The Ice-Ducer transducer has revolutionized the way sonar is used on ice. It has made fishing on the move much quicker and easier. It has solved the problems with large houses blocked far off the ice. And, most importantly, it has made it easy for the beginner to see what sonar means to ice fishing. In the years since its introduction, the Ice-Ducer has seen just about everything this environment can dish out. Here is some of what we’ve learned about them and how to make them work reliably for you.
Keepin’ it Straight
The whole principle of the Ice-Ducer, and the reason for the it’s popularity, is that it will center itself to the vertical position. They have performed remarkably well, given the extreme environment. Granted, they are not as accurate as a finely tunedPuckon an adjustable arm, but the lack of the complicated apparatus makes the Ice-Ducer an easy choice. To make sure that you are, indeed, pointing in the vertical direction, or as close to it as you can get, follow these simple tips:
Make Sure Your Transducer Is Hanging Straight. – Try this simple test. Grab your Pro Pack and find a table over a hard floor. Set the unit down on the table and hang the Ice-Ducer about 30″ over the floor.
Turn on the FL-8, then turn up the gain until you can see your floor as a red signal. THE DEPTH WILL NOT BE ACCURATE WHEN OPERATING IN THE AIR. We are interested in sensitivity only. Carefully move the transducer around, a small amount, and see if the signal on the screen gets stronger. The line will get wider and multiple echoes will appear. If you find a spot that is stronger, push on the cord where it exits the transducer in the direction you want it to shoot. Hang the transducer again to retest and readjust if necessary. You may not be able to get it exactly straight, but it should be very close.
Store the transducer so the cord is not bent over. Once the cord is set, you need to insure that it will stay that way. Make sure your storage method insures a gradual bend. Don’t allow the cord to be bent sharply right at or near the transducer.
Floats of a Different Color
The float is the key to the portability of the Ice-Ducer. Although it is not necessary, it provides the easiest setup and covers more applications than the “arm” method (removing the float and suspending the transducer from anarm with an eye for the stopper).
In the past few years the float has evolved, somewhat. Partly due to design and partly to supply. There have been white ones, gray ones, silver ones, black hard ones, black soft ones, and more white ones.
Each transducer is supposed to weigh a specific amount and the float is dimensioned to float it, with some to spare. It was not long before we realized that we could not keep as tight of tolerances on weight and buoyancy as we had hoped. The result? A “Sinker”. Yep, hope it’s plugged in.Floats can also degrade over time, and eventually become sinkers. Replacement floats are availablehere.
Kinks and Cuts
An essential, and much over looked, part of the system is the transducer cord. In the prototype stages of the Ice-Ducer, this was the most difficult part of the design to solve. We ended up having to have the cable made just for us. In order to shoot straight reliably, it had to be limp in extremely cold temps, yet strong enough for the ice fishing environment.
The cable has performed very well. There are only a few weaknesses you should be aware of:
Bunching- When you slide the stopper on the cord make sure that you open the stopper up first. Put your finger into the slit in the side of the stopper and hold it open as you slide it down the cord. This prevents bunching of the cable insulation as it stretches across the wire.
Cuts- The soft cable is especially vulnerable to cuts. This is why the Ice-Ducers are not recommended for the summer environment. Keep the cable away from sharp edges. If your line gets wrapped around it, don’t pull the line tight. Cut cables can be repaired by splicing.
Pulling- Try not to use the cable near the transducer as a “handle”. The insulation can pull out from the transducer housing exposing the wires inside. This can also be repaired.
Tie That Thing Down
The worst enemy of any transducer is shock and vibration. And when you put it in a cold environment, the problem gets worse. The Ice-Ducer sees quite a bit of shock and vibration in an average trip on the ice these days. Most of the damage we have seen is caused from a poor method of storing the Ice-Ducer when it’s not in the water. Damage occurs when the cold transducer is rattling around in the bottom of the portable case. This will cause the transducer crystal to separate from the housing material, resulting in a weak transducer.
The Vexilar Ice Packs each have a method for safely storing the transducer. If your carrying case does not have some type of storage method, you need to make one.
For example, the old “Dave Genz” ice box (shown) does not address Ice-Ducer storage. This can be solved by drilling a hole the size of your Ice-Ducer in the unit platform, just behind the tipped back unit and gluing a thin piece of foam to the bottom of the box below the hole. Now, the Ice-Ducer will slide in the hole and the face will rest on the foam. The cord should be coming straight up.
Many “home made” cases can use this idea too. However you choose to store it, make sure that it’s well restrained in transit.
Which Beam Is Which
The first few years things were easy. It was just the Ice-Ducer. Then came the Narrow Beam and Dual Beam Ice-Ducers, and lately the 12 degree. Now things get a bit more interesting. As far as choosing the correct beam angle, read the previous article. Depending on the age, there may no markings on the Ice-Ducer to indicate which degree it is, but you can tell just by looking at it’s size.
The old standard 19 degree Ice-Ducer is 1 1/2″ in diameter and about 3″ tall. The newer style 19 has similar dimensions, but is cone shaped at the top. The 9 degree and Dual Beam, on the other hand, are almost 2 1/2″ in diameter and about 3″ tall, cone shaped at the top. The Dual Beam Ice-Ducer will have switch box in the cord. The 12 degree Ice-Ducer is about 1 3/4 inches across.
Ice-Ducers will continue to evolve. As we find better ways of doing things, you’ll see more and more changes. Also, the popularity of the Ice-Ducer has brought “copy cats” to the market, but remember, just because it hangs, doesn’t mean it’s an Ice-Ducer.