The Vexilar FL-18 is one of the oldest ice fishing flashers, available since 2001. It still is one of the best ice fish finders, many anglers preferring it to the newer models such as the Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP GPS G3N All-Season. It’s pretty similar to the Humminbird ICE-35 that we’ve previously reviewed here, featuring a simple 3-color flasher display, but only offers one operating frequency. For reference, this is the Vexilar part number GP1812, the one that comes with the blue carrying mount.
Key Features and Specifications
- Display: 3-color LED readout, 525 segments
- Sonar: Single beam
- Transducer: TB0080, 12° Ice-Ducer
- Frequency & Coverage: 200 kHz / 12°
- Max. Depth: 300 ft. (91 m)
- Power Input: 10.5-15 VDC
- Power Draw: 200 mA
- Power Output: 400 Watts (PTP)
- GPS: No
- Charts: No
Sonar and transducer
The Vexilar FL-18 is a single frequency fish finder. It operates at 200 kHz. It comes with the TB0080 transducer, also known as the 12-degree Ice-Ducer. This transducer features 7′ (2.1 m) of cable and a floater that acts as a stabilizer for it when placed in the water. This transducer does not have a temperature sensor and the unit cannot indicate the water temperature.
As its name suggests, the transducer uses a 12° beam angle. The whole system has a depth capability of 300′ (91 m). The system is intended for ice fishing, as the plane surface offered by the ice provides plenty of stability for the unit, and allows you to focus properly on your rod and jig. However, it can also be used for down-drop fishing from a boat, as long as the transducer is placed properly in the water.
Control unit features
As we’ve mentioned above, the Vexilar FL-18 features a 3-color LED-based circular flasher display. It should be read counterclockwise from the top, 0 position. The 0 signal is marked red, your jig should appear as a thin green line moving down from the top right quadrant when dropped, or vice versa when recovered. The bottom and/or other hard returns are represented by thick red lines, while fish should appear orange (larger) or green (smaller) depending on their size, if they’re caught by the transducer beam. The sonar detects and displays the activity in the transducer beam in real time. In other words, if a fish attacks the lure, you will see a green or orange segment moving towards the thin green segment which represents the lure.
The unit has three main functions. These are Power and Range Control, Mode Setting Control, and Gain Control. The Power and Range Control functions are covered by the bottom knob. To turn the unit on and select the appropriate range, you must turn this knob to the right. The available ranges are x1, x2, x3, x4, x10.
The Mode Control is covered by the middle knob. It offers a Low Power mode and a Normal Mode. The Low Power mode should be used when fishing in shallow waters, at depths of 15′ or less.
For the mode control, there are two main functions to be discussed. One is the Auto Zoom, the other is Bottom Lock. The Auto Zoom splits the screen into two different sections; the left side shows only the bottom six feet of depth, while the right side shows the entire water column. This feature can be very helpful if you’re fishing at greater depths than 30-40 feet (9-12 m), so you can distinguish better the bottom fish activity. Bottom Lock works in the same way as the Auto Zoom, but the bottom will change position with depth on the full view side but remain fixed at the zero mark on the zoom view.
The Gain Control knob is placed at the top of the control panel. It regulates the amount of signal that you see on the display. Different fishing conditions call for different gain settings. For example, in case of a weedy bottom, it is recommended a lower gain. Or, as a general idea, deeper water calls for a higher gain than shallow water.
First of all, the Vexilar FL-18 GP1812 comes with the “Blue Box” carrying kit. This provides a highly durable base for the unit, but also has a compartment for the battery, charger, and transducer, and a top handle to easily carry the whole system.
A 12-volt, 7 Amp battery and the charger for it are included. The battery should last between at least 16 hours or even more if you’re using the Low Power mode. Also, if charged properly every time, it should last for many years of use.
Finally, a mount for the unit is included as well. This is a basic U-type, swivel mount which attaches directly to the blue carrying case by two screws.
- Powerful 200 kHz sonar with a depth capability of 300′;
- 12-degree Ice-Ducer is included;
- Four ranges available x1, x2, x3, x4, x10;
- Carrying mount included;
- Battery and charger are included;
- 3-color display – 525 segments;
- Noise reduction function included;
- Gain function included;
- Auto Zoom function included;
- Easy to use and assemble;
- High portability.
- No digital depth display in the middle of the unit; you can only estimate the depth depending on the hard return reading.
The Vexilar FL-18 GP1812 is a basic ice fishing flasher featuring a 3-color LED display with 525 segments. It includes the ice transducer, battery, charger, and the Blue Box carrying case. It’s an excellent unit for fishing at depths up to 300 ft. It’s not exactly the most affordable ice fish finder available, but definitely offers an excellent value for the price.