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Ice Fishing Flasher vs. Graph Fish Finder for Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing Flasher vs. Graph Fish Finder for Ice Fishing

Comparing a flasher vs. a graph will allow you to choose the right option for your ice fishing game. Bear in mind that both of these will help you with ice fishing and they’re better than nothing at all.

That said, one is definitely better than the other when it comes to ice fishing. I’ve used both of these quite a bit and they have many different features that make one different from the other.

What is an Ice Fishing Flasher? 

How to read a Flasher Fish Finder - Ice Fishing - Sonar- GetReeled

When most people look at an ice fishing flasher, they think it’s too complicated, but that’s not the case. It looks a lot more difficult to use than it actually is. In many cases, it’s even simpler to use than a fish finder.

Flashers use four different colors to indicate various levels in the water. The colors typically consist of green, yellow, orange, and red.

Yellow, orange and red indicate something in the water. This could be your lure, it could be a fish, it could also mean the bottom of the lake.

The reason flashers are so popular for ice fishing is because they work vertically in the water column which is perfect for this style of fishing.

When you’re casting in warm weather fishing, you benefit more from being able to see what’s happening around you rather than directly under you. In ice fishing, you’re fishing vertically up and down so being able to find fish right underneath the hole is the best option.

What is a Graph/Fish Finder?

Garmin STRIKER Plus 4 Ice Fishing Bundle, Includes Portable STRIKER Plus 4 Fishfinder and Dual Beam-IF Transducer

Most of us are familiar with graphing fish finders, and the sheer number of options when it comes to them is endless. There are features such as built-in flashers, GPS, mapping, navigation, Bluetooth, and more.

The most common feature you’ll find in a fish finder is CHIRP sonar. CHIRP is a continuous ray of sonar that sends waves down into the water and those waves bounce off whatever gets in their way.

The reason this works so well is because of the continuous sonar waves. Since they’re sent on a constant frequency, you’re receiving frequent updates about what is actually happening in the water.

When it comes to ice fishing, this takes on a whole new level of importance. Being that you’re fishing vertically, you need to be able to see fish as they pass through the space underneath your hole.

Choosing an ice fishing fish finder like the Garmin Striker 4 Ice Bundle  actually allows you to fish through the ice without having to drill a hole. Not every fish finder is set up like this so it makes it a highly valuable option for ice fishing.

Comparing the Differences

The purpose of all fishing electronics is to make your life easier. Comparing flashers and graphs will help you decide which option is the right one for you.


The display between a fish finder and flasher is easy to distinguish and much of it was already discussed in the previous section.

Graphs use arc technology which displays a curved line on the screen each time a fish comes into your range. These use an LCD screen of various sizes as well, and the size of the arc will help indicate the overall size of the fish.

graphing fish finder

Fish ID technology is another option you’ll find on fish finding graphs. The Fish ID uses a graphic of a fish to tell you that there is one within your range.

Flashers, on the other hand, use colors to alert you that there is a fish below you. You’ll see a red or orange line moving through the color bands on the ring around your flasher. As you see it moving closer to the red or orange band that indicates your lure, you’ll know that the fish is approaching your bait.

Vexilar GPX2012 Inc., FLX-20 Genz Pack with 12 Ice-Ducer

The best thing about flashers in this instance is the fact that you can see an approaching fish in real-time. Fishfinders tend to have a little bit of a lag.

GPS Features 

GPS feature

GPS and mapping are important features that anglers look for because it helps you plan and coordinate your fishing. When you have GPS you can mark down areas where you had success fishing so you can know for next time.

It’s also useful for scouting the water because you can identify any underwater structure and make note of where it was so you can track it year after year.

Flashers do not allow you to do this while fish-finding graphs do. This is one of the major downsides of flashers: their features are pretty limited to the one thing they do right. That said, you could bring a portable GPS or simply a piece of paper and a pen and jot down details about where you had success.


portable fish finder

They both offer the same level of portability, and a lot of them come with special ice fishing covers to help them stay out of the elements. The downside with fish finders though is that you often have to purchase separate ice fishing transducers if you want to read through the ice.

Also, many of the stock transducers that come with Humminbird or Garmin fish finders are not capable of handling the freezing temperatures. As a result, you need to purchase separate transducers which come at an added cost.


We spend a lot of money on fishing so it’s important to get our money’s worth for the things we buy. Unfortunately, an ice fishing flasher can only be used for ice fishing so if you fish in warm weather, you’ll be out of luck.

That said, you can use a fish finder all year long. For this reason, fish finders that come with flashers  built in are a good investment.

Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7x SplitShot - 7-inch Fish Finder with SplitShot Transducer

Comparison Table 



While it might appear that the fish finder graph is the better option, there are still plenty of reasons to get a flasher. For example, if ice fishing is your primary method of fishing, you’ll want to use a flasher.

Regardless of your choice, they both have their place and time. Choose carefully and good luck out there!