I would like to share my impression of the Vexilar FL 8SLT and Vexilar FL-18 depth/fish finders tested by me. My first acquisition was the FL 8SLT depth/fish finder, which is well-known and, judging by references and information in the Internet, well-tested in other countries.
"Veхilar"! - a Dash, a Strike… Here It Is!
I have analyzed the prices in the market of depth/fish finders and come to the conclusion that it is better to buy the FL-8SLT depth/fish finder in this country - it is about $50 cheaper to bring it from abroad, but then you must forget about any guarantee, which is provided for 2 years! So, the decision has been taken!
On my last working day of the year 2001 I rush to the Badger. I am met by managers clad as Santa Clauses, who have pre-assembled the FL-8 SLT , a Soft Pak bag, a magnifying lens, an accumulator and a 19 ise Puster (for winter-time fishing) into a single unit, there are wishes of a Happy New Year, and - it is mine! And tomorrow at 6 in the morning I will get up and set off to Chyornoye on Ladoga.
At last, the alarm-clock rings, and, together with my friend, we rush on the ice of the Ladoga Canal, atwitter at new feelings from fishing with a fish finder.
We come to the place, hole-in and put the sensor and the spoon in the hole. The depth is accurately shown on the screen, and, judging by the color of the scale (a transition from red to yellow), it can be seen that the bottom is of sand and silt. Then, a stroke, and the spoon flies up on the screen: there is a feeling as if somebody is shooting this with a camcorder.
Having drilled another ten holes or so, we make sure that "there is no fish here" and go further, to a greater depth, through deep snow. We bore the hole; the depth is 8 meters, a sandy bottom (the bottom scale is redder; there is 20% of yellow). The spoon is in the hole, some strokes, and, suddenly, there is a fish on the screen, the heart sinks as during the bite.
I concentrate on the game; slightly lift the fish with the spoon closer to the surface, and another one comes up. It can be seen that is moving 0.5 foot, i.e. 15 cm from the bottom, it goes upwards, too, following and approaching the spoon, turning bright-red from green. I know - it is near the spoon. I am waiting for the bite; however, both fishes turn and go down to the bottom. Without wasting time, I replace the piece of iron by a blue and white Rappala bob. The spoon appears on the screen, and "green fishes" come quickly and "get red", following the bob upwards. A dash, a strike… Here it is! - This is a perch (about 400 g).
Then, there are another three perches somersaulting near the hole. It is clearly seen on the screen - there is no more fish. I go further and notice that about 15 anglers have already gathered around; some hauling in perches and some sitting without bite. Without paying any attention to them, I go away about a hundred meters, drill a hole and look at the screen - there is no fish. Another 20 meters, and the screen shows 4 or 5 fishes. I quickly unwind the line, watching the bob going to the bottom, a couple of strokes and a dash, here it is, a perch (about 500 g), and I take them out one after another. With an edge of my eye I notice people moving closer to me. The screen is empty already; I reel on and go to the holes where everybody was sitting 15 minutes ago. Without stopping, I check them one after another.Soon, fish is found in a hole, the depth/fish finder showing that these are about 3 perches, and here all of them are on the ice. All in all I have caught 10.5 kg for the day, and my friend has caught 6.5 kg of perches.
Next time I went fishing to a forest lake near Petrozavodsk, in Karelia, where the depth at which perch stayed was from 80 cm to 1.5 m, taking into account the ice thickness (50 cm). I understood that the depth/fish finder was not designed for fishing at such depths, as the reflected signal was too strong, filling the entire screen with interferences, so that you did not see the spoon or the fish. A special Vexilar S-Cable is required for fishing at such depths, which reduces the power of the signal. Having rummaged in the Internet at home, I decided to learn more about the new model, Vexilar FL-18. Together with my wife, we translated the instructions for about an hour and a half.
From what I read I understood that FL-18 had three extra features:
- Auto zoom: the screen showed an enlarged picture of the near-bottom layer of water 1 dm from the bottom.
- Low Power (L.P.) feature. It is this feature that would help fishing at depths to 1.5 m and in shallow areas.
- The Bottom Lock (B.L.) feature would be useful for summer fishing from a boat, if you wanted to see only the fish, not the depth, the bottom being fixed on the screen, without interfering by its changes with the search for fish; besides, the L.P. feature saved 50% of the battery power.
The decision is made, I give a phone call to the Badger and agree upon exchanging FL-8SLT for FL-18 with an extra charge (it is a little more expensive), change it and go to test it.The work with FL-18 has shown:
P.S. I am very happy with FL-18, but believe that FL8SLT is an excellent device, too, it will not let you down.
- You can fish at depths from 1 meter to 6 meters - in the L.P. mode, 50% of the battery being saved.
- Auto Zoom is useful for catching fish that is near the very bottom, as it enlarges the image. When A.Z. is on, the screen is divided into 2 parts: the enlarged picture on the left, and the usual image on the right, i.e. you can compare them. However, I did not manage to test the Bottom Lock, as the ice is still there.
As to extra features - they will not be needed by many. I think that these depth/fish finders are the best for winter fishing in the FL series, as they were especially designed for ice-fishing and operate in the real-time mode, which cannot be done by liquid-crystal depth/fish finders of other companies. I think that only these depth/fish finders can work best under the hard frost conditions. Thank you, Vexilar!
I hope that it will justify itself 100% in summer, too.