Ever since the invention of liquid-crystal display (LCD) depth finders, flasher sales have slowly dwindled in every market but one. Ice fishing alone probably keeps flasher technology alive today. One cannot say the debate over “which is best?” has “raged.” For the past two decades, the LCD has been the overwhelming fisherman’s choice on open water, while the flasher has ruled the hard-water world. Until now.
While Vexilar, Markum and other flasher units continue to dominate the ice-fishing scene, Lowrance introduced two TFT sonar units designed for ice fishing two years ago that are climbing the charts. Mike Schnettler, regional sales manager for Lowrance, explained, “TFT means thin film transistor, the same screen that’s on a thin-screen television. The advantages include not being affected by cold at all. It functions the same at -20F as it does at 80F. No moving parts means an increase in efficiency. It can get 40 hours of life from one charge on a 12-volt gel cell.”
Scott Glorvigen, an ice freak and Professional Walleye Trail veteran of many years (and sponsored by Lowrance), recently traded in his flasher for the new Lowrance M68C IceMachine. “Lowrance invented flasher technology,” Glorvigen said. “It’s good, solid technology. The new Vexilar and Markum units offer 3 color levels now. The M68C has 7 different levels of color. It’s the primary factor that allows us to distinguish between bottom types, to tell fish from bottom, and to discern larger fish from smaller ones. The biggest mistake people made originally was to fish the M68C like a flasher, because that’s what they know. Ice fishing is the perfect world for sonar. The only things moving are lures and fish. In split screen, full water column on one side with a 2- to 4-power zoom on bottom on the other side, it’s easier to distinguish movement and see exactly what’s going on.
“A TFT unit gives you history. If you look away from a flasher, you may miss something. You can look away from a TFT unit then look back and review what just happened. The lure moving up and down makes the screen look like a heart monitor. You can go back and review exactly how the lure was moving every time a fish strikes it. And you can see the angle of attack. A fish approaching the lure appears as a line. A flat line means a slow approach, while a steep line means a faster approach — more active fish. Now I can make more intelligent decisions about which fish to target and which areas to fish. And you have GPS and mapping right there in the same unit, allowing you to go back to the same precise spots all winter and over the years to come.
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