Outdoors column: Electronics: Finding the right gear is key to ice fishing success

Many of us anglers have always figured the more we spend on outfitting our ice fishing equipment, the better anglers we will be. This is true to a point in terms of clothing, rods and reels, etc., but rarely true in regards to fishing electronics.

Ice anglers have literally dozens of electronic choices out there and sometimes it’s tough to decide what to spend and which unit is best.

Today’s modern ice electronics are equipped with tons of perks and innovative features made for catching more fish.
Today’s modern ice electronics are equipped with tons of perks and innovative features made for catching more fish. Submitted photo

Here are some thoughts on helping you make the correct decision. Keep in mind that your choice of ice fishing electronics will be a major key to becoming a good ice angler.

How much should I spend?

Believe it or not, the more you spend doesn’t always transfer into more success. Today’s modern flasher or electronic units are still somewhat the same as they were decades ago only with some tweaks and improvements. Basically they read the fish the same way with multicolored lines that represent fish and other marks below the surface. Expect to pay around $300 for the basic unit all the way up to about $900 for the top-of-the-line.

I recommend starting with the basic unit and working your way up the ladder. Going with a sophisticated unit the first time out is very frustrating as there is always a learning curve. Once you master the basic unit, you can work your way up to units with more perks and gain the knowledge easier bit by bit.

Learn the gain 

Gain is the most important part of learning these ice fishing units.

Just like the summertime units, you need to adjust the gain button to be relative to the bottom. This means more gain for deeper water and less gain for shallow water.

Too many anglers disregard the importance of having the gain properly adjusted. Too little gain sometimes results in poor bottom readings and won’t pick up the fish marks. Too much gain produces green lines of interference. A good rule of thumb is to adjust the gain so that it shows your lure (such as a jigging spoon) as a small, thin red line. Turn up the gain until you get that red line on your lure. This should be properly adjusted so that it now shows incoming fish marks as red also. When in doubt move the gain a bit farther up versus down.

Features in modern units today

The modern ice unit features battery chargers, battery power indicators, rod holders, exterior lighting features, zoom features for zeroing in on the bottom and many others.

It seems every year we see new innovations. If you can afford the cost of adding these great perks, go for it. If not, you are still equipped with a reliable, modern unit even at the basic entrance level.

Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.