Fish Finder vs Flasher

Fish Finder Vs. Flasher Compared – Which One’s Better?

While there is a wide range of electronic ice fishing gadgets to choose from, fish finders and flashers are the most popular of them all. 

However, most anglers usually have a hard time deciding whether to buy a flasher or finder. After all, both devices work using the same principle. 

So, if you are one of them, you have come to the right place. This is because, in this guide, we are going to compare Fish Finder vs. Flasher so you can make an informed decision. 

Fish Finder Vs. Flasher – What Exactly are They?

A fish finder is an electronic gadget designed to help all types of anglers easily locate fish in the water. The device utilizes sound waves technology (Sound Navigation and Ranging or SONAR) to locate fish.  

Through this technology, the device usually sends high-frequency sound waves deep down below and this way it detects objects that may include fish and other underwater objects. This information is then relayed to your gadget for viewing.

Just like fish finders, flashers are equipped with SONAR technology. The only difference is that in this case, the technology works in real-time. But for it to work, you have to be located at a stationary hole. On the contrary, a fish finder allows you to move around on your boat as you gather data from under the water surface.

The real-time nature of ice flashers makes them perfect for targeted fishing. That said, some modern fish finders, like the Humminbird Helix 10 do come with built-in real-time technology.

Differences Between a Fish Finder and Flasher

If you take a quick look at these two devices, you might mistake one for the other. However, despite using the same technology and having the same functions, they have some differences. Let’s check them out. 

How They Transmit Sonar Signals

One key difference between these two devices is in how they relay information to you. Conventional fish-finders are known to transmit sonar signals that are delayed by a couple of seconds.

As such, when using a finder on your boat, you’ll need to make a u-turn so you can go back to where the fish is (in case of a positive signal that is).

Ice flashers are the real-deal if you want to stream things in real-time. But as we have already told you, these only work if you’re going to be fishing from one stationary point e.g. an ice fishing hole.

You can use fish finders for both ice and non-ice fishing but flashers are specifically meant for ice holes or other such static settings.

The only problem with flashers is that they don’t tell you what might have happened a couple of seconds earlier. They only show you what’s happening right there and then.

Ease of Interpreting Displayed Data

If you’re an average angler, chances are that you’ll have an easy time interpreting data from your fish finder.

As for fish flashers you have got to gain a few techniques at first. For instance, you need to understand what the different color codes represent.

Typically, red indicates the bottom surface of the lake, small fish are represented by moving objects in green, yellow is for medium sized fish species and so forth.

But well, those colors are just the basics, you’ve got to master both the flasher and circumference cones if you want to take your ice game a notch higher.

The good news is that, once you become a pro at these things, your entire ice fishing life will change for the better.


With a fish finder, you won’t have to worry about what season of the year we are in. You can go out there with it and still capture information whether from above an ice hole or a moving kayak.

Flashers, on the other hand, work best when provided with a stable surface e.g. the sheets of ice that naturally form over water during winter.

That said, some badasses may still use flashers during summers on stationary or slow-moving boats. If anything, you can always use a flasher all-season to understand the depth of the water surface you’re fishing on. That said, this tool becomes almost useless on moving boats.

Availability of GPS Feature

A good number of finder units boast GPS features. This makes it easy for any angler to locate the different spots where fish are concentrated in large volumes. As such, you will not waste much time trying to guess where exactly to fish. 

With a flasher, there are no built-in GPS or mapping capabilities. Therefore, if you need this feature, you can consider using a handheld GPS to find new hot spots beneath the ice. 

Battery Life (Flashers Keep Batteries Longer than Fish Finders)

The devil in in the detail as far as this point is concerned! Flashers operate by means of fiber optics to relay information to the user while fish finders rely entirely on LCD screens.

Owing to the fact that LCD screens are highly bright and intuitive, it goes without saying that they deplete battery power faster than fiber optics paired with LEDs (as is the case with ice flashers).

Simply put, ice flashers have battery life that is more than twice that of fish finders.

Also, if you’re using a fish finder, you might find yourself needing to purchase a replacement battery sooner than the person using a flasher.

Comparison TableFish FindersFish Flashers
Transmission of SignalsDelayedReal-time
Usability on moving boatYesNo
Usability on ice holesNot IdealIdeal
Battery LifeMediumLong

Fish Finder Vs. Flasher – What is the Verdict?

Objectively speaking, both devices are worth your money. However, the right one depends entirely on your style of fishing. 

For example, you can invest in the best flasher if you love ice fishing only. This is because it is more likely to provide you with more accurate interpretations compared to a finder.

But if you want a versatile gadget that works year-round, a finder might be a better choice for you. Besides, it’s possible to buy a finder with separate transducers for ice fishing and fishing on a boat for added convenience.

Erick Thompson

Hi, I'm a fishing & kayaking enthusiast who enjoys sharing tips and tidbits with newbies, intermediates, and experienced anglers alike.

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