by Matt Johnson
We sometimes get ahead of ourselves when trying to struggle with the nuances that go into understanding fishing electronics. We focus on pixels, watts, power output, all of the things that do nothing but confuse the bulk of the angling population. We stumble into a retail store searching for answers but only come out with a headache. Why do we do this to ourselves? Ice fishing electronics are simple tools, no need to over-think them.
We’re lucky to be a part of the modern age of ice electronics. In fact, we’re lucky that electronics make our lives just that much easier out on the ice. Let’s face it, without our trusty Vexilar we might as well go home and read a book. We’ve become so reliant on our flasher units that we’re borderline worthless without them. This can all be contributed to the advancement of ice fishing electronics and the availability of owning one. Our family and relatives have them, our friends have them, heck, even our little brothers have them—on-ice electronics are in everyone’s back pockets.
So, now that we agree on the fact that everyone realizes the importance of using electronics, let’s now jump into what goes into understanding these tools…
Picking the Right Features
This is a fun one. Features are the name-of-the-game and nothing’s more important than knowing which features suit your needs the best. The best way to do this is to take a step back and look at your style of fishing. Are you a shallow water angler or do you prefer deep breaks and holes? Do you focus on bottom-hugging fish or are you a wandering nomad chasing down pods of fish scattered amongst the weeds? Do you mostly fish at night or during the day? While seemingly obvious, it still pays to go through this list in your head. Reason being, the transducer type can play a role in whether or not you’re a shallow water angler… a 19-degree cone allows you to more efficiently fish shallow water, but on the flip-side a 9-degree cone excels in deeper water. If you focus on bottom-hugging fish then the added feature of having zoom will definitely increase your productivity. Then with the advancements of dimmer modes you can now fish at night without spending the rest of the evening continuing to see that beautiful round three-color dial even in your sleep. Knowing how you fish can make choosing which features you want a lot easier.
Looking for Accessories
Talk to your wife or girlfriend and they might tell you that it’s the accessories that make the outfit. Some argue this to be the case with ice fishing electronics too. The “bells and whistles” of the package oftentimes go beyond the actual features of the unit. Adding LED lights, cup and rod holders, battery status indicators, and the list goes on and on. While not always demanded in order to catch fish, added accessories can still make your day on the ice more productive and enjoyable. The addition of a rod holder mounted onto the carrying case of your flasher can make for moving from hole to hole a lot easier. Going with a different case altogether might mean having the option to store a small tackle box full of your favorite jigs, allowing you to never be without your go-to options. And then who can forget the trusty add-on of a magnifying shield to both help protect your unit and make things easier to see. Granted, this has only touched the tip of the iceberg on what’s available for accessories to modern ice anglers, but the idea rings through.
Easy as Riding a Bike
Most things in life have a learning curve of some sort, and while I’m not going to sit here and tell you that understanding ice fishing electronics is always the easiest thing in the world, I will tell you that you can learn them in a hurry and once learned it’s like riding a bike. See, ice fishing electronics don’t give you a series of menu options or hundreds of buttons to push. For the most part things are simple and straight-forward. What you see is what you get and the parts are well-marked or numbered. Spend only half a day on the ice with your new electronics and I can assure you that you’ll be teaching the next person that walks up. Yes, it’s that easy!
Don’t let ice fishing electronics get the best of you and from here on out I don’t want anyone to be intimidated by those round-dial locators. Jump in and give it a shot. Push some buttons and turn those knobs. You can’t break anything and you have nothing to lose but a few maggots from aggressive fish. Modern ice fishing electronics are making our lives as ice anglers a lot easier and without a doubt more fun!
Matt Johnson owns and operates Matt Johnson Outdoors (www.mattjohnsonoutdoors.com) where he enjoys taking people on guided ice fishing trips and providing information about his favorite sport—fishing!
***You can contact Matt at [email protected]