January 27, 2016
By Cory Schmidt
Might be a sign you're getting older when you remember an event that transpired over twenty years back as if it weren't that long ago. I choose to think of it as seasoning. As "recently" as the early 90s, it was throughout much of the ice belt unlikely to encounter other anglers utilizing something so taken for granted today as a simple sonar unit. Nonetheless, I recall with fondness the absolute thrill of watching big yellow perch materialize and thump my jig on the lighted dial of an original Humminbird Super Sixty Flasher. Rigged on a hand-hewn "Ice Box" — Dave Genz's ingenious portable sonar-battery shuttle device — the flasher displayed incredible underwater dramas for the better part of three seasons, including this singular January day on Devils Lake, North Dakota.
Beyond the swarms of giant hungry perch, most memorable that day was the nearly constant procession of anglers who strolled by to see what all the fuss was about. Lots of "oohs," "ahhs" and mutters of "That's amazing" each time the fish-lure performance played out on screen.
To tell the truth, it's still a significant part of what makes ice fishing so much fun and so enthralling today. And we've added awesome accoutrements like underwater cameras that let us eavesdrop on the underwater "goings on" of fish. GPS mapping puts us right smack on the big red X — a feat nearly not possible in the early days. Moreover, while many anglers still prefer flasher dials to LCD screens, the benefits of fishing a combo sonar-GPS mapping unit are hard to ignore.
Ice tech today has surely made us more efficient hunters of fish. Thankfully, on many water bodies, selective harvest and a little restraint keeps fish populations of healthy and occasionally, wise. So too goes the social side of the sport, keeping anglers conversant and ever excited for the next big bite.
Aqua-Vu Multi-Vu HD Camera System — Popularity of wheeled fish houses is at an all time high, many of which sport satellite dishes, sound systems and HD TVs. What better way to pass cold days in the cozy fish house than to watch the "fishing channel" via this new HD underwater camera. The first true high definition underwater viewing system, the Aqua-Vu Multi-Vu HD system provides instant connectivity between its included HD Aqua-Vu Camera and a big screen TV. With a resolution of 720p, this progressive display camera also features an industry-best image sensor for clear viewing even in the lowest of light conditions.
Humminbird Helix 5 Sonar GPS PT — For maximum ice angling efficiency, anglers are increasingly toting combo sonar-GPS mapping units, such as Humminbird's new acclaimed HELIX series. Buzzing with dazzling color and brightness, the HELIX 5 Sonar GPS PT features an 800 H x 480 V, 5-inch 256-color display. This awesome sonar-GPS mapping unit features a Dualbeam Plus transducer with 4,000 watts PTP power. Precision internal GPS sports built-in UniMap cartography and compatibility with LakeMaster micro SD cards. Sonar-GPS system includes a soft-sided carrying case, AGM battery and battery charger.
MarCum LX-5i — Updated with a larger display, enhanced viewing angles and a faceplate that reduces snow build-up, MarCum's flagship flasher is reportedly better than ever. Juiced by 2,500-watts of Peak-to-Peak output power, the LX-5i operates on a dual beam 8/20 degree transducer for optimal performance in shallow and deep water alike. Patented infinitely adjustable zoom and 12-level interference rejection are two more features MarCum users boast about. A True-Color display and Super Fine Line Technology provide this flasher with bright, colorful vivid images and ¾-inch target separation. Included are a 12-volt 9-amp battery, 3-stage auto battery charger and custom MarCum softpack.
Aqua-Vu MICRO DT — Sharp anglers have learned that water temperature can be just as critical under the ice as it is while fishing open water. Providing additional ice fishing intel, the Aqua-Vu Micro DT underwater camera displays digital water temperature as well as the depth of the optics. This acorn-sized color camera module is compatible with Aqua-Vu Micro 5 and Micro 5 PLUS monitors, including 100 feet of thin yet tough camera cable. Sized to fit into a coat pocket or your tackle bag, the Micro DT may become the most important little tool in your ice electronics arsenal.
Vexilar FL-8SE — The flasher that started a revolution, the FL-8SE remains a popular choice for ice anglers of all skill levels. Vexilar's hallmark three-color display shows weak targets in green, medium targets in orange and strong signals in lurid red. Ten level interference rejection settings knock out unwanted clutter, while an adjustable sensitivity control assures detection of the tiniest panfish jigs. Available in several different configurations, including the Ice Pack with self-leveling Ice Ducer, the FL-8SE can be easily adapted from ice to boat applications.
MarCum PanCan — Compatible with Android, iPhone or iPad, MarCum's new wireless underwater camera system features a color Manta Camera, 50-feet of camera cable and a built-in spool reel for cable storage. Integrated into the spool housing is a Camera Panner device, which allows users of wireless devices to fully rotate the camera for full underwater inspection. A WiFi transmitter base works from up to 300 feet for monitoring tip-ups or dead sticks from afar.
Lowrance Elite-4X Chirp Ice Machine — The first ice unit with CHIRP technology, the Elite-4x CHIRP Ice Machine displays underwater signals with improved target identification at greater depths. CHIRP also provides excellent target separation, lure detection and a clutter-free picture. The 4.3-inch LCD can exhibit flasher mode, as well as a traditional fish finding display. A 20-degree transducer works to 1000 feet, and includes a self-leveling float system. Ice Machine includes a weatherproof soft-sided pack with front and rear zipper access, two Plano StowAway utility boxes, and a 12-volt battery and charger.