Over the last few decades, ice fishing has advanced so much, the technology available today is incredible. One of the most important pieces of ice fishing equipment you can have now is a good flasher. There are two names leading the market in flashers and they are Vexilar and MarCum. These are both good units having much to offer. I have used both units and I have fished with them side by side. The units I fished next to each other were the Vexilar FL-18 pack and the MarCum LX-3 pro pack. Both of these units are multiple colored flashers. Before I get into my personal thoughts and opinions on these units, I will discuss them both briefly.
The MarCum runs on 1,500 watts of power. It has an adjustable 5ft. window of zoom. This zoom is great because it allows you to zoom in on your target. For example, if you’re walleye fishing, you can zoom in on the bottom and if you’re crappie fishing, you can zoom in on the suspended fish. This zoom can be adjusted anywhere from the surface of the water the bottom of the lake you’re focusing on. The MarCum unit also comes with a unit cover to protect from outside elements, as well as an arm to hold the transducer.
The Vexilar runs on 400 watts of power. It does have a zoom, but it is not adjustable. The Vexilar zoom is stuck to the bottom. There is a cover for the Vexilar, but it is sold separately. The transducer on the Vexilar is attached to a cylinder shaped float, this way the transducer can be in your hole and the unit can be positioned whereever it is most comfortable for you to see while fishing.
When I first used these units, I was guiding in Minnesota and working with a pro shop out there. When the MarCum LX-3 first came out, I was given a unit to test out on the ice. A close friend on mine, who owned the pro shop, came with me and brought along a Vexilar FL-18 to fish with. We were in a fish house that was 18 or 20ft. long. We were sitting on a large mud flat walleye fishing. He was fishing on one side of the fish house and I was fishing on the other side. There were fish all over the flat, so all of our chances were equal. As we started fishing, my buddy was catching some really nice walleye, 22-26 inches and I was catching walleye anywhere from 12-16 inches.
At first, I thought it was my presentation, so I switched up my gear to the exact same set up he was using and still, no big fish. We decided to try and switch holes, so we picked up our equipment and switched sides. Unbelievable! I still could not catch a mature walleye to save me. Sure enough, in the hole I was just fishing in, my buddy began to catch the big fish again. Now I was starting to get a little fired up about this, so we switched our gear again, but this time, we also traded flashers. I now had the Vexilar FL-18 and he had the MarCum LX-3, and what do you know, I caught a mature fish just like that!
In the end, we came to the conclusion that the 1,500 watts of power from the MarCum was affecting the lateral line of the mature fish. I used the MarCum for a short period of time after that and it never did seem to affect the crappie or perch like it had the walleye. But ever since my walleye incident, I had to stick with the Vexilar FL-18. Since that day, the Vexilar FL-18 is the only flasher I will use. The 400 watts of power is more than enough.
Both brands came out with new flashers, the Vexilar FL-20 and the MarCum LX-5. The FL-20 stuck to the 400 watts, the LX-5 went up to 2,000 watts. I’m not saying Marcum is a bad unit, they are very good units. The power that they present is just something to think about. More power doesn’t necessarily mean more fish. Good Luck out on the ice.
About the author, Nate Zelinsky: Nathan Zelinsky is a full time professional walleye angler. He has fished the MWC along with many other tournaments. Besides tournament fishing Nathan is owner/operator of Tightline Outdoors guide service which is an all species guide service, fishing for Walleye, Smallmouth Bass,Northern Pike, Trout, Catfish, Carp, Perch, Tiger Muskie, Kokanee Salmon and Wiper. Nathan spends around 300 days a year on the water or ice. Nathan also runs a Ice Fishing School in the winter months. He is a frequent guest on ESPN Outdoots with Terry Wickstrom and also appears frequently on Angling Adventures, Fishful Thinker and Lip'em & Rip'em.
Nathan is also a member of ICE TEAM.
Nathan is sponsored by Lund Boats, Mercury Marine, JR’s Tackle, Interstate Batteries, JIffy Augers, Berkley, Fenwick, Phlueger, White Caps, Crowly Marine, Replicas INC, The Sign Guys and Gal, Ice Armor, Clam, Vexilar, Mr. Heater, Ice Team, Blue Quill Angler, Todays Tackle and Line-X. Contact Nate