Flashing Made Easy

Years ago, when Virgil Ward, Tom Mann and Al and Ron Lindner were using flashers on their TV shows, everyone thought that if they had one of these, the fish wouldn’t have a chance. Wrong—they were only one flashing bulb spinning around the dial, difficult to learn and not all that sensitive.


My first flasher was a Shakespeare portable unit that was powered by two square 6-volt batteries. It was so frustrating to use that it was only used a couple of times.


Later, when I started working with the Humminbird field staff, I got back into an in-dash flasher in my Ranger. Then, I was one of the first to field test a new portable unit that was being developed. They were still a single red flash running around the dial, which you had to look at the bottom bar width and anything flashing between.


A little later, I was introduced to the Zercom and everything changed. It now started coming together as to what was being read.


Once I was with Vexilar, which was a huge jump upward, I discovered that you didn’t want to be on the ice without one. I learned with the four colors of red, orange, yellow and green. Although the FLX-28 can be set for five colors, or in reverse, I’m still setting it for the four as I’m used to.


Figuring out flashers


For those of you who have said that you can’t figure these units out, I’m giving you a simple lesson to get you started. Anything more technical should be learned from Hall of Famer Tom Zenanko of Vexilar. He’s also the host of Ice Fishing Today. Tom has some excellent instructional videos.

How to use flashers | Ice fishing electronics information | How to use ice fishing flasher | Cant figure out how to use flasher for ice fishing | Vexilar Ice Fishing Flasher tipsBefore starting on reading the unit, be sure that the transducer is positioned properly through the ice. If it is too high in the hole, it will pick up a lot of surface clutter. Position the transducer so that it is at the bottom of the hole, or just slightly below it. This way, the cone angle will not catch the sides and edges of the hole.


Colors to compare

To start out reading the dial, let’s use my four colors with red being the strongest signal and green being the weakest.


Red is basically indicating bottom/top, larger fish and fish that are closer to the transducer. I say that red is used as an alert color to an active fish. Normally when a fish starts to hit a jig, the flash turns red. Also, if a red flash is thicker that is normally a larger fish at a deeper level, or one that is very close to the surface. This doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a lunker, only larger or closer than other fish around. It can also mean that there are fish on the bottom. As fish start coming up to take the jig, it will start separating and getting thinner.


Orange and yellow are what I call the in-between flashes. These normally indicate heavy weeds and brush, or clutter. If I see a lot of “twinkling” where it keeps changing around above the bottom or structure, then I know there are probably fish in that area. If you have your jig in that area and see some color changes, especially to red, then, 98 percent of the time, fish are in the area and somewhat active.


As for the green, this is the weakest signal, but what I feel is the most important. It is where you see the jig, and any fish that may be on the outside of the cone angle. This is where the Pro-Ducer comes in handy. It allows the cone angle to be widened by increasing the “gain,” which is like turning up the volume on a radio.


If there is a solid red bottom line in shallower water with heavy weeds, then it is good to have the low power feature as is on the FLX. By switching to the low power, it will filter out some of the weeds and allow other signals to be seen. These are normally fish, which can easily be detected if they start moving upward after the offering. The only problem is that the jig is not always picked up unless it is directly under the center of the cone, or if a Pro-Ducer is used where it can be adjusted on width to find the best spot to pick up the jig.


Just a start


As said earlier, I was not going into a lot of hardcore details. I only wanted people to pick up a unit quickly and be able to tell somewhat of what they are seeing so that they can start learning. With anything, the more time you spend using and experimenting with something, the more you learn.


While the extra features such as the FLX series has are nice and very useful, you don’t have to have one. A simple FL-8SE will serve the purpose nicely, especially if you are a casual “once in a while” ice angler. Just remember you want something with all of the colors, as they will help greatly with building confidence, learning what is being seen and having success.     MWO



Dan Galusha has fished all of his life, worked more than 45 years in the outdoor/media industry, and was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Communicator. Direct questions through dansfishntales.com, facebook.com/dansfishntales and facebook.com/shootnplink.