April 4, 2020

Choosing an Ice Shelter

More often than not, ice fishing is a sport of endurance. Extreme cold or wind can drive the most dedicated ice fisherman to the coffee shop.

Ice shelters will keep you on the ice longer, increasing your chances for larger catches. Instead of fighting to keep your hands and feet warm, and your hole free of slush, they shelter you from harsh elements – allowing you to concentrate on fishing.

There are five factors to consider when narrowing down the choice of the ice shelter that is right for you. Consider these questions then you’ll be ready to make a wise choice.

Weight
How much weight are you capable of hoisting several times a day each fishing trip throughout the season? Do you fish alone or with a partner? Will you be carrying the shelter, tying it down on a sled or dragging it on the ice?

Transport
How much space do you have in your car or truck? Do you walk on the ice or use motorized transportation? How long is your typical walk from where you unload your gear to where you usually fish? How will the ice shelter fit with your other gear?

Capacity
Is your ice fishing a solo or social affair? Are you claustrophobic? Are you an equipment minimalist or do you have every gadget known to ice fishermen?

Mobility
Do you “run and gun” chasing the fish or are you a stay-at-home ice fisherman waiting for the fish to come to you? How easy is it to take down and redeploy a particular style of ice shelter?

Comfort
Can you sit in a tight space for hours on end or do you need to be able to move and stand on occasion?

The Choices
There are two basic styles of ice shelters – pop-ups and flip-overs.

Pop-ups are stowed in oversized carry bags with carrying straps and deploy just as the name implies. Unload the shelter from the bag and pull on each center strap until the wall and ceiling sections pop open. Ice anchors are included to secure the shelter to the ice. Don’t forget to bring folding chairs and a sled for transport. Setting up and taking down is simple and takes only a few minutes. Pop-ups are very spacious.

Flip-overs are a self-contained unit – sled, seat and canopy with telescoping square tube frames. All gear can fit in and on the shelter and deployment is completed by simply extending the frame and pulling the hatch over yourself while seated. Flip-overs are available as one or two-man units and are perfect for the highly mobile ice fisherman.

Eskimo Pop-Up Ice Shelters
There are 6 models to choose from, 3 each in the FatFish and QuickFish Series, the latter claiming a 60-second setup time. Eskimo fabric is called IceTight and features a 59% higher thread count than competing shelters, resulting in a much tighter weave. Superior quality YKK® Zippers are standard on all Eskimo ice shelters. Self-tapping anchors screw by hand into the ice.

Otter Pop-Up or Flip-Over Ice Shelters
The Otter XT and XT Pro Flip-Over ice shelters are available in one or two-man models. The XT Pro uses a heavier insulating fabric than the XT, accounting for the weight and price difference.

The Otter XTH Pop-Up Ice Shelter is available in the “Cabin” model which fishes 2 to 3 people or the “Lodge” with a capacity of 4 to 5 fishermen.

Whichever make and model ice shelter you choose, you will enjoy ice fishing in greater comfort for years to come.

John Scherrer

John Scherrer

Erie, PA John is a freelance writer and a life-long Erie resident who has fished across North America. Fly fishing, light spinning tackle, and ice fishing are his preferred methods to fish his home waters of Lake Erie.

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