Cheap Set Up For An Ice Fishing Fish Finder

I was interested in getting a fish finder specifically for ice fishing. I do not get to get out much but when I do I like to at least see what is going on under the ice and determine if I should be moving around a bit to locate fish or just stay put. That got me quickly researching online for ice fishing specific fish finders. The only fish finders that are specifically made for ice use only are called flashers. I am not too familiar with these units, but the premise is that you are looking at a small column of water on the display and it “flashes” when a fish comes into the strike zone of your bait so that you can quickly react and jig your bait accordingly. You simply put the transducer into your hole and it displays what is directly underneath you. These types of units have been around for quite some time and there is debate between the fishing community as to which is best, a flasher or a display type fish finder. I’ll let you decide for yourself, but I personally prefer a display type fish finder that has an LCD screen and shows you arches as a representation of the fish. I find it easier to use and in all honestly more interesting to stare at when huddled in an ice fishing tent then just a flasher, but that is just my two cents. In reality the units work the same, they both send a signal down the narrow column of water you are fishing and both show you fish.

When I was doing my research I found a huge array of finders out there, but the costs were out of my price range. I was looking for the cheapest option possible, but with the results I was after. I recently purchased a Lowrance Hook 4 for my boat. It is a great fish finder, with GPS and is reasonably priced. I figured I could use my head unit and simply buy the specially designed transducer for ice fishing. I contacted Lowrance directly and they were very helpful in telling me all the pieces I would need. I priced everything out and it was still over $200 just for these components, not to mention I would need a case and a battery too. It was time to do some more research. I started looking at regular fish finders with transducers that are designed to go onto your boat. When looking around the internet I found tons of info on forums as to how to set up your regular boat transduced and make it work when you are on the ice. The key component is to make sure that you have a stable enough platform so that your transducer is parallel to the water. This is easy when the transducer is attached to your boat, but needs some tweaking if you are going to use it for ice fishing. I was able to locate a sub $100 fish finder from my local Canadian Tire on a spring clearance. I stayed with a Lowrance unit as I am familiar with it, its menus, and got a Hook 3x. If you are not in a rush I highly suggest you wait for a sale as there are many options available under $100 for a colour LCD screen that will do the job you need. If your budget is higher, a specifically designed ice fishing package is the best and easiest way to go and then of course you choose to get a larger screen, more options etc.

They key thing that you need to look for is for the fish finder to be able to give out a signal from the transduced at 200khz. I won’t get into the too much technical info on khz but suffice to say this is the cone shape of the signal that comes out of the transducer. At 200khz you are looking under a narrow spectrum under the water, which is perfect for ice fishing since all you need to see is what is going on under your hole. It is so precise that you can easily see your bait display on your screen so you know exactly where to put it to get it in front of a fishes mouth. My transducer can send out a signal at 83khz or 200khz, but for ice fishing it is always set to 200khz. Then you can play around with the settings, noise rejection, sensitivity, speed etc. to really get it dialed in. Here are the photos of my set up but look around the internet and see other set ups as it will give you a good idea of the possibilities with a traditional fish finder. You can always mount this on your boat in the summer or keep it as a portable unit year round. All in the unit was under $100. I bought a few stainless screws from Home Depot for a few cents each and a broom from the dollar store for a whopping $1.25. The only other thing you need is a battery and a charger. I had a charger on hand so that was not an issue but I was able to get a battery from $25.99 at a local battery shop. These are 12v batteries that are typically used as back ups for alarm systems or security systems Here is my set up:

I had a simple storage container lying around that was a perfect size for what I needed. You can find boxes like this for really cheap, I’ve seen people use ammo boxes, but if you look around you can probably find something lying around that you can use, even an old cooler. As you can see on the outside of the box I attached a broom holder. This makes it easy for me to attach the transducer and makes it easy to pull out of the hole when I land a fish. It was something I picked up while researching another website.

I cut the actual broom part and cut out all of the bristles. I then used the stainless screws that came with the unit to attach them to the modified broom part. These are the screws you would typically use to attach the bracket to your boat, so I didn’t even have to purchase them. I have the transducer always secured to the broom portion and only screw/unscrew the broom handle for transport or as needed. The fish finder, cables, and transducer all fit perfectly in the box. I may opt to go to a slightly larger box so that I can have the battery in there as well, but for now I transport the battery separately but put it in the box when in use.

Here is the entire unit put together to give you an idea. The transducer sits parallel to the water and if it is not it’s a simple adjustment. With the long broom handle it doesn’t matter how thick the ice is I can always get the transducer down the hole for a perfect reading and it is easy to remove one handed and get it out of the way to actually pull up your fish. I have used this set up as a portable unit up at my cottage when stationary in the boat and it works great.