Over the last decade, there has been an absolute influx of interesting shelters produced. For this discussion, I am going to stick with the “Flip Over” style as they are the most versatile option for the average ice angler.
Of all the tools now at our disposal: The flip over shelter has probably done more to transform the way we fish than all of the others. I know you’ve probably heard it before, but they truly serve as our, “boat on the ice.” They provide the platform from which we perform all of the steps necessary to consistently catch fish.
Of course, they give us with shelter from the elements, but are much more than a crude wind-block. Today’s models offer true comfort and convenience with many well thought out features, such as: Ergonomically designed seats , built in LED lighting, and innovative storage options that let us carry every little goody imaginable. Just load ‘em up with your tackle, throw in a heater and auger, your Vexilar and or Aqua Vue, and go. I leave mine rigged and ready in the back of my pickup from first to last ice and can literally be catching fish within minutes.
They serve as the heart of the proven run and gun system of contacting and staying on top of active fish, particularly Perch. By not adopting this aggressive style, you are forced into the sit and hope approach, thus limiting yourself to spotty catches. You now need to sort the wheat from the chaff and select a model that best suits your individual needs.
A number of manufacturers have recently jumped into the marketplace with some reasonably good units. My personal choice would be to look hard at the models offered by Fish Trap. They started the revolution and continue to lead the way with design innovations that are second to none. There are several sizes to choose from, ranging from one man up to very spacious three man units.
I have been using the Yukon two man model the past couple of seasons and will continue to do so for the following reasons. First and foremost, I feel it is the ideal size for a two man shelter. If provides enough room for two well fed men to fish side by side with plenty of room to spare and when flipped over has plenty of head space for even the tallest of anglers. The seating is extremely comfortable and fully adjustable for and aft and side to side, as well as swiveling 360 degrees. This all sits atop a rugged, high sided sled that will easily accommodate all of the gear you could ever possibly want to bring. The windows and vents are placed appropriately to allow for easy, seated viewing of your tip up’s, once you settle in for the evening bite. Ease of set up and use is phenomenal as the tubing is sturdy and does not bind and can be stowed and deployed in a single motion, as you can reach the releases on both sides at once.
New for this season and worth a serious look is the X2 lineup. They are a beefed up version of the original Fish Traps and are the heaviest-duty portable ice shelters to date. You can be confident that they possess the durability needed to withstand several years of hard use.
Properly equipped with a quality flip over portable ice shelter; I’m sure you’ll find your ice outings productive, comfortable, and in the end more enjoyable.