As the ice fishing season wraps up in the retail world, retailers start having sales to make room for open water gear – including shacks.

I am often asked “what is the difference between the hub and the trap style shacks… there are so many different companies and styles which ones are the best?” Well first and foremost, it all boils down to quality. Like anything else in the fishing industry, you get what you pay for.

If you’re a weekend warrior and will only go out a few times a year, then quality may not be an issue. The key point is ducking out of the wind and having a warming house for short periods of time. If you’re a little more serious, and want something that’s going to be more durable, then quality will play a role – and so will price.

Portable shacks come in 1, 2, 4, and 6 man in the hub (pop up) style, and 1, 2, and 4 man in the clam (flip-over) style. But I always say take the amount of people the manufacture says the shack can hold and divide it by two. What companies don’t factor is how much gear a person takes fishing with them: heaters, food, tackle, and clothing as well as drilling a few holes – that floor space goes pretty quick.

The Hub Style Shack

The biggest advantage to the hub style is portability. It collapses into a bag and is easily transported. Because it is not attached to a sled, it fits easily in the back seat or trunk of a car, and in most brands, it is a little lighter. However, despite the portability of the shack, once the shack is set up, it is difficult to move for hole hopping or changing locations. Because the hub style is light, and in some cases, tall and wide; the hub style is recommended to be tethered to the ice.

hub ice shack

The Clam Style Shack

The clam style shack is a one piece unit.  In most cases, it comes with chairs attached to a sled that the user then pulls the fabric over head to enclose themselves into the shelter.  A lot of anglers will turn the sled with the back facing the wind, and pull the shack to a half setting, using it as a wind block.  The biggest advantage of the clam style is mobility.  Since the shack is already attached to a sled, it is easier to pull from hole to hole.  It is also easy to pack your gear in the sled, thus freeing up the need for a sled or extra transport devices.
A disadvantage to the clam style is weight. Clams start out at 38 lbs. for a one person, to 145 lbs. for a four person. Another disadvantage is since it is so bulky, it is difficult to transport unless you have a van or a truck.

clam ice shack
Photo courtesy of

Mid-winter is a great time to start shopping for your shack as most sporting good stores will offer great deals. Spend some time researching your favorite shack by going out with friends, talking to people on the ice and seeing the product in action so you will know what works best for you and your hard earned dollars.