Ice fishing with a flasher

by Jeff Gustafson | December 13, 2022
two men ice fishing
Ice Fish Flasher

As someone who grew up in the modern age of ice fishing, I could not imagine hitting the ice without a flasher or some form of sonar.

Sure, there are plenty of people who have iced scores of trophy fish without ever having used a flasher but these devices will greatly increase your catches while providing entertainment.

Reason 1: verify that fish are there

For fish that school, like perch or crappie, my friends and I often team up to blister our way through an area quickly, only dropping a line down a hole once we see fish on our screen. One of us drills holes while the other follows with a flasher to check for fish. The angler carrying the flasher should carry a rod rigged to drop down on fish that are spotted. Once we find fish we can expand on that area where there is likely a school.

Reason 2: they are super easy to learn

As an ice fishing guide, I have introduced dozens of anglers to using a flasher over the years. While they might look complicated to use, they are actually really easy. I have shown six-year-old kids how they work and within minutes they are competent with these machines.

I love sharing the effectiveness of a flasher with an angler who has not used one by showing them their lure, then showing them a fish moving in on their bait. Telling them to get ready for a strike and then watching the bite is so fulfilling.

Reason 3: see how fish react to bait

A flasher will help you catch more fish as you watch how they interact with your presentation. Sometimes lake trout will not touch a tube jig and after getting denied several times we might drop a spoon and catch every one. Walleye are sometimes picky about the cadence that you jig your bait. Watching the fish as you jig your lure and learning what triggers them to strike changes constantly but you speed up the process with the use of a flasher.

Reason 4: get the exact depth

Do you have a hump that you like to catch perch from in the summer? Having a flasher allows you to check the exact depth beneath your hole so you are never dropping your bait down in a hole where the water is too shallow or too deep. The days of drilling a hole then sitting on a bucket for the day waiting for a fish to bite are over.

Reason 5: permission to move on 

Depending on what species I’m chasing, I may be more patient fishing a hole without getting a bite or marking some form of life. If I am fishing for lake trout which often travel as individuals I’ll give a hole a little bit of time before moving on but if I am fishing for panfish I usually won’t even drop a bait until I actually see fish. Walleye and whitefish school but not as thick as panfish so I’ll give these holes about five minutes, if don’t see a fish I move on.

Originally Published in the Nov.-Dec. 2021 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS

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