How To Choose The Right Ice Shanty
Having the right ice shanty out on the ice ensures that you don’t miss a moment of prime fishing time, no matter what the weather is like. This comprehensive article will tell you everything you need to know about buying your first ice shanty.
What Is An Ice Shanty?
For most Americans, a sunny 21-degree day would not be an open invitation to spend a day at the lake. Yet, determined anglers are not daunted by the weather in the least – especially when they have ice fishing shelters to protect them from the elements should Mother Nature kick up the wind or take a sudden turn for the worse.
There are different types of anglers out there, each with their own preferences. Beginners who aren’t sure if they will like ice fishing often opt for a hotel, B&B or resort that caters to ice-fishermen by transporting them to permanent ice shanties that resemble cabin and remain on the ice all season long. The downside of these permanent structures is that you’re really stuck in that particular spot all day, whether fish are swimming your way or not.
Some veteran fishers like to travel light, bringing only a bucket to sit upon and moving from hole to hole in hopes of catching as many fish as possible. In this case, the expense is not in choosing an ice shanty, but in buying clothing that is warm enough to prevent frostbite or hypothermia in the coldest temperatures.
Most anglers enjoy a “camping” style experience – sitting inside a cozy portable ice shanty shack with their friends and family, sharing stories, snacking, and playing cards. The portable shelter is good for the “run and gun” style angler who might want to move around on the ice and try different holes if the fish aren’t biting, but still stay protected from high winds and sleet.
Types of Ice Shanty
Wind Break: Windbreaks are the most basic type of ice shanty shelter and therefore, also the least expensive. These one-person huts come with a seat and two or three walls for basic wind protection. The benefit of this shelter is that it’s lightweight, so it’s ideal for bringing along on a hiking or snowshoeing expedition to a remote location. Some wind break ice fishing shelters, like the HT Polar Express, weigh as little as 12 pounds. The downside is that you don’t get a lot of overhead protection or warmth, so it’s not a practical choice for extremely cold temperatures or fishing on a snowy, sleety day.
Flip: The flip style ice shanty is the most popular style out on the ice. These models are built on a sled base, which holds all your gear while you travel and contains one to four seats for you and your friends. Just like a tent, you simply extend the poles and pop up the structure. Most models let you choose whether you want to have the structure fully open on the warmer days, zip the tent up on those really cold days, or set up half-way like a wind break. They also come with anchors, so you don’t have to worry about your shelter blowing about. The main benefit of this hut style is that you can set up or collapse it for travel so quickly and easily, which allows you to easily move around a large fishing area, while also keeping you protected and insulated from the elements.
Cabin: A cabin-style shelter is designed to be roomier, more like the permanent ice fishing shelters, with thin, hard-bottom sleds, full-sized floors, overhead space, storage room, tables, chairs, and room for up to five anglers. Most of these models are towed by ATV, truck, or snowmobile, rather than carried in a backpack. You are still able to move the smaller models around, leaving the unit set up during transport; but for the larger models, you’ll need to fold them up before moving, which can take up more time. On the plus side, you have more room to organize your gear and you can comfortably fish with a group of people and the full-sized floor keeps your feet elevated and warm.
Hub: Some people appreciate that the hub style ice shanty fits inside the trunk of a car and offers more room at value pricing. If you have to walk from place to place while fishing or don’t have a lot of room for gear in your vehicle, then this is a solid option. On the downside, they can be a pain to deal with in the wind and you will need to factor in the cost of a larger heater, a sled and chairs. People usually choose this style if they only plan to get out on the ice a few times a year.
Homemade: Some creative types like to build their own ice shanties out of plywood, nails, conduit pipe, copper, canvas and tarp. Every once in a while, you will see a truly impressive cabin out on the ice and find out that the anglers constructed it themselves. The benefit of a DIY shelter is that you can really customize the space how you want it and have a truly unique-looking structure in the shanty-town. On the downside, it’s a lot of work and could end up actually being more expensive and less portable.
Companies That Make Ice Shanties:
Frabill: The Frabill Ice Shanty is made right in Jackson, Wisconsin-based, family-owned company that has been offering high-quality fishing gear since 1938, which is more than 70 years. You can buy flip-over, hub, cabin, and hard-top style ice shanty from Frabill. They also offer landing nets, portable aeration systems, bait traps and containers, apparel and other accessories.
Eskimo: Eskimo of northwest Wisconsin has been providing anglers with quality gear for more than 50 years. You can buy flip-over, wide-bottom pop-ups and wide-bottom portable shack models. They are known for offering the largest selection of different styles — at affordable prices, nonetheless. In addition to the Eskimo Ice Shanty, they also sell power ice augers, hand ice augers, chisels, and apparel.
Killzone: Minneapolis-St. Paul based Killzone Hunting is the state’s fourth fastest growing company. Though they have only been around for three years, they are committed to customer service, sell at competitive prices and offer free shipping. They manufacture three different types of hub-style shelters. They also sell hunting blinds, ice fishing finders, game cameras, game calls, dog training tools, chairs and stools, ghillie suits, climbing sticks and spotting scopes.
Clam: Many people swear by their Clam Ice Shanty. Clam Corp. Inc. of Minnesota has been around since 1979, delivering innovation after innovation. What started as a five homemade hand-sewn ice shanties in 1980 quickly turned into a profitable business, with production increasing to eighty that same year. The Fish Trap X-Series debuted in 2006 as “the best ice fishing shelters ever built.” Thirteen new shelter models were offered in 2009. You can also buy apparel, runner kits, sleds, tools, seats, heater, fans, patch kits, poles, and just about any accessory your shelter might need
AP Outdoors: St. Cloud, Minnesota based AP Outdoors strives to offer innovative, unique and high-quality products that allow you to enjoy nature to the fullest. They offer several different models of hub-style pop-up fishing houses, in addition to seats, storage bags, measuring devices, rod racks, folding boards, bait containers, fishing cleaning tables, extreme sleds, and much more.
- Polyester: Most portable ice shanties on the market today are made from 300 Denier or 600 Denier Polyester, which is wind-resistant and waterproof. (Denier refers to a unit of measurement for tightly-woven linear masses of fabric). The 300D models are made from thinner, more lightweight material, well-suited for carrying in a backpack, whereas the 600D is a more durable (and expensive) material. Both materials will get the job done, but you may opt for one or the other, depending on how you’ll transport your shelter and how much use you plan to get out of it.
- Vinyl-Coated Polyester: Occasionally you’ll see ice fishing shelters made of material, which is good at trapping heat in, keeping UV rays out, and resisting tears.
- Cotton Canvas: Some shelters are also made from cotton canvas, which is extremely lightweight, but not as durable as polyester.
Important Considerations Before You Buy An Ice Shanty
- Size: How much space do you need? How many people may join you?
- Height: Do you want to stand inside your ice shanty? Or do you just need sitting room?
- Price: How much are you willing to spend? What features are included?
- Durability: How much use do you plan to get? How long do you want it to last?
- Windows: Do you have a heater in your shack that requires ventilation?
- Transport: Does the shack need to fit in your car or will you be towing it?
- Weight: Will you carry your fishing house and move it around the ice a lot?
- Bottom: Do you like floors that are covered with drill holes, uncovered, elevated?
- Sled: Do you like the idea of a sled bottom that can be easily slid across the ice?
- Set-Up Ease: Do you want a fully collapsible ice shanty that you can pop yourself?
- Seating: Do you want chairs, benches, or room to bring your own canvas chairs?
- Zippers: Would you like to exit your fishing house without flipping it over?
- Storage: How much space do you desire to store your poles, bait and gear?
- Accessories: Will you need ice anchors, travel covers, tow hitches, sled runners, fish finders, or propane heaters to go along with your purchase?
All things considered, a portable shelter is your best bet if you are an avid ice angler. Some people may want a heater, comfy seating, storage space and creature comforts, whereas other fishers may just want the bare bones basics. If you want to stay mobile, a flip-over is your best bet. If you’re bringing the family out on the ice for a vacation, you may want the roominess of a cabin. If you’re hiking through back country trails, a pop-up or wind break will be the most lightweight option. Most importantly, you are protected from the elements, enabling you to make the most of your time out on the ice. Whatever your preference, we’re here to help you find the right ice shanty!