As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
What is an ice fishing camera?
What ice fishing cameras do
The best ice fishing cameras are small cameras that you submerge in the water. They show you what’s going on down there below the ice. Ice fishing cameras make it so ice fishermen don’t have to rely solely on the power of their own sixth sense. Ice fishing cameras will show you if the fish are interested in your bait. They will also show you where the underwater structures are so that you can see where fish may be hiding.
Available for all fishermen
The concept of an underwater camera is nothing new. Commercial fishing operations have used underwater cameras to some capacity in a large part of the last century. Time is money when it comes to commercial fishing, and anything that can help you cut corners and find fish fast is going to be hugely beneficial to your operation. Underwater viewing cameras have gotten a lot more portable and affordable in recent years, which has lead to underwater viewing cameras becoming a viable option for non-commercial sports fishermen as well, especially ice fishermen.
Great for ice fishing
Ice fishing is different from open water fishing in that you are largely stationary. You are pretty much stuck in one location once you take the time to set up your shanty and dig a nice ice fishing hole with your auger. Ice fishing cameras, or underwater viewing cameras made to be used specifically when ice fishing, have taken off for this very reason.
Cold waters tend to be clearer
Another great thing about underwater cameras when it comes to ice fishing is that the cold, frigid ice waters are much more visible than traditional open waters. Ice waters are largely still and clear, allowing for underwater cameras to see much more than they would otherwise. Underwater cameras and ice fishing are simply a match made in heaven. Unless you are hellbent on showing off your animal intuition in your ability to sense fish with your mind, ice fishing cameras are a great option for you to make the most out of your time spent on the ice.
What to look for in ice fishing cameras
Many options for many situations
Ice fishing cameras come at a wide variety of price points and are made with largely varying amounts of care and quality. This, of course, is true about most fishing equipment. You will have many options to choose from when shopping for an ice fishing camera. These many options can be quite daunting to a fisherman who simply wants to find a camera that works and go have some fun on the ice. Luckily, there is a wide range of user feedback when it comes to the varying quality and bang-for-your-buck these many ice fishing cameras allow.
Need to hold up to the cold
First things first, you will need the camera to be made out of materials that stand up to the cold. You will get no use out of an underwater camera for ice fishing if it dies on you as soon as it is submerged in the freezing waters. This also requires that there is some amount of insulation provided for the electronic aspects of the camera. Electronics can be temperamental. You don’t want your underwater viewing camera to freeze. This carries on over to the line that is used on the camera, as well. Ice fishing cameras are generally submerged on their own included line. You will want to make sure that the line attached to the camera is capable of holding up to the temperatures you will be experiencing.
Need a good image
Finally, you want to make sure that your ice fishing camera is a good camera. That can seem redundant, but know that cameras can take pictures with a wide variety of detail and clarity. You will want to make sure you are getting a finely detailed and clear enough picture that it will be of use to you out on the ice.
Your ice fishing camera will need to be able to take pictures that you can read accurately and clearly. Otherwise, there is no point. On top of this, you will need to make sure that the camera is of a build that can be submerged far enough into the water to be of use. This may sound like a given, but cameras come with different approval ratings for submersion in the water. While most ice fishing cameras will be built to withhold plenty of water pressure, you will want to double-check before doubling down on your purchase. With that said, let’s explore what we think are the 8 best ice fishing cameras available for both casual and avid ice fishermen.
The best ice fishing cameras:
Tie for #1: Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera
The Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera currently goes for $139.98 on Amazon. This makes it simultaneously one of the best and the most affordable ice fishing cameras on the market. This includes a camera as well as a 4.3-inch color display for the image. The camera is open-view and shows the depths of the water at a wide-angle for optimal viewing. There is strong lighting featuring multiple lighting options available for illuminating any waters. Both the display and the camera unit hold up well against corrosion and are supported by up to 8 hours of continuous battery life before recharging.
This unit is absolutely perfect for the casual fisherman who wants to see if there are fish under the ice and whether or not they’re biting at the bait they’re being offered. The only downside is that this is a generic brand so it is always hard to say what type of long term support you will receive. With that said this purchase is definitely a great value, and the unit is the perfect portable size.
Tie for #1: MarCum LX-9
The MarCum LX-9 is an ice fishing camera that is much more expensive. It currently goes for $1,214.53 on Amazon. Surely, for the increased price, you are getting both increased functionality and longevity. For the average ice fisherman, the real question is if the extra $1000 is really worth it for your particular needs. This device features an 8-inch display. It is equipped with DVR functionality, which means that it can digitally record video that you can then upload and share with friends, or study on your own time.
The biggest draw of the MarCum LX-9 is that it includes fully-functional SONAR along with the underwater camera. For those who don’t know, SONAR is mapping technology that uses sound signals to determine the location of an object. Both SONAR and traditional camera images can be viewed simultaneously. This allows for greatly improved viewing of what’s going on under the water.
This is certainly an incredible product that is worth the price for the right fisherman. The problem is figuring out if that fisherman is you or if your money would be better spent elsewhere. It cannot be stressed enough that this is the highest functioning of all the underwater viewing cameras on this list, yet the price is so much higher than the rest that it is really up to the user and their own discretion as to whether they need all of these features, in particular, the SONAR.
The Mission SD Underwater Viewing System currently goes for $499.99 on Amazon. It includes both a camera and a 7-inch display screen. This is a great middle of the road option that is cheaper than the MarCum LX-9 but is more fully-featured than the Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera. It displays a great high-definition image that certainly validates the price point, but you are getting neither the extreme functionality of the more expensive options nor the feasibility of the cheaper options.
The Eyoyo Portable 9-inch LCD Monitor currently goes for $199.98 on Amazon. It features a 9-inch display if that wasn’t already a given based on the name. The camera itself has good lighting, and video can be recorded onto an included SD card. The camera is disguised as a fish, which will make your voyeurism less intrusive and decrease the likelihood of your camera scaring away any of the fish that it happens to find. The Eyoyo device can hold 6 hours of battery life at a time after a charge.
This is definitely another great budget option with a larger display than the Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera at a slightly increased price. While you will not be getting all of the incredible functionality of the MarCum LX-9, you will be getting a working underwater fishing camera with a large display unit at a very reasonable price.
One thing to think about with this camera though is this is a generic brand name. While the reviews are decent it is always hard to say what kind of long term support you can expect from a generic brand.
Another option from MarCum, the MarCum VS825SD currently goes for $718.37 on Amazon. This is essentially the MarCum LX-9 without SONAR. It includes an 8-inch display and the video is displayed at 4:3 aspect ratio. While the 4:3 aspect ratio may not stand out to most readers, this is actually a pretty big difference from the average underwater fishing camera that displays an image in widescreen. This means that the information available on the display features more vertical information than it would on a widescreen display. This can make quite a difference.
This is definitely a great option for those who want a higher quality unit but don’t want to put down all $1200 for the MarCum LX-9. This doesn’t include SONAR, but still far exceeds most of the cheaper underwater viewing cameras available. The price point is still a big detraction, though, especially for the average ice fisherman.
The Vexilar FS800 currently goes for $319.95 on Amazon. It features a 7-inch display. This is a perfect lower middle of the road option for someone who wants a slight increase in performance from some of the more budget-oriented models yet doesn’t want to spend close to $1000 or more for a top-tier model.
This Vexilar unit does not include any recording abilities but a recording device can be hooked up via a port on the back. The display screen is in color so long as there is ample light, but the screen will turn to black and white in low-light situations. There are two LEDs on the unit which can be adjusted for brightness.
The Aqua-Vu AV 715C currently goes for $299.99 on Amazon and features a 7-inch display. This is perhaps the ultimate middle of the road option, as the price point is nearly as low as the Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera yet the display is much larger and will offer you much more information about all of the aquatic life under the ice.
This Aqua-Vu unit comes with adjustable LEDs, but there is no low-light mode for nighttime. The lights work best in clear water, as particles in the water can reflect light and cause the image to become unseeable. This is definitely a great and affordable option for clear water fishing, but you may wish to spring for a camera with a black and white mode if your waters are going to be murkier in the dark.
The LUCKY Underwater Fishing Camera Viewing System currently goes for $150.41 on Amazon. It includes a 4.3-inch display, can record video, and has good lighting for dark waters. Coming full circle, this is a very comparable unit to the Moorcor Underwater Fishing Camera. The only difference is that it’s a tad bit more expensive. If you can find this one in stores, it’s definitely another great budget option for ice fishermen looking for an underwater viewing camera. It is nowhere near as fancy as some of the higher-priced options, yet it will function just as well as most of the budget options.
The brightness of the display is likely the largest caveat of this unit for ice fishermen. This display cannot be adjusted for brightness, which makes it sometimes impossible to read during the daylight. While this can be rectified with a visor attachment, the other units, most of which include a visor, may make a better option for fishermen looking to fish without shelter in the daylight.
Lastly this camera system does not come with a convenient carrying case for ice fishing like the rest of the cameras on the list do. Add in that this is again a generic brand making it hard to say what kind of long term support we can expect we can safely put this camera at the end of the options.
Which one was best?
The Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera is definitely the best underwater camera for ice fishing as far as the average ice fisherman is concerned. It is unquestionably the best value for your dollar. While it doesn’t have all of the exuberant features as some of the higher-priced models, in particular, the MarCum LX-9, it does everything you want it to, and for a price so low it might as well be a rental.