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Whats a guy to get 1st???

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OK guys.... this year I'm going to get into ice fishing more than I have in the past. It may be a stupid question but... what should I purchase 1st?? Right now, I'm debating between an Otter portable, and a FL18. No power auger this year.... it's going to be the old hand model. BTW... which hand auger would you recommend? I'll wait on that and see how much I'm able to get out this year.
Right now... I'm thing the FL18 is a must.... I can deal with the cold for now.

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What will you fish for mostly?
Are you set on an FL-18? If not, think about a used FL-8 and a used 2-man house (see the used gear wanted or for sale forum). You could buy both for about the price of a new FL-18 without major drawbacks (some will disagree with this, but the disadvantages are relatively small).

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Scoot, what is the advatage of the fl-18 over the 8? Is it that much better? I am sure the guy at the upcoming ice fishing show will tell me I can't live without the fl-18, but I have never used one ever and still (IMHO) catch as much fish as the others out where I have been.

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I'm with Scoot.

I bought a used Fish Trap II (two man) in good shape, one season rental unit, for $135 instead of $300-plus new. Got a used 3 hp Strikemaster XL-3000 with a 10-inch auger used two seasons for $150.

So those two used cost less than a new auger or a new Trap alone. Got an FL8-SLT new for free (except for the hard work of refinishing a friend's hardwood floor, in exchange for the new Vex). But you can get a used FL8 for $100 to $175, and upgrade later if you really get hot on an FL-18. And there are a lot of used FL8s out there right now, because lots of guys are upgrading to the 18 and selling their old units.

So, you can get the Big Three for about $450 (any one of which would cost $300 plus new), instead of $1,000. And it'll be less if you get a used one-man portable.

Get yourself a small heater for the portable and you're all set. That's the way I did it on a budget, no other way I could have swung it, and I'm still using all that stuff five years later. grin.gif

[This message has been edited by stfcatfish (edited 11-05-2002).]

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The 18 offers a little better bottom separation, a bottom lock feature for summer use, and a bottom zoom feature that lets you zoom in on the bottom several feet of the water column. These are the main additions from the 8 to the 18.

Is the FL-18 better than the FL-8? I'd say, definitely yes. If money was not an issue and I could get whatever I wanted, yup, I'd get the 18. However, if money is tight I agree with stfcatfish, spend the same amount of money on the used goods and get a heck of a lot more of it. If you shop around a little you'll find some dang good deals. Keep your eyes open on this site, HSOList, your local papers, etc. You can get everything you need for the price of a new FL-18.
As far as a heater goes, you can get a small one for pretty cheap at almost anywhere. Shop around a little bit and you'll get it really cheap. If you get a small house you won't need much of a heater.
One last final tip- I wouldn't get a "true one man" house. I'd suggest one designed for two so you can fit everything you need in it and not be cramped. Also, it allows you to fish another guy in a pinch.
Good luck,

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I got back in to icefishing 4 years ago after a absence of many years. I started with a used house ($100), and the gear I had from years back - including a Swedish spoon auger and a heater from my camping gear. Added a couple rods and reels, and that was it for the season.

2nd year was better rods and reels and a FL-8.

3rd year was a 8" Lazer hand auger.

Last season I found a new 7"/2hp Strikemaster auger on clearance at Wal-Mart for $174.

So far this season, I've added a Garmin E-Trex GPS, and a Thorne Bros. jig rod. Looking at a new house and a Otter (sled) as

I should add that I had a snowmobile when the icefishing bug bit, and have used it some for fishing, but it hasn't played a major role (yet).

The biggest toy will come when I can afford a new truck w/ 4wd, to replace my 2wd van.

I've taken the slow but steady upgrade route. It takes longer, but it gives me a chance to find out from others what works and what doesn't, and a great education along the way.


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Wow.... thanks for all the responses guys!
I will mainly fish for 'eyes, and I will be hitting lakes where I will get down to 30-40 ft (or deeper). I guess that's my main reasoning for going with the FL18.
But, you guys do bring up a good point about getting mainly used stuff to start off with. Yep... it would save me a ton of money. Looks like you guys have gone that route, and it worked for all of you pretty well to get the ball rolling.
I'm going to do some searching for the used gear (FL8, portable, auger).
Also, if you guys know of someone whos looking to sell any of the above... let me know!!

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I do quite a bit of fishing on Devils Lake, ND for walleyes in 30-40 feet and have an FL-8 and have used my buddies FL-18. In the deeper water you can pick out the fish laying right on the bottom better and I do think the FL-18 is overall a better unit. With the FL-8 you can still pick out fish laying right on the bottom but you just have to learn what to look for. You will generally see the bottom flicker a very small amount with the FL-8 and at times you will see a little bit of green or orange if the fish is smaller and holding right on the bottom. My buddy will still have a hard time picking fish right on the bottom with his FL-18. I have learned to use the FL-8 and the unit works perfectly so I have chosen to put my money elsewhere. In summary, you can still see the fish on the bottom with the FL-8 but you may get a little eye strain trying to pick up a little bit of "flicker" on the unit.

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Either way I think you are going to need a Vexilar. Buying a FL-8 and a used portable might be the way to go. Sitting out in the cold during those cold nights can be pretty uncomfortable. FL-8 is a good unit and will get you by until you can pick-up an FL-18. I own an FL-8 and haven't had the chance to pick up an 18 yet. The 8 is just fine especially if you're a beginner. The used portable should be fine for a few years too. My Fish Trap II is four years old and still is in great shape. Check the used gear for sale forum, there should be should offers there.

Good Fishin, Matt.

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I couldn't imagine going without all three. The Three must haves for ice fishing(locator, house, power auger) When I go out, I drill lots of holes. Gotta find em. If it were me, I'd get a cheap house and heater, a used vex, and a decent auger. I bet if you were lucky, you could swing all three for 4-5 hundred.

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Well maybe I should ask this.... any of you guys wanting to "upgrade" you gear, and get rid of the old stuff? Vex FL8, auger, shelter? I just need a one man portable, but a 2-man might be nice for extra room.
I didn't realize I get so many replies to this question!
You guys a great.

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There, I found you a house already. mrmillelacs has a speedshack he said hed trade for a shotgun. So get your priorities straight and give the guy a shotgun.

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I also suggest you buy used in order to get all 3 NECESSARY pieces of equipment.(it doesn't have to be pretty......just functional) There's lots of this stuff being sold now and more in the very near future as people start to prepare for the hardwater season and decide to upgrade their equipment. An FL-8 will suit your needs just fine for now. I personally upgraded to the FL-18, but I fish walleyes on LOW quite a bit and looking for ANY advantage I can gain over them slippery eye's. My FL-* served me flawlessly for 3 years. I myself have sold an auger, 2 man Fishtrap, and FL-8 on the used gear forum within the last month. I sold all pieces for $150 apiece and it was all good working equipment that I only sold because I upgraded everything. You should be able to find everything for ~$150. Had you posted a few weeks earlier I would've sold you all my stuff.
Good Luck !

[This message has been edited by Twitter (edited 11-05-2002).]

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If I could only spend, say, $300, I'd get the used Vex and power auger, and save the shelter for next year. The Vex and auger are the two keys that allow you to be mobile and drill lots of holes. On bigger water with ice roads, you can drive where you're going and fish downwind of the vehicle, or right out the door or window.

I didn't get my Trap II until a year after I had the other two pieces. If I had it to do over, I'd do it the same way.

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####1 get a shelter!!! smile.gif One reason is
the obvious.. You aren't exposed to the
elements.Plus,itsa place you can take your
gloves off and your hole don't fill up
with snow or ice-up.Another reason is
people don't see you catching all those
walleyes!! Face it, while it can be done
sitting on a bucket, it is a lot more
enjoyable when you can feel your fingers/toes
and the wind isn't freezing your eyelids
On the auger side, most of the better
fishing for walters is early ice
so a hand unit will suffice since you won't be going through 20 inches of ice.

On the finder question, I have seen where the 18 will best the 8 but, I would not lose
any sleep over the difference.

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First year I got the FL8, in my mind the number one piece of equipment for a person that wants to take ice fishing seriously, any sonar will do though.
Second year I picked up a portable, able to stay out on the ice for much longer than previously.
Last year it was the power auger, that old Mora blue was a lot of work the previous March-30" of ice by hand no more.
Went the new equipment route, that's why stuff was spaced out over three years. Got to keep the Redhead from taking off my head.

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A Trip to Remember……….by T-Bone

Lake of the Woods-January 2002

A group of seven, we were to be
Brought together by fate, you see.
Lake of the Woods was our final destination
We were all in need of fish predation!

Bill Gunn’s journey began on New Year’s Eve
With so much prep, Pearl though he’d never leave!
He made the trip in record time
With Geeman as co-pilot (that doesn’t rhyme!)

A night at T-Bone’s, they did spend
Just as they did, at the trip’s end.
Arising from a fitful sleep-
Scott shows up and in the trucks we leap.

The early morning of January two, the final leg began
With CB radios dueling
We barreled down the highway
Thinking of fresh shore lunch, and drooling.

Bill drives a Ford truck-
T-Bone drives a Chevy
You can imagine the CB debate
Which at times became a little heavy!

A little breakfast by Mille Lacs
Served up Blue Goose Inn style-
Then ‘round the corner to Tutt’s Bait
For non-resident licenses they’d have to file.

The scenic drive from that point on
Showed Bill and Bryan Minnesota’s heart.
Pine trees, forests, lakes and hamlets-
And not a single Wal-Mart.

Past Winnie, past Thunder and the 8th Crow Wing-
Hell-bent for fishin’ we were.
Past Deer River, Ball Club and Northome too
Hung a right at Shooks and became a blur.

On through Kelliher, Waskish and past Red Lake
The road was straight and true.
On through the frozen tundra land
Under a sky of cobalt blue.

Nearing Baudette, excitement mounts-
As the bumper strips warned us to stop.
Highway 11 we take to the west
As we decide to make one more stop.

Get gas, get goodies and hit the liquor store
We’d have no further chance.
We’re kind of at the end of the earth
And anxious to start the dance.

Oh my God! Could it really be?
I see a "dead end" sign!
Rocky Point is down this way-
At the very end of the line.

The sight of the lake is a fearful scene
As if we’re on the moon.
Ice is shoved up everywhere
Might stay that way ‘til June!

Unload the gear-it’s time to ride-
To our home for the next three days-
Old friend Albert, our trusted guide
Hauls us off to a distant bay.

He drops us off at the rust-red shack
"The Minnow." Says the sign.
As thoughts of Gilligan fill my head
With Ginger we won’t dine.

As the clatter of the tracks on Albert’s rig
Diminish from a rumble to a whine
Another inter-gallactic ice cruiser fades into view
With Bill Gunn’s 4 wheeler keeping up just fine!

When Bill goes fishing-he brings it all
For nothing he shall want.
But loading it up at the end of the trip
A normal man would daunt!

And over there across the ice
A football field away-
Is Gissert, Batman and Reservior Tip
"The Walleye" is where they’ll stay.

We settle in, we drop a line-
Getting used to our new surroundings.
God help these defenseless piscatorial critters-
Who from us will get some poundings!

We battled fish, we battled logs
At times we fought for breath.
Life in the fish house ain’t so bad
With farts that smell like death.

And then the fateful dreaded day
Had finally arrived.
Bill promised to eat lutefisk-
No excuse could be contrived!

Me and Geeman headed north
In search of bigger fish.
While Scott and Bill stayed behind
To comply with their "death wish."

Fishing in the portable with Geeman at my side
Above 29 feet of stained water…..
We jigged and tugged and iced some fish
In the name of our Al Mater! (The Shanty, of course!)

Returning to the Minnow
As the setting sun dropped for good…
The lutefisk twins were hard at work
Stacking saugers and perch like cord wood.

For three whole days, this stuff went on
You’d hope it never ends.
But on day four, you kinda know
You leave if you want to stay friends.

The beer is gone, the coffee too
Without it we’d be flat.
Our clothing has begun to smell
Like a three day old dead cat.

We load the trucks and off we go
Back onto terra firma…
We pass the many highway miles
And no signs tell us to shave with Burma.

This may not be a complete account
Of a trip to a wonderful place.
If seven men all testified
Each would have run a different race.

So this will end and as it should
Without a big fanfare.
Seven men leaving from a fishing trip
With a bad case of "Ballcap Hair."

One final thought, if I may…….
The amazing power the ice can deal,
As it thunders and cracks beneath our heel,
Smashed bugs on life’s windshield
Is about how big we feel!

This is what it's all about guys. Let's move past all of the other dump. We can get past it, I know we can. Let's get back to fishing and sharing what we all love ok?..............The Bone

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I know on the used fish forum a guy is selling a Fl-8 for around 150. I think his name is RodHolder. I know that I sold my house this week for 50 dollars and it wasn't in that bad of shape. The deals are out there, you just need to find them.
My order of priorites would be:
FL-8 with hand auger
Power auger.
In my opinion you need to be able to find the fish to fish them, stay warm, and then be mobile quickly. But, people will say to find them you need to move around and find them.(Drilling multiple holes). I just think you can survive on a hand auger till you can afford to buy a good qualitly used or new one. Upgrading tools yearly for fishing is the way to go.
Just my opinion.

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You don't need to drill a hole to check the depth, just spray some water on the ice and put the transducer in the wet spot. You can drill only in the depths you want.

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Wow, this is me five years ago. I did it this way.
Year one.
1. Found a spoon type hand auger at a garage sale for 8 bucks. Works great. It's an oldie but a goodie.

2. Bought a bunch of old tackle, poles, lures, skimmer at another garage sale for 5 bucks. Pretty much cleaned out everything the old guy had.

3. Froze my arss sitting out on the ice without a house. Knew things had to change.

Year two
1. Built my own shack out of plywood and tarp. Works great, still use it.

2. bought two ice fishing rods/reel.

3. bought swedish pimples, gem-n-eyes, jig-o-bits

Year three
1. bought my strikemaster, should have bought this sooner. Can't believe I went two years with a hand auger

Year four

1. angel eyes and ice buster bobbers.

2. built permanent house on wheels

Year five
1. bought a vex.

Contrary to public opinion, I don't think the vexilar is a first year necessity. Until I became more experienced, I fished near the crowds anyway. You can still catch fish by putting the bait a foot off the bottom and jigging near the crowds. Of couse you'll catch more with a vex, but a house and auger were more important to me. With more experience, I did more exploring, more reading lake maps, and adventuring out on my own. You pretty much need a vex for that kind of fishing.

Next year I believe a fish trap is in order. smile.gif

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Wasn't gonna post to this one since I am no expert on ice fishing, but....

Used to hardwater fish years ago and did the chop ice with a spud(lots of work) and sit on a pail(freeze your butt off). Not a real enjoyable experience even if you find fish.

Just decided last year to give it another try. First bought a hand auger $45, a couple of rod and reel combos $18 apiece. And some basic ice fishing jigs, found a cheap shelter for $199, $30 for a heater and started fishing. Kept my eye on the local want ads and found an older but still running power auger for $75, sharpened the blades and it works fine. As you can see there is no need to go out and spend a ton $$. I would put the house rather high on the list, freezing you butt off up here in the Great White North.

As for where to find fish. Find a friend who knows more than you do and pick there brain and see if they will take you out. If that don't work go to the lake and try some places that someone else has already did some fishing.

I am starting to look for a vex or some other ice fishing compatable flasher. Can't seem to part with $300 for a new vex.

In other words go fish even if you don't have everything.


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Chunk: What, are we brothers or something and don't know it? (see post from Phyl on GPS) grin.gif I too use the Lazer when I want to travel light on first ice. I got a 7-inch on the cheap from a pawn shop. Blades were razor sharp. That was 5 years ago. They're still razor sharp.

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