History | Vexilar | Sonar Fishing Electronics
We at Vexilar have a long and proud history of innovation in fishing products. Let’s take a look at who we are and where we came from. Vexilar has been in the marine business since 1960. We have always been a small company with good hard working employees. Our goal has simply been to offer the sportsman innovative and quality products at affordable prices.
Our first product was a small clear tube that, when lowered under the surface of the water, gave the depth that it was lowered to. It also gave the temperature of the water at that depth. The product was the model 104 Deptherm and it is still in our product line today, over 50+ years later.
In the years that followed Vexilar introduced many “firsts” for the sport fishing market. In the late 1960′s, when neon flashers were the latest in fishing electronics, Vexilar introduced the model 120 S.O.S. This was the first unit to provide an audible alarm. No longer did the fisherman need to look at the screen to see if he was running into shallower water or if he was going over fish. Now, an alarm would sound to let you know.
Vexilar was also very popular in the sport fishing paper graphs. In the late sixties and early seventies we had some of the best units on the market, including the models 155 and 555. Many of these are still in use today. And we still provide paper, parts, and service for them.
In 1981 we introduced the first Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) depth finder with the model 480. This unit was the first in the LCD graph market that we see today. It had 128 x 64 resolution and a very good sonar behind it. The models 481 and 482 followed with the additions of on-screen speed and temp as well as dual frequency transmitters.
Then came the flood of LCRs and LCGs from the competition that spelled trouble for us. As a small company we could not compete with the “big guys”. Ironically, the technology that we introduced brought us to the brink of extinction. That is when our current president and his partner stepped in and took over. No, Skip Christman and Steve Baumann were not industry heavy hitters. They were Vexilar employees who knew what the company could yet offer.
Not long after came the first LCD display Digital Fish Scale. Known throughout North America as the Normark Weigh-In Scale, this type of scale made it easy to accurately weigh smaller fish, such as pan fish. Catch and Release also became much easier to do now that you could get a photo of the fish with its weight on the scale.
In 1989 Vexilar got back into the depth finder market with the reintroduction of the FL-8 color flasher. This unit had been sold under several names in the past and was popular with some serious fisherman, especially with ice fisherman. We surrounded it with important accessories such as small high quality rechargeable battery and charger, a battery status Indicator, and a unique carrying case. These parts made it easy to use the FL-8 for ice fishing. More and more people were now showing up on the lakes with a Vexilar.
Then came the LC-8, a high quality compact LCD graph, followed by LPS-1, a hand held digital depth finder used from above or below the surface of the water. These were Vexilar’s first attempt at re-entering the LCD market for open water fishing. The LC-8 packed big performance in a small package, and the LPS-1 brought ultra-portable depth reading capability to even lightest traveling of anglers.
With the popularity of Vexilar FL-8 flashers increasing each year, a real problem started to develop in that there were so many Vexilar flashers used for ice fishing that cross-talk interference became a major issue. This is a condition in which one sonar unit receives signal from another nearby unit. It causes erratic flashing and circular strobing on the display of both sonar units. So in response, the FL-8SLT was introduced in 1995. The SLT stood for SiLenT. This was the first sonar to include a true interference rejection system. This was a revolutionary interference canceling circuit which effectively knocked out the problematic signals in both units, even if one of the two was an older FL-8 without the new IR feature.
In conjunction with the FL-8SLT, Vexilar introduced a revolutionary ice fishing transducer. The Ice-Ducer was specially designed for the sport to free the angler from the clumsy adjustable arm mechanisms so common of the day. The Ice-Ducer worked off a simple plumb-bob effect to maintain a near perfect vertical position (required to “see” ones bait while fishing) all the time. However, achieving this design was more difficult than one might think. The challenges of cold weather performance and durability were difficult to overcome. But the Ice-Ducer forever changed the way ice fishing transducers were constructed and have been standard equipment ever since.
Shortly after, Vexilar improved upon the LC-8 with the introduction of the LC-10. This unit utilized the very low power requirements of the LC-8 by coupling a simplified control set with a very compact portable carrying case. Dubbed the Boundary Waters edition, it became popular for serious “expedition anglers” whom had great concern for size and weight. The Boundary Waters system weighed less than 2-1/2 pounds and ran for 60 hours in one set of AA batteries.
Also added to the selection of LCD graph units for the open water was the first ever dual frequency AND dual transducer sonar on the market. The Edge2 amazed even the most demanding anglers with its ability to locate and pinpoint structure points and fish. By allowing the user to directly compare a very wide transducer cone and a very narrow one on the screen at the same time, it became possible to position the fishing boat much more precisely, and thus increase fishing success considerably. The Edge3 is the latest revision of this amazing unit that you simply must see for yourself.
Advancements in flasher sonar technology developed by Vexilar in 2001 was the foundation for the times most advanced three-color flasher/fish finder in the world, the FL-18. This breakthrough product delivered target ID of under 1/2 inch, and was the world first split-screen zoom flasher sonar. This advancement increased Vexilar’s dominance among winter fishermen who love using sonar for ice fishing. With a faster, much brighter display and an enhanced interference rejection system, the FL-18 instantly became the “Cadillac” of ice fishing sonar systems.
Vexilar also pioneered the concept of pre-packed systems for the winter angler and developed what is called the “Pack” systems that consists of a self-contained 12 volt battery, and Vexilar’s Patented Ice-Ducer transducer in a handy carrying case for ice fishermen. Vexilar offered a number of different pack styles to meet the needs and budgets of all types of fishermen. From a basic entry level pack, to a full system for the pros with all the bells and whistles, Vexilar continues to offer a range of systems.
In 2002 the FL-8SLT was upgraded to the FL-8SE (Special Edition). This unit brought the enhanced display and interference rejection to Vexilar best-selling product, yet maintaining the more affordable price. This unit remains a popular choice for entry level ice fishing enthusiasts and hard core tournament anglers alike.
In 2004, Vexilar moved to our new manufacturing and warehouse facility, doubling our size, to handle the ever increasing need for Vexilar products. Again, we were the pioneer in sonar technology with the creation of the AlumaDucer. A Patented design for 200 kHz transducers to shoot through aluminum hulls. This totally unique transducer used with the special blend of acoustically conductive epoxy will help us to continue to lead the marine industry with innovation.
In 2006 Vexilar released the Edge3. This unit brought a full color display and a much improved feature set to the popular Edge2. Pinpointing structure and fish targets became even easier.
2006 saw the introduction of the FL-12 and the FL-20. With the advancements in LED technology, it has finally become possible to redesign the flasher’s casing and eliminate the built-in sun shield that was required for so long. The new flat screen casing sports a larger size display and brighter LEDs than ever before. Freed from the narrow viewing angle of the classic series FL units, the FL-12 and FL-20 allows visibility from wide angles and further distances, making it even more of a joy to use both on the ice and in the boat.
2010 saw the introduction of the FL22 HD, the world’s first winter flasher system designed specifically for shallow water use and offering a high definition flat screen display that enhanced an already high resolution display to something many would have never thought possible from a sonar system.
2010 also saw Vexilar introducing their first line of underwater camera systems called the Fish-Scout. For the first time underwater camera users were able to fish for nearly 10 hours on a single battery charge with this color/black and white camera system. To complement the sonar/camera technology in 2011 Vexilar introduced the Double Vision sonar/camera systems into one easy to carry system. Now anglers were able to easily and quickly shift from camera to sonar mode use both at the same time.
Vexilar’s now President, Steve Baumann, has made freshwater fishing history by being inducted into both the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame and the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Innovative, quality, and affordable products. A tradition started almost a half of a century ago still holds true today. It is easy to see why many owners of Vexilar products would not go fishing without their Vexilar.
Vexilar introduces their Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Ultra Pack with a FL-20. This was a limited edition offering of only five-hundred of the most advanced ice fishing systems ever created to celebrate Vexilar’s 50th Birthday!
2013 Vexilar unveiled a stunning new generation of flasher sonar technology with the FLX-28. This next generation flasher sonar featured a fully automatic depth ranging option as well as a digital depth option. It also offers five color pallets of display lights using an all new brush-less data transfer technology in addition to a special weed mode for fishing in thick weeds.
Vexilar was the first to launch a Wi-Fi based underwater camera system called the Fish Phone. Customers would download a free app from Google Play or the iTunes stores and be able to watch the fish below on their smart devices. The Fish Phone is not a repeater system, but the first to create its own Wi-Fi hot spot so you could share your fishing action with as many anglers as you wish and record the action on you smart device to show later if you wish.
Vexilar, has always have been pioneers in sonar technology and the creation of Sonar Phone set a new benchmark for sonar by turning your smart devices into high resolution, touch screen sonar devices with the use of Wi-Fi… Made available with three models, one ultra-portable SP100 for casting from shore or for towing behind a kayak and two more permanent based systems the SP200 for installation in a boat with a 12 volt power supply and the SP300 that comes with its own power supply. Anglers and boaters would download the free Sonar Phone app from Google Play or the ITunes stores and be able to turn your phone or tablet into a powerful fish finder.
Vexilar develops the DD-100, a digital depth display accessory for all FL series flashers. With this totally unique and patented process, any FL series flashers from the past 30 years can now give the owner a digital depth readout, plus a battery status feature at the push of a button.
2014 Designed to be the perfect system upgrade for the popular Fish-Scout camera systems, the DVR100 easily fits between the camera and the monitor on ANY Fish-Scout camera system to give the user the ability to record the images they see on the monitor with a touch of a record button found on a remote key-fob controller. The DVR -100 requires no additional power, but does require a Micro SD card for recording the still images or video footage you wish to record.
Vexilar is inducted into the Minnesota Fishing Museum Hall of Fame. “The name Vexilar is synonymous with the ice-fishing market’s dynamic grow within recent years. Talk ice fishing and a common topic is what anglers see on ‘the Vexilar’. Legendary for its electronic innovations, the Bloomington-based firm boasts a history dating to 1960″
Vexilar unveils the next generation FLX-12 and FLX-20 flashers, which feature it’s pioneering brushless data transfer technology. The DD-100 Digital Depth Indicator was also introduced, giving any Vexilar owner digital depth.
Vexilar wows ice anglers with the Glo-Ring. Designed to be powered by a 12-volt battery source, the
GLO-RING easily attaches to Vexilar’s quick charge jack plug to a battery but also comes with gator clips for getting power from any 12-volt power source.
The package comes with a wall mounting bracket so the GLO-RING can be mounted inside a permanent fish house or on ANY type portable carry case, like the popular Genz Pack “Blue Box”. It has a master on/off switch but can be kept on all night if needed with minimal power drain.
Vexilar reaches the 60-year mark and continues to help generations of anglers catch more and bigger fish.
Vexilar FL-8 SE Review – Are Flashers Still Relevant in 2021?
My Dad has had a Vexilar FL-8 SE on the shelf in his garage since I was just a kid. Growing up, I had no idea how to use it, so I never did. Once I started ice fishing again as an adult, I quickly realized the value that a flasher held in my ice fishing arsenal. After I collected the basics, such as rods, an auger, and a tent, I knew my next purchase would be some sort of flasher.
My first flasher was a Humminbird Ice 35, I enjoyed using a lot and it made a huge difference in not only how I fished but my enjoyment of the sport. The biggest difference was that I could actually see how fish reacted, or didn’t react, to my presentations. It was a mind blowing revelation. Later that same season I received a Lowrance ice unit with an LCD display. I found the square display to be more intuitive to read and the side scrolling sonar history was a big benefit to fine tuning my jig cadence. Needless to say, my Ice 35 started to gather dust. Since I wasn’t using the Ice 35 anymore, I sold it.
For the last few years I’ve been running my Lowrance and Humminbird LCD fish finders on the ice. While I appreciate the newest technology like Autochart Live and Chirp sonar, for some reason I find that I miss my old flasher. So this season, I dug my Dad’s Vexilar out of the shed and pressed it into service once again.
Vexilar FL-8 SE Review
I’ve used the Vexilar for a couple months now and I’ve also had the chance to let some friends test drive it as well. The Vexilar FL-8 is an excellent flasher. The settings are basic, but that makes this unit very easy to use. There are 6 depth ranges to choose from (20-120 feet), gain adjustment, and interference rejection. Three LED colours are used in the display, red for strongest sonar return, yellow for medium and green for weakest return. Peak power is rated at 400W and, at the shallowest depth setting, the unit has a minimum target separation of 2.5 inches. That target separation isn’t great by todays standards, my Helix Chirp sonar boasts 3/4 inch target separation, but it gets the job done 100% of the time. One of the best things about flashers such as these is that it just sips power. The FL-8 is rated to draw 275mA, which means your standard 7aH battery will probably last all season! (Joking of course, but it’ll last a long time) After using it for the past couple months, my only complaint would be the fact that it can’t zoom in on a section of the water column, a common feature found in other flashers. I primarily use the Vexilar for hole hopping because its so light and durable, and as a second flasher for when I have company because it’s easy to understand. I find the simplicity of a flasher like the Vexilar FL-8 SE very refreshing to use and by trimming away the fluff, I can better focus on the task at hand.
All that being said, I love my tech, and flasher technology really hasn’t changed since the 60’s. With the plethora of advanced technology available in today’s fish finders, do the old-school flashers still have a place in the world?
A lot of people yearn for a simpler time. Case in point – vinyl record sales surpassed CD sales for the first time in 34 years in 2020. And not unlike vinyl, analog flashers have a similar tactile feel. Flick the unit on and the display spins and lights up with a mechanical whir. Bulky knobs are used to fine tune the gain and buttons push in with a satisfying click. Using a mechanical flasher such as a Vexilar or Marcum is a delight to the senses. Couple that feeling with hefty and robust build quality as well as untold longevity, and it’s easy to see why people still buy new flashers today.
Digital Fish Finders
Fish finding technology has come a long way. Even in the last five years we have seen an explosion in fish finder advancements. There are new LCD displays that don’t lag in the cold, precise chirp sonar for unrivalled target separation, built in mapping and GPS, new high frequency imaging technology now lets you identify fish from distances up to 200 feet in any direction you point it. I really like using the latest technology, but with prices for the newest tech also exploding, I have to ask if we really need all of it?
If you’re in the market for a new fish finder I’m sure you’re doing your research. That’s likely how you found this article! Unfortunately, every buying guide you read will likely not offer much clarity because they all say the same thing – it depends. It depends on what kind of person you are (tech savvy), how much money you have to spend, and how much you will use all the features. I can’t pretend to say much different though, after all, spending that kind of money is a personal decision. But if the question is should you buy a flasher or an LCD fish finder, I do think you can boil your buying decision down to one big question:
How much do you want to fuss with your fish finder?
You, the user, will have to dedicate some time to learning how to use your new flasher. Each and every advanced feature on your new fish finder means more time has to be spent in learning how it works.
A flasher is as basic as ice fishing sonars get. I can pull it out of my sled, drop the transducer in the water, turn the unit on, and see the bottom in less than 5 seconds. It honestly takes longer to get my lure in the water. A flasher also reveals all the important details too, such as how deep the water is, is the bottom hard or soft, where my lure is and how far it is off the bottom, and most importantly, I can see that fish swim up to it.
My Helix, on the other hand, takes significantly more time and energy to use. Once I hit the power button, there’s startup time and warning screens to key through. Once thats done the unit has to send power to the transducer before it will populate the screen with a readout. Even after all that, I won’t have a GPS fix on my location yet.
Once my Helix is up and running it’s definitely a powerful tool. The target separation that chirp provides is amazing, if you have multiple fish at your lure you can see each of them instead of one big blob. I’ll also never go ice fishing again without the ability to drop waypoints or create maps as I go. These are powerful features, and they are worth learning if you know you want to use them.
The advanced features of modern fish finders are great, but they can, and usually do, get in the way of actually catching fishing. I’m guilty of spending way too much time messing with settings and flipping through menus only to have fish come up, bite my lure, then swim away without me noticing.
Don’t get me wrong, I live for the new tech, but I’ve dedicated a significant amount of time to learning how everything works. Not everyone is going to be so patient or even have need of all the features available on modern fish finder units. If you are looking at buying a new fish finder or flasher, my advice would be to carefully consider each feature, and really think about if you will use it. If not, flashers definitely keep it simple.
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Vehilar! – blow, sweep.
I would like to share my impressions of the Vexilar FL 8SLT and Vexilar FL-18 echo sounders that I have tested. My first purchase was the well-known and, judging by the reviews and information on the Internet, the FL 8SLT echo sounder tested abroad.
I analyzed the price market for echo sounders and came to the conclusion that the FL-8SLT echo sounder should be taken here, it is cheaper to bring it from there by about $ 50, but then you can forget about the warranty, but it is 2 years old!
So, the decision is made!
Rushing to the Badger on my last day of work in 2001. I am greeted by managers dressed as Santa Claus, who have pre-assembled the FL-8 SLT, Soft Pak, magnifying lens, battery and 19 ise Puster (for ice fishing) into a single whole, congratulations on the New Year, and I have it! And tomorrow, at 6 am, we will get up and go to Ladoga, to Chernoye.
Finally, the alarm clock rings, and my friend and I rush along the ice of the Ladoga Canal in anticipation of new sensations from fishing with an echo sounder.
We arrive at the place, we drill, the sensor is in the hole, and the lure is there. The depth is accurately displayed on the screen, judging by the color of the scale (red turns to yellow), it is clear that the bottom is sandy-muddy. And now, a wave, and the spinner takes off on the screen: the feeling is as if someone is filming on a video camera.
Having drilled another ten holes, we were convinced for sure – “there are no fish here”, and we make our way further, to the depth, through deep snow. We drill, the depth is 8 meters, the bottom is sandy (the scale of the bottom is more red, yellow 20%). Lures in the hole, a few strokes, and suddenly a fish appears on the screen, the heart stops, as if during a bite.
I concentrate on the game, I lift the lure fish higher to the surface, another one appears. It can be seen that it goes in 0.5 feet, i.e. 15 cm from the bottom, she also goes higher for the spinner, approaches it, turning from green to bright red. I know – she’s at the spinner. I am waiting for a bite, but both fish turn away and go lower to the bottom. Wasting no time, I change the piece of iron to the blue-white balancer “Rappala”. And now, the spinners on the screen and the “green fish” quickly approach, “blush”, rising behind the balancer. Blow, sweep … Yes! – This is perch (400 grams).
Then three more hunchbacks tumble around the hole. The screen clearly shows that there are no more fish. I go further and notice that about 15 people have already gathered around, someone drags the perch, and someone does not bite. Paying no attention to them, I walk away about a hundred meters, I drill, I look at the screen – there are no fish. Another 20 meters and – on the screen 4 or 5 fish. I quickly unwind the fishing line, watching how the balancer goes to the bottom, a couple of swings and a blow, there is a perch (500 grams), I choose one after the other from the hole. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice how people move closer to me. The screen is already empty, I wind up and go to the holes where everyone was sitting 15 minutes ago. Without stopping, I check one by one.
Soon a fish was found in one of the holes, the echo sounder shows that it is about 3 perches, and now they are all on the ice. In total, I caught 10.5 kg per day, my friend caught 6.5 kg of perch.
The next fishing was on a forest lake near Petrozavodsk, in Karelia, where the depth at which the perch was kept was from 80 cm to 1.5 m, taking into account the thickness of the ice (50
cm). I realized that the echo sounder is not designed for fishing at such a depth, because. the reflected signal is too powerful, the entire screen is filled with interference, the baubles and fish cannot be seen.
For fishing at such depths, you need a special S-Cable VexiLar, which reduces the signal strength. After digging around on the Internet at home, I decided to find out more about the new VexiLar FL-18 model. Together with my wife we translated the instructions for 1.5 hours.
From what I read, I understand that the FL-18 has three additional features:
Auto zoom: the screen shows an enlarged image of the bottom water layer 1 dm from the bottom.
Power reduction function L.P. It is she who will help when fishing at depths of up to 1.5 m and shallow water.
The bottom lock function B.L. (Bottom Lock) is useful for summer fishing when driving on a boat, if you want to see only the fish, and not the depth, the bottom is fixed on the screen without interfering with the search for fish, as well as the L.P. saves 50% battery power.
It’s decided, I call Badger, agree on the exchange of FL-8SLT for FL-18 with an additional payment (it costs a little more), I change and go to test.
Working with FL-18 showed:
You can fish at depths from 1 meter to 6 meters, this is with the L.P. mode, and at the same time 50% of the battery is saved.
Auto zoom is useful when fishing near the bottom, as enlarges the image. Screen when A.Z. is divided into 2 parts: on the left – enlarged, and on the right – a normal image, i.e. can be compared. But the bottom lock B.L. I failed to test, because. the ice hasn’t gone yet.