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Matt D

FL-18 / LX-3: a real evaluation

28 posts in this topic

I've been seing glowing reports on the FL-18 and also on the LX-3. Both appear to have their definite advantages. But..., I have been reading them all with a grain of salt. Why? Anyone who forks over the bucks for either unit, is much more likely than not, to give a positive evaluation of the unit they just spent hard-earned money on. I've looked at both units in the store and decided on one over the other (an FL-18). If someone were to ask me today which I'd recommend, I'd no doubt lean towards the one I bought; as I'm quite certain most others would do.

I guess this query comes from my science background, but what I'd really like to hear EXCLUSIVELY here is from those who have actually fished with BOTH. (i.e. not with someone else that uses the other 30ft. away). How can anglers really compare their options unless we hear from those who have personally compared them under similar/identical circumstances?

If you haven't, I realize it's still early in the game (LX-3's are new on the scene). If you have, we'd all love to hear from you.

Just tryin' to keep it "cutting-edge"...

------------------
Best FISHES,
Matt

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I agree, not too many people are going to admit that they just spent $400 on a poor piece of equipment. This thing will play out over time as to which one is better. But right now, the FL-18 is better...cuz I just bought one grin.gif

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I believe CNY Tim has a vexilar as well a Marcum. His reports seem to be genuine to me. Could it be that some of you die-hard Vex fans are in denail? We'll see.

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Yeah, as I recall CNY Tim has fished with both and has been very good about keeping us posted on his results. Not sure if he's got an 8 or an 18, which is a factor. Hope we can hear from others though, 'cause I know they're selling.

------------------
Best FISHES,
Matt

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Matt- I have used a Colorpoint, Fl8SLT,and now the MarCum. I will be familiarizing myself more with the 18 very shortly Dark Cloud and myself have agreed to swap units for the day the next time we meet so that we can play around with both units. Unfortunately it will probably occur on a shallow body of water as we really dont have any deeper 20' lakes ready here in NY state possibly Black Lake but that is a haul from central and southern NY. I have no ties to MarCum other than using this unit that's it. The FL8SLT is still a great unit it really is and my choice for shallow water applications under 15'and that was until I got the MarCum. The colorpoint had better target separation but had quality problems my first one never really panned out until I received a new battery and ducer for it, the target separation was great on that unit as well as the display. But the colorpoint would get scrambled next to Vexilars in deep water and close in, so they needed an IR type system to help it. I always had both the vexilar and colorpoint with me depending on waters I fished. If I was fishing with other vexes than the vex went with me if I was fishing alone I took the colorpoint. The FL8Slt excels over the Colorpoint in shallow water applications. Now that the MarCum has proved it's interfernce rejection worked in shallow I will have to wait for deep in and in close when we have enough ice. The yellow, orange, red colors are defined and superb. I caught a 28" northern yesterday in 10.5" and the pike was about 2' off the bottom. The MarCum has continued to perform well. Alot of the lakes that I currently fish do have a lot small perch and with the zoom I can define these little guys and try for that bigger fish on the screen. Multiple blue gills looked like a big fish on the screen when you hit zoom it separated and defined the size of these fish as two med. sized fish. I caught both of these 6" bluegills. The zoom is critical in that aspect when defining your quarry. You really can differentiate the size of your fish just like on the Fl8SLT but with the zoom feature on the MarCum it allows for a clearer picture below. I can't wait to use the new 18 looking forward to it. I will continue to provide unbiased observations of the MarCum and the same when I compare it to the 18.

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I would like to know how you can tell the difference in fish size on your screen. Doesn't a large fish on the outside of the cone show nearly the same signal as a smaller fish more towards the center of the cone?

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Excellent question!!!!! What is the answer??? Targets change color and get bigger when they move to the center of the cone. How does zoom or anything else change this?

What do you gain using 10 ft zoom in 10.5 ft of water???? Another question not answered. If the target separtation on the unit is 0.5 inch in both modes, and the screen splits in 20 ft depth range, shouldn't both sides of the display be virtually identical????

I'm not trying to start anything, but CNY Tim has never run an FL-18, yet he is firmly convinced that the LX3 is a much better unit. (His Colorpoint was great too, after they fixed a transducer and a few other things. frown.gif )

Any one who buys an LX3 this year is playing Russian Roulette with their money. The Marcum unit has had three owners in 4 years, none who had any kind of customer service to speak of. Vexilar has had the Fl series out for many years. I waited to buy the Fl-18 until this year because I NEVER buy new technology the first year. I always wait a year to let some of the bugs work out. Proved to be a good move with the FL-18, because my unit came with version 2 software and didn't have to get sent back in. Even those that did have to send thier units in got them back in days, with no problems.

I called Vexilar yesterday with a question, and someone answered the phone on the first ring. I was transferred to the service department and got a knowledgeable, friendly person who answered my question. You can't beat that kind of service.

The LX3 may prove to be a great unit, but it has a lot to prove in my book. The charging system is a gimmick. The Vex charger has a red light that goes off when the battery is done. What's so hard about that? Do you really want to lug the entire charging unit out on the ice everytime you go out?

As far as soft cases, they all are a pain. They all get wet, get covered in ice, freeze to the sluch on the ice, etc. None of them are worth the trouble. The only real use is for transport, and that is questionable. They are another gimmick. I had one and got rid of it because I hated having to take the unit out, thaw it and dry it after every use. The pro-pack fits in a 5 gallon bucket perfectly - what more protection do you need?

Good luck with the LX3. I'm sticking with the proven Vex.

ScottO

[This message has been edited by ScottO (edited 12-17-2002).]

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muchowa - You are absolutely correct!

Four of the six lakes I fished were sight fishable.

It's ok to look down the hole too but be careful when you do it, move slowly or the fish will take off. Take what you see on the flasher and apply it to what is visually in the water. When fish are stacked in your transducer's cone angle you most definitely can tell the difference in the size of those fish in zoom or out of zoom, but better in zoom because you go from 2.15" to 1". Yikes!!! You should have seen that pike in zoom the other day I almost dropped my rod. The zoom mode is my choice.
This delay before the strike is a bunch of bunk. Fish don't immediately strike your bait just beacause you see them all over your jig. If any one believes that I got some beach front property for sale in Iraq.
The FL-18 and LX-3 are basically the same thing, there 3 color flashers and they bounce and relay signals and interpret on a spinning wheel.

ScottO - The target separation is 2.15" on the right and 1" on the left. The MarCum's ability to separate and define these targets (target separation) in zoom mode is outstanding. So the answer to your question is are both screens identical the answer is no, the left is more detailed. The right screen looks similar to my FL8SLT and Colorpoint combined technology which is not such a bad deal either.
I don't know much about the Zercom company other than there customer service was good with me and they were very helpful in resolving my conflict.
You truly cant compare the mistakes of the past to the present it's really not fair.
But you are correct I won't get my hands on an FL-18 until Friday and I am looking forward to it. I know my friend who I am borrowing the FL-18 from hates the propack he is putting it on an ice box.
You don't lug a charging system with you when you go out on the ice. The status indicator that is attached to the battery does not weigh more than a couple of ounces if that.

Soft Packs are a pain in the butt I agree! I stick mine in the tub to thaw out so I don't get water all over the house when I get back from fishing. The LX-3 softpack case is the best one on the market in my opinion. I used a blue ice box on my FL-8SLT and it's still the best option all around now if someone could make the blue box in all black to retain the suns heat that would be something.
You said that MarCum had 4 different owners can you elaborate on that?
I will have more knowledge on the FL-18 shortly and will provide as much information as I can because I believe the more we know about these units the best we can decide where we put our hard earned money. I hope both units do well. No hard feelings at all.

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I'm still confused on using a 10 ft zoom in 10 ft of water. How can the target separation be any better in the zoom mode? In the 20 ft depth range in zoom, 1/2 of the screen is showing 10 ft of water in normal mode and 1/2 of the screen is showing the same 10 ft in zoom mode. Both halves have the exact same number of bits that can be lit up to display fish, lures, etc. How can one side be different than the other? Why would a fish look like a bigger mark on the zoom side than the non-zoom side - all objects of the same size should light up the same number of bits on both sizes. If not, then the scales are not both 0-10 ft. If each mark on the dial represents 1 ft (in this instance), how can a 6 inch target fill 1/2 of a mark on one side and more than that on the other? Which side is wrong?

Another point to consider when choosing a unit - choice of transducers. If you plan on using your flasher on open water like I do, the Vex has several options including puck and high speed.

Cone angle is another huge reason to pick the Vex. The LX3 comes with a 20 degree cone only. If you plan on fishing any water over about 40 ft deep a cone that wide is pretty useless. To see your lure or fish you have to turn the gain up so high that the whole screen gets cluttered. That is why I bought a 9 degree transducer for my FL8 for fishing deep water. When fishing for lakers in 100+ ft of water it was essential. I haven't had the FL18's 12 degree transducer out in deep water yet, but it should be fine down to 200 ft or so. If I don't like the way it works, I can always go back to a 9 degree. You do not have any options with the LX3. If you fish deep water, the LX3 has limited value.

ScottO

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I am thinking of getting a FL18 or LX3 so I went to Scheels to look at them. They had them sitting next to each other on the display shelf. The knobs on the FL18 are larger and easier to grasp then the smaller knobs on the LX3 which could be a be an issue out on the ice with cold hands. Both units looked good, but I thought the controls were laid out better on the FL18. Bruce

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Good point on the deep water and cone angle size. For you LX3 users out there, is it true that they only come with a 20 degree transducer? For that point alone I would not get a LX3. I have a 12 degree transducer on my FL8 and there are many times I wish I would have the 9/19 ducer. ie. steep drops in deeper water. I was going to update to the 18 this year, but didn't yet. For the time being I'll get by with my 8. Keep the reports coming......

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Hiya,
Couple things: The MarCum people are the same ones who started Zercom, and while they owned that Co., their service was outstanding. I've had Zercoms since they came out with the Clearwater Classic, and have had great success with them. Since they got bought, and are part of a larger company (and one with, to be honest, a less than stellar service reputation) things may change, but so far I haven't had any trouble with service, and I have 3 Zercoms on my boat.

MarCum bought the technology for the old ColorPoint back from Techsonic when Techsonic opted not to develop the unit to its potential. So it's back to the original owners as it were.

As far as the soft packs, etc. I got a soft pack with mine, and I like it. It's very compact, and the front just flips over the top of the case and out of the way. I still have a Zercom on a Blue Box I bring for friends that don't have their own units and that works fine too. The Vex pro packs that fit in the bucket are slick too. I don't carry a bucket with me, and the soft pack helps keep the unit safe when it's in my Fish Trap, so it suits my needs. It's a matter of personal preference...

ScottO - About having to 'lug the entire charging unit out on the ice...' I don't think you've seen the Marcum charger, have you? It's just a bit bigger than a wrist watch - in other words not much to 'lug.' In function it's pretty similar to onboard chargers on a boat - plug it in and forget it. With a run-down battery, it starts with a bulk charge, then as the battery gets closer to full charge slows down to an absorbtion charge, then trickle charges as necessary to maintain the battery. You don't need to disconnect it when the battery's done, you don't need to disconnect the unit from the battery, and you can't overcharge the battery and fry it. If that's a gimmick, it's a pretty handy one.

RK

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I looked at the Marcum charger last night, but I gues not closely enough. I take it the plug-in portion of the charger somehow disconnects from the small box you refered to on top of the battery. The one I saw was connected and the whole thing was stuffed into the soft pack. Looked like a mess.

I still don't see this charger as being essential. I can safely leave my battery on the Vex charger for 48 hours after it is fully charged. If I cant remember to take it off in that time frame, then I guess It's my fault if my battery has a short life. Still not much of a reason to buy the LX3.

ScottO

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RK:

Actually Marcum didn't start Zercom. They provided the first prototype technology and then Zercom took it from there. So all the cuctomer care, support were all Zercom. Then Zercom as a whole was sold, and the company that bought it decided they didn't want the marine side so the Zercom Marine was sold to Techsonics (Humminbird) where the products went downhill. Then After the Colorpoint downfall, Marcum took back their technology for that product and now you have the Colorpoint + Zoom =LX3

Sorry, just wanted to clarify about zercom.

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We are arranging a Vexilar FL-18 and MarCum LX-3 comparison run. We will have one of our best and most demanding Pro Staff run this test.

We're talking a high energy ice angler who ice fishes a lot of different lakes and lake types. He also fishes for panfish as zealously as he fishes for larger gamefish. He loves his Vexilar FL-18 and knows it well. He will be learning the MarCum LX-3 and filling us all in.

I will introduce the ice angler and topic when we are ready to do the comparison. We will also test both of these companies customer service and compare them for you.

Thanks Matt D
You had a great idea and we are now running with it for you.

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Rick - That's great!... Matt D I know were both going to have fun on this project. I should have my FL-18 soon, hopefully before XMAS. It will be nice to have the comparison's. I think as we spell it out pro's and con's we can help fellow ice anglers and provide good technical information for the masses. Most of my testing will be for waters under 40'. Interested in seeing the over 40' deeper water reports from you.

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Rick: Cool!!! ... What else can I say.

My only apprehension is you're gonna come back with info that makes me wish I'd put my $$ in a CD and waited 'til the jury was in.

Regardless, I'm impressed with the response to a simple question and more importantly, looking forward to valuable info for all us fisherfolk.

------------------
Best FISHES,
Matt

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Hmmmmm... This is starting to be kind of a Ford vs. Chevy thing eh???

I drive a Tacoma, use a Marcum, and I'm happy with both!

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Here's my 2 cents.
I've had a Clearwater Classic...loved it.

Clearwater Pro 150Khz...hated it...couldn't see my jig...xducer problems they didn't have figured out before selling them!

Then had a FL-8...loved it until fishing near anyone else.

Then came the FL-8 SLT loved it but it was fuzzier than my FL-8...not as crisp..loved the interference rejection.

Now I have the FL-18 Love it...bright, crisp, IR, Zoom is awesome. We fished 4 of them in the same shack last year and we could tune everybody out most of the time.

I am still waiting to fish with the Marcum.
I don't know anybody with one. I did a quick Fernytest at the Ice Show. In air I could easily see me foot moving up and down on the display. Seemed like it had plenty of power. Looks like it's going to give Vexilar a run for it's top seat.

We had all 4 of our FL-18's updated while we waited...excellent customer service.

Ferny.

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I have an fl-18 and I like it quite well. I don't use the zoom much unless I'm specifically targeting walleyes. When I fish for crappies they can be found anywhere in the water column so I leave the zoom off because I don't like condensing the entire water column on one half of the flasher. I fish in a FT III quite a bit and there are times I can see my partners jig even with the 12 degree 'ducer. That annoys me and I think it would be worse with a 20 degree 'ducer. We often fish 4 holes in the house and they aren't terribly far apart, so with a wider cone angle I could get all 4 baits showing on the flasher and that would really drive me nuts. My friend is looking for a flasher so I have been reading the forums with interest about the new Marcum. If that is the only 'ducer they have then I am going to advise him to buy the vex.

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A family friend had an 18 that went haywire, so he returned it to Cabelas after they had pulled them from the shelf. They swapped him for the LX-3.
He used the FL-18 for about a year in all types and depths of water, and has only had the LX-3 for a short time and he said he will take the new LX-3 hands down over the FL-18. He has owned an FL-8 for a long time.

I love my FL-18, but because of all of this, I am tossing around the idea of getting a Marcum and testing them side by side for a couple weeks, and if I find the same thing that our friend did, sell my 18 before the credit card bill comes, or return the Marum.
I fish in less then 25' of water about 90% of the time. Everything I see, hear, read says the LX-3 is the sh*t in shallower water.

Wonder how the LX-3 handles the softer bottoms? seems that is where the fl-18 struggles.

Guess I will have to see.

Hope all the thoughts posted on here can be honest, open eyed, middle of the road ones and not turn in to the Ford vs Chevy thing.

------------------
Born to Fish, Forced to Work!

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I tried my new FL-18 today. This baby is cool. Used the zoom in 26 ft. The display is nice and bright. Even caught a 17 inch walleye. It lit up like a Christmas tree just before the walleye hit. I based my purchase on reputation and reading all the posts from happy vexilar owners. I can't imagine the marcum being much better than this. The zoom is definitely worth the extra jing.

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Mankato-Ice-Man: You will love the LX-3! I like yourself fish mostly shallow water too. I have not used my unit over 40' yet and the LX-3 has shined everytime I have taken it out. I really don't fish out of a boat so I don't care if it works in open water but if you ice fish only with it and for your situations in shallow water it is incredible. You will love the adjustable zoom window too on the MarCum!
Put up a post on how you like/dislike your new MarCum LX-3 unit. The more post's the better.

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