Echo sounder for ice fishing
It’s no secret that fishing in the winter is a constant movement across the reservoir in search of fish. If you sit in one place, you can never wait for a bite, at best you can catch a couple of roach or the same perch per day. That is why in winter anglers drill many holes in promising areas, fish them in turn and do not forget to keep an eye on competitors.
As soon as someone starts to bite, other fishermen immediately surround him with a dense ring. Those looking for a school of fish using an echo sounder are especially closely watched. Thanks to such a useful device, it takes much less time to search. In addition, it allows you to quickly navigate an unfamiliar body of water, find suitable depths and promising irregularities on the bottom. That is why serious anglers, in addition to fishing rods, a box, an ice ax and other equipment, always take an echo sounder with them for winter fishing.
What is an echo sounder and what tasks can it perform? This is a small electronic device designed to facilitate the fishing process, namely, determining the depth, bottom surface relief and the presence of underwater inhabitants in the selected place. Its ability to “see” is based on the same principle as that of bats. The device sends ultrasonic signals, catches their reflection from different surfaces (objects and living beings), processes and displays the finished picture on the screen. This is the main function, but there are also additional ones.
For example, many modern echo sounders can accurately determine the distance to an object located in the water column, measure temperature and even determine the composition of the rock that makes up the bottom. Some ultra-sensitive models show a miniature bait deep below. Of course, with such a device, fishing loses its sportiness, but on the other hand, it becomes much more interesting, because now you do not need to wait for hours for the fish to approach, you can quickly find it.
Echo sounder for ice fishing
Most winter sonars are able to scan the bottom through ice, their manufacturers assure. That is, you can explore the reservoir without drilling holes. In practice, not all devices are capable of performing such a task, especially if the ice cover is cloudy and consists of several layers. That is why any fish finder needs contact with water for quality work.
To prevent ice from extinguishing the ultrasonic signal, the device must be equipped with a powerful sensitive sensor. Otherwise, the result will be unreliable. Ice can be different too. If it is thin and clean (without snow, bubbles, cracks and other interference), the picture will be much better, and when scanning through old multilayer ice, the readings are greatly distorted.
Types of fish finders for fishing in winter
Today, specialized stores sell devices that emit one, two or more waves. Two main types are suitable for fishing in the winter:
- single-beamcovering an angle of 45 degrees;
- two-beamoperating at different frequencies (for example, 200 and 50 kHz), due to which the angle increases to 90 degrees.
Some manufacturers produce devices in which the number of beams reaches six. In summer, when scanning from a boat, they give a more accurate picture, but in winter, when the emitter is limited by the diameter of the hole, a large number of beams is an absolutely useless option. Only the central ray gives the picture.
Wireless echo sounders
The wireless ice sounder for ice fishing differs from classic sonar in the way it transmits the signal. In the latter, he goes along the cable. The wireless device consists of two units. The first has a scanning sensor that sends radio signals to the second central unit. Passing through the converter, the signal enters the display in the form of an image.
Generally speaking, in winter there is no particular need for a wireless sonar. It does not need to be cast with a rod or brought to the desired point on a bait boat, because thanks to the ice cover the fisherman has access to the entire reservoir. There will be an electronic device with or without a wire, this will not affect the result of the study.
Among the whole variety of winter echo sounders, a separate category stands out under the general name flashers. What is this apparatus? Its main distinguishing feature is a round-shaped display showing the difference in depth and the direction of movement of schools of fish. The flasher is a purely winter echo sounder designed for use at low temperatures, therefore its cost is an order of magnitude higher than that of standard models.
Another reason for the price increase is functionality. With a flasher, the angler has the ability to change the power of the ultrasonic emitter by scanning the bottom at different depths. In addition, you can adjust the width of the beam: a narrow one will help you see miniature objects at great depths (for example, a jig), and a wide one will cover a decent area and show fish approaching the bait.
Like any electronic device, the echo sounder evolves. Its functional features, appearance, or such a parameter as dimensions change. Today, the fishing market presents models of different shapes and sizes, so they were divided into three types:
- compact – easily fit into a jacket pocket, run on small rechargeable batteries or batteries;
- portable – slightly larger than the previous ones, carried in special compact bags;
- tubular – exclusively winter appliances, all elements of which are one-piece construction.
Which of the options to give preference, each fisherman decides for himself. Before buying an echo sounder for winter fishing, it is advisable to consult with colleagues who have been using the devices for a long time, have tried different models, know all their positive and negative sides and are ready to share their experience.
Pros and cons of winter echo sounders
As already mentioned, in winter all corners of the reservoir are accessible to anglers, so the echo sounder becomes a very useful thing at this time of the year. He will collect all the necessary information for effective fishing, namely, he will show the depth in the selected area, the relief of the bottom surface and its structure, fish and the direction in which it moves. But, unfortunately, winter sonars are not without drawbacks, and I must say, they are significant. These include:
- limited viewing radius (due to the modest size of the hole, the beam cannot cover the maximum possible radius, and if it passes through the ice, it gives a distorted picture);
- fast discharge of batteries in the cold (you always need to have a spare kit with you);
- inability to use at extremely low temperatures (for some models, the permissible temperature limit is -10 degrees, at -15 or -20 they cannot be used).
There are other negative aspects, but they do not significantly affect the operation of devices.
How to choose the best fish finder for winter fishing?
To understand which echo sounder for winter fishing is better, you need to clearly understand what tasks it will be assigned to and in what conditions it will be used. It is important to consider the following:
- Device power… Models with a powerful emitter are able to scan through ice, so they allow you to first find a promising place, and then drill holes and look for fish. Low-power products work effectively only when the sensor is immersed in water, but they give a better picture.
- Scan depth… Do not overpay for beam length if you plan to fish in shallow water. But for fishing in deep waters, you need a device with a large scanning depth.
- Number of beams… Here, too, everything depends on the depth at the place of fishing. A single-beam device performs its function better at great depths, and a two-beam device – at shallow ones.
- Working temperatures… This parameter is indicated by the manufacturer without fail, and you also need to pay attention to it, so that the device does not fail due to improper operation.
- Overall dimensions… For many, winter fishing is a constant movement across the reservoir in search of fish. It is very inconvenient to carry in hands both the overall echo sounder and the tackle brought to a “combat” state, therefore it is better to give preference to a compact model that fits in a pocket of clothes.
- Additional functions… Expensive models measure atmospheric pressure, air temperature, show the location of the fisherman (they have a built-in navigator), but is all this necessary for fishing? Moreover, each additional function automatically increases the price of the product.
You cannot buy the first device you like so that you do not experience strong disappointment later. When buying, you should carefully read the listed characteristics of the proposed models, weigh all the pros and cons, and only then make a choice.
Echo sounder rating for winter fishing – TOP 5
Among the products of domestic and foreign manufacturers, there are several models that have collected many positive reviews. Almost everyone who bought them increased their catches and were very satisfied. Below is a rating of the best devices in the mid-price category (according to most winter fishermen):
- Humminbird PiranhaMAX 180 – a three-beam echo sounder with a wide viewing angle (up to 90 degrees). The image is black and white, but with 8 shades of gray the picture is detailed. Image quality is also achieved thanks to the high screen resolution of 240 x 160 pixels. Measures depth up to 240 meters, determines the distance to the bottom and its hardness, shows the fish and the distance to it, determines the water temperature. The depth sounder is compact and convenient, perfect for ice fishing.
- Fish Finder XF-01 – a universal device for summer and winter at an affordable price. It will help the fisherman quickly find a promising place on the pond. The signal range is 100 meters, the beam angle is 45 degrees, scanning occurs at a frequency of 200 kHz, the minimum operating temperature is 20 degrees below zero. It is possible to change the sensitivity of the sensor. You can scan the water column through clear ice by pouring some water on it. The screen displays: depth, bottom surface structure, vegetation, flooded branches and other objects, symbols of various types of fish, water temperature.
- Joyle XF02 – a fairly informative single-beam device that will be useful for winter fishing. The main functionality is to determine the depth, bottom topography, the presence of underwater inhabitants, water temperature, additional – to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor, backlight, battery charge. The beam angle is 45 degrees, the operating frequency is 200 kHz, echolocation is possible to a depth of 100 meters. Functions are configured using a clear and user-friendly control menu. Compared to other echo sounders, this model costs a penny.
- Practitioner ER-4 PRO-2 – compact, easy-to-use, economical in terms of energy supply, reliable Russian echo sounder, which has become an indispensable assistant for many ice fishing enthusiasts. It has only two control buttons, so everyone who uses a mobile phone can easily figure it out. It functions at temperatures from -20 to +40 degrees Celsius. Battery charge lasts for 50 hours. The weight of the product is only 165 g, the dimensions are very modest, you can simply put it in your pocket or purchase a special case. Despite its small size, this sonar is in no way inferior in functionality to large expensive analogues.
- Practitioner 7 RF Wagon – another product of a domestic manufacturer, intended for fishing at any time of the year. It works just as well in the winter as it does in the warm season. This is a set consisting of a unit reinforced with an antenna and a Mayak sensor, from which information is transmitted wirelessly. The sensor can also interact with a special application installed in the smartphone. The range of scanned depths is 0.5-25 meters, which is quite enough for our reservoirs. This sonar is multifunctional and meets all the requirements of modern fishing.
The purchase of any of the listed echo sounders is not a guarantee of successful fishing. Much depends on the user. You need to learn how to correctly understand the information displayed on the display, and then catches will increase significantly.