Best Ice Fishing Shelters – Reviews and Comparison
To me, and many other people, ice fishing is the ultimate experience of angling. Being an activity that can extend up to extremely cold and inhabitable conditions, shanty or a portable ice-fishing shelters form a vital and mandatory component of any ice fishing gear. There are two types of ice fishing shelters – one of them are permanent, meaning that their location is fixed and they can’t be moved, and others that aren’t. To put it simply, they work like tents that can be moved freely. In this article, we’ll focus on the latter to help you find the best ice fishing shelter of this kind. Below mentioned are the basic types of portable ice shelters –
Let’s dig in and see which are the best ice fishing shelters for the money on Amazon.
This style is considered the best in all ice fishing shelter reviews as it provides the maximum fishing space with least expenditure. Additionally, its set up is also fairly easy and quick. Its internal Hub-Style framework has an extremely easy pop to lock into the sturdy tent-like structure. However, since it is extremely lightweight material, this pop up ice shelter may not be able to withstand the force of strong winds and could be a challenge to handle by a single angler. Its set up might need the assistance of multiple anglers. But once the framework has been set up, it provides a fantastic sheltered fishing experience.
This style is not recommended for highly mobile ice-anglers even though its initial setup is quick and easy. This is so because this pop up ice fishing shelter, after setup needs to be screwed to the ice to help it anchored in the wind. This shanty does not come with any ice sled for transport or seats of any kind and thus needs an extra purchase as per the need. Just grab the best ice fishing rod an you’re ready to go!
2019 Update :
Hub style shelters are still the most popular, and brands are getting better and better at making them. Some excellent new shelters have been released in the last few years. For example, Frabill Bunker 210 model is excellent new hub-style shelter by Frabill. Prices still vary depending on size. Trustworthy brands like Clam, Eskimo and Frabill are selling small 1-2 person hub-style shelters for roughly two to four hundred dollars. The cost of buying these shelters increases as you go up in size. On the other hand, some new brands like Elkton Outdoors have introduced products that are well-received by customers, but i haven’t had the chance to use them personally, nor did i manage to read trustworthy reviewer’s thoughts about it. That’s why i decided to not include them here.
FLIP STYLE SHELTERS
These highly portable shanties are specifically designed for a quick set up and breakdown and are the best choice for the ever mobile anglers. It comes with its own locked-down sled that houses all of your gear. To establish it, one needs to lock its poles into place and then flip the shelter over the top of the fishing area. Often, this design includes built-in padded seats for extra comfort. Many of these best ice fishing shelters have handy storage areas where your fishing equipment can lay secure. Even though, this design is the most expensive and quite bulky, it is extremely wind resistant.
2018 Update :
When i first wrote this article, i mentioned their weight as one of the flaws of flip style shelters. That used to be true, but considering how much progress the manufacturers have made in reducing these shelters’ weight, i’m not so sure that my statement still stands true today. Last winter, my friend invited me on ice fishing trip. He had just bought new flip-style shelter by Eskimo – the new EVO IT model. It was absolutely lovely. Set-up speed exceeded my expectations, despite how high they were, knowing Eskimo to be excellent brand making quality products. Price isn’t that much high either, compared to hub-style shelters of similar size.
My friend was setting it up for the first time in outdoors and just by following simple instructions, we were up and running within minutes. Plenty of space and very well insulated as well. I don’t know what materials they used, but it worked wonders – while sun was out, i was only wearing t-shirt and felt very comfortable in it. Based on customer and expert reviews i’ve read, i’m not the only one feeling this way. 10/10, would definitely recommend to anyone looking for quality flip-style ice fishing shelter. Even if you aren’t looking for specifically this type of shelter, it’s so well designed that you should consider it.
CABIN STYLE SHELTERS
This type of shanty has its own built in floor which obstructs the coldness of the ice and boosts the effectiveness of any heater you might be using. The floor comes with predetermined one or more holes for drilling of ice holes, thereby giving you a warmer and comfortable ice-fishing experience. Their framework is light and being like a tent they are not very mobile. They too lag any ice sled or built-in seats. After understanding the basic types, below mentioned is some of our picks.
BEST RATED ICE FISHING SHELTER REVIEWS
Frabill Outpost Ice Fishing Shelter
This hub style shanty more than adequately meets the demands of any serious angler. Ingrained with the biggest innovation in shelters to date, it easily shelters two to three anglers and comes with a deluxe full-length, padded bench seat. Bearing the patented Fishouflage walleye pattern, its unique feature is its two large side doors which has heavy duty zipper for convenient entry and exit from either side. Its Thermo formed base is extremely durable and lightweight. Made of 300 Denier, the unit is 70″ Long by 70″ wide by 80″ Tall. With an decent online rating, it is an impressive and high value shanty.
Eskimo Fatfish 949 Insulated Ice Shelter
Designed to provide maximum space than any other similar sized shanties, it also delights its customers with more electronics and more space between holes. It is made of an exclusive IQ fabric for enhanced heat retention .It has two doors on opposite doors for easy access and comes equipped with ice anchors. Its easy design literally allows one to “pop it up.” It’s very easy to set it up. Additionally, it is so light that it easily be carried like a backpack. It comes with a carry bag for proper packing and easy mobility. Equipped with all metal ball-and-socket design and larger diameter poles, it is a very strong and durable shanty. Enjoying a rating of 4.7/5, it’s a delight for a team of 3-4 anglers.
Clam 9127 Vista 2-3 Person Ice Fishing Shelter
It is definitely one of the best ice fishing shelter for about a team of 2-3 anglers. Constructed of a thermal fabric, it is inculcated with high insulating properties and excellent heat retention. It is designed such that it minimizes the entry of cold air and wind. Some of its notable features include oversized skirt for ample snow banking along with oversized carry bag for easy packing. With 4 ice anchors and tie downs, this shanty can withstand tough windy conditions. For many the brand equates to dependable, durable, and tough. Most reviews deem it as the best ice fishing shanty because of its generous height, easy setup and light weight design. The light blue color facilitates better visibility in a whiteout.
Get The Best Ice Fishing Rod with our Reviews and Buying Guide
The right fishing rod is especially important for a perfect ice fishing experience. Getting the right fishing pole and reel along with the perfect fishing rod is critical to make your fishing expedition a success. However, selecting the best ice fishing rod to best meet your requirements can be a daunting task. Below mentioned are some pointers to keep in mind if you want to buy best ice fishing rod :-
BALANCE OF THE ROD WITH YOUR BAIT
Most of the time, the balanced rods are sensitive and allows one to feel even light bites. This balance is extremely critical for proper fishing. The power of the blank to the weight of the bait should be in perfect line and sync. A fish can easily be missed if the balance is not synchronized. If in doubt, its best to choose slightly lighter action graphite blank instead of heavier one for baits which are less than half an ounce. A properly set drag combined with plenty of patience can get you your trophy fish even if your fishing rod may be slightly underpowered.
LENGTH OF THE FISHING ROD
The fishing conditions are the deciding factor for the rod length. In general, longer rods are more forgiving as they absorb head shakes and hard hook sets. They also arm the anglers with better leverage when fighting fish. On the flip side, longer rods render fishing in closed quarters difficult. Short rods work just the opposite and your arms are required to compensate for the stress of the fight. However, fabulous for fishing in cramped quarters, they are the best ice fishing rod, when fished in ice-fishing huts. A graphite short rod is preferred over fiberglass as it provides more strength and backbone. These rods are also ideal for children to experience epic battles even with pint-sized panfish scraps.
BUY ONE, GET ONE WITH THE RIGHT SIZE FISHING REEL
Balance does not entail only how a blank performs with the given weight of a lure but also pertains to how the entire rod balances with the reel. It’s best to buy them together and assemble them either yourself or with the help of an expert such that they balance together well. Most of the time, a light combo is preferred since it not only allows the anglers remain comfortable while jigging all day but also enhances the sensitivity. Today many big brands sell online, properly outfitted rods with suitable reels. Ensure to purchase some quality ice-fishing line for completion of the package.
OPT FOR BIG GUIDES
Very few realize that the quality and number of “eyes” or guides directly affect the rod performance. More number of guides ensures a more uniform rod bend along with better unit’s performance and shock absorption. A minimum of 4 guides but preferable 5-6 guides is best. They should taper in size towards the tip. Even though large guides are a bit expensive, they really pay off with regular reeling up and dropping baits.
Shopping for ice fishing rod can be fun at par with the fishing experience itself. However, it’s important to understand one piece of equipment is not a fit all for fishing multiple species.
BEST ICE FISHING RODS IN 2020
SHAKESPEARE UGLY STIK GX2 ICE COMBO REVIEW
For a nice ice fishing rod and reel, this combo is priced fairly cheap. But don’t make up your mind about it only depending on it’s price. Blank, being part of legendary Ugly Stik series, has fantastic feel and balance. Ice fishing rod is durable and high quality itself, and very comfortable to use with it’s EVA handle and twist-lock reel seat. This rod can handle any fish, including pikes, lake trouts or other big fish up to 6 lbs. In my opinion, this reel and rod combo would be ideal for beginner ice anglers or seasonal fishermen.
BERKLEY LIGHTNING ROD ICE FISHING ROD & REEL COMBO REVIEW
Priced fairly cheap, this combo is the best for it’s price. Rod is lightweight, comfortable to hold and very durable. Berkley made this rod’s guides larger than usual, to make sure they won’t freeze. Ultralight graphite reel with front drag and ball bearing drive makes this combo even better deal compared to its price. To sum up, it’s the best combination of ice fishing rods and reel for the money. If you’re not planning on catching very rare and extremely big fish, this combo is good to get.
CLAM DAVE GENZ SPLIT HANDLE SERIES ICE FISHING ROD REVIEW
If you’re planning to ice fish more frequently, and you catch massive fish that your regular ice fishing rod can not handle – This rod is perfect for you. Material used for building this rod is graphite-wrapped fiberglass. Guides on this rod have stainless steel frames and chromed rings. And it uses screw-in technology for reel seat. Unlike the other two on this list, this rod does not come with reel – but it’s pretty advanced compared to them, as well. This is best ice fishing rod for large predator fish. It’s available in 6 sizes.
The 5 Best Shimano Spinning Reels
In this article, I just want to tell you some of my experience in choosing the best spinning reels for my fishing adventure. You cannot enjoy fishing as much as you can if you do not have the right reel. If you search on the net or go to a store, you will find a wide variety of spinning reels. It gets confusing trying to choose the right one. I have gone for other brands of reels and I have gone for Shimano. After buying Shimano spinning reels, I have stuck with the brand because of their exquisite quality and functioning.
Some of the Shimano spinning reels I have used and became a fan of are:
1. Shimano Sedona FD Spinning Reel
If you use this reel, you will feel the difference. This reel is silky casts and provides you with excellent support in every condition. It has effortless retrieves and a very good grip that helps you enormously when you are retrieving. As with every Shimano reel, this reel is also made of high-quality material that is durable and fitted perfectly.
Talking about the important features of Shimano Sedona FD, it has four shielded stainless steel ball bearings and also anti-reverse bearing. It is perfect for long casts because of its propulsion line management system that is highly efficient. I cannot discuss here all the amazing features of this reel because of lack of space, but you can see how much this reel can give you here.
You cannot find any reel with such features at such prices. Shimano Sedona FD stands between $49.14 and $91.42. Even within this model, you have various specifications that you can choose. Shimano always gives you lots of choices.
2. Shimano Spirex RG Spinning Reel
We are here talking about some of the best reels available in the market. That is why it is a must to include Shimano Spriex RG. This is Shimano’s newly designed reel that comes with enhanced features. It has quick fire II for effortless, one-handed casts. Its A-RB bearings make the retrieves smooth and unforced.
If you have been struggling with a cast that wobbles, has a bad grip, and makes retrieving a tough job, it is time to look for a new reel. Never compromise on the quality and efficiency of a reel. You know you can get a fine, top-quality, feature-studded reel that does not wobble at prices as low as $49.95.
Lightweight (9.9 ounces) with a gear ration of 6:2:1, this reel has the maximum drag of 6 pounds. If you want further features in this reel, the prices go up a little, but this buy is worth your money.
I was impressed to see Shimano Spirex RG having a solid rating of 4.9 out of 5. Because I have been using Shimano spinning reels for years, it is pleasant to see others liking it too.
3. Shimano Spheros FB Reels
This lightweight reel has such spectacular features that you will want to buy it immediately. Shimano Spheros FB has such power that you will be amazed by its results. It has an effective rear-drag, ability to withstand the toughest of environments, a cool aluminum frame, rubber handle grips and great retrieve. If you mostly fish in saltwater, this reel will give you awesome results as it has been tried and tested for consistent use in salt water.
This reel will never get old. It is very durable and will serve you for years without a problem. It has been used by the country’s pro fishers. As I said earlier, this reel is powerful yet smooth. It has been designed with much carefulness.
On Amazon, you can choose select options and see the prices, and also the larger picture of the reel. It is also important to read other customer reviews to make sure that you get what you are looking for. Like other Shimano spinning reels, this reel also has received excellent rating from customers. At this price ($96.46 – $230.04), it cannot get any better than this.
4. Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel
Shimano has a lot many kinds of reel in every category because they create reels that are specific to the needs of the customers. These highly specialized reels are designed keeping in mind the exact use a person will put them to. They are designed for maximum comfort and greatest support.
Whether you are fishing in saltwater or freshwater, Shimano Baitrunner D will give you the best results. It has excellent casting, impressive line lay and great comfort. You can avoid backlash problems, wind knots, tangles and friction with this reel. It gives you a fine consistent spool speed and totally eliminates wobble during retrieve that can actually be very irritating when you retrieve. It has waterproof drag, floating shaft, direct drive mechanism, state-of-the-art propulsion line management system and fluidrive II gearing. It has a lot of more amazing features that you can see here.
Shimano Baitrunner D is priced at $133.99 – $310.64 depending on the features. With this reel, you will love fishing even more. It is actually a reel that you can show-off.
5. Shimano Sonora 2500 FB Spinning Reel
If you are looking for innovation, perfect angling and great propulsion, this lightweight Shimano Sonora 2500 FB is the one for you. This state-of-the-art spinning reel has a spool lip in its propulsion system that helps in preventing backlashes and wind knots even in the toughest of weather.
This reel has one of the finest propulsion line management systems. Perfect for both saltwater and freshwater, you will never face a line slap on the stripper guide, friction or wobble when using this reel.
The Sonora has amazing features such as twist-reducing Power Roller III line roller, S-Guard that prevents damage to the reel’s frame and rotor, and S-Arm Cam that prevents slacking of the line around the line roller. That means superior performance. You will not know the difference from reading this review, you will feel the difference when you hold this reel in your hands and test it. As a compromise, you can check out its full features, read reviews and ratings on Amazon. If you know about its price, you will be surprised. It is priced at $54.9. What’s more? On Amazon, you are getting it for $48.05.
Don’t forget to keep your fishing reels clean, especially if you use them in salt water!
If you do not want to spend a fortune on buying a reel, you can get the best reel at an affordable price. The Shimano spinning reels we discussed here are the best buys at affordable prices. They speak of quality, durability and excellence in performance. For effortless fishing and great support, you need the best. I hope this small guide could help you a little bit to choose your own fishing reels and start the adventure. If you find those information above still aren’t enough, just simply Click here to see all Shimano Spinning Reels on amazon and grab a reel which you like best. I will stop here and now it your turn, your reel and your game. Wish you all the best, my friend!
How to Do Periodical Maintenance of Your Fishing Reel
How often you oil your reel depends on how much you use it. If you go fishing regularly, you need to oil the reel at least twice a year, and clean it every time after you have fished. If you fish one in every two months or so, you can oil your reel once a year or once in one and a half years. Your cleaning and oiling regime depends on how much you use the reel.
Periodical maintenance of your fishing reel means a thorough cleaning and oiling of every part of your reel. It is important to know how to deconstruct the reel. Every reel is designed and assembled differently. When you remove each part keep them in a row so that you know which part will need to go first when you are re-assembling it. Drag washers especially can look similar. It is important that you fix the parts as they are otherwise it would affect the performance of your reel.
It is recommended that you do not remove all the parts of the reel in a go to clean and oil them. It is best to remove a part such as the bail or the line roller, clean up all its parts, reassemble it, and then move on to deconstructing the next part. That will help you in getting together all the parts perfectly and will not confuse you.
Many times people lose parts of a spinning reel while cleaning it, especially the springs, which jump out if you are not careful. When deconstructing a reel, take care of the springs.
Wipe your reel or flush out all sand, mud and salt from your reel by dipping or putting it under tap water. It is also important when you clean your fishing reel. If you clean it as soon as you are done fishing, the damaging elements will have lesser chance to harm your reel. If you cannot wipe it with a wet cloth as soon as you are done fishing, you must clean your reel when you get back home. It’s also smart to clean any of your fishing lures as well.
Protect Your Reel from Damage from Accidents
Hold your reel so that even if it slips from your hand, it will not be totally immersed in salt water. You do not want the salt to enter into every part of your reel. If such an accident happens, clean it as soon as you can, let it dry and then lubricate it. If you have freshwater with you, immerse the reel in it. This is just temporary aid. As soon as you can, deconstruct the reel, clean, dry and oil the parts.
If you are using a saltwater reel, you will still need to clean off the salt after using it. It will make the reel serve you for years without a problem. Cleaning and timely oiling are the only two things you need to do to keep your reels as good as new.
Which Oil to Use
No matter how well you oil the parts and clean your reel, if you are not using the right oil, all your hard work in cleaning a reel will not give you the results you expect. You can use reel oil. Now there is reel oil available in the market that bond with the metals they come in contact with. They are expensive, but it is known to have very good results. If you want to use cheaper oil, you can go for ordinary fishing reel oil.
Your oil must protect your reel from corrosion. If you regularly rip your reel to clean it, you might not need to use expensive oil because you will oil the parts when you deconstruct it. If you only oil your reel once a year or less than that, you might want to use molecular lubricant fishing reel oil.
Which Reel Type Are You Using?
Your reel must be made for saltwater if you want to use it in saltwater. That is because saltwater reels are especially designed to withstand corrosion from salt water. Salt can easily damage a reel if it is not designed to prevent damage. When buying a reel, buy a saltwater reel if you believe you might use your reel in saltwater at some point of time in future, even if you do not plan to use in saltwater presently.
Saltwater reels are created with extra layers that protect your reel from salt, rust and corrosion. No matter how expensive your reel is, if it is not made for saltwater, it will corrode because of the salt.
TIP: Want to catch more salt water fish? Why not try using one of the best fish finders?
A reel company mentions whether a reel is safe for use in saltwater or not. Even if you are using a saltwater spinning reel, you will need to flush out all salt from it after use to protect it from damage. Salt, sand and mud can prove fatal for your reel. A flush with fresh water can do the trick. It is easy and removes all salt from your reel.
Of course, periodical cleaning and lubrication of the different parts of a reel such as the crank, the bail, crank shaft and the line roller need periodic lubrication, especially if you use your reel much. Parts that gather the most salt need frequent and early cleaning than parts that need less cleaning.
Fishing in saltwater is great fun, but after you have enjoyed fishing you need to care for your equipment. Simple flushing off damaging materials from the reels and drying it is enough after you have fished in saltwater. You just need to make sure there is no salt, sand or mud remaining on your reel. If you keep your reel protected, it will keep giving you great service for years without a break.
Buying Guide: Best Types of Fishing Lures Models and Features
When it comes to lures, everybody has a favorite. There really is no “best type”, or you would only ever see a single lure ever being cast, which isn’t the case. Some people swear that certain lures work better than others for all types of fish, and while some may work better on certain species, in many cases people just choose whichever one they fancy and stick with it. Why? Because who knows what lurks beneath? In fishing tournaments, you’ll see many variations, because the type of fish is not important.
However, if you are targeting specific species of fishes, what lure you use does make a difference. What makes the biggest difference though, is the presentation of that particular lure. The presentation is the way that you cast and reel in the lure, and can have a major influence on your success rate, regardless of the lure itself. That being said, here is a list of some of the best fishing lures and what species of fish they are designed to catch. Keep reading for more information on the various types and methods you can use to snag your fish.
Also, people who stick with a single lure will eventually get stuck in a rut, the truth is that you should be very versatile in your lure selection. Whether it be crankbait, crawdads, worms, or spoons, be sure to mix it up. Not just to maximize efficiency, but to keep yourself focused. However if you are asking me which is the best fishing lure, you can’t go wrong with the good old fashioned crankbait, and I always start and finish with it. However, there are a few real advantages and disadvantages to each lure depending on the kind of fish you are targeting, so pay attention. In the end though, like me, you’ll probably end up settling for whichever looks the coolest and then expand from there!
Types of Fishing Lures and their Presentation
The Spoon: Spoons get their name, as you would expect, from their origin. The very first spoon lures were actually kitchen utensils with the handle broken off, and Native Americans fished with this type of lure using mollusk shells as well. However, the spoon fishing lures which you see today vary greatly, coming in many different types of colors and sizes. The major benefit to this lure is that when it moves through the water, it simulates an injured baitfish, which are the meal of choice for gamefish.
Spoon Presentation: The style of presentation can actually vary quite a bit. Some spoons are designed to be trolled, some to be jigged, and some to be trolled. If you are a beginner, try purchasing the a casting spoon, as these are easy to use and are similar to spinners in their action. However, make sure that when you reel in the lure, you include some speed variations. Too much speed will make the lure spin instead of wobble, so a hair below that speed is what you are shooting for.
The Jigs: Even though I love my crankbait, jigs might be my favorite lure due to their versatility. Some people consider them to be the best fishing lure that you can buy. No matter what species of fish you are targeting, a jig can snag it, and they won’t cost you much to purchase either. They are distinguished due to their weighted lead head, and are dressed in just about everything, which gives it the appearance of a hoola dress or tail. This can include hair, plastics, or feathers.
Jig Presentation: Using a jig involves a ton of skill. Unlike other lures such as spinners, all of the action in the water comes from the way that you tug on the line. For experienced Jig fishermen, they may have their own way of tossing the jig, but what I like to do is cast it way out, and wait for it to hit the bottom. Perhaps this is why jigs cost so little, because most anglers are sure to lose the lure from snagging it on the bottom of the lake. You’ll know its touched the lakebed because the fishing line will begin to give some slack. Afterwards, begin tugging on the jig by yanking the rod up and slowly reeling it in, be mindful however, it can be difficult to detect the strike of the fish.
Flies: These are designed specifically for the fly fisherman, but some people will attach bubble floats to them. These fishing lures are very light weight, and are designed to resemble flies or other insects during various stages of their life span, although some flies resemble leaches, hoppers, or frogs. The construction of these lures is done using feathers, but can include fur and other newer materials such as foam and rubber.
Presentation of Flies: Flies are designed to act in two different ways. Dry flies have some type of floatation attached to them, and will sit just above the surface, resembling common insects. Wet flies such as streamers or nymphs you trail below the surface of the water. Fly fishing is the most difficult type of fishing that you can do.
Plasticworms/Soft Baits: Plastic bait can resemble a ton of different objects, but mostly forage critters that you find in the water. Some look like frogs, some look like crawdads, but most of them look like worms. They have scents and shiny bits implanted within them, and are created so that the fish swallows the lure for a longer period of time before they attempt to eject it from its mouth.
Softbait Presentation: These types of lures are mainly used to target bass, yet each fishing lure that you purchase in this style has a distinct presentation which you should stick to. The technique which me and most of my friends use, is a style called the Texas Rig. You create this rig by threading a bullet weight onto the fishing line, and just above the hook. Then you take the hook and pierce the top of your plasticbait (in this case use a worm), and thread the barb throughout the body, burying it deep and covering the entire hook. This creates a “weedless” lure, so you can cast it in areas of the lake or river which are holding areas for fish, without worry of getting it hooked on underwater foliage. The remaining part of the technique involves you twitching on the rod a few times after it hits the bottom of the lake bed.
The Spinner: Spinners are very easy to use, and I highly recommend them to beginners. Basically, they are just a small metal shift which spins around, and some variations include dresses. How spinners work, is as you pull them through the water, the metal spins, creating sounds and vibrations, which attract the fish. In water which is difficult to see such as murky water, this will give you an advantage over other fishing lures.
Spinner Presentation: Very simple to handle, all you really have to do is cast and retrieve. I vary the pace just to see if that makes a difference, but it doesn’t take much skill.
Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits: These look somewhat like spoons, and somewhat like jigs, but are neither and look a bit awkward. They consist of a safety pin-ish type wire which attaches to the head of the fishing lure, and then the rest of the body is then dressed. They also include one or more metallic blades, like those seen on your standard spinners.
Spinner/Buzz Presentation: There are a few methods when using this fishing lure, but the most common way to fish with this and the method which I use is called the “Chck-N-Wind”. Just cast your spinnerbait out, let it sink about 5 feet, and then retrieve it at a modest pace.
Lures versus Bait
There are many advantages to fishing with lures, as well as some disadvantages. When compared with just a bait and hook, I personally just like being cleaner, but I find that lures tend to be more effective as well. I know a few people who are quite successful, who use nothing but bait however, so it is really your choice.
Advantages: First off, lures are a lot less messy. No dead animal, nothing gooey, you can stay cleaner which is a must for me. Lures are also larger than your standard bait and hook, which decreases the chance of “gut hooking” your fish. Gut hooking is when the fish completely swallows the hook.
With lures, you can also zing it out further to cover more water, no matter where you are standing, and they allow you to target specific species of fish. Finally, they are just really simple to use, you can adjust lures and change them out easily.
Disadvantages: Disadvantages all comes down to money. Lures can be quite expensive when first purchased. You will probably save money in the long run if you can keep them longer, but some of the more expensive lures can cost you an arm and a leg. Remember, the best fishing lure available isn’t going to guarantee you a catch. You also risk having your line snag on a branch or somewhere else in the water, or your line may snap due to a poor rod choice. The costs can add up.
Information Guide: How to Install a Fish Finder
There are quite a few important tid bits that you should consider when it comes to your fish finder. People often concern themselves with the price, operating it, or in what attributes to look for when purchasing. However, in my experience its often times the actual set up which is the biggest pain of all!
There is no one size fits all manual which comes with your product, simply because the installation is done on a wide range of fishing vessels. However, some basic information can go a long way in helping you to decide on which model to purchase, and obviously will just help you have peace of mind. Here are the steps you should take to install your fish finder the right way.
Step Number One: Where to Install?
This is perhaps the most important point in the whole process, and that is where to install your unit. Some people prefer to install on the dash or mount directly in front of them, some prefer to mount their unit on their main hand side, and some prefer to mount the unit on their off hand side, if we are installing on a kayak for instance. This changes however if you have a large boat.
You also have to consider the type of transducer that you are installing. A transform mount transducer which you might install on a boat, is a very simple task if you install out in a shed, but another transducer such as a thru-hull transducer, is extremely complicated to install. This is best left up to professionals who know how to properly drill holes, as one wrong slip or mistake can cost you hundreds in repairs.
Remember, there are two set ups required in every installation, the transducer, and the display. Always consider where you want to install the transducer first, since it is stationary and cannot be adjusted, unlike the display. The transducer also has to be installed directly where the transform is. When you are doing the actual fitting, consider an area of the vessel which will be constantly submerged under water, failure to do so will cause intermittent malfunctions and completely defeat the purpose of the transducer.
When creating the transform, consider that it has to be smooth enough for the transformer to be fitted into. The location should also be at least a foot away from the propeller to prevent mishaps and interference caused from propeller. As a rule, the more turbulence that the transducer has to contend with, the more difficult it will be to correctly interpret the signals in the water.
Finally, when installing, the area of the vessel which you have decided upon should not be easily exposed. This can be a serious issue when you are transporting it around on a trailer, as I’ve seen more than one unit damaged from lack of foresight.
Step Number Two: Running the Electrical Wires of the Transducer
It is rare, but every so often you will run into a product that comes with defective wires. Before installation, make sure that there are no damaged wiring by running your hand along the plastic and giving it the eye test, this is smart to do before everything gets submerged and you save time just in case you notice it after the fact.
Once you’ve properly adjusted where you would like the display to set, install based on the instructions that came with your model. However, don’t cut any wires as this can prevent future adjusting, not to mention void any kind of warranty which comes with the product. Your wiring should also not be run next to other wiring, such as that of the propeller or VHF cables. This can cause interference.
Step Number Three: The Fitting
There are two ways to actually fit the transducer. The first way, is to install directly into the boat.This will require precise measurement and a drill bit which is appropriately sized to allow wiring to slip through. Afterwards, add sealant to prevent leakage, the last thing that you want to do is have a leaky boat.
The second way, which I prefer, is to mount the transducer on a block. You can do this by using a strong glue such as an epoxy and placing it on the boat. Afterwards, line up where on the block you want to place the unit, and mark that position as it will be where you will be drilling. You want your holes to be just long enough to not enter the boat, but go most of the way through the block.
Step Number Four: Running the Display Wires
Just like there are two ways to fit the unit, there are two ways to run these wires. The first way is to run them above the transform. The second way is to run wires directly through it by drilling holes through the transform, however if you do it this way, make sure that it is above the water line. In addition, all wires should be clammed to avoid too much movement on the boat.
Step Number Five: Mounting the Display
This final step is very easy if you have a kayak which has been pre-mounted, such as common angular kayaks. However, you can always set mounting later. Attaching the fish finder display to a mount should be as simple as screwing it on. This is it for our How To Guide on Installing a Fish Finder. If you liked this and would like to learn more on how to purchase fish finders, check out our main guide here.
Information Guide: How to Read a Fish Finder
I love fish finders, and if you read my short tale as to how life was before finders, you’ll realize that I’d simply be lost today without mine. However, like I mentioned here as well, there are many obstacles that come with the added convenience and additional tech of these units, not to mention a decent sized learning curve. Simply put, if you’ve never had a chance to use one of these before, and you expect to just jump out on the water and catch hordes of fish, your in for a bit of a shock.
Over the years, companies such as Lowrance and Humminbird have gone through great lengths to make the interface of these devices easier to handle and navigate, but there will always have to be a balance between features and ease of use. The fish finders which do the best job, also are the most complicated to use. So to make your life easier, here is a detailed article as to how to read your display and what the different varieties of models include in each of their interfaces. Keep in mind that literally every single model on the market has a different interface which requires you to read the manual, and this is just a general guide.
Side Imaging/Down Imaging Finders with High Frequency
There is quite a bit of information that you can acquire with the best units on the market, they don’t just point you in the direction of the fishies, and some of this information is vital to us anglers. This includes information of little importance, such as temperature, to how deep the water is. Some of these new models will even do the interpretation for you and show you a symbol of a fish on the screen so there is no guesswork involved.
These high frequency models, produce excellent imaging of what lies directly beneath, and to the side of the boat or kayak, although be sure to keep in mind the variation between some transducers which can accurately track deeper waters, versus transducers which don’t. In addition, when looking at a fish finder, you’ll need to understand side imaging versus down imaging. Down imaging gives you an overlay of what lies directly beneath the vessel, where as side imaging will display SONAR images of the water directly to the side which the transducer points Most of the best units today show 360 degree side imaging.
Take a look at this image here to the right, this is what a typical advanced unit will look like with 360 degree imaging. Yeah, these aren’t really 360 degree imaging, but I’ve seen them touted as such. Notice that it shows four different screens, along with the corresponding depth and SONAR imaging. In the top left corner gives the most pertinent information, your vessel is 28 feet above the water floor, and there is an additional 10 foot increment just to show you where the fish or debris are located on the far right. On the left side of the screen is the left side of the boat, on the right side is the right side of the boat. Also notice the “120” on the picture, this indicates how wide the side imaging of the transducer picks up, and the bottom image gives you a display.
The second type of unit that you can purchase, are displays which give you simple down imaging readings, or side image readings. These units are usually much cheaper, as some people find having both displays unnecessary, as they do a specific kind of fishing. For instance, if you plan on jigging, you’ll want a side imaging fish finder. If you plan on dropping your line directly underneath, you won’t care so much for directly underneath your vessel. To the left is what a screen from one of these units will look like.
This is a very nifty display, it does the hard of interpreting the SONAR and displaying the information on the screen. You’ll notice it also shows you the size of the fish. In the center top, is the location of the kayak or boat, to help the angler decide in which direction he should cast.
Lowrance Elite 5 DSI Fish Finder Review
One of the most popular of all the fish finders on the market today is the Lowrance Elite 5 DSI (DownScale imaging). Lowrance is one of the premiere producers of finders on the market today, and this particular unit features several attributes that small fishing vessels such as kayaks can utilize, and make anglers such as myself giddy.
Like almost all of their products, Lowrance equips the Elite 5 with their state of the art Navionics Cartography navigation system, making this a GPS combo that you can take with you to just about any back water or large lake in the country, without fear of getting lost. Its software is always updated, and it has an internal GPS antenna that provides a compact and accurate read of your location. The imaging itself is colored and very clear, with a 480×480 resolution, making the tracking of fish very easy.
Navigation: The Elite 5 DSI features a chartplotter and an extremely accurate GPS navigational system, with an internal antenna which saves space on small vessels such as kayaks.
Imaging: Downscan imaging provides a photo like display of fish and water debris underneath the boat. The imaging has a 4,000 W peak to peak power supply with a high frequency (455/800kHz) transducer signal. This is a state of the art device which provides some of the best looking underwater imaging on the market.
Display: The screen display gives all of the important information, such as depth and temperature, as well as boat speed. Its 480×480 resolution provides high definition viewing, and although it has a small display panel at 5″, this is perfect for kayaks where you need the additional moving room.
Positives of the Model
The presets are fairly easy to set up so if you’re looking for simplicity, this is one of the best fish finders for that.. The on board system itself has a memory system which allows you to save coordinates and “fishing spots” on the map, although this is an upgradable feature. Also, despite the pricey tag that comes with this model, for all the out of the box features it provides, it is still fairly cheap compared to several other similar GPS combo units on the market.
The imaging and underwater display is simply marvelous, and unlike any fish finder on the market. Its unique in that it is more like an underwater camera than a tracker, and is more of a device to help you find a fishing spot and locate targets.
The GPS system is very interactive, you can use it to mark way points or setup future projected fishing locations. There are simply a ton of options and you can tinker around with it all day and customize the viewing, color of the imaging, or the frequency of the scan.
Cons of the Model
The manual which comes with this Lowrance unit is very poor, and your going to be left doing a lot of guess work trying to get everything to stick just right. For instance, trying to find the color settings can leave you wondering if it is even worth the trouble, as there are only two presets. What compounds this issue is the vast number of options! Its kind of like piloting a 747 for the first time and the co-pilot gives you some basic steps to keep the plane in the air.
Another issue with this model, are the frequent burn outs. The imaging and detail are great, and it has a lot of power behind it, but several people have reported blowing fuses because they haven’t properly compensated for the tremendous amount of power in the unit by using a better supply.
Know what you are getting when you purchase this unit, and you might end up enjoying this purchase. Its fairly cheap for a GPS/fish finder combo considering all of the features that you get with it, and it provides the best looking down imaging in the business. However, I personally don’t really care if I can make out the types of fish below my kayak when I’m fishing, I just want to know that they are there. In addition, the system has had so many bugs that Lowrance has had to do more than one recall on the Elite 5, so I’d stay away for now. If you liked this review and want to learn more, check out our main guide here.
Humminbird 110 Fishin’ Buddy Review
Like Lowrance and Garmin, Humminbird (not hummingbird) is an extremely popular brand of fish finder that many people have grown to love over the years. What separates them apart from other brands isn’t so much cutting edge technology or uniqueness, or that they are durable. They are on the market primarily for one reason only, they are able to produce the most affordable tracking devices on the market, and nothing speaks for them as loudly in this regard, as the Humminbird 110 Fishin Buddy.
This has been discontinued by the manufacturer Humminbird.
The Fishin’ Buddy stands out for one reason only its extremely affordable price, which allows just about anybody with a motorized water vessel to track fish. The set up is very basic, and definitely isn’t going to blow away anybody with features, however another feature which can serve as both a perk and a detraction is that the transducer is part of the display and goes directly underneath the boat at a 180 degree angle, somewhat limiting where it can be placed, but also taking a lot of the setup out of the installation process. The clamp can be adjusted and placed just about anywhere on the boat itself, however, keep in mind that just like a portable fish finder this means the unit is at risk of falling into the water.
Display: The Fishin’ Buddy have a bare bones 4 inch monochrome display. You can get it in color or gray scale with no price difference. In terms of the quality of the display, its surprisingly good, and you should be able to make out clear pictures using either of the color modes.
Performance: The 24″ transducer can grab signals in as deep as 240 feet. It also includes a temperature reading, although the battery life is pretty short at only 30 hours of operative use. The power used is from AA batteries. Does not Come with a GPS. It is a Portable Model.
Positives About This Model
In a word, PRICE! A lot of people obsess over their fish finders like a movie connoisseur might obsess over the tiniest details of their product, and many an angler will get caught up in having the best products on the market. You don’t really need all of that though in most cases, for instance, if your just renting a boat, this works perfectly fine. Or if you can’t afford a 900 dollar unit, this works great, and should cost less than 150 bucks.
The performance is surprisingly good, all things being relative. You can make out the fish with the down imaging very clearly, and despite the short battery life, the signal rarely waivers. Aside from the performance, you can simply clasp or de-clasp this unit, very easily, not set up required. Fishing novices who don’t want to handle custom installation will love that feature.
A portable unit, yet very light and durable.
Negatives About This Model
This is a stand alone model, and does not include a GPS, which should go without saying with the insane price point. If for whatever reason you are going to need a GPS system to navigate waterways, you should probably try and find a combo for a bit more of an expensive price.
While the installation is simple and easy, you definitely run the risk of accidentally dropping this unit in the water, every time you take it off. The 180 degree transducer also severely limits where you can actually place this fish finder in your boat. For example, if your a kayaker and like to have your tracker directly in front of you, your out of luck. Another issue with clasps, is if your using a trolling motor or something that causes a lot of vibration, the wobbling of the Fishin’ Buddy can cause damage to your vessel, or the unit itself.
The Himminbird 110 Fishin’ Buddy fills a very specific niche, but a very popular niche, and that is for sporadic anglers on a thin budget. Its incredibly cheap for sonar technology, and it provides acceptable imaging that should allow you to find all types of fish, from trout to bass to catfish. It doesn’t come with the bells and whistles of the more expensive GPS units, and like all portable models, you have to weight the good(mobility), with the bad (lack of control). Overall, if your new to angling or only do light fishing, this may be a winner. If you liked this review and wish to learn more about finders, check out our main guide.
Buying Guide: Best Fish Finder Models and Features
When I was growing up, we did all of our fishing the old fashioned way. As a young girl, I fished from the shore with my mom, but even after my dad started bringing me out on the boat, we didn’t have anything fancy like a fish finder. We had our “spots”, and sometimes we just took turns guessing where to fish. It was actually pretty fun. Oh my how things have changed though. Today, EVERYBODY has a fish finder. Even on fishing kayaks! I own a portable one and it’s almost exactly like my cell phone, I can’t leave home without it.
Fish finders range considerably in both price, versatility, and effectiveness. Most of the cheaper kind just measure the small area beneath the boat, but some will even go as far as to create a 3D lake map, or integrate with other electronics such as autopilots and downriggers. The information that these display through their sonar system is vital to where you choose to fish on any given day, as schools of fish tend to migrate depending on a plethora of reasons. You can’t predict it, you just trust the instruments.
The best fish finders today are produced by three major marine electronics companies. Garmin is the most well known, but following in the distance are Humminbird and Lowrance, who have built up huge brand awareness over the years and have a large and fanatical consumer base. Having said that, every fish finder or gps combo system is different, and some units will fill your needs more than others, so I recommend that take your time and read through our reviews and recommendations. Here is a list of the best fish finders on the market, and a list of attributes you should look at in order to make a good purchase.
Stand Alone vs. Networked System vs. GPS Combo
Before you can even begin looking at the models that are available to purchase, you have to decide what exactly your needs are. Well, for most of us anyways who aren’t loaded with money, getting the most value out of every purchase is important to us, but beyond the bottom line, each model has advantages and disadvantages that you have to consider.
Networked Solution: If your finder is network compatible, then you are serious about your fishing. A network fish finder integrates all of the electronics on your kayak or boating system together so that they can speak to each other. This includes your GPS, sonar, radio, video, and if you have digital fuel flow gauges. These can be quite expensive, but they are also relatively convenient as well since you can download apps directly to your phone which control the entire setup, and there is always room to expand.
GPS Combo: You can’t beat this option in terms of value, and this is by far the most popular option amongst yakanglers. With this, you save a bit of cash as both units are integrated together, and you can view either the GPS and your fish on the screen at the same time, or the sonar imaging if you are stationary. These do everything you could possibly ask from fishing electronics, and will get you home safely and identify wrecks to boot. This is the best option if you have a lot of waterway to navigate but you still want to track.
Standalone Sonar: If you are only looking to fish in a lake or are quite familiar with an area, and don’t need a GPS system, this is what you are looking for. Stand alone systems are the cheapest by far, although many fellow anglers replace these as soon as a newer model comes out. My recommendation is to purchase a model that allows you to expand down the road, and add a GPS receiver if you plan on traversing some waterways in the future.
Understanding Transmit Power and Frequency and How Much Should You Have?
Frequency of the Sonar: One of the most important steps that you must take when purchasing your fish finder, is to match the transducer to your application. There are tons of models today that integrate everything from side imaging to down imaging, it’s sometimes hard to understand which is being utilized. Most signals will either give off a 83 kilohertz or 50 kilohertz beam(the signal) and a 200 kilohertz shallow beam. Your transducer will either be 200 kilohertz, or a 50/200 kilohertz combo, and if you are going fishing in deeper waters, you need the combo to see the imaging better.
As it pertains to down and side imaging, the signal utilized is different. Make sure that the transducer that you are purchasing is applicable to the signal(it should be labeled on the model), or else you are making a poor purchase.
Signal Power: The power output of the model has a direct impact on the signal strength that is returned to the transducer, and is the single most important quality when it comes to tracking fish. The power is given in two different formats, RMS which is the maximum wattage that the model can consistently give off, and the (PTP)Peak to Peak measurement, which is necessary for deeper navigation. As a rule, look for an RMS of at least 250 Watts of power with 3000 Watts of power if you plan on fishing in deeper lakes.
What Kind of Display Should You Purchase?
Pixels and Clarity: The very first fish finding units ever created were awkward, hard to read contraptions that frustrated the heck out of everyone. Who knew if that was a fish, or some dead branch submerged under the water? Today, the clarity has improved immensely, just like how your LCD television. Screens are made up of pixels, which are tiny dots which display variations in colors to form an image. The more pixels, generally, the clearer and more defined the image is. A simple recommendation is that you purchase a display which is at least 480 vertical by 480 horizontal, and if your display offers split screen, at least 640 pixels towards the direction of the split. The more expensive, better models are over 720 pixels and are high definition, giving anglers a huge advantage.
Colored versus Gray Scale: This is going to come down to value in terms of making a decision. You can get by with gray scaled systems, however, colored finders offer superior clarity and it is much easier to see the fish. On the other hand, the difference in price might be too steep for some.
Screen Size: The last feature which directly impacts the performance of the model is the size of the display. Just like television sizes, most guys go straight for the biggest model on the block, but that isn’t always the best value decision, but it is however a major factor. 4”-6” models are pretty standard and I suggest that you go with one that size if your plan on installing it permanently(portable models will have smaller displays typically). The size of your display with have a huge impact on the quality of picture that you see, I only advise that they be water proof and you take precautions as too large of a display can be cumbersome and you could have an accident if not careful with your installation.
Other Options to Consider
Down Imaging: Each system will offer varying degrees of quality in terms of its down imaging versus side imaging, because they require different signal frequencies. Down imaging uses a high frequency sonar feature which transmits a signal directly beneath the boat. This allows you to see fish at 180 degrees, if you like to fish near your boat.
Side Imaging: Side imaging allows for an extremely wide, high resolution view of the area around your boat, and is a newer feature in most fish finders. Through the use of a high frequency transducer, they are able to take in a higher array of sound and pick up the higher frequency signals of the sonar. The resulting imaging will show almost directly underneath the boat/kayak, plus the area towards the port side. In your quest to find the best fish finder, its very likely that you will end up choosing one that has side imaging as opposed to down imaging.