How to Read a Vexilar

How to Read a Vexilar
The Vexilar is a fish finding device used by ice fishermen, which employs sound waves emitted from a transducer to locate fish under the ice. The Vexilar determines the size and depth of solid objects like fish, your lure or the lake bottom by reading the speed and intensity with which sound waves bounce back off of them. This information is presented as a 2 dimensional image on a round, dial screen that can then be used to interpret the position and size of fish within the transducer's signal cone.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Vexilar
  • Ice auger
  • Ice fishing equipment (rod, reel and tackle)
Step 1
Drill a hole through the ice using an ice auger and then clear out all snow, slush and ice chunks from the hole.
Step 2
Set the range on the Vexilar to the shallowest depth possible (usually 20 ft.) and turn the gain to zero. Lower the transducer down through the hole in the ice. Position the foam float on the transducer cord so that the transducer rests just below the bottom of the ice.
Step 3
On the Vexilar's screen you should see a red bar at the 12 o'clock position which represents the top of the water column. Further down there should be another thick bar of varied colors that indicates the bottom of the lake. The width and color of this bar will be defined by the make up of the lake bottom. If you do not see this second bar increase the range setting until you locate the bottom and it appears on the screen.
Step 4
Lower your lure into the water and watch for it on the device. As the lure descends you should see a thin green bar moving downwards on the screen. If you do not see it, increase the gain setting until your lure shows up on the device.
Step 5
Fish passing through the transducer's signal cone will appear as red, orange or green bars that move up and down on the dial screen. The color and thickness of a bar depends on where the fish is located within the cone. Fish directly within the center of the cone are red, those further out are orange and those at the very perimeter are green. These colors are also used to indicate the size of a fish. This can make reading the Vexilar challenging when you first start using the device. Large fish are shown as red, medium fish are shown as orange and small fish are shown as green.
Step 6
Once you have located fish on the screen, position your lure above them and beginning jigging to provoke a strike. If the device is set up correctly and no fish appear on the screen move to a different location, and repeat this process until you find fish.


Article Written By Richard Hansen

Richard Hansen grew up and currently resides in Minnesota. He graduated from Dartmouth College and has traveled extensively in Africa and South America, including the Amazon jungle. He has worked as a wilderness guide in Yellowstone and northern Minnesota, and written for Fur-Fish-Game, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and

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