Ice fishing shelters are not essential but are nice to have. Constructively they are not much more than bottomed out tents that have enough height for you to fully stand up in them. The old school fishermen might prefer to enjoy the elements as part of their fishing experience, and you might be one of them. But the elements are not always kind and can be unpredictable. Having a shelter allows you to store all your gear in one place, preventing it from being covered in snow and freezing over. It also prevents your fishing hole from being covered in snow as well. Another obvious benefit is warmth. The shelter might simply allow you to stay fishing longer because of the added comfort, which might not be important to you, but will be important to your kids if you’re bringing them with you. It also gives you a place to attach lighting to and protects whatever electronic equipment you might be using from the elements.
Ice fishing rods are different from regular ones for very good reasons. While regular fishing rods are workable, it will be hard for you to judge when the fish is biting. Also, the fish is usually lured onto the bait by a jiggling motion. This will become tiresome with a full-size fishing rod due to its weight, and you will probably need to sit that much further away from the hole itself. Ice fishing rods are incredibly light with highly flexible tips that respond to even the gentlest of tugs. They make the ice fishing experience that much more enjoyable. Thanks to how little material is needed to produce them, ice fishing rod and reel combos start as low as 20 dollars, with bigger versions going up to 100 or so. The size of rod will depend on the size of fish you’re looking to catch.
A fish finder is a piece of ice fishing electronics that adds an extra dimension to the experience. While not an essential piece of equipment, it’s the sort of thing that, once you try it, you won’t want to fish without. A fish finder is a sonar device that drops a cone-shaped beam down into the water. On the display you’ll see objects (fish) floating in the water within the beam’s range. This allows you to see how much fish is around you, and what depth they are concentrated at, allowing you to adjust your line accordingly. You will also see your bait on the screen as well. This way you’ll see if any fish are approaching your bait, and what kind of jiggling motion is most effective to grab their attention. Watching the fish approach your bait will also help you confirm any motion you see on the rod as a genuine bite. It might sound a bit artificial, but fishing without a fish finder may make you feel “blind” in a way. The engagement that the device provides is how many people stay fishing on the ice the whole day.