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ice fishing expensive?


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maybe a little vent here but i started looking at the prices of ice fishing stuff. augers around 300- 600 bucks. houses start at roughly 180 on up. etc etc. i remember when they said ice fishing was cheaper than summer now you can get a used 14 foot boat motor etc for around $1000 and except for a few rods and life vests your good to go. i realize you can buy used. the reason i write this is my nephew went with me last year wants to get in to it. he said he has went several times to a used fish house with no holes to find huge rips etc. he said a hand auger will work but after a couple of holes through 3 feet doesnt make it much fun. sorry to rant but holy cow prices have gone up. my nephew went to a sporting goods store and the sales guy said for under $1500 you can get into ice fishing cheaply. i wonder for that price if fish are included. sorry to rant but anyone else see how spendy stuff has gotten.

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It has really gotten expensive but there are much cheaper options...the question is, how limited are you willing to be?

If you want to be mobile, hit a variety of lakes, fish lakes with less pressure, stay warm, stay connected, etc., then you are looking at a power auger, a portable, a heater, higher end rods and reels, electronics (GPS, flasher), and perhaps clothing designed specifically for the outdoors, and maybe even an ATV.

Now, on the other hand, if you just want to fish and getting in the game for cheaper is what you are after, you can do that, too. By a couple stick rods ($5 each), some basic tackle ($15 worth), a five gallon bucket ($5), a chisel ($30-40), and an ice scoop($3). There, you're in the door for under $75. What does that limit you too? Fishing spots where lots of people fish so you can chisel out or kick open their old holes. Without the aide of a portable you will likely have to fish on nicer days, you won't have any "eyes" under the ice, and you will be hand-lining fish in. Can you still catch fish? Absolutely! Then, if you really get into it, start buying equipment here and there as you can.

I put a power auger and a Vexilar at the top of that list, and with many guys updating each year, there are lots of good deals on used Vexilars (and other electronics). It's one item I won't fish without. My Vex is going on year 13...pretty dependable if you ask me, so getting a used one is not a bad thing. Then get a power auger...a used fish house...a heater. Keep building your arsenal as time and money allow.

The bottom line is this: if you want to fish this year and money is an issue, where there's a will, there's a way!

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Ice fishing can be as cheap as a bucket (laying around the garage), some fishing line spooled onto a busted off broom handle, hooks and bobbers from summer fishing, and a chisel to get through the ice. I did it as a kid, and it didn't produce much for fish or for fun. Use what you can from your summer gear to help offset costs, like hooks, lures, broken off long-rods with reels, etc... Dig out some good long johns, socks, boots, and other outerwear for the day, along with a couple of old dish towels to keep your hands dry if need be.

I'd say from that starting point, getting some sort of hand auger will help tremendously ($40-80). Now all you have to do is find a lake, look to see where people are fishing (or follow tracks and look for frozen over holes) and set up. If you want to drill multiple holes and fish multiple places in a lake (or lakes) a power auger might be worth it. Now you are into the $300+ range new, but you can find one used for half that of you are patient.

The next thing to do would be to fish a little smarter, and that is where electronics will come in. A flasher can be found new for less than $250, and used for even less. Lots of options here, and it will probably have the most impact on your style of ice fishing. I used to call it my "$300 bobber" as all I did was use it to set depth relative to the bottom. But it does oh-so-much more than that, including but not limited to improving hook-ups, finding "breaks" or structure, and eliminate fishing a dead hole. But, you can have the nicest, most expensive flasher in the world and it is useless if you can't get through 18" of ice to actually fish.

From here you might want to look into fishing in comfort, but that is going to get you out there more often and for longer. Also, it will give you a way to transport your stuff. At this point it is all upgrades and electronics silliness (I am a sucker myself), like underwater cameras, GPSs, and so on and so forth.

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For my mobile set-up this is what I spent.

1. Fish Trap Scout: found on sale for $125.00.

2. Strikemaster Auger: found on sale for $400.00.

3. Marcum LX-3tc: found on sale for $250.00.

Total expense for all new equipment was $775.00. I think if I went used I could have saved a couple hundred bucks. Once you acquire the equipment, it should last a long time if well maintained.

The best suggestion for your nephew is to save money over the winter and buy ice gear in the spring or summer. I have spent money on rods, reels, etc., but I take care of my gear so it lasts. My only real expense this year will be jigs, bait and gas.

I also own a boat and that is a lot more expensive than my ice gear.

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back in the day ice fishing was cheaper.. and if thats what you want.. it still can be.. all you really need is a hand auger or even a chisel, a stick, some line and a lure. Under $100. good to go.. but with technology things have become expensive. Ice fishing still costs the same.. its just all how you want to roll.

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All sports/hobbies have up front costs. Keep good care of your equipment and it should last a long time. After the up front costs, then it is cheap again. New line each year, bait, propane, and a few more jigs and your good to go.

Time is the hardest thing to come by.

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since he has only a car has he considered a hub style house. Clam has a starter setup that includes their Twin Hub I(5' X 5' 1 man house) and a hand auger and a sled to haul it in. the retail on this is $169.99. a buddy heater can be found for around $80.00 and then he would only need one or two cheaper rod & reel combos(approx. $30.00 each for a mid priced one, stay away from the cheap ones). the only thing he would be missing is a flasher(which can be found used if you look around).

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I started long ago with building my own shack, revamping broken rods into ice rods ect... Added our gear up for insurance a couple years ago and was a little surprised at what our investments have grown to... well over $5k and I don't have a hardside, sled or quad....

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wow what a bunch of replies. i didnt think the thread would go this way but my nephew is 18. i feel if he really wants to do this he can do it on his own(own money etc). we both were just amazed at how the prices are high on fishing stuff. he is 18 and has a job someone on here a while back gave some fishing items to him after his summer stuff was stolen it was greatly appreciated. i just dont want him to get an idea every thing comes for free not playing hard ball but he has to learn. thanks for the replies it amazes me the generosity of people on this site

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This forum is populated mostly with people who are, to one degree or another, obsessed with fishing. Most of us here will spend a lot more than is reasonable on it. However, I spend very little and have great results. I didn't use my house or power auger at all last year. I barely touched my camera. All those were given to me by friends who know how much I love to ice fish. Problem is, all that excess gear is a pain to drag around and set up and it limits where I am willing to walk. Here's my suggestions for starting cheap:

Get a bucket and 2 basic combos ($10-$15 each.) make sure they have spring bobbers.

Get a couple swedish pimples (or similar little spoons,) a half dozen jigs, and waxworms or minnow heads.

Get a hand auger (ask around and someone will give you one.) Buy brand new blades for it every spring! In spring, $30 blades can be found for $15.

Fish shallow lakes (<20 fow max depth.) Start in the deepest hole and work the bottom 6 inches.

Dress warm. Everytime you get cold, you cut a few holes. About 10 holes an hour is usually my pace.

Fish underpressured lakes away from others early and late in the season. When the ice is it's thickest, fish with a friend who has a power auger. Or, skip a month. The dead of winter is the least productive time anyway.

Chase panfish! He'll have consistent action and stumble into bass, pike, walleyes, etc.

If he likes it, he'll spend some every year and his arsenal will grow. However, like me, he might want to leave all the extra baggage at home and just catch fish.

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i just dont want him to get an idea every thing comes for free

You have restored my faith in humanity...

It is good to see people out there with the right set of values...

People who know that things worked for and obtained have a much higher value than just the price of the item.

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This forum is populated mostly with people who are, to one degree or another, obsessed with fishing. Most of us here will spend a lot more than is reasonable on it.

you got that right. I have got into building custom rods and have found that a typical custom ice rod costs me between $20 to $100 to build. the $100.00 ice rod would be one with a solid walnut or cedar handle and would use a solid carbon blank and would have REC Recoil Guides and a tripwire installed by thorne brothers.

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Buy good used gear!

With your comparison you first listed, its apples to oranges, you are comparing new ice equipment to a very used boat. Personally I think ice fishing is very inexpensive

The cost of ice fishing initially scared me off, but I was able to get into it for a very low cost. First off, don’t buy any of the big items new. The stuff built by reputable brands (augers, shelters and flashers) are built to last, and the ice season is short. So buy good used gear, it will last a very long time. I have an old Eskimo auger that I paid $175 for, it has never failed me.

The other thing that I have done to get into it cheaper is I started bartering. I found that I had a bunch of power tools and stuff in my garage that I don’t use, so I either traded them or sold them and used the cash to buy used gear.

The nice thing about buying used gear, is if you are smart and find good deals, you can use it for a few seasons and sell it for what you paid. You can’t do that when buying new.

Here are some deals I made to get into ice fishing.

Traded scroll saw I never used for Clam Suitcase 2 man shelter and a hand auger to get started

quickly found out using hand auger is no fun, sold 2 other power tools for $175, used money to buy power auger

Gave a guy $20 and a shop vac (got it on clearance at home depot for $16 worth $60)for a broken Showdown, fixed it for no cost (loose wire) paid the $50 to upgrade it to the Showdown 5.6 (so I paid $86 total for a showdown 5.6)

Wanted a flip over, found a guy that had a Eskimo 3 man flip over and a very old gas auger for $230, had a broken pole, got it from the manufacture for $5, sold the auger for $100, sold my old clam for $115, ended up only paying a few dollars to upgrade to the large flip over.

So ice fishing is as expensive as you want to make it. I got set up with a complete arsenal for the cost that most people pay for just one of the big ticket items new. So get creative, watch the online used deals, find things you don’t use to trade and you can get into it really good.

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