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Old 10-21-2017, 10:41 AM
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Default Advice on Ice Fishing Flashers.

Looking to purchase my first flasher. I'm looking to spend around the $400-$625 range. The water depth i'd be fishing in is approximately 15-40 feet. I've narrowed my choices down to 3 different units (i hope). And they are: Vexilar FLX-12 Propack II Combo with 12° Ice Ducer and DD-100, Humminbird ICE-45 Flasher, and the MarCum LX-3TCi True Color Sonar Flasher System. Advice/comments/reviews?
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Old 10-21-2017, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Smiity View Post
Looking to purchase my first flasher. I'm looking to spend around the $400-$625 range. The water depth i'd be fishing in is approximately 15-40 feet. I've narrowed my choices down to 3 different units (i hope). And they are: Vexilar FLX-12 Propack II Combo with 12° Ice Ducer and DD-100, Humminbird ICE-45 Flasher, and the MarCum LX-3TCi True Color Sonar Flasher System. Advice/comments/reviews?
Hello Smiity
I have and used the ice 55 , love it ,
I have used Marcus's and they were good ,

I just think for the best bang for the money , it's hard to beat the ice 55
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Old 10-21-2017, 11:42 AM
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At 40 ft deep max you cant really go wrong with any of them. I like the larger screens on the humminbird units but marcum are good too. Higher end ones have the odd extra bell or whistle but not necessary except for specific situations. At 40 ft narrow beam could be advantageous uf fishing steep dropoffs etc.
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Old 10-21-2017, 11:46 AM
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I'm a big fan of the Marcum flashers . I'd spend a few extra bucks and buy the LX-7 digital . I got lucky and found one on sale for a little over $700.00. Very easy to use and I've used mine all summer as well. Couldn't find the open water transducer in Canada so I just rigged up something using a chunk of pool noodle and a couple of plastic ties and sat it in a milk crate.
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Old 10-21-2017, 01:34 PM
ROA ROA is online now
 
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Vexilar -loud clunky, over priced for the features you get,no zoom only single beam transducer ....but the least likely to break or have problems. Built to last decades and if you do have problems there is one or two guys in the Vexilar shop that have been working there for years that will fix your unit and it won't cost much to repair either. Can get 3 beam transducer as all Vexilar transducers , cases etc are interchangeable. Very high quality transducers unit relies on sensitiveity not high power out put so battery's last days between charges.

Humminbird - most features for the money, zoom and duel beam transducer big screen. Quite likely to break or have problems and if it does you might as well throw it out. It's dealing with big company bs to get it fixed and it will cost an arm and a leg.

Marcum -middle of the road feaures to money. Zoom and a single wide beam transducer. uses a different style transducer support (no float) and unit is square so it doesn't slide into a bucket the same as the others but nicer to move from hole to hole. Quite likely to break but not as expensive or as much bs to fix as the Humminbird.


I have had all the brands. I only have a Vexilar fl18 now and it is what I should have got at the start. Would have saved me all kinds of money and frustration of sending Humminbirds and marcums in for repair. I would also say that all marked fish about the same and all helped me catch more fish. I would take any of them over having nothing so on that point you can't make a bad choice.

Last edited by ROA; 10-21-2017 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:09 PM
TylerThomson TylerThomson is offline
 
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Do you have a summer sonar? I'm got myself a humminbird helix this summer and they make an ice transducer for it. Lots of summer sonar come with an ice fishing mode now. Just another option.
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Old 10-22-2017, 03:43 PM
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No, i don't have a summer sonar. gonna just have to decide which flasher to take a risk on and buy.
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Old 10-22-2017, 03:50 PM
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I'm a big fan of the Marcum flashers . I'd spend a few extra bucks and buy the LX-7 digital . I got lucky and found one on sale for a little over $700.00. Very easy to use and I've used mine all summer as well. Couldn't find the open water transducer in Canada so I just rigged up something using a chunk of pool noodle and a couple of plastic ties and sat it in a milk crate.
Also, have Marcum and it works very well
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Old 10-22-2017, 04:17 PM
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I was in the same position as you and ended up going for the ICE 55, found a deal on amazon that wasn't very much more than the 45. The 45 is the only way a guy can get a digital depth display at that price point. Also I liked the big, bright display on the humminbirds. To be honest with you I don't think you can go wrong with any of those flashers. There's been a big move towards all digital flasher models and brushless motors, but for what we do those three will do fine.
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Old 10-22-2017, 07:31 PM
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As far as digital vs mechanical I prefer the mechanical for a couple reasons.

The fish finder versions that have a flasher view don't work as good as a mechanical flasher and none of them have narrow beam(most have 2 beam but they are wide and super wide since meant for use on a boat not flasher). The benefits of gps and sonar graph view can be nice at times though which some people value.

The digital flashers like LX7 and LX9 are good units but are large and power hogs. I prefer the smaller lighter units with longer battery life especially considering the price difference.

The Humminbird units have a rebate going right now so the 55 would be $625 at the fishin hole after rebate right at the top end of your price range. I would sooner pay the extra bucks for the 55 to get the carry bag and couple other little features it has.

The only brand I haven't used is Vexilar but the only one I would want of them is the FLX-28(in large part because it isn't noisy like the other ones) and it is pricey.
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Old 10-22-2017, 08:22 PM
needmoretoys needmoretoys is offline
 
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I have a Huminbird Ice 55 and like it, but picked up a Helix 5 ICE last year and like it a whole lot more. GPS, traditional Flasher and sonar. Have a look at it, well worth the money and it is a great unit. If I did it again, I would get the Helix 7.

You can also use it in the summer on the boat.
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Old 10-22-2017, 08:30 PM
calgarygringo calgarygringo is offline
 
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Love the Helix but it doesnt come close on the flasher side. Nice unit but more basic flasher. This will show up fishing small lures in really deep water.


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Originally Posted by needmoretoys View Post
I have a Huminbird Ice 55 and like it, but picked up a Helix 5 ICE last year and like it a whole lot more. GPS, traditional Flasher and sonar. Have a look at it, well worth the money and it is a great unit. If I did it again, I would get the Helix 7.

You can also use it in the summer on the boat.
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Old 10-23-2017, 09:07 AM
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I have never felt hamstrung using my summer sounder in winter, and I think one advantage is you are running one machine and you can tweak it to cover the situation. I would not get an ice specific unit as a first sonar unless you don’t actually need one in summer ( river fisherman, family boat has one etc). For myself my sounder goes from Kayak mode to ice mode in minute .

That said I would say a mid range sounder and a camera would be more fun / useful than a high end sounder
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Old 10-23-2017, 09:43 AM
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I have never felt hamstrung using my summer sounder in winter
They get the job done but once you use a good flasher you won't want to use one again. Better target separation, better marking of small lures(try marking a 1/8 oz tungsten jig in 30 fow and see how your fish finder flasher does), less interference problems, smaller flasher screen view(on most units anyways), the list goes on.

Would the OP be disappointed if he bought one of these units? Probably not but when he goes out with a buddy that has a good flasher he will realize what he is missing.

That is what happened to my main fishing buddy. He started out with a Humminbird 597 ice unit but after seeing how much better my Ice 55 was he bought a Marcum LX-5 and a Ice 55. I also know guys that use the Lowrance Elite 4 units and you couldn't pay me to use one as a flasher.

Simply put if you want a flasher, buy a flasher. If you want a flasher, gps and a fish finder for summer but can't afford all 3 then settle with a fish finder model.
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Old 10-23-2017, 09:56 AM
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I'm going to purchase an ICE 35 or 45 for this upcoming season. Sounds like that'll be a good bet! I have a camera, but honestly its pretty useless unless you're explicitly looking for structure and whats down there for setting up.
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Old 10-23-2017, 10:03 AM
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Every lowrance unit I have used has driven me nuts at the best of time they are marginally useful , but that is another story.

I get your point on the specialist sounder.

The best way I can describe it is I have the curse of the "generalist" I like to do everything but I not nearly rich enough to get top end anything. So the budget drives the need for multi tasking, and that tends to skew my gear purchases.
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Old 10-23-2017, 01:29 PM
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First off, thanks for all the responses. My friend has a Hummingbird Ice-45, and after talking with him he hasn't had any problems with it. After reading what seems like endless reviews on different forums, i'm 90% sure i'm going to go with the Hummingbird Ice-55. It's a little more than i'd like to spend, but the i'd get the carry case with it + a few more little extras. I'd rather have more than less features. That and throw in the rebate, it just makes it too appealing.
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Old 10-23-2017, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by FlyTheory View Post
I'm going to purchase an ICE 35 or 45 for this upcoming season. Sounds like that'll be a good bet! I have a camera, but honestly its pretty useless unless you're explicitly looking for structure and whats down there for setting up.
I have a Marcum camera and a Marcum flasher (VX-1i). I actually like the camera quite a bit as it allows me to see how the fish respond to different lures and presentations, as well as what species are around. It's shortcoming is in it's mobility. A flasher works great for hole hopping, but once you are on them I would rather have a camera.

Additional bonus is that it gives my kids a source of entertainment that a flasher doesn't.

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Old 10-23-2017, 02:27 PM
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If you do go with the bird some of them had a 2 cord transducer which was a pain. One cord was the actual transducer cable the other cord was a just a lanyard. The two cords would sometimes cause the transducer to sit off kilter and give a crappy return of what was down there.

Also keep the head unit from bouncing around or any vibration like a sled being pulled over the ice. Also be gentle with the transducer dont tap it on the skim of ice or floating chunks in the hole to get it to sink. This goes with all units but especially the birds and it should last a few years longer.
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Old 10-23-2017, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROA View Post
If you do go with the bird some of them had a 2 cord transducer which was a pain. One cord was the actual transducer cable the other cord was a just a lanyard. The two cords would sometimes cause the transducer to sit off kilter and give a crappy return of what was down there.

Also keep the head unit from bouncing around or any vibration like a sled being pulled over the ice. Also be gentle with the transducer dont tap it on the skim of ice or floating chunks in the hole to get it to sink. This goes with all units but especially the birds and it should last a few years longer.
They don't have the 2nd "cord" anymore which was just a piece that they used to circumvent patents from what I understand. Most guys just took it off as it didn't really do anything.

I know multiple guys with birds that haven't had any issues and I don't remember any coming in last winter either when I worked at the Fishin' Hole. I broke my gain knob off mine but that was my own fault for not securing it in the sled better on a 50+ km rough snowmobile ride on Lake Athabasca and I just ordered the part from Mikes Reel Repair in Abbottsford and fixed it myself.

The worst ones for dependability are the Marcum's from what I have seen but they have good customer service and usually stand behind their products.
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Old 10-23-2017, 03:50 PM
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I agree marcums seem to be the worst for repairs or not working right out of the box. I had 2 and had problems with both units as well as the chargers. Marcum was good about fixing though but I would still rather use my Vexilar and not have to worry about it. Lol. The humminbirds do shart the bed too as I have seen a few crap out now including mine and it seems to be around the 3-4 year mark and I do believe they are the most sensitive to vibration.
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Old 10-23-2017, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROA View Post
If you do go with the bird some of them had a 2 cord transducer which was a pain. One cord was the actual transducer cable the other cord was a just a lanyard. The two cords would sometimes cause the transducer to sit off kilter and give a crappy return of what was down there.

Also keep the head unit from bouncing around or any vibration like a sled being pulled over the ice. Also be gentle with the transducer dont tap it on the skim of ice or floating chunks in the hole to get it to sink. This goes with all units but especially the birds and it should last a few years longer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RavYak View Post
They don't have the 2nd "cord" anymore which was just a piece that they used to circumvent patents from what I understand. Most guys just took it off as it didn't really do anything.

I know multiple guys with birds that haven't had any issues and I don't remember any coming in last winter either when I worked at the Fishin' Hole. I broke my gain knob off mine but that was my own fault for not securing it in the sled better on a 50+ km rough snowmobile ride on Lake Athabasca and I just ordered the part from Mikes Reel Repair in Abbottsford and fixed it myself.

The worst ones for dependability are the Marcum's from what I have seen but they have good customer service and usually stand behind their products.
Not to hijack the thread but how do you guys like to secure your flashers in the sled? Do you think wrapping them up in a thick blanket/old coat would do enough to reduce vibration?
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Old 10-23-2017, 05:56 PM
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Not to hijack the thread but how do you guys like to secure your flashers in the sled? Do you think wrapping them up in a thick blanket/old coat would do enough to reduce vibration?
I used to just throw mine in a milk crate with a couple other odds and ends but if I was doing sled in trips regularly I would wrap it up in a blanket/foam/jacket and have it secured in a milk crate or something as well.

On our Lake Athabasca trip we wrecked my auger(cracked fuel tank and broke throttle off), flasher(gain knob), both our heaters(rattled apart multiple times), pot handle, lost my chair and I am sure I am forgetting a few other things lol... Lesson learned was that on long sled trips you need to put a lot of thought into properly securing items inside your sled...
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Old 10-23-2017, 06:19 PM
calgarygringo calgarygringo is offline
 
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True on the Marcums as far as good service but tell someone in January they have to send their flasher off for the second or third time. Being the store manager guess who gets the mud thrown at them. Sorry guys they make a great unit but I would need a lot of convincing before I bought one. Between customers like described and sending a pile back on a skid 2 years in a row I am not ready to endorse yet. Very few HBird issues and nil on Vex which is probably where I would buy. More money but there are many running for years and work great too. Just my own opinion first hand.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RavYak View Post
They don't have the 2nd "cord" anymore which was just a piece that they used to circumvent patents from what I understand. Most guys just took it off as it didn't really do anything.

I know multiple guys with birds that haven't had any issues and I don't remember any coming in last winter either when I worked at the Fishin' Hole. I broke my gain knob off mine but that was my own fault for not securing it in the sled better on a 50+ km rough snowmobile ride on Lake Athabasca and I just ordered the part from Mikes Reel Repair in Abbottsford and fixed it myself.

The worst ones for dependability are the Marcum's from what I have seen but they have good customer service and usually stand behind their products.
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Old 10-23-2017, 06:44 PM
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Last year, I had a lifetime's worth of lemon flashers. I took Ravyak's advice and got an Ice 55. Had some problems with it. Took it back. Got another later in the season. Had problems with it too. To hell with that noise, I took Dean2's advice and got a Vexilar FL8SE. Not flashy. Not full of fancy features. Marks fish every bit as good as any of my buddy's various flashers. I love it. Just feels solid. After having read at length about Vexilar's reliability and service compared to Humminbird, I am happy I got it. Buy what you want, but a flasher is not rocket science, and you don't really need every feature under the sun. From the description of what you are gonna do, they will all work just fine. Good luck.

PS: I also followed Ravyak and Sam Steele's lead, both of whom I fished with last year and bought a camera. Can be a pain to set up, but it sure is fun when you find the fish, and is also useful when the fish are being fussy and you have to adjust your presentation.

Last edited by sns2; 10-23-2017 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 10-23-2017, 07:44 PM
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Last year, I had a lifetime's worth of lemon flashers. I took Ravyak's advice and got an Ice 55. Had some problems with it. Took it back. Got another later in the season. Had problems with it too.
You had 3 flashers with issues or are mistaking the 2nd one for the LX6 you had after your 55?

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you have bad luck with flashers lol.
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Old 10-23-2017, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by RavYak View Post
You had 3 flashers with issues or are mistaking the 2nd one for the LX6 you had after your 55?

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you have bad luck with flashers lol.
Didn't want to.muddy the waters with mention of the Marcum

As I said, a lifetime of flasher issues, but to be fair the Marcum just had a carrying case that disintegrated lol.

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Old 10-23-2017, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowSwedeItIs View Post
Not to hijack the thread but how do you guys like to secure your flashers in the sled? Do you think wrapping them up in a thick blanket/old coat would do enough to reduce vibration?
I keep a bucket ratchet strapped at the front foot well part of the running board of my snowmobile that I slide the flasher in. I don't put them in the toboggan if I can help it.
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Old 10-23-2017, 09:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sns2 View Post
Last year, I had a lifetime's worth of lemon flashers. I took Ravyak's advice and got an Ice 55. Had some problems with it. Took it back. Got another later in the season. Had problems with it too. To hell with that noise, I took Dean2's advice and got a Vexilar FL8SE. Not flashy.

Your experience with the first Ice 55 came right around the time when my wife bought me an Ice 45 and a Marcum VX-1i and told me to pick the one I wanted and return the other for Christmas. Your experience definitely moved me to the Marcum. No issues so far with either the flasher or the camera, but they are both basic units.




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Old 10-23-2017, 09:17 PM
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I am convinced that for the kind of fishing we do, basic is just fine. The camera is lots of fun though.

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