Over the past several decades, technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. We are in constant contact with our cell phones, laptops, tablets, GPS systems and our digital home assistants. It should be no surprise then that technology is also now a large part of fishing, particularly ice fishing.
Sonar and underwater cameras have been around for some time now, but they, too, have evolved a lot over the years. Now they are more innovative than ever, with tablet-sized digital screens, built-in GPS systems, wireless capabilities and more. They work by connecting wirelessly (via Bluetooth or another wireless system) to your tablet, cell phone or even your television.
The cameras are also smaller than ever before, and they are the most user-friendly they have ever been. Most importantly, though, they now provide you with a lot of useful information, more than ever before, and not all of this information is just about the fish. These cameras will alert you to the presence of fish, of course, but they will also give you a visual of everything else going on below the water's or ice's surface.
With these new cameras, which have crystal clear visuals, you can see every small detail, including every underwater weed, piece of trash and broken tree. This will help you locate the best spots to find certain types of fish and will alert you to the presence of these fish.
For instance, let's say you are fishing for perch. As any fisherman worth his salt knows, they absolutely love to hide. The underwater cameras will show you areas where there is cover and other favorable hiding spots for perch.
You'll also be able to see how the fish are reacting to your particular bait, lure of fishing style. An underwater camera allows you to watch how your movements and actions are affecting your lure, as well. For example, if you're using a jigging stroke, you'll be able to see how your stroke makes your jig move under the water.
This will allow you to adjust your strokes and movements accordingly. Furthermore, if the fish aren't responding to a certain bait, lure or fishing style, you'll have visual proof of this and be able to adjust both your fishing style and equipment accordingly.
As we all know, fishing in a boat isn't practical when ice fishing, but underwater cameras can be used for any type of fishing. It's true that ice fishermen are often the ones who favor underwater cameras the most, but you can use your underwater camera just as easily in open water.
With that in mind, there are many useful things underwater cameras will tell you when in open water. For instance, if you're fishing in a boat, an underwater camera can give you an idea of what's going on beneath the surface that could potentially harm your boat. You'll be able to see unexpected sandbars, sunken debris or other harmful underwater surprises.
In addition to giving you a ton of great information, underwater cameras are just plain fun. Watching all the fish and other aquatic creatures just going about their days, living their lives in their natural habitats, not knowing they're being observed is a very entertaining experience.
It's kind of like turning the whole river into your own personal aquarium strictly for your viewing pleasure. You'll be able to see fish playing, hiding, hunting, feeding and more. Getting to see all the different little quirks that different species have is very enjoyable.
Underwater cameras are incredibly useful, very easy to use and cheaper now than they've ever been before; there is no excuse not to buy one. If you have small children who you take fishing with you, you'll especially want to get one for the simple fact that watching them can keep the kiddos entertained for hours.
There are all kinds of videos out there telling you how to successfully use your specific brands of underwater cameras. However, you really don't need a how-to guide to figure them out. In fact, the hardest part of learning to use an underwater camera is setting it up for its first use.
We won't tell you how to do that here for one simple reason: the way you set your camera up is going to be different depending on the brand and model of the camera you purchase.
However, each camera comes with an in-depth instruction guide outlining all the steps you need to take to ensure your camera is set up correctly and ready for use. It'll tell you how to connect the camera to your wireless device if it is wireless or how to connect it to the provided tablet screen if it isn't.
The guide will also tell you how to charge the camera, what its settings are, how to work those settings and so much more. Trust us. Everything you need will be easily found in your camera's provided instruction manual.
Once you have your camera charged, set up and ready to go, actually using it is the simple part.
All it takes is dropping the camera on its cable down into the water. That's it. There are no fancy instructions, no extreme set-ups or anything like that. The actual camera part of the device will be at the end of a long cable. You take that cable and drop it into the water if you're open water fishing or through a hole in the ice if you're ice fishing.
The camera will then transmit to the screen, and you'll be able to see everything going on underneath the waves. It really is that simple. The only other 'instruction' we have for you is that, if you're ice fishing with your camera, you'll want to drill two separate holes - one for your camera and one for your fishing line.
You'll need to drill the two holes as close together as is possible without them touching or overlapping. Strictly speaking, this isn't a requirement, but it is very helpful. This will ensure that your fishing line and your camera's cable line don't end up getting tangled up with one another.
If you still aren't convinced that using an underwater camera is that simple and you want better instructions, check out . In essence, it'll show you that using an underwater camera really is that simple, but maybe it'll give you some peace of mind if you're a little nervous about using your camera for the first time.
There is no perfect answer to this question. Different anglers will tell you different things when asked how they like to set up their cameras, and none of their answers is more correct than anyone else's.
However, our recommendation is drilling your two holes about a foot apart from each other. This allows you to keep your camera close enough to see everything going on with your lure under the water, but it isn't close enough that you have to worry about your camera getting in your way or scaring off the fish.
As for the correct depth, we just go down until we start seeing lots of fish. The perfect depth for your camera will largely depend on what type of fishing you're doing. If you're ice fishing, you won't need to go down as far as you would if you were freshwater fishing in a lake. By the same token, you wouldn't go as deep freshwater lake fishing as you would deep sea fishing in the ocean.
For ice fishing, we like to go down anywhere from six to 12 feet. That seems to be the sweet spot simply because this is where the fish tend to be swimming.
Now that you know a little more about the why and how of using underwater cameras, specifically for ice fishing, let's take a look at some of the best options out there today.
Although this particular camera definitely isn't the cheapest camera on the list, it is one of the very best. Aqua Vu is one of the biggest names in underwater cameras, and they always turn out some of the best, most high-quality cameras possible. However, of all Aqua Vu's cameras, this one is our favorite.
It has a beautiful five-inch LCD screen that is waterproof and works in all elements, rain or shine. The screen is also brighter than many of the Aqua Vu cameras that have come before it. It also comes with a revolution integrated camera reel system which makes lowering the camera and retrieving it once more superbly easy.
The camera itself is a micro camera, making it almost invisible to fish. Most fish won't even notice it's in their midst. It comes attached to a 60-foot long cable, making it perfect for both shallow and deep water fishing in addition to ice fishing.
There's an on-screen display of water temperature, camera direction and depth indication.
Our favorite feature on this particular camera, though, is the ability to record what we're seeing. The recording feature is a relatively new one to most underwater cameras, and although the Aqua Vu camera isn't the only one with the capability, it is one of only a few. Also, the picture quality of the Aqua Vu is simply unmatched.
However, if recording what you're seeing isn't of interest to you, there's a slightly less expensive version of the Aqua Vu AV Micro 5.0 Revolution Pro Underwater Camera DVR; it's the exact same model, only it doesn't come with the 'Pro' designation. You can find it here.
It has all the same great features as the Pro model. The only differences are that the regular model of the camera doesn't have recording capabilities and is about 100 dollars cheaper.
This is the second Aqua Vu product on our list, and while it's a little bit cheaper than the first, it's packed full of many of the same great features. The screen on this particular model is a little bit larger than than the first camera on our list, coming in at seven inches. It, too, is a full-color, HD LCD screen. It's waterproof and comes with a screen protector and sun shield.
The camera is known as an "anti-spook fish camera," which basically just means it blends in well with the surroundings so that fish don't really notice it's there and get spooked and swim away. The cable length for this camera is a little shorter at only 50 feet.
The camera also features adjustable infrared lighting and has an automatic low-light mode, which activates itself when the camera goes deep enough that the light from the sun no longer penetrates brightly into the water.
It uses a 12-volt, 7.2ah battery and comes equipped with a charger. It also has a smart power management system that keeps it from wasting battery life unnecessarily. It has great viewing features thanks to a built-in adjustable view fin, which allows you to view straight-on, both sides and straight down.
The whole kit comes with a convenient carrying case for when the camera is not in use.
Overall, this particular model has a lot of great features for a very affordable price. With this model, you won't have the ability to record and some of the on-screen readings of the first camera aren't available, but it still can't be beaten for the price.
This camera is, by far, the most expensive camera on our list. Because we're average, every-day anglers ourselves and we write for mostly average, every-day anglers, we don't usually like to include options for things this expensive. However, in the case of the MarCum LX-9, we had to make an exception because it's just such an amazing camera.
This camera comes with a large and crystal clear eight-inch flat screen with full-color LED components and a Video Out port. There are four different user's choice color palettes and a user-defined, on-screen DAS. The screen resolution is amazing at 800 x 600, and the camera comes with a DVR combo.
The camera gives you the option of viewing in full-color or black and white, and like our first camera on the list, you also have the option to record what you're seeing. This camera is expensive, but it's also jammed full of amazing features and options. This is definitely a camera for someone who knows what he's doing.
If you're looking for a camera with many different options and excellent video and recording capabilities, this could be for you. However, if this is to be your first underwater camera and you're unfamiliar with how they work, this one may be a little more advanced than you need.
If it feels like you're starting to see a theme here, you're right. Like we said initially, Aqua Vu has some of the very best underwater cameras on the market today, so it's no surprise that on a list of best underwater cameras for ice fishing, you'll see more than one Aqua Vu product. This particular camera is another reasonably priced model great for any fisherman.
The screen is a bit smaller than the others on the list, but it's smartphone-sized, coming in at a little over four inches. Despite its smaller size, it's still a great screen with a fantastic picture, thanks to the high-resolution LCD screen and full-color camera capabilities.
The camera comes attached to a 50-foot cable with depth lines marked on the cable itself. The camera, though small, has an amazing field of view, giving you a wide 135° degree view of most everything around it.
It also comes with an integrated cable management system for easy and convenient storage both when in use and when not in use. Thanks to the adjustable fin and clip system, it's also perfect for both ice fishing and open water fishing, as you desire.
It comes equipped with infrared lights, six hours worth of run time, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and both a USB and a wall charger to suit any needs. It is a great, durable little camera for a great price.
This is one of the most reasonably priced cameras on the entire list, and even so, it works great for both ice fishing and open water fishing. It is 100% waterproof and comes equipped with night version, allowing it to work on even the darkest of nights. The cable is about 50 feet long, making it capable of some deep water fishing, as well.
The screen is a seven-inch, TFT color screen with a built-in sun shield to help protect it on bright days. In addition to being waterproof, it's also cold-resistant and has pull-resistant cables. It has a great battery, which is capable of running anywhere from nine to 12 hours straight without needing a recharge. The charger is a high-capacity charger, which means recharging time is quite short.
The picture quality is quite good, utilizing a 700 TV lines system for ultimate clarity, and the added fish finder features makes it a great accessory for young fishermen who bore easily of sitting around waiting for the fish to find them.
Furthermore, like all Anysun cameras, this particular model is certified by the FCC (USA) and the CE (EU). This means the camera is certified high-quality. It's also made for fishermen by fishermen, meaning it's quality-tested by people just like you. It's perfect for deep sea fishing, open water fishing from a boat, ice fishing and even catch crabbing. It's a very versatile camera.
The last camera on our list is another very affordable camera by Eyoyo. It has a large, nine-inch screen with incredible image display that is very realistic and crystal clear. It utilizes TFT color and comes with an optional sun shield, which is absolutely perfect for fishing on those long, hot summer days.
The camera itself features 1000 TV lines and a 12-piece infrared LED lights. This allows the flashes on the camera to be able to be seen even in the darkest, dimmest environments. Using the infrared lights will automatically change the camera capabilities from full-color to black and white for ultimate contrast in low-light areas.
Despite the camera's relatively low price, it surprisingly comes with a DVR recording function, which is something most inexpensive cameras don't have. It also comes equipped with an eight gigabyte TF card so you can record a large amount of underwater footage without having to worry about storage space.
The design of the camera is made specifically to be unobtrusive and nearly invisible to fish. It's shaped like a fish itself, and its silver color helps it blend in in any environment. In fact, it looks a bit like a lure, itself, which means it could potentially lure fish to it rather than scaring them away.
The camera includes a 400mAH high-capacity rechargeable battery with the charger included. While the battery life isn't as long-lasting as some of the other cameras on this list, it can still run for a respectable five to six hours without needing a recharge.
The carrying case for this particular camera is also incredibly durable and heavy-duty. It puts you in mind of the old-school, metal tripod camera cases. It makes the camera practically indestructible while stored in it, and it doubles as a holding stand for when the camera is in use.
That is our list for the six best underwater ice fishing cameras. Some are a little more expensive and some are on the cheaper side, but all are great cameras. The differences come in the details, so the trick is finding the camera that has everything you want from it at a price that fits your budget.
While we've used all of these and found them to be pretty great cameras, our favorite is the Aqua Vu AV Micro 5.0 Revolution Pro Underwater Camera DVR. Although it does cost a few hundred dollars, we found it to be well worth the money. It truly is the best underwater camera for ice fishing that we could find.
We love that it has such beautiful, crystal clear recording capabilities, and the on-screen display of camera direction and water temperature and the quick and easy deployment and retrieval features were two that we just couldn't live without once we'd experienced them. We're also quite fond of the five-inch LCD screen with depth display.
Furthermore, the camera is just incredibly well-made. We're not always the gentlest people on our equipment, and things that aren't made well don't tend to last long around us.
The Aqua Vu AV Micro 5.0 Revolution Pro Underwater Camera DVR held up to our rough handling and the elements perfectly. This is due, in large part, to its heavy-duty construction, waterproofing and all-weather performance features. If you're anything like us, you don't mind shelling out a little extra cash for something you know is going to last, and this camera has definitely proven to us that it will last for a good long time.
It's for all these reasons and more that we had to choose the Aqua Vu AV Micro 5.0 Revolution Pro Underwater Camera DVR as the number one underwater camera on the market today. We hope you're just as satisfied with whichever camera you decide to use, as well.
And don't forget: Ice fishing safety