The Best Underwater Camera for 2022


Since MarCum released its first underwater video camera with a monitor for fishing, an entire generation of anglers has benefitted from eyes below the lake surface.  Their world has been forever changed because of it, from the way modern ice anglers fish to the equipment they use, underwater viewing has shaped the evolution of the sport.  These MarCum underwater cameras can be used for ice fishing, freshwater, and saltwater fishing, and while the systems themselves have also evolved through the years, the one thing that remains consistent over time is the amount of information anglers glean when seeing underwater for the first time.

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What prior generations were required to learn through trial and error, modern anglers have seen through their own eyes, learning in real-time the immediate specifics of fish behavior and the aquatic environment.  From the importance of green weeds to general fish activity, to the development of products like inline reels to combat spinning baits, all have been made possible through seeing the underwater world as we had never before.  Now all that’s left to do is choose the best underwater fishing camera for the job.


Sit and fish or Run and Gun?

Two major categories exist in the sit and fish, suitcase style camera, or the more nimble run and gun options.  Don’t let those descriptors mislead you however, because there’s crossover appeal for both.  For example, in a wheelhouse, the smaller form factor can be nice, especially when connecting to a larger TV inside the shelter.  Conversely, in a portable, the sit and fish style cameras can be fully enjoyed for the larger native screen size.  It’s important to note that MarCum’s feature sets run parallel in both styles, offering anglers, Standard Definition (SD) options, SD plus On-Screen Direction (OSD), High Definition (HD), and HD plus OSD in both types of cameras.

Quality components matter – optics

MarCum has always been known for superior optics, though not all sensors are equal, especially when deployed under the ice.  Even on the brightest days, anglers are frequently viewing in low light situations when fishing activity has the tendency to increase.  Different species live at different depths and the deeper you go, the less natural light penetrates.  This is where high quality cameras and their onboard optics separate themselves from the pack.  While no camera can improve water clarity, better quality cameras cut-through tougher viewing conditions and give the user the best picture possible.  All MarCum cameras are equipped with additional lighting options, in some cases both IR and LED. 

Ease of use

In early years, a common complaint from anglers using cameras was that it could be difficult to find your presentation below the ice.  MarCum knew early on that to achieve mass adoption, they needed to make the setup process easier and more intuitive, because the best camera in the world won’t help if you can’t find your lure.  Anglers won’t stare at a blank screen for long, so features like On-Screen Direction make moving from hole to hole easier on top of that simple setup.  Point the camera at the hole you want to fish and you’re locked on your bait.  Drop to the depth indicated on the screen, and you’re right where you need to be.  The net result is an angler willing to use their camera more often, and enjoying more success and underwater learning because of it.

Screen quality/Viewing

Total system performance is a key component to any underwater camera, with the weakest feature defining the success or failure of your ice electronics.  MarCum prides itself on having the brightest, highest resolution screens in the industry, as the best optics are meaningless if the end user can’t view its superior technology.  In a sea of bright white snow and sky, the open ice angler requires this brightness not as a matter of convenience, but as a requirement to be able to see green weeds, structure, or passing fish. 


MarCum's Line-up of Pocket Cameras 2021
Small in size yet big on features, the full lineup of MarCum’s Mobile Underwater Viewing Systems are packed with all the technology that keeps our cameras the angler’s first choice.

Best Overall Mobile Underwater Camera

 MarCum Recon 5 –  This camera gets you out onto the ice with a quality mobile underwater viewing system, without charging you for features you won’t be using.  For anglers just using a camera to monitor their presentation, or to find simple changes in structure and vegetation, the Recon gets the nod.  Simply drop the camera, find what you’re looking for, and wet a line.   

Most Multipurpose Mobile Underwater Camera

MarCum Recon 5+ – With the same hand-held 5” screen, lithium rechargeable internal battery, and compact form factor as the Recon, the Recon 5+ adds on-screen displays of temperature, depth, and direction.  The latter of which is key to helping you find baits scattered around a wheelhouse, or to determine which way a school of panfish are heading after spotting them on-screen.  It’s a good upgrade from the Recon for those anglers who need a camera to do a multitude of things in a variety of on-ice environments.

Most Innovative Mobile Underwater Camera

Pursuit HD L – If you’re looking for the best pocket camera that money can buy, look no further.  MarCum’s Pursuit Camera sets the new standard in mobility, while adhering to technological innovations our cameras have always led with.  A FULL HD Image Sensor (1920X1080p) offers industry leading display precision, packing a punch in a pocket-sized 5” LCD display.  All the on-screen display features including temperature, depth and direction are in play here, along with a FULL HD HDMI video out for projecting precision onto the wheelhouse’s big screen. Want to record the excitement? The best underwater camera for 2022 comes with a built in DVR.

style underwater camera

MarCum's Line-up of Sit-n-Fish Cameras 2021
Underwater fishing cameras by MarCum® Maximize your ability to find fish, monitor their movements and converts bites into catches.

Most Popular Underwater Camera

MarCum VS485c – No other underwater camera system compares to the 485 in terms of popularity, with it being the most widely distributed and produced ice camera in the world.  Take comfort and have confidence in knowing that the next underwater camera you’ll likely see out on the frozen sheet is this one.  That’s because for first time ice anglers and seasoned vets alike, the 485 offers so many intuitive features projected on a generous 7” screen.  The MarCum VS485C underwater viewing system proves that top of the line performance doesn’t have to come with a top-shelf price tag, and provides an underwater viewing performance that, dollar for dollar, is unmatched by any other ice-fishing camera system available today.

Most Fully-Featured Underwater Camera

MarCum Mission SD L – The Mission offers an upgrade in terms of features, providing MarCum’s industry leading on-screen callouts for relative direction, temperature and depth.  That, and the Mission SD L comes with one other little built in secret that most anglers are unaware of.  As a true SD camera, it doesn’t require as much light to provide a great image in cloudy, turbid, or other stained environments, making it the camera of choice in dingy water.  Cap that off with out-of-the box and ready-to-fish performance from the included MarCum 12V10AH Brute Lithium LiFePO4 battery, you’ve got an instant classic in the world of underwater viewing. 

Best Sit and Fish Style Underwater Camera

MarCum Quest HD L – In MarCum’s most premium sit and fish style unit, you’ve got razor sharp HD image quality for the most discerning of ice anglers.  If you obsess about fish in the far background, aquatic plant quality and species, or minute details that offer keys to unlocking the bite, you won’t find a better camera.  The industry’s brightest screen projects a true HD image, or can be bypassed for a full HD camera with HDMI output to project on the fish-house TV.  Wherever you view it, you’ll be looking at the best of the best with power to spare from the included MarCum 12V10AH Brute Lithium LiFePO4 battery.

Quest HD L with Lithium

Which underwater viewing system is at the top of the heap?  Put together your optimal style in a sit and fish or mobile viewing system, then sort through features above to put together a plan.  Determine what kind of angler you are when it comes to underwater viewing, and enjoy learning while catching more fish in the process.  

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