Below you’ll find our detailed comparison review of all Vexilar Flashers including the FL-8se, FL-18, FL-12, FL-20 and the FL-22HD. Vexilar claims to be the number one name for ice fishing electronics, AKA ice fishing flasher, ice fishing fish finder, fish finder or fish flasher. Anyone familiar with Vexilar Sonar products, knows they have a fiercely loyal customer base, and for good reason. Vexilar has been around since 1960 and can claim credit for bringing many innovations to the electronic fish finding the market. These “firsts” include the first CRT display, the first color display, the first LCD display, the first self-leveling ice fishing transducer, the first split-screen zoom flasher, the first transducer able to shoot through an aluminum boat hull and the first flasher capable of zooming in on a 10-foot range.
All Vexilar fish finders have gimbal mounts and can be used for ice fishing or for open water and they are are very portable at only 1.1 lbs. All Vexilar fish finders are weatherproof, but none are immersible. This article concentrates on Vexilar portable fish finders, transponders and ice pack (carrying case) combinations for ice fishing.
So, which Vexilar fish finder is best for you? Is it the next generation of flashers with flat screens (the FL-12, FL-20 or the new FL-22HD) or one of the classic Vexilar Flashers, the FL-8 or the FL-18?
We have compiled all the relevant specifications about Vexilar fish finders into the comparison table below.
Vexilar Comparison Table
|Model:||Vexilar FL-8se||Vexilar FL-18||Vexilar FL-12||Vexilar FL-20||Vexilar FL-22HD|
|525 Segment, 3 Color LED Screen||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Flat Screen and Surface||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Back Lit Depth Scale||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Max. Depth||120 ft*||200 ft*||200 ft||200 ft||60 ft|
|Min. Dept Range||20 ft||20 ft||20 ft||20 ft||10 ft|
|Auto Zoom and Split Screen||No||Yes, bottom 6 ft||No||Yes, 6 & 12 ft||Yes, 6 & 12 ft|
|Target Separation||2.65 in||2.65 in||2.65 in||2.65 in||2.65 in|
|Target Size||1 in||1/2 in||1 in||1/2 in||1/8 in|
|Low Power Mode||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Interference Rejection||10 Step||10 Step||10 Step||10 Step||10 Step|
|Control Knobs||2 + IR||3||2 + IR||3||3|
|Dimensions (HxWxD in)||4.4x6x3.5||4.4x6x3.5||4.4x6x2.4||4.4x6x2.4||4.4x6x2.4|
|Compatible w/any Vexilar FL Transducer#||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power: Peak/rms (watts)||400/50||400/50||400/50||400/50||400/50|
|Transducer Output||200 kHz||200 kHz||200 kHz||200 kHz||200 kHz, variable pulse|
|Power Draw||200 mA||200 mA||200 mA||200 mA||200 mA|
|Warranty||2 year||2 year||2 year||2 year||2 year|
|Battery Warranty||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
* Both the FL-8se and the FL-18 have deep water options, which increases maximum depth to 240 feet for the FL-8se and to 300 ft for the FL-18.
#Vexilar FL series transducers; 9,12,19 (degrees) and tri beam (18,12 & 20 degrees).
Which Vexilar Flasher Should I Get?
This video is an overview of each Vexilar Fish Finder, including the FL-8, FL-12, FL-18 and FL-20, to help you determine which one is best for your needs. It also goes over plus all ice pack systems and ice fishing transducers:
Below we go over pros and cons of each of the Vexilar Fish Finders and the different packs offered for ice fishing.
The FL-8se is Vexilar’s entry flasher model and is claimed by Vexilar to be the Worlds most popular 3-color sonar flasher. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it does have a reasonable price to help you buy that first fish finder so you can finally take the blinders off when you get out on the ice.
What the Vexilar FL-8 Fish Finder Can Do
What it can do is see targets as small as 1 inch (which includes your jig) and identify separate targets less than 2 3/4 inch. It can find fish in shallow water and all the way down to 120 feet. It has the ability to look at six different depth ranges; 0-20, 0-30, 0-40, 0-60, 0-80 and 0-120 feet.
The FL-8 has the same 525 segment, 3-color radial display found on all the other Vexilar fish finders, only difference is the newest models have flat screens. And like all other models, the resolution for one display segment is 0.46 inches at the 20 ft scale, 1.37 inches at at 60 ft scale and 2.74 inches at the 120 foot scale.
The FL-8 also has the same gimbal mounting bracket and a 10 steps of interference rejection as all the other Vexilar fish finders.
If you find that you spend most of your time fishing in deep water (80-120 ft), you could add a smaller angled transducer (9 or 12 degree) in the future since all Vexilar FL transducers fit all Vexilar FL fish finder models.
What the Vexilar FL-8 Can’t Do
So, what are some of the fancier options that are missing from the FL-8? It but does not have the zoom function, bottom lock options or low power mode. Zoom is a nice function to have, but not necessarily a deal breaker. The low power function is nice for more discrimination while fishing shallow or weedy water, but again it’s not the end of the world and the bottom lock function is more important for fishing from a boat than on the ice.
Like many of our big-boy toys, they seem a little expensive as we get into it for the first time, but one consolation is that they do hold their value. As of this writing, I saw 7 used FL-8s (with transducers and carry packs) sell on amazon during the past 7 days for between $*** and $*** (including shipping).
Now, if that’s not enough to get you in the new ice fishing game, then think about it this way. You could buy a new FL-8, with a transducer and an Ice pack for about $***, use it for two years, then be able to sell it for at least $***. That’s only costs $** per season. If you only fished 6 times per year, that would make the cost of the FL-8 fish finder less than the cost of beer for most of us.
Wouldn’t you be more excited about going ice fishing if you knew you tell if you were fishing the right spot or not? And not only be able to find fish, but also know which jigs and jigging methods bring the fish in and which ones they ignore. If you told me you actually like to spend 5 hours bouncing a jig up and down in an area with no fish, I would say you are either just there for the beer or you are hiding from someone.
For about $** more than the FL-8, you could be ice fishing with the FL-18. The FL-18 has all of the features of the FL-8 plus adds the ability to detect fish down to a depth of 200 ft and the FL-18 also can see targets as small as 1/2 inch.
The FL-18 has 5 depth ranges instead of 6 (0-20, 0-40, 0-60, 0-80, 0-200 feet), but adds the ability to automatically zoom into the bottom 6 feet of water to find those walleyes. In zoom mode, the left half of the display screen provides a magnified view of the zoom area. The FL-18 also has the ability to lock onto the bottom and hold the zero scale on the bottom. This feature is really more important for fishing from a boat, and not so important for ice fishing
It appears that the FL-12 is Vexilar’s new generation fish finder that has tried to find a balance between the most useful features from the FL-8 and FL-18 models and an affordable price. The FL-12 has the new flat screen profile which reduces ice/snow accumulation and increases the viewing angle. The Vexilar FL-12 has the same range (200 feet) deep and 5 depth ranges at 0-20, 0-40, 0-60, 0-80 and 0-200 feet as the FL-18. The FL-12 has the ability to identify targets as small as 1 inch and like the FL-8, does not have zoom or bottom lock capability.
The new FL-20 is Vexilar’s new generation fish finder that provides the extra’s for those that want more features and upgraded performance. One new feature of the FL-20 is the Night Mode, which dims the display by 50% to make it more comfortable to read in the dark and helps preserve your night vision. The zoom and split screen that was introduced with the FL-18 has been improved and the FL-20 has an additional zoom range. The first zoom range is from the bottom to 6 feet above the bottom and the second range is from the bottom to 12 feet above bottom. The zoom area is shown on the left side of the display.
The FL-20 has increased detection ability to 300 ft deep and has 5 depth ranges (0-20, 0-40, 0-60, 0-80 and 0-200 feet). The FL-20 also has a new 20 ft Low Power mode for use in shallow water or weedy areas and an improved ability to detect targest as small as 1/2 inch.
The FL-20 does not have the ability to lock onto the bottom, but again this feature is not needed for ice fishing.
The new Fl-22 is Vexilar’s attempt to push sonar technology to maximize target detail for depths up to 60 feet and claims to have delivered “…the best target ID and target separation of any sonar system ever made.” Amazingly, the FL-22 HD has the ability to identify targets as small as 1/8 inch. The FL-22HD also has 6 depth ranges (0-10, 0-20, 0-30, 0-40, 0-50, 0-60 ft) and was made specifically for fishermen who want to see as much information as technologically possible at any depth between 0 and 60 ft.
Like the FL-20, the FL-22 HD has the new Night Mode, the new 20 ft Low Power Mode and two zoom ranges (bottom – 6 ft & bottom -12 ft) and the split screen display.
The FL-22HD also has the Bottom lock option for those that would also use the ice fishing fish finder from a boat.
What’s an Vexilar Ice Pack?
Well, unless you’re going to carry it in your pocket, you will want to mount your ice fishing flasher on something. An ice pack is a combination carrying case, battery holder, accessory holder, rod holder, transducer holder and cable storage compartment. Sure you can make your own
Best Vexilar Flasher Combo Packs
|Vexilar FL-8se||Genz Pack||19 degree||Check|
|Vexilar FL-18||Genz Pack||12 degree||Check|
|Vexilar FL-18||Pro Pack II||12 degree||Check|
|Vexilar FL-18||Pro Pack II||Tri-Beam||Check|
|Vexilar FL-12||Pro Pack II||12 degree||Check|
|Vexilar FLX-20||Genz Pack||12 degree||Check|
|Vexilar FLX-20||Ultra Pack||12 degree||Check|
|Vexilar FLX-12||Pro Pack II||12 degree||Check|
|Vexilar FLX-28||Pro Pack II||Tri-Beam||Check|
|Vexilar FLX-28||Ultra Pack||Tri-Beam||Check|
|Vexilar FL-22HD||Pro Pack II||Tri-Beam||Check|
|Vexilar FL-22HD||Ultra Pack||Tri-Beam||Check|
The Vexilar Genz Pack is a basic model, named for the Dave Genz, the legendary ice fishing pioneer. Genz invented the fish trap and the ice box or “blue box”, which has been refined into the next generation Genz Pack. Genz Pack is a a heavy duty blue ABS plastic carrying case that has a compartment for standard sealed lead-acid or gel cell batteries.
It is designed to sit on top of a 5 gallon bucket, so it is within easy reach without having to standing on your head.
It has an eye-bolt for the ice transducer, and can has a holder that fits all of the Vexilar transducers. The Genz pack also has a compartment to store the 7 foot transducer cable.
The upgraded Vexilar Pro Pack II now has a larger, more comfortable handle and a gimbal bracket in addition to the features of the Genz Pack. The pro Pack II is smaller in circumference than the Genz Pack, so it fits into a 5 gallon bucket for transport, but you can still set it on top of the bucket for viewing, just turn the bucket upside down.
Additional features found on the Pro Pack II includes a rod holder and a small tackle box, which fits just under the fish finder.
In addition to features found in the Pro Pack II, the Vexilar Ultra Pack has a completely enclosed case for the battery and includes external charging posts, so the battery doesn’t have to be removed to be charged and other devices can be run from the same battery pack.
The Ultra pack also has an on/off switch to turn off all accessories connected to the battery at one time, so you can’t leave any of the electronics turned on by mistake.
It also has a battery status indicator, so you know when to switch batteries or to recharge and the rod holder is adjustable and can be placed at different locations on the Ultra Pack. The Ultra Pack also has a taller profile so it creates more space to read and reach the controls.
Here is a video overview of the Vexilar Ultra Pack Features:
I have never seen much chatter about Vexilar fish finders having a short battery life as some fish finders. The 9 amp hour (ah) sealed lead acid battery should run for 45 hours with the 200 mA power draw, but keep in mind that completely draining lead acid batteries will damage them. Vexilar recommends that the battery not be drained more than 80% (20% power remaining). I have seen recommendations that lead acid batteries should not be drained more than 60%. The 200 mA power usage should last for 27 hours and still have 40% power remaining or for 36 hours and still have 20% remaining. So it is possible to fish all day long for several days in a row without running out of power, but probably best to play it safe and throw the battery on the recharger at night.
To view more information about how to use these flashers, you can view the Vexilar User Manual and instructions here (pdf file).
Finding and Catching Fish with a Vexilar Flasher
This short video shows using a Vexilar Flasher while ice fishing to find and catch bluegill: