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I wish I had a Vexilar...but I can't use a Vexilar on my pontoon boat and I can't yet justify having two separate fish finders (give me a year or two). I have one of the older model Fishing Buddy series and it works pretty well, though in really cold weather it gives up. It also has about a 1/2 - 1 second delay between detecting a change in the situation below and showing it on the screen, so it isn't quite as sensitive as a flasher or one of the new LCD units. The cone on the my model is pretty narrow (9 degree), so it doesn't search as wide an area as some of the LCDs or flashers, but in deep water (e.g., Blue Mesa), it doesn't matter...the kokes and lakers are normally at least 30 ft down.

Negatives aside, I don't ice fish without it. It is nice to be able to search for fish without drilling holes, and then monitor what is happening while you're fishing. The sidefinder capability comes in handy as well...I've often used it to decide where the next hole should be drilled (if I consistently mark fish in a certain direction, that's where the ice auger goes next).

I also have an AquaView and it is a neat toy/tool. You can set it up to monitor your bait, or you can use it to identify odd-looking sonar marks. This year I plan to use it to locate weedlines to set up my tip-ups. My favorite thing with the AquaView is that you can actually see fish strike and set the hook before your rod even shows any sign of having been bit. I was laughing like a loon at Red Feathers last year when I discovered this! The trout, on the other hand, were not amused.

One other item that is handy to have is a GPS unit, especially if you're trying to locate specific points on the lake. I spend a lot of time during soft-water season scouting lakes (and fishing, of course), and anytime I see something interesting, I mark it on the GPS. Then, when things get hard on top, I use the GPS (and my notes) to go back to those spots to see what is happening with the ice cover. It also helps get you back to the shore on bigger lakes when the *%)$ wind blows up and you have whiteout conditions...this has happened a couple of times on Blue Mesa.

Tight lines!
 
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