Ice fishing doesn’t have to be the cold and miserable experience many people imagine it is. With the proper ice fishing shanty, you can have all of the modern amenities that a person would need to stay comfortable for several hours in below-freezing weather.
An ice fishing shanty is an insulated and portable structure that protects anglers from uncomfortable winter weather conditions. All ice fishing shanties have areas for anglers to drill holes into the ice as well as room for conveniences like heaters and storage containers.
Depending on your budget and ice fishing habits, there are a variety of different ice fishing shanties (a.k.a ice house, ice shack, flip-overs, portables) that will fulfill your needs. It’s important to understand the variety of options available before you make your decision!
There are three primary types of ice fishing shanties available for anglers to use: permanent houses, flip-overs, and portables.
All of these will protect you from the elements and have unique features that make them more appealing depending on the type of angler you consider yourself to be.
Permanent houses are fully-sealed trailers that are often towed behind a large 4×4 vehicle.
These trailers are fully equipped with some modern amenities and are heavily insulated to keep out the cold temperatures as well as protect from any strong precipitation or harsh winds.
These are not easily moved once you have unloaded them and lowered them onto the ice. When you choose your fishing spot, it’s going to take upwards of an hour to get fully set up.
Imagine a permanent ice house to be a camping trailer with holes in the bottom for you to drill through the ice.
Many of these ice houses are somewhere from 10-25 feet long with a variety of things on the inside to make the experience more comfortable.
Anglers who want to stay in an area for an extended amount of time will pull their permanent ice house onto a lake or river and leave it there for several days or weeks to secure their favorite fishing spot and limit the set-up and tear-down time whenever they get to the water.
A permanent ice house makes it easy to come and go as you please with the only setup having to be drilling new holes as they freeze!
Permanent ice houses also likely have permanent appliances to keep you comfortable. The top of this list is a heavy-duty heater. Many will have a propane heater on the inside that quickly heats the shanty.
Some anglers choose to use an electric heater powered by a generator, but that depends on your preferences.
Also, some permanent houses have beds, refrigerators, televisions, and even full kitchens. This is entirely dependent on how much money you want to spend.
Permanent ice houses are ideal for larger fishing parties and anglers not interested in experiencing the elements.
Also, depending on the size of the trailer you have chosen to purchase, you’ll have anywhere from four to eight holes in the house for anglers to set up multiple rods with a variety of different baits.
They give you the luxury to fish in several ways. You can also have high-quality fish finding technology located within these shanties to help improve your success.
There is no more luxurious way to fish than in a permanent ice house. It’s as if you never left home!
Again, once you’re in a spot, it’s not easy to move, so make sure you do your research before you choose the location you want to fish.
Flip-overs are fully portable ice shanties built to open like a convertible car. They’re attached to a hard plastic “sled”, so they can be towed behind a snowmobile, ATV, or your own two legs.
When you reach your spot, undo the security straps and flip open the shelter. These are the most portable ice shanty designs you can find.
When you’re ready to leave, pick up the bottom and flip it all back into the sled and you’re good to go. Life is easy in a flip-over.
Flip overs are perfect for anglers who like to jump around from spot to spot looking for the perfect bite. If you’re new to a lake, a flip-over is exactly what you need.
These let you explore with minimal effort required to set up and tear down and move to a new location.
The biggest downside of a flip-over shelter is that they rarely have room for more than two anglers.
One angler can fit comfortably in a flip-over with their fish finder and other gear, but you can squeeze in two if needed.
Flip-over ice houses generally have a bench for anglers to sit on, so if that’s not comfortable for you, bring a stadium seat.
These flip-over shelters are built with either polyester or nylon to keep out as much of the cold air as possible. Flip-overs are also fairly durable!
You can get years of use out of one good flip-over if you’re willing to properly care for it before, during, and after you use it.
Odds are, you’re going to need a heater inside a flip-over because they aren’t built thick enough to keep out below-freezing temperatures.
While you will be blocked from the wind and precipitation, the cold will seep through the bottom and the material and the temperature inside will be fairly comparable to the outside temperature if you do not have a heater.
Other than a heater and some fishing gear, you’re limited in what you can bring. These are the ideal setups for the minimalist ice angler looking to explore.
Tent (a.k.a. portables) ice shanties are a mix between a permanent ice house and a flip-over ice shanty.
They’re still built with nylon or polyester material like a flip-over but have a larger capacity, like a permanent ice house.
If you’re fishing with a party of three or four and still want to be able to move spots quickly, then an ice fishing tent should be your first choice.
Inside a portable, you’ll be able to fit a few anglers with fish finders and another table for fishing gear or food. These usually require two people to set up entirely, but one can definitely do it!
While they aren’t as portable as flip-over ice houses, they offer anglers the chance to move spots if the bite slows way down or you’re eager to move to a different area.
Some anglers choose to pick up the entire house and walk it to another portion of the lake, but if you’re traveling long distances, you’ll want to pack it back into the bag before making the move.
These ice fishing tents are most often stored in large zippered bags. You can place them in an ice sled to move them more quickly to your desired locations.
Like the flip-over, you’ll want a heater to keep the inside temperature warm.
The insulation from the fabric will do a decent job of trapping the warm air, but it’s not perfect, so make sure your heater has plenty of propane.
Most ice fishing tents will have pockets along the sides for you to store fishing gear or any foods and beverages you may have.
Make sure to empty these before you try to put the tent back into the bag. Make sure that the tent or portable ice shanty you choose has numerous windows.
If you’re choosing to fish with tip-ups, a device used to catch fish without the need for holding a rod; you want to be able to see out of your ice house and detect strikes.
Many of these ice tents can be a challenge to keep down on the ice. Since they don’t have built-in floors, anglers have to barricade the sides of the tent with snow or ice.
If the lake or river your fishing isn’t covered in snow, make sure you bring stakes or heavy bins to keep the tent fully secured. The wind can easily pick up an ice shanty, which is always a frustrating problem.
The benefits of ice fishing shanties don’t stop at their portability and ease of use.
Shanties also allow anglers to incorporate creature comforts and fish finding technologies that give them a chance to fish in a way that’s not otherwise possible.
As mentioned earlier, If you choose to purchase a permanent ice house, you have the opportunity to live your everyday life while fishing.
You can cook all of your meals, use the restroom and sleep all within a few feet of your fishing rod.
With a decent heater, you can spend the entire day in a t-shirt and comfortable shorts or pants and never have to put on another layer to keep yourself comfortable.
If you’re genuinely operating in luxury, you can have television and watch all the movies or TV shows that you could want while you’re landing fish.
One of the main things permanent ice houses lack is a bathroom. Due to the cold temperatures, a water pump and water tank can freeze if the heat isn’t constantly kept on when the house is in place.
Some anglers choose to keep a cassette (also called a cartridge toilet or RV toilet) or compost toilet in case of any emergencies.
One of the final advantages of an ice fishing shanty is the opportunities it provides for you to lengthen your fishing trip.
Where a boat fishing or wade fishing trip depends on various factors, including daylight and weather, an ice fishing shanty allows you not to have to worry about any of them.
If you’re in a permanent house, you can spend an entire weekend fishing any time of day and not worry about a thing.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the night or the middle of the day; a permanent house is going to keep you comfortable. If you have enough supplies, you can spend weeks at a time out on the ice.
Even if you’re in a flip-over house, you can spend an entire day fishing without worrying about much.
An extremely strong wind or extremely cold temperature is the only thing that will likely push you back home. You don’t want to risk breaking your house or running out of fuel to keep your house warm.
However, with the proper equipment, you can spend quite a bit of time in the flip-over. A portable or tent allows you to make an overnight fishing trip as well.
A cot and a heater are plenty to stay comfortable for a night, and most portable shanties have enough room for these. Bring the water and food that you need overnight, and you’ll be good to go.
These are usually a bit more durable than a flip-over home, but make sure to check the weather before you commit to an overnight.
One of the most underrated aspects of an ice fishing shanty is the opportunity it provides you to learn about a body of water
By spending an entire day in an ice fishing shanty, you will see fish’s feeding habits and patterns. This information is vital to your success, and this opportunity isn’t available in all other types of fishing.
You can stay comfortable in your chair, watch your technology and see how the fish operate throughout the day from morning to night.
A few days on a body of water within your ice fishing shanty will give you an excellent read on the lake, pond, or river.
Knowledge of a fishery is the most important thing for success! Ice fishing is highly underrated in this way, and it wouldn’t be possible without the protection of your shanty.
Plus, you can move spots to allow yourself even more of a chance to see what the water has to offer.
Where many anglers often find themselves amid a few boats or fishing by people on shore, an ice shanty allows you to experience fishing entirely on your own or with the people you have invited.
There are no unnecessary conversations that need to happen or small talk that needs to occur amongst strangers. An ice fishing shanty allows you to experience fishing exactly how you would like!
Ice fishing shanties provide anglers a chance to do what they love all year round.
As soon as the water freezes and is safe, you’re able to take out your shanty and spend all hours of the day and night targeting fish.
Whether it’s a permanent, flip-over, or tent shanty, you’ll be able to find something that fits you and your needs.
You can sit in the comfort of a warm shelter and experience all of the glorious aspects of ice fishing!