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Using Regular Fish Finders for Ice Fishing. Is It an Option?

Last Updated: 24.04.24


Fishing is one of the most relaxing activities out there, especially if you have all the right equipment packed with you– here is how you can select the ‌‌best ice fishing fish finder. However, if you are a hobbyist angler and you are wondering about whether or not you can use a regular fish finder to up your chances of catching something during the cold season, this article contains all the answers for you. 

As you probably know, using a fish finder can significantly improve your chances of catching fish. If you are the type of person who enjoys fishing no matter the time of the year, investing in devices that can be utilized specifically during the winter can prove somewhat costly. Yet, it should be noted that a regular fish finder that is made of durable materials can prove equally handy during the cold months. 


How to convert a regular fish finder into an ice fish finder?

Most fish finders can be utilized for ice fishing. However, to do so, you need to make two small changes. First, you have to use a portable power supply, and, secondly, you need to figure out a way to level the transducer in the ice hole. 

Even though, according to some anglers, you do not necessarily need to invest in a special transducer, doing so is recommended for the following reasons. On the one hand, ice fishing transducers have a small profile and, consequently, they are easier to transport. 

On the other hand, they are also self-leveling and they come with a special cord that includes a foam float that enables you to adjust the depth of the device, depending on the thickness of the ice. On top of that, they are made in such a way so that they won’t get damaged due to the low temperature.

To make your regular fish finder portable, you have to invest in a battery that is compatible with the unit that you own. One helpful tip that you should keep in mind is that 12 to 15 Ah batteries have, on average, better cold tolerance and, according to some, an extended life. An insulated carry case can also come in handy.

One helpful piece of info that you should know is that some fish finder manufacturers sell kits that you can use if you want to convert your boat fish finder into one you can utilize for ice fishing.

Therefore, provided that you own an inexpensive boat fish finder that you are not afraid to take out and use for ice fishing, you can skip the process of buying a new one during the colder season. However, if your boat fish finder is rather expensive, it might be best that you buy a dedicated one, especially if you enjoy going ice fishing regularly.


Do I need to drill an additional hole?

As expected, you will need to use multiple holes when operating a fish finder. In other words, you should not insert the device in the same hole as the one that you use for your rod. This is the case because, any additional movements that you make will, most likely, affect what the finder displays. 

The hole that you prepare for the fish finder should be as wide as possible. One the hole is drilled, place the transducer into it to get a read. Provided that the reading that you get is clear, you can go ahead and mount the transducer in a stable position so that it won’t move around. Once this is over, you are free to enjoy your favorite hobby.



Before you utilize your regular fish finder for ice fishing, you have to take a couple of precaution measures. For instance, you have to keep the device out of the elements as much as you possibly can. By this, we mean that you have to cover the screen of the finder when you are not actively using it. 

Moreover, when you pull the device out of the water, pat down the cold water with a dry towel to prevent it from freezing and, thus, damage it. If the finder that you are using starts to stop working, the best thing that you can do is to keep it in a dry and, if possible, warm place. In most cases, this happens when the batteries of the device are affected. 


Regular fish finders vs. ice fish finders

As we have pointed out before, using a regular fish finder is cheaper than utilizing a dedicated unit for ice fishing. The regular devices can be utilized on a boat and, if you already own one, you will most likely be familiar with how it works, which is a highly important factor. 

However, it is worth noting that there are some drawbacks to utilizing these devices for ice fishing. To start, they have to be disassembled from your boat every year so that you can utilize them for ice fishing and, thus, you risk damaging them. Plus, they might not be very durable when utilized in cold conditions and, to use them, you will have to buy a new transducer.

As an alternative, dedicated ice fishing finders are portable, self-leveling and they come with mapping and chart features that can prove very handy to anglers. Still, it should be added that these models are somewhat expensive and that some of them cannot be used for all-season fishing. Just like in the case of all new devices, you will have to play around with them until you learn how to correctly use them. This can be difficult, especially if you are short on time.



If you want to save some money and you are not the type of angler that goes fishing regularly during the winter, it might be best that you utilize your normal fish finder. This will, at the end of the day, save you some money and allow you to catch fish no matter the season.

However, if you are a fisher enthusiast that goes fishing often, including during the winter, it might be best that you invest in a dedicated fisher. Even though getting an extra device can prove some extra money, it will provide you with all the help that you need when you go fishing during the cold season. 


Ice fishing tips

No matter how much you enjoy fishing by yourself, one of the best tips you should keep in mind as a novice angler is to go on your ice fishing trip with a more experienced friend. Because ice fishing has its specifics, having a more seasoned fisher with you can make the entire process more enjoyable and, even more importantly, more successful. 

Moreover, before you go on your first outing, make sure that you pack up the right type of gear and that you wear the right type of clothes that can keep you warm. One piece of clothing that you should not spare money when you go shopping is footwear. 

When it comes to clothing, you should not overdo it. Wearing clothes that are too warm can be equally uncomfortable as wearing clothes that are not warm enough. The clothes that you buy should be breathable, moisture-wicking, and comfy.

Learn the techniques one at a time. One mistake that novices make is that they try to learn all techniques in one outing. As you can expect, this will not bring you the results that you are hoping for. So, instead of jumping from one technique to another, the best that you can do is pick one and try to master it. Once you are sure you can handle it, try a new one.

Safety is maybe the most important factor that you should never neglect. As you go fishing, you have to remember that the ice is not uniform across the body of water that you are fishing in. To avoid any unfortunate incidents, make sure that you know what you are doing, and that you use an ice pick. 

It goes without saying that you should avoid ice that forms over moving water as this type of ice is usually weaker. Getting in touch with a local that knows the environment can also prove very useful. 

If you go ice fishing alone, make sure that you have your phone with you so that you can call for help in case anything goes wrong. Similarly, you should also ensure that somebody knows where you are. This can help rescuers find you in due time. 



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