

Do Fish Finders Need A Special Transducer For Ice Fishing?

You don’t need a separate or a new transducer to convert your fish finder into a flasher. Your fish finder will work fine for ice fishing if you can quickly and safely remove your transducer unit without damaging the wire.

It is important to remember that the job of a transducer is to level the water’s surface. As sonar works on sending the sound beams which bounce back from the fish and then return to the same device.

Now, if your transducer is not at the same level, you won’t get a clear picture because the waves cannot come back evenly to the device. Hence, you cannot know what is present beneath you.

So to maintain the transducer level while using a regular fish finder unit, you have to take the aid of a supporting structure over the ice hole. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. You have to use a small piece of wood or a dowel with your transducer. Clamp the wood and transducer together. Then, you have to lower it to the bottom edge of the ice hole.

How Do You Ice Fish Without A Fish Finder?

You can catch fish on the ice without the help of a fish finder or a flasher. Ice fishing has been here before the fish finders, and people have been ice fishing without the fish finders. What do you have to do? All you need is to understand your fishing location nicely, and you have to have good know-how about the species of fish you’re aiming for.

There are some strategies and tips that you need to know how to fish well without electronic equipment. If you have a fish finder or not, knowing these essential fishing tips will drastically increase your possibility of catching more fish.

  1. You must have a good knowledge of the fish’s underwater terrain. The fishing terrain explains where fishes usually prefer to be in a waterbody. The anglers should look for underwater topography maps, which are usually available online at the state’s fishing department sites.
  2. Take advantage of the structures. Instead of just using contour maps, study structures on your own too. For this, you have to awaken your detective sense and make a lot of guesses. For example, if there are fallen trees in a water body, then there are plenty of chances of fish there.
  3. Even after studying the contour maps and understanding the structures, fishing is still about trial and error. Notably, in winter, fishes prefer to travel in tighter groups, which means you can fish in a specific direction for the whole day but will not be able to catch a fish. That is why it is crucial to drill several test fishing holes.
  4. When you don’t have the aid of a fish finder and drill test holes, you have to use more than one rod to increase the chances of catching fish in minimal time. Professional and experienced anglers usually use one active rod in a fishing hole, while the rest are tip-ups jigged with bait. It is not only a time-management strategy but also helps you to understand how different baits work in different water bodies.

Are Fish Finders Necessary For Ice Fishing?

For most anglers, ice fishing is much more of an adventurous sport, but at the same time, it’s pretty challenging and is not easy. So if you’re a beginner or find it hard to find fish on the ice, you may need a fish finder.

For some orthodox or conservative anglers, it may come under the “act of cheating,” but the stance is valid for all types of modern equipment. In addition, beginners and noobs who know nothing about ice fishing can benefit a lot from the fish finders.  Do You Need a Flasher for Ice fishing?

Fishfinders mainly come in handy when ice fishing at night. Fish finders will make your life easier in such harsh and extreme conditions. Flashers and fish finders do not only help with locating the fish, but they also provide you with additional helpful information about the structure, contours, depth, and temperature, which can make your ice fishing journey a success.

Can you use a boat fish finder for ice fishing?

Yes! You can absolutely use a boat-mounted fish finder for ice fishing, and there is no harm in it. Most of the new companies that manufacture fish finders have come up with new solutions with which you can easily convert your regular fish finder into an ice flasher. OR you can also convert your fish finders using a conversion kit and some little DIY.

You will need the following items to convert your regular fish finder into an ice flasher:

  1. A carrying case or a bag
  2. Power source i.e., battery
  3. Power cord/wire
  4. Mounting Bracket
  5. Transducer (one that goes with your unit model)

Keep in mind that flashers are designed properly for ice fishing, and thereby they provide additional protection from cold, which regular fishfinders may not have. Flashers come up with modern technology, and their LCD screens are designed to better tolerate below zero temperatures. Besides, these equipment come up with high-tech transducers which have additional insulation and sealing to protect them so that they won’t freeze up.

Cold and water freezing temperatures can be harsh on your electric devices, so it is essential to consider how you can protect your regular fish finder from ice operated from the boat. I have experience that open-air units do pretty well even in the cold, though some common sense and additional care are required to dismiss the damage. So what can be done?

The first step for prevention is to keep your unit away from the elements as much as possible. If you’re not using the screen, cover it with some insulation, or you can also keep it over an ice shelter if you have one.
Whenever you pull your wet transducer back up away, a towel dries it in order to prevent the excess water from freezing.

If your unit suddenly stops working, immediately pull out the wire plug, dry it up and take it somewhere warm and dry. Don’t worry this only happen in very low temperatures and warming it up does the job. Apart from this, you won’t have any further issues with using your regular fish finder for ice fishing.

How does ice fish finder work?

The ice fish finder works using the sound beams. The signals hit either a solid or a semi-solid object, which the unit detects and then displays the interpreted signal on the screen. Fishfinders are not all about depth, but they do provide important information on composition, weeds, snags, topography of the bottom, etc.

It is perfectly safe to use a fish finder for ice fishing, and you can directly use the sound waves as well for locating the fish. However, it is important to make sure that the ice is clear and that there should be no air spaces between the ice and the transducer.

Can any fish finder work for ice fishing?

Totally! One can use almost any portable or regular fish finder for ice fishing. You can easily shoot sound waves via the unit as long as you have a secure power connection and a perfectly fitting transducer.

You know that sound travels much better in water than in air. Similarly, it does travel well in solid objects, as ice is a solid substance thereby fish finders work perfectly with it. You may be amazed that sound waves travel even better in ice than in the water. Thereby, an angler can easily level up a transducer over ice and can direct and receive sonar beams via the unit easily. It works as same as it works in the water.


When it comes to ice fishing, timing is the key. As we are all well aware that in winter day time is quite short, and one does not want to spend his whole day searching for fish in the ice and at the end, he has to go home alone with no fish.

So instead of drilling so many holes, and trusting your gut you can actually utilize your regular fish finder for ice fishing. With a fish finder, you can have an estimate about the structures beneath the ice and then you can drill holes exactly at the spots where you can actually find fish. So less guessing and more catching. Happy fishing!!!

Ricki Cooper

I have been fishing for 11 years. I believe in the famous saying "If fishing is interfering with your business, give up your business".

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