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Ice fishing electronics are getting better

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

The electronics for ice fishing, particularly flashers, graphs, and GPS mapping have continued to improve, and thus improved anglers understanding of location and fish behavior.

The modern flasher can not only identify depth, but based on the signal, help interpret bottom content and locate fish in the water column. The sensitivity of these units will not only signal fish, but you can see your lure in relation to the bottom and fish. Learning how to make adjustments to your unit will help you adapt to maximize your unit for varying situations.

In shallow water under 12 feet, I suggest you use the low power setting on your unit. The high power can create some "double bounce" interference especially in hard bottom areas. Many units also feature a zoom feature will improve detail interpretation of the bottom 5-6 feet.

In shallow water, this zoom feature isn't as helpful as it is in 15-35 feet, and in most situations you will benefit more from using a normal setting. Interference, especially with other close-by units can create frustration and confusing readings.

All the modern units have gain or sensitivity controls as well as the ability to change frequencies. The use of those adjustment features can eliminate interference in close quarters like portable fish houses and smaller skid/wheelhouses houses.

The gain/sensitivity setting will need to be turned up in deeper water and even a little more when over a soft bottom content. Adjustments will need to be made depending on the lure size. Smaller lures or jigs will need more gain until you can see the lure and the action you are imparting. Bigger lures will require less sensitivity.

Most flasher-style units will read in multiple color or varying shades of gray. With my vexilar, a green line will either indicate a small fish, or a fish on the outside edge of my cone angle. A red will indicate a larger fish or a more direct under my hole reading, and the bright yellow indicates more density/and larger body. The thickness of the line will also increase as an indication of size of fish and/or directly under my hole location, and many times both. You will get tuned in to slight adjustments that help what your unit is interpreting for you with practice and experience.

It is helpful to watch your lure/jig descend. If you lose sight of it, pause and jig it a few times to get it dropping straight. Many of the spoon type lures dive and flutter to the side when dropping, and can get into other lines before you get them working below you again. Slowing the fall, or pausing and re-centering will help avoid this potential tangle problem

Some of the more aggressive baits, like the jigging rap, shiver minnow, puppet minnow, and chubby darter are difficult to fish properly in close quarters or next to your "dead rod" set up. These are great baits for hole hoping and searching for aggressive biters. They have some limitations in a smaller fish house. They can be worked, but with less aggressive jigging and may still snag another line as they jump and swim because of their design. As always, the best way to learn all the subtleties of this sport is to get out and practice.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)