Eager to move, the angler quickly packed his gear, grabbed the rope to his portable hut, and walked over to another hole several feet away. Upon arrival, he turned, looking back to see that his flasher and a rod had fallen out of the sled. "The walk was only a few yards, what were the odds?" he thought.
Is this angler you? Maybe not as guilty of equipment neglect as the individual above, most of us could take better care of our fishing gear, especially sophisticated ice fishing electronics. Here are some tips and maintenance procedures to keep your flasher finding fish for several seasons.
Over time vibrations can cause the transducer crystal to separate from the housing material if not properly protected, resulting in a weak transducer signal and reading. "Don't drag the transducer on the ice when going from hole to hole. This can damage the crystal inside," says Corey Studer of Vexilar, Inc. Also, properly store the transducer whenever moving from one spot to another on the ice.
Beyond protecting them from shock and vibration, occasionally clean the bottom of the transducer. "Keep the transducer as clean as possible for the best reading," said Studer. This can be done by occasionally using a mild soap to remove residue from its bottom. Studer also noted that if the flasher is not emitting a strong reading, rubbing water on the transducer's bottom will help it bond with the water once lowered down the hole and improve its signal.
Also don't put unnecessary stress on the cord. When storing the unit, avoid tightly wrapping the cord and don't kink the cord at the transducer end. Keep cords loose to prolong their lifespan. If using Vexilar's Ice-Ducer system, open the stopper with your fingers before sliding it along the cord. This prevents bunching of the internal wiring. Cuts or worn cords should be replaced.
Studer says, "A common mistake is that people don't charge their batteries long enough. Even if you've only been out a few hours, charge your battery fully. With the Vexilar charger you want to wait until the light comes on before disconnecting the unit."
A proper case, some transducer TLC and fully-charged batteries are the three main things to keep your flasher in top-shape. It's also a good idea to occasionally clean the carrying case with a moist cloth and mild soap, or a window cleaner. Every so often, check and tighten any loose screws and ensuring the battery and transducer connections are secure. Keep your flasher protected and follow the above hints and it'll last several seasons, not to mention improve your catches!