So you’re in the market for a Vexilar® Flashers/Fish Finder. You’re already familiar with Vexilar®, the world-leader that invented the 3-color Flasher/Fish Finder Sonar, which is half the battle. But as of 2020, there are 6 FL Series Models to choose from. Which one should you choose? To determine which is best for your fishing scenario, start with these 3 questions:
- How deep do you most often ice fish?
- What species are you after?
- Do you fish primarily at one lake, or multiple lakes throughout the season?
After you’ve answered that, then use the summary below to find your match. Overall, the higher the FL number, the more features you get. Here’s a breakdown of each model and its strength:
It’s the most popular flasher for both summer and winter use. If you are fishing for suspended fish (e.g. crappie or sunfish) in 30′ of water or less, both the FL-8 and FL-12 will do an outstanding job. The FL-8™SE has six depth ranges in two groups (shallow and deep). It comes standard with a 19° Ice-Ducer transducer, but you can buy other ones. The FL-8™SE comes in only the Genz Pack configuration, so keep looking if you want a different pack.
It’s the next generation to the FL-8, but with a unique flat panel screen and enhanced features. The larger flat-screen display increases the viewing angle by 50%, plus won’t trap in rain or snow. A new enhanced receiver gives you cleaner signals and less noise. As mentioned above, this is a good model for finding suspended fish in 30′ of water or less.
This was the first split-screen zoom flasher model in the Vexilar® lineup. The patented split-screen display lets you zoom in on the bottom 6′ on the left side of the screen, while simultaneously watching the entire water column in real time on the right side. If you are fishing perch or walleye in deep water and need to see a tiny lure tight to the bottom, then the FL-18, FL-20 and FL-22HD are all good choices.
There are 3 main improvements the FL-18 has over the FL-8:
1) The split-screen zoom
2) Low-power mode
3) Much brighter display lights
Again, it’s the next-generation version of the FL-18. If you need a sonar to perform in any ice fishing environment for any species, then the FL-20 is your model. The FL-20 gives you the most flexibility to ice fish in nearly any situation you encounter. The FL-20 has two auto-zoom zone options, one for zooming in on the bottom 6′ and one for the bottom 12′. From the 300′ max. depth range to the night mode for easy viewing in low-light conditions, nothing rivals the FLX-20 for its superior, multi-use performance—shallow or deep, day or night.
What are the FL-20 Improvements over the FL-18?
The FL-20 has a flat screen with super-wide viewing that can be seen from both sides. The FL-18 does not. It also has a night mode that cuts the LED display output by 50% to avoid getting night blindness. The FL-20 also has a built-in low battery indicator. You should note, however, that the FL-20 DOES NOT have a Bottom Lock option for open-water use.
The FLX-28 is the first auto-ranging flasher ever made. And it’s now engineered with Vexilar’s proprietary Brushless Data Transfer technology to give you the brightest, sharpest, longest-lasting flasher display on the market today. The FLX-28 has five color palettes to choose from (most of the others have just three) and uses even brighter LED’s for better viewing in direct sunlight. The FLX-28 also has a weed mode and digital depth indicator with LED depth markers.
The magic of the FLX-28 is the auto feature. Simply place the Ice-Ducer transducer in the water, turn the system on and start fishing. The unit automatically selects the proper interference rejection and depth range to give you the maximum display resolution down to 300′.
It’s the only one in the lineup that comes with the Broad Band Ice-ducer. “BB” stands for broad band, which means its range extends from 160-300 kHz. Most sonar systems sold today use a frequency of 200 kHz. While not perfect, the 200 kHz is well suited to getting sonar depth readings down to 300′. No one frequency is “perfect” for all situations, but the 7 frequencies found in the FLX-30 give some great options for serious anglers looking for the best possible performance from a single sonar device. Now, when fishing 300′ of water, the angler can use a powerful 160 kHz signal, but later adjust to a higher 300 kHz transmit frequency when fishing in only 5′ of water. This 160-300 kHz range gives you ultra-flexibility for fishing everything from shallow to deep waters.
Like the FLX-28, the FLX-30™ BB also has a 5-color LED, plus is the only one equipped with 140 interference rejection options. The classic 3-color Red, Yellow Green display is ONLY the beginning. With 5 color palettes to choose from, you can customize the display setting to your preference. The more colors you display at one time, the more accurate the data is on your display. The FLX-30™ BB only comes with the ultra-pack configuration at the time this article was written.
Check out this handy Vexilar comparison chart for a deeper look:
Understanding your Ice-Ducer® Options
The Ice-Ducer® transducer is designed specifically for ice fishing. Four different cone angles are available to match your fishing needs: 9° (also called the Pro-View), 12°, 19°and Broad Band (available only on the FLX-30). No matter which cone angle you choose, it’ll come with a 7′ cable. No matter the age of your Vexilar, ALL Ice-Ducers will fit on ALL Vexilar Flashers, but selecting the right Ice-Ducer is important to get the most out of your system.
Ice-Ducer beam angle options explained:
- 9° Pro-View (Model TB0051): Offers the ultimate in beam precision and flexibility. Works down to 200′, which makes it great for all depth applications. Gets the best target ID. It’s also very good at limiting interference from other sonar systems. The Pro-View comes standard on the FLX-28 but can be used on all Vexilar FL/FLX series flashers (it works on FLX-30 at 200 kHz only).
- 12° degree (TB0080): This is the most popular Vexilar Ice-Ducer. This model performs great down to 45′ and is ideal to use with units that have zoom zones, like the FL-18 and FLX-20.
- 19° (Model TB0050): It’s the widest angle offered, plus is great in shallow water of 30′ or less. Any deeper and the signals won’t be very crisp.
- Broad Band (Model TBB-100): Available only on the FLX-30. The all-new Digital Broad Band sonar from Vexilar allows anglers to select specific receiver frequencies from 160 kHz for applications where a wide 20° beam angle is needed. Or choose from one of seven other frequencies all the way up to 300 kHz that hosts a 7° beam angle. Now, when fishing 300′ of water, you can use a powerful 160 kHz signal, but later adjust to a higher 300 kHz transmit frequency when fishing in only 5′ of water.
3 Ice Packs to Choose From
Vexilar offers 3 ice pack carrying cases for their units: the Genz Pack, the Pro Pack II and the Ultra Pack. Here are the major differences between each:
Genz Pack: This is the entry-level model. The case is designed to fit ON TOP of a 5-gallon bucket rather than inside of it.
Pro Pack II: Has more bells and whistles than the Genz Pack. It fits INSIDE a 5-gallon bucket rather than on top of it. Enhanced features include a cable management system and a Vexilar tackle box.
Ultra Pack: Also fits INSIDE of a 5-gallon bucket. It has an enclosed battery compartment with a master on/off control switch design and a tackle box. And it comes with a lithium-ion battery, which makes it lighter to carry.
Want to see a side-by-side comparison of each Vexilar Flasher/Fish Finder? Download this handy PDF, which shows even more info, including Transducer/Ice‑Ducer™ compatibility with each model, interference rejection settings and more: Flashers:Fish-Finders 2020 Comparison Chart
Hopefully this guide gives you a better understanding of the different Vexilar Flasher/Fish Finder models, Ice-Ducer beam angle options, plus the ice pack carrying case options. Finding those big fish in hard-water environments? We’ll leave that job up to you.
Shop Vexilar FL Series Flashers/Fish Finders at Sportsman’s Guide.