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Canvas too Short on New Fish Trap Guides!?

86 posts in this topic

Just assembled my new Fish Trap Guide this evening. Low and behold, I ran into the same trouble that a couple of other members did recently.

The front/bottom pole does not extend to the ground and the canvas does not seal the gap between the ground (ice) and the house.

The canvas is installed precisely according to instruction, but appears to be too short. The front/bottom pole doesn't even touch the ground when all other poles are in their shortest position. The pole is held 6" above the ground when all poles are in their highest position.

I half-way suspected that this might happen, as other people who recently purchased this model ran into the same problem. There are a few other details that come into play here...second and third-hand details, but interesting ones none-the-less.

A new, large sporting goods store in the NW Metro has been trying to order and carry the USL line, but USL apparently has absolutely no Fish Trap Guides in inventory. When I advised this retailer that many other stores currently had this model discounted $60, he was shocked. Why would they be running a sale when there was actually a shortage of inventory?

Trying to dumps some bad Traps and just hope that people don't complain? I know it's black-helicopterish, but something just seems strange here.

So, I'm calling USL on Monday to see what they have to say about this. There is the distinct possibility that there were 4-5 bad models out there and each one of them was purchased by a member. Unlikely, but possible.

I will post how this turns out, as I think it is important to provide ALL available information in a situation like this.

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I think the reason why retailers are discounting thier portable houses is because it is already the middle of a winter that has been terribble for ice fishing and USL must have gave the retailers permission to discount this years models. There is a minimum pricing rule that is usually in effect for these products, thats why everyone is usually the exact same price. No one wants to still have any of this years model left when winter ends, then they would have to discount them even further to get rid of them or else store them all summer and still have to discount them next winter because they are last years model.

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I called USL this morning and described the problem. The woman I spoke with admitted that she had never actually set one up, but she had been advised to tell people the following:

"Loosen up the canvas on the back and make sure the poles aren't in the highest setting."

Okay......the only way to loosen the canvas is to loosen the nuts and bolts that hold the canvas in place. This seems like a pretty stupid idea. If the nuts/bolts weren't meant to be tightened, why have them?

Alright...the published spec for interior height is 60". The only way to achieve 60" of height is by extending the poles to their highest point. So, lowering the poles to fix this problem is ludicrous.

I asked her if she had gotten many complaints about this and she said only a couple. I specifically asked her if they were having a reocurring problem with this model and the length of the canvas and she said, "No." Okay.....whatever.

She said that they will not send out a new canvas without seeing the old one first. She asked that I bring my house by for them to look at.....during their convenient 8-4 hours.

I think the best option is to return this thing to the retailer and buy a different brand of ice house.

Those Otters look like they have plenty of canvas on them....

[This message has been edited by huskminn (edited 01-20-2003).]

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I've seen this same thing on my Guide that I purchased this year. I haven't found a way around it besides just leaving the supports at their lowest setting but I also have not called USL about it either.

I feel for ya man since I was watching the post you started about buying a portable. Someone else posted something about USL helping him out by getting him a new cover but I can seem to find that post right now. Keep us updated and I'll look into mine more tonight to see just what the heck is going on.

I'll see if I can get some pic's that would show USL what is going on...

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Thanks. I'm already very familiar with the other thread and even relayed some of that information to the woman at USL.

Obviously, they have received more than "a couple" of complaints about this.

After reviewing the other thread, it seems that some people at USL are aware of the the problem and some aren't.

The answer for me still seems to be a brand other than Fish Tarp...oops....Trap.

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I bought a new Trap Guide this year and it fits fine.

Maybe you just got a bad canvas?

USL is a good company to deal with, they have been good to me when I needed replacemant parts.

The sliding seats are the key with the Fish Traps. Otters, Frabills and Eskimos do not have sliding seats. I like to keep my feet in the sled, that is why I chose Fish Trap.

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I got a trap guide and love it. Sometimes when its cold it dont go all the down but not as bad as you got it mine might be off the ice an inch until the heater warms it up and then it will settle down.
Sounds like you got a bad one. And there are some good ones so they wont recall them. Will have to take it back or keep tormenting them goodluck.

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Good one D-man! Unfortunately that might damage the harmonica, thus not allow one to sing the blues. That's kind of important if your fishing the Big Pond this year...

Huskminn - good luck on your Fish Trap (tarp) trials and tribulations. It was good to have you out fishing Saturday!

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It's good to hear a couple of positive reports from new Fish Trap Guide owners. My confidence in the product is not good, so a little positive feed back helps.

I'll keep posting updates for those who are interested.

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I hate to say it but I have the same problem.

I just play with the pole settings until I get the front to go all the way down. I also set my auger on the edge of the tarp. You have to be careful here because the back end of the sled will come up if you push the front all the way down.

I agree this is something USL needs to deal with. Maybe we need to talk to someone 'above' the lady you spoke too, like someone who has set one up a 100 times.

It took me long enough to put the Guide together in a cold garage, so I don't want to take it down and set up another only to find the same thing.

Keep this thread going, even though hearing more will only agitate me.

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I hadn't been looking at the thread in awhile, but I was the one who originally posted with this problem. I did get a new canvas from fish trap without any problems. It still seems short, but is better than the old one. My first one would not hit the ground with the lowest pole settings... Now it will go to the ground, but I have to play with the pole settings.. It won't go down with all of the poles maxed in length - not even very close. I've been playing with the poles to get it down and packing it in with slush to keep the wind from blowing it around...

Does this sound similar to all of you with the guides (with the new bolt on canvas in the back)?

The first canvas I had wouldn't go down below 6" from the ground on the higher pole settings. The new one is better, but I'm still not really happy with it. Like I said, I need to keep the poles on the low settings and play with them a bit to get it to hit the ground...

I like it other than this problem, but this is a major problem. I'd get an otter if I did it again sorry to say.

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Yup. Mine is wrong also. I'm awaiting and anticipating dazzling customer service! The same kind I strive to give when I serve cash money paying customers. And I don't think I'll settle for good enough.

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Well, I guess I took the easy way out. I returned the Fish Trap Guide to the retailer and got my money back.

I went to another retailer and bought an Eskimo Quick Flip II Deluxe. The complaints that I heard about this model and it's thin material apply to last year's product. This year's model (Deluxe) has heavier material and a little better quality sled. The canvas is plentiful (complete seal all the way around) and the price was certainly right ($239.00).

I made this decision because I am unable to get to USL during their business hours. They did ask me to come by and have one of their shop people look at it, but I didn't see that as any guarantee that the problem would be corrected. And, like you G-man, I didn't relish the thought of getting a new canvas and going through the rigors of setting the whole thing up to see the same or even slightly better results.

The Guide has features that I like--the sliding seat, namely--and it is a little better quality than the Eskimo overall( more rigid sled, slightly tougher material). But, for my use, the Eskimo should be sufficient......and it is significantly less expensive.

USL has a canvas problem with at least some of the Fish Trap Guides. Perhaps someone who is more patient than I will test their customer service and have their problem completly corrected.

Good luck and thanks for all the comments!

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My problem sounds exactly like fishnaddict's with his new canvas. If I play around will the poles, I finally get it to go down near enough to the ice. If I just go in and put the poles all the way up, no frickin way will my guide perform how it should perform. Thats very disappointing for $379. If I had my name written all over this product, I would be embarrased. Some King.

Considering, even after fishnaddict got a new canvas and he still has a problem, I don't think it is worth my time to call USL except to complain.

I wish the Otter would have fit in my truck, but alas it wouldn't, so I went with the Guide. I actually bought the Otter first and had to return it.

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This is what I e-mailed to USL. Their customer service woman replied to say she'd forwarded it to the fellow in charge of the ice fishing division. I'll let you know what (if) I hear back from him.



I'm a Fish Trap II owner, and am happy with how
it has

I've been planning to plop down the cash for a
largely because I like the zip-out front door, so
when I
bank it in with snow I don't have to flip it up
to open it
and break the seal.

But I won't be buying one until you fix a design
that many fisherman are experiencing. No doubt
you've heard
about this problem, but I'm here to tell you it's
more of
one than you may think.

I post on and view several Online fishing forums,
and guy
after guy is posting about how the Guide's cover
allow the Trap to come down completely to the ice
opened. And that's when they've followed your
instructions. In several cases, guys have just
their shoulders, left the poles at less than
extension, and lived with the problem. A lot of
however (and I'm one of them), believe that if
you market a
product with poles designed to open to a certain
length and
then include a cover too small to accomodate the
you are cheating your customers.

Several guys have called your customer service
line for
advice, and a few have received replacement
covers. But
most of those I know of who have gotten the replacement
report the
problem is better, but the Trap's front still
won't come
all the way down to the ice on full extension.

In my Trap II, it barely comes down all the way,
even when
the canvas is warm, and I've got the back of the
fastened to the tub with absolutely no fabric to

So instead of buying a Guide, I'll be taking off
my canvas
when the season's over, sewing on a strip in the
back so
the Trap front will reach the ice, and also
sewing on
additional canvas along the side slits, which let
in giant
gusts of wind unless I stuff them with bath

After so many reincarnations of the Trap, one
would think
you'd be able to include a few more inches of
fabric for
them. Perhaps you don't know how many guys are
out there
who have this problem but aren't letting you

With the advent and growing popularity of
these Online
fishing forums, information on products gets
passed along
at lightning speeds, and you can't afford to let
problem continue.

As I said, I've been planning on buying a Guide,
but now
I'm waiting and hoping you will fix the problem.
I very
much prefer USL to Otter, but if you don't fix
this, I'll
be buying at Otter in a couple years when my Trap
finally wears out. Many other shoppers who have
no loyalty
to USL look at such information, shrug their
shoulders, and
buy Otters, Frabills, etc.

So, a word (or a few hundred) to the wise.

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I have the fish trap guide and I love it. I been reading these post and this topic is turning into a real soap box. No matter what you buy today, things will not fit your taste. I set my trap up on the kitchen floor and this trap lays flat on all setting. Your kitchen floor is level. Take it out on a frozen lake and you will not find a level lake. My trap does not lay flat out on the lake on all setting I have to play around with it a little to make it fit. That why they have 3 setting to work with. Some times I tilt the sled foward a little to make things fit nicely. Then I pack snow around the trap and this does the job. You have to fit the trap to the lake conditions. If you are not satisfied with the product take it back and demand your money back or call the company and ship it to them. The Internet will not solve your problem amen.

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Hey catfish,

Keep us informed of what turns out on your end. I work right over by USL in Plymouth and will hopefully be able to drop by with my Guide tomorrow and see what they think of the situation.


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A couple of friends and I have experienced the same problem! Last night I set the guide up in my garage and moved the back set of poles forward, into the empty set of holes. It seems to have helped. I can fully extend the first three poles, with out the front raising. The back pole I can extend to the 2nd hole anything after that is there is movement on the front. Thats my 2 cents.


It's not only a name, but a state of mind!

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Sorry if you're annoyed by this thread, but the purpose of the Equipment Forum is to exhange information about fishing and outdoor equipment. When I set out to spend $300-$500 on a new piece of equipment, I like to gather as much information about the product as possible. A very good source of information comes from other people's experience with the product--hence, this forum.

I am really happy that you love your Fish Trap Guide. I still believe that it is a quality house, but the one I was sold had a big problem. A few other people who have posted here have had the same problem with theirs.

The people who posted in this thread have already done what you are commanding: we've contacted the manufacturer to try to get things resolved and/or simply returned the product for a refund.

Having an opportunity to hear other people's experiences with the Guide has helped me to make a final decision on what house I ended up with.

Does that mean that we're standing on our soap boxes, hoping that "the Internet will solve our problems"?

No....I don't think so. I think it means that we're using this forum for its intended purpose.

Try not to let my bad experience with a Fish Trap Guide negatively affect your good experience.

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Look at the Owner's manual provided with your Guide. I would like my house to look like that house when the poles are fully extended. Problem is, even on my level floor in my garage, the skirt part of the canvas (bottom 6" or so) hangs above the floor. With my poles on the lowest setting, the skirt puts about 1" or so of canvas on the floor. Look at the picture, almost the entire skirt is on the ground. Thats what I want.

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It's not about getting worked up. I haven't lost a wink of sleep over this. wink.gif

Here's the point I find the most irritating: There have been so many designs of the Trap that there really is no excuse for this type of malfunction.

If some tents are smaller than others, USL has a quality control problem, and they should fix it. If most tents are too small (and by that I mean if, at full pole extension on level ground, the front pole does not LAY FLAT on the surface), they should re-design the model.

If I go into a store with my hundreds of $ and see a Guide with a front that sits flat on the floor with the poles extended, I'm going to make them an offer right on the spot for that display model. If not, I'm going to wait for USL to assure me the problem is corrected.

By the way, no, there is rarely perfectly level ice, but I've grown tired of bringing along a 2X4 to elevate the rear of the tub so the front skirt will meet the ice (and I have to do that on level ice, too). Now I just kick some snow over to elevate the back, but it also isn't too good on the back to sit on such a slanted seat.

Huskminn has the right idea about why we post the way we do. It's not about bashing USL, and we know that many people are satisfied with the Guide, but threads like this provide a valuable service for potential buyers and an outlet for people with gear problems.

"I've driven farther before to catch fewer fish . . ."
Steve Foss

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Everyone has the right to hear unbiased opinions on equipment. That is the entire purpose of this board... Just as we could be discussing a quality problem with otter or another brand. Ray, I think we're all smart enough to figure out that this should be tested on level ground. I could see the problem right away in my garage as well (which is level by the way).

USL no doubt about it has a quality control problem and possible design problem. The fact is this should never make it into production. If it does, they should offer a voluntary recall on the product purchased in question. It seems to me they are attempting to avoid this problem, but that isn't going to cut it. Anyone shelling out 300-400 for a 2 man ice house deserves better quality than that.

Even if the problem is resolved with a new canvas, the customer has to go through the trouble of replacing the canvas. What would you do if you were the customer and it comes time for a new ice shelter??

WHEN I buy another it will likely not be a fish trap.

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I understand what you are trying to say. At first I wanted to purchase the otter but there customer service jerked me around and I decided to get the guide trap. I have talked to some of the guys around here that have them and they are very satisfied with them. Not all guides have this problem I must be one of the lucky ones. The others can be fixed if the company gets enough complaints about the product.It would not be hard to fix this problem. All you have to do is send back the canvas to the co. have them sew a extra large skirt to it this will give you more than enough room to work with.It is under gaurantee so you still have time yet to get repaired. Everything can be worked out but you have to find the right person to talk to.

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