The advancements in technology today have not only affected our everyday life, but they have spilled over into the world of fishing. Advancements in GPS technology and the leaps and bounds in the world of sonar technology have had a direct effect on the way we fish.

Ice fishermen are not immune to this technology and it is being used all over the country to improve the way we fish. More and more companies are recognizing this and are gearing their equipment toward the ice angler.

Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t need fancy GPS units and side imaging sonar out on the ice to catch fish. However the new GPS/Sonar combos are certainly making a good showing and have been proven to help some win tournaments.

My fellow writer and angler, Jeff Kelm recently utilized a combination of sonar, an underwater camera, and a good GPS with mapping chip to win the “Recycled Fish” Hardwater Open on Big Creek in Iowa. The GPS and map chip allowed Jeff and his partner to eliminate “dead” water and focus on brush piles in the deeper areas as well as the drop-offs near the structure.

If you are just starting out in the world of ice fishing there is little need for this high-end equipment, however there is one thing that will make your days out on the water a much more productive time. The use of a flasher is a key item to take advantage of when you hit the hard water.

There are several manufactures of flasher units. Companies such as Vexilar are making flashers in all types of varieties and what you choose is basically up to you and how you fish. Choose what you feel comfortable with as well as what you can afford. Each unit has its own advantages and it pays to take some time to do your research and pick the unit that is right for you.

Recently I have changed up the way I fish and have gone to a different flasher.  My Flasher of choice now is the Vexilar FL22. I went with this unit because it is designed for the shallow water fisherman and that is where most of my fishing takes place. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t use it at any other depths. Flashers are a very universal tool for any fisherman.

I suppose I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself here and left out a vital part of information that would certainly help. What is a flasher?

A flasher is a unique sonar device that typically utilizes a rotating arm with a three color led system that spins on an axis and lights up to show the depth, weeds, bottom makeup and fish. There are units out there that utilize fiber optics, LEDs, LCD screens, and sometimes simple lights to accomplish the same goal.

That is as simple of an answer that would explain it without going into all the science and details of what each company may include. With that we can discuss why we use the flashers.
The flasher is a “real time” feedback of what is going on below the ice. This feedback is capable of giving you a picture of what is going on under the ice below you. It will allow you to learn more about the area you are fishing and about how the fish are reacting to your baits.

Flashers are a key component to allow you to cover a lot of water and eliminate the water that may not be holding fish. You are able to visualize the type of bottom you are over based on the color of the signal coming back as well as know if there are weeds or even fish below you by watching the screen of the unit.

Watching the screen on your flasher can also help you determine what type of mood the fish are in at that given time period. You may see fish come into your screen and just sit there and watch your presentation and then slowly swim off. This can allow you to change up your presentation until you find one that is triggering the fish to bite instead of what we call “sniffing” the baits.

The color palette of the returning sonar signal is red, orange, and green. These are the three colors that you will be looking at when using your flasher. Just like any other sonar the darker the color the harder and larger the object. Thus a hard bottom would be red and a fish would show up green. However the closer the fish got to the center of your cone the darker the color, thus it would turn red when they were right on top of your bait.

It my previous column I discussed the importance of being mobile when searching for fish and the flasher plays a key role in that. These units allow you to find the fish holding structure as well as the depth changes that might be key to your particular species.

Although not necessary, the addition of a flasher to your ice fishing equipment will certainly improve your ability to locate and catch more and bigger fish. It will allow you to find those suspended crappies out over the deep holes or find those bottom hugging walleyes on the shallow flats.

Adding this technology to your ice fishing game will certainly help you put more fish on the ice. Do some research and see for yourself the advantages of not fishing “blind”.

Cory Yarmuth
Legend Outdoors