If you have looked some of the newest fish finders for ice fishing, then you know how expensive they are. Good news, you can still get one and only pay a fraction of the cost.
Yes, you can use your fish finder from your boat for ice fishing. Most modern fish finders can convert to ice fishing with a few simple steps. You can buy ready made conversion kits, or piece one together yourself. Keep reading for a step by step process to convert your fish finder.
Lets go over the parts you will need to get it set up for ice fishing.
The first thing you is a place to house all the stuff you will need to make the fish finder work while not attached to the boat. If you own a Humminbird Helix, they make a nice portable kit that contains everything you need (minus the battery).
If you are like me, and own an older model, there are still options that work. I have the Humminbird 598. I found that the Marcum showdown soft case works well. It also came with all the parts I needed, except the mounting bracket, because it was made for a Marcum Showdown.
You will need a battery inside the case to power the system while not attached to the boat. The carrying case should have a spot for the battery. If not, you can buy a plastic box made to hold one. When you buy a battery, you can get one that comes with a charger. Be cautious when using these chargers as they are unregulated and you can overcharge your battery. You are better off buying a high quality regulated charger separately.
If you buy a kit made for your particular fish finder, it should already have a mounting bracket on it. My kit did not match my fish finder, so I got a bracket that fit my Humminbird 598, and bolted it to the top of the battery box. The bolts can stick through the box far enough to block the battery from being inserted. I cut off the bolts just below the nuts and it worked fine.
The power cord on your boat will be wired into your boats electrical system, so you will want to get another power cord that will be wired into your portable bag.
Your boats transducer will also be difficult to remove, so I suggest getting another transducer. One that is made for ice fishing. Most modern fish finders will have featured like side scan sonar, which won’t work for ice fishing anyway.
You can see above what it looks like all put together without the case covering it. The kit I got came with an adapter for the battery so i can plug it into the charger. I added a second adapter that I use to connect to LED strip lights that I use to light my portable fish shack.
Once you got it all working, there are a few setup items that will make it work better.
First of all, make sure your firmware is up to date. We were having issues with our Helix 7. Updating its software was all it took to make it work great.
If you have a 500 series Huminbird, you might have an issue with it recognizing the new transducer.
There is a simple solution to this problem. Immediately after startup, when you see the screen above, press the menu button.
This will bring you to the screen above. Notice that it is in simulator mode. Press the up arrow to normal mode, then press the right arrow. Now it will continue its startup and will recognize the transducer.
Now go into the menu system again. This time, under the sonar tab, scroll to the bottom. You will see an option that says “ice fishing mode.” Turn this option on.
If you are fishing with other people nearby also using a fish finder, you might notice some interference on your screen. My Humminbird 598 is a dual beam. It has a wide 83 khz beam and a narrow 200 khz beam. You have an option in the menu system to select one or the other or both. Play with these options. You may be able to remove some of the interference.
Another option is to turn down the sensitivity. This will make it harder to see your bait on the screen if you are using smaller baits.
The nice thing about the newer Helix fish finders, is that they are less prone to interference because they have many frequencies to choose from.
To purchase everything you need to convert it for ice fishing, you will spend around $140. The biggest cost is the transducer, which runs about $90. A good quality fish finder for ice fishing will cost upwards of $500. If you already have a good fish finder, you can be set up for ice fishing for under $200. Much cheaper than buying a new one.
I’ve been using mine for ice fishing for several years now and I love it. Fish finders have really advanced in the last few years, like the Garmin Panoptix Live Scope. You can literally see the fish swimming around.
Another option you have is to use underwater cameras like the Aqua-Vu Revolution 5.0 Pro. I can watch the fish biting my lure and set the hook at just the right time. I find that I don’t even look at the fish finder much anymore. I use it to see how deep the water is, and if there are any fish in the area. Once I see them on camera, that’s what I focus on.
It seems like we have so much technology these day that the fish don’t stand a chance. That may be true, but even if you are able to find all the fish with your electronic gadgets, it doesn’t guarantee you they will bite!
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Thanks for reading, and good luck out on the lake.