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3 best fish finders for ice fishing in 2020: freeze less, catch more

Published on: 
March 18, 2020

Ice fishing requires a bit more of a logistical approach than other types of fishing.

How do you know where the crappie, perch walleye and trout are with 8” of ice covering them? That’s where fish finders and flashers come in. And every ice fisherman should have one in their fishing gear.

The best fish finders for ice fishing are ones that can handle the cold, are accurate in thick ice, and make it easy to know where the fish are before extensive setup. 

Our pick for best fish finder for ice fishing is the Deeper Chirp. It’s the lightest ice fishing fish finder on the market, can be used as 2d sonar or flasher or in split-screen with both, makes finding the right spot to fish easier than any other fishfinder and automatically saves every spot you drop the Chirp in to via GPS. 

Our pick
Deeper Chirp
Best fish finder for ice fishing
Lightweight, compact, WiFi enabled, GPS included, advanced technology. Ideal for ice fishing as you can simply drill a hole, drop the Chirp in wait for it to scan and save the location and then move on to your next hole. The information is provided as close to real time as you can get with a fish finder. 
Check current price on Amazon

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3 best fish finders for ice fishing

Best fish finder for ice fishing
Our pick
Deeper Chirp
Best fish finder for ice fishing
Easy to use, lightweight, compact, WiFi enabled, GPS included. Has both 2d sonar and flasher mode. Can be used independantly or simultaneously with split screen mode. 
Check current price on Amazon

Our pick for best fish finder for ice fishing is the Deeper Chirp. Deeper make our all-time favorite fish finders available on the market. And we're not ashamed to shout it loud. The Deeper PRO+ is actually our pick for best budget fish finder for ice fishing which you can read about further down the post.

Our favorite aspect of all Deeper fishfinder models that make them so fantastic for ice fishing is the convenience. You can literally drill a tonne of holes, drop the fish finder in, allow it to survey the area and save the data to your smartphone, move onto the next and repeat. You can then look back through all your saved data to pick which spot is best. All of this can be done within a couple of minutes per hole. No other fish finders on the market come even close to the convenience of Deeper fish finders. 

The main advantage of the Chirp over the PRO+ is the depth in which the Chirp can scan down to. While the PRO+ offers depths down to 260ft/80m, the Chirp allows you to scan to depths of 330ft/100m. The Chirp also has a 0.4” target separation, compared to 0.5” target separation with the PRO+, meaning you can really pinpoint fish you want to target even when they are amongst baitfish or track the tiniest lure when vertical jigging. 

Deeper currently has a promo running for a winter bundle that costs the same as the Deeper Chirp alone. The winter bundle includes the Chirp sonar, a Deeper branded thermos flask, camouflage neck gaiter and neon night fishing cover. 

Extremely detailed display, pinpoint predator fish, baitfish, vegetation, structure, differentiate bottom huggers from bottom contour, understand bottom hardness, water depth and temperature.

Suitable environments 

  • Lake
  • River
  • Sea
  • Ice
  • Offshore
  • Onshore

Detects and displays 

  • Water depth
  • Water temperature
  • Vegetation
  • Structures
  • Bottom contour & hardness

Other features

  • Split-screen option
  • 0.4” target separation
  • Works from -4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 years warranty

Pros: Easy to set up, extremely portable, lightweight, no wires, accurate, real-time information

Cons: No interchangeable battery so when it runs out it can’t be used until its charged again, you will likely require a power bank for your smartphone/tablet as that is more likely to run out before the Chirp does.

Humminbird Helix ice fishing fish finder
Best premium fish finder
Humminbird Helix 7
Best ice fishing fish finder with built in screen
Super fast processor, user friendly, option for flasher mode or traditional sonar or both with split-screen. The 7" screen provides a large, crisp and clear image.
Check current price on Amazon

Firstly, we would like to point out that the Helix is manufactured by the brand Humminbird, not Hummingbird. We noticed lots of people mis-spelling the brand which could skew your results when researching. Anyway...onto the important stuff.

The Humminbird Helix is one of the most well-regarded ice fishing fish finders currently available on the market and for good reason. Humminbird has really nailed the hardware in the Helix with a super-fast processor that firstly means the unit boots up really fast (16 seconds on the Helix 7 from cold) and also shows information with superb real-time accuracy. 

The Helix also has the option to view in flasher mode and traditional sonar mode, or the option to view both with the use of the split-screen. 

The Helix isn’t naturally an ice fishing fish finder but paired with the Humminbird ICE case and iceducer, the Helix is a beast for ice fishing. 

One thing we didn’t like about the Helix is that the battery display shows that the battery drains really fast at the beginning - from 100% to 70% battery in one hour, but then stabilizes and stays around 65% even after 4 hours use. So, the accuracy of the battery display is questionable. 

If you're looking to buy the Humminbird Helix we would recommend the Helix 7 (Helix 5 here if you don't want to spend the extra or don't need the larger screen ) paired with the Humminbird ICE pack that includes an ice carry case and iceducer and is suitable for both the Helix 5 and 7.

Suitable environments 

  • Lake
  • River
  • Sea
  • Ice
  • Offshore
  • Onshore

Detects and displays 

  • Water depth
  • Water temperature
  • Vegetation
  • Structures
  • Bottom contour & hardness

Other features

  • Dual spectrum CHIRP sonar
  • 0.75” target separation
  • Built-in GPS
  • Split-screen option
  • 1-year warranty for 5” and 7” screens, 2 years for 9” and 12”

Pros: Excellent screen quality, particularly on the 7”, good battery life, changeable battery if you want to upgrade to a more powerful, lighter lithium battery, fast processor, easy to set up

Cons: Provided battery drains quickly to begin with but then stabilizes

Best fish finder for ice fishing
Best budget fish finder
Deeper PRO+
Best budget ice fishing fish finder
BIG technology with a SMALL price tag. Has the option for traditional sonar or flasher mode or both with split screen mode enabled. Saves every location it scans so you can easily go back and find good spots. 
Check current price on Amazon

The Deeper PRO+ smart sonar GPS wireless ice fishing fish finder
offers the best solution for ice fishermen who like to drill and check lots of holes before beginning fishing. It’s small enough to carry in your pocket, meaning you can drill a hole, drop the PRO+ in, allow the app to survey and record the data and move onto the next hole all within a couple of minutes max. 

Where this fish finder shines especially well for ice fishing is its flasher mode. It works exceptionally well for such a small and cost-effective device. When we tested it, it was sensitive enough to mark the smallest of perch flies in 50-foot deep water. 

The app is designed to be incredibly ice fishing friendly. It allows split-screen usage so you can display the flasher on one half of your smartphone screen and 2d sonar view. The flasher also has a zoom function allowing you to watch a vertical flasher that can isolate any water column range you want to focus on. Not only this, but the app records all data from every location, meaning you can easily build up a record of all the spots you fish, allowing you to pick the best locations based on past information and experience. 

The main issue we came across with the Deeper PRO+ was when used in thick ice (8”+). The thick ice causes the sonar data to be weaker and can detect ice particles as fish. However, it still works well enough to spot most fish, it is just not as effective as on thinner ice. 

We find it’s best to use some kind of stick to keep the PRO+ in place when in a hole, otherwise it bobs around too much and the signal can cut out for a moment. The guys at Tough Country Gear on Youtube use a knitting needle that looks to work perfectly as shown in the image below.

Best fish finders for ice fishing

Suitable environments 

  • Lake
  • River
  • Sea
  • Ice
  • Offshore
  • Onshore

Detects and displays 

  • Water depth
  • Water temperature
  • Vegetation
  • Structures
  • Bottom contour & hardness

Other features

  • Split-screen option
  • 0.5” target separation
  • Works from -4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 years warranty

Pros: Easy to set up, extremely portable, lightweight, no wires, excellent graph and flasher capabilities, great batter life between 4-6 hours, easy to use app, dual beam

Cons: Not as accurate in thicker ice, no interchangeable battery so when it runs out it can't be used until its charged again, some interference if other people are using flashers or finders nearby, you will likely require a power bank for your smart device as that is more likely to run out of power before the PRO+ does

FAQ's

What's the best ice fishing fish finder?

The best fish finders for ice fishing are made by Deeper. Our pick for the best ice fishing fish finder is the Deeper Chirp. It’s mid-priced, small, convenient, lightweight and makes finding the best spots for fishing a breeze. It also offers both 2d sonar and flasher mode. You can use one at a time or use both in split-screen mode. 

Can you use a regular fish finder for ice fishing?

Most regular fish finders are not suitable for ice fishing as they cannot handle the cold or do not offer adequate or any down imaging. Down imaging/down scanning is sonar that basically creates an image straight down. Down imaging is therefore essential for ice fishing in order for you to see what is directly beneath the hole you just drilled. Down imaging sonar can also reach a much deeper range than side imaging as it focuses solely on a downward trajectory.

Can a Helix 7 be used for ice fishing?

All Humminbird Helix models can be used for ice fishing but require an ice carry case to protect the finder from the bitter cold and an iceducer to be able to scan downwards and create images far beneath the hole.

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