Greener BeeGreen GadgetsEric Sharp: Highlighting new gadgets for anglers — both ice, open-water

Wow! Talk about blurring the line. Wait until you see the new MarCum LX-9 that combines a traditional ice-fishing flasher, open-water electronic fish finder and underwater television system in a single, easy-to-carry unit.

For 30 years, open-water and ice anglers have used different electronics.

If you were on open water, you wanted a screen that showed more area and bottom contours. If you were fishing through a hole in the ice, you wanted a flasher that showed the relationship between your lure and fish a few inches away.

When practical underwater TV cameras became available 20 years ago, they were expensive. As prices dropped, they were adopted by more anglers but not as many as the manufacturers had hoped.

I think that was largely because many people decided that lugging around a fish finder, television receiver, camera and necessary batteries wasn’t worth the effort.

So MarCum might have hit a home run with a unit that displays all three modes on the same brilliant LCD screen, is easy to carry on a snowmobile or ORV, compact enough to mount in a 16-foot boat and can switch from open water to ice by changing transducers.

While it won’t be available until November, the LX-9 was on display at the Frank’s Great Outdoors booth during last weekend’s Woods-N-Water show in Imlay City.

The MarCum combines last year’s impressive LX-7 finder with an internal television screen. It’s pricey at $1,199, but as John Marshall from MarCum said, that’s at least $200 less than buying an equivalent fish finder and TV system separately, and it’s not aimed at casual fishermen.

The LX-9 was demonstrated, and it was fascinating to see all three images on the screen at the same time — the vertical flasher down the right side, bottom topography from the fish finder across the bottom, and video of a big bluegill eyeing a bait on the top three-quarters.

“It comes with an ice transducer because we’re basically an ice-fishing company, and most people don’t think a flasher is necessary on boats anymore, although I always use one,” Marshall said. “But you can add a skimmer transducer with temperature sensor for a boat for about $70.

“When you lay that digital sonar picture over the TV image, it explains what you’re seeing on the bottom. Bass guys can use it to see how the fish are lying under docks and other cover. If you’re ice-fishing with a friend, you can have the flasher at one hole, drop the camera down another and both of you can see what’s going on.”

BOWS A HOT ITEM: The first cool nights of summer remind us that deer hunting season isn’t far away, as were the crowds gathered around any booth selling archery gear at the Woods-N-Water show. Many people were interested in crossbows.

The acceptance of crossbows for archery deer seasons across the country has resulted in amazingly rapid development. Tim Eskew, a pro staff shooter for the Horton company from Akron, Ohio, was touting one of those developments. The Horton Fury has arms that bend forward when cocked rather than backward, as most crossbows did for thousands of years.

“The reversed arms are more efficient,” Eskew said. “They move some of the weight toward the back, which makes it easier to hold the bow, and that makes for better accuracy. The reversed arms are quieter, and the whole bow is only 10 inches wide when it’s cocked.”

The Fury sells for $799; other good crossbows start at about $300-$400.

“This is a market where you get what you pay for,” Eskew said. “I’m always amused when guys who have been shooting a $1,000 compound decide to go to a crossbow. They want it to shoot 400 feet per second, weigh 2 1/2 pounds, cock itself and cost $199. That’s not happening.”

One person shopping for a crossbow was Robert Alford of Flint, 66, who said aging muscles ended his bow hunting six years ago.

“I had to give up bow hunting for three years,” he said. “I wasn’t able to pull a compound bow and be accurate, even when we backed it off to 45 pounds, and bow hunting was what I really loved to do. I hunt the firearms season, but it isn’t the same. Too many people and too short a time.

“When they legalized crossbows in Michigan, it was like someone had added another Christmas. I bought one and learned real fast that it wasn’t as accurate as my compound at 30 yards, but it matched it at 20. Now they have crossbows that will match a compound at 30 yards. That should just about make it perfect again.”

Contact Eric Sharp: 313-222-2511 or

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