When the only way other portable shelters can get off the ice is to ride piggyback on your Otter, it drives home the point that getting home is easier and safer with not just the best sled, but the best accessories too.
“We were heading off the ice on Lake of the Woods a couple years back with some guys that were running competitors’ ice houses and struggling,” recalls ICE FORCE Pro-Staffer and In-Depth Outdoors TV personality Joel Nelson. “First I loaned them every piece of extra strap, chain, pin and rope in my Otter to patch their hitch system together. Then the last two miles, we had to stack their houses on top of my Otter to get them off the ice.”
The experience reminded Nelson that “one of the things that makes an Otter an Otter is all of the customized accessories that complete the package.” Otter’s excellent towing system is a perfect example.
Sled Tow Hitch With Pin
“If you buy a brand-new Otter and tow it with a rope, you’re missing the boat altogether,” Nelson says. “Because the Otter towing system is better than anything else out there. The Sled Tow Hitch is so rugged and well engineered that it’s going to give you more years out of your investment.”
Pulling your Otter with a rope or chain often results in your sled slamming into the back of your tow vehicle, Nelson cautions. “So eventually the fabric is going to get chewed up,” he explains. “There’s a reason why the Otter Tow Hitch bars are rigid – to keep distance between the sled and you, and to keep it from running into you every time you stop.”
Flipper Hitch Adaptor
New for the 2014-2015 ice season is an addition to Otter’s towing solutions, the Flipper Hitch Adaptor. This innovative accessory allows simultaneous installation of sled-tow receiver hitch and a ball-mount hitch, so you don’t have to change receivers when towing your sled. It attaches virtually any sled-tow hitch to any vehicle that has a ball mount up to 2 5/8th inches.
“I just put one on my ATV,” Nelson says. “Normally, I’d have to switch out those hitches and that’s always a pain – once I had to attach a chain to a tree and drive forward in order to pull a ball hitch out so I could hook up my sled. The Flipper Hitch is a way better solution.”
A perfectly engineered U-shaped assembly that attaches between your sled and standard sled-tow hitch, Otter’s Hitch Pivot is an elegant solution to one of ice fishing’s long-standing challenges – reaching up under your sled’s bow with cold hands and connecting or disconnecting a hitch-pivot pin.
But once you’ve installed an Otter Hitch Pivot, you’ll never have to disconnect your hitch from your sled. Not even when loading it into the back of a truck. “It’s really a pretty clever solution,” Nelson observes. “That Hitch Pivot simply rotates up and over your sled, bringing with it your Sled Tow Hitch, which then nestles down into your sled or on top of your sled cover.”
Sled Travel Cover
Constructed from heavyweight fabric, Otter Sled Travel Covers are both waterproof and extremely durable. They feature a shock cord sewn into the hem to seal out snow, slush, water, and mud.
Nelson doesn’t step foot on ice without an Otter Sled Travel Cover protecting his shelter and sled’s contents. Other anglers, however, attempt to get by with a variety of inefficient covers.
“The biggest one I always see is tarps bungeed down,” Nelson says. “But no matter how you bungee a tarp, it just never works out. That’s the nice thing with the Otter travel cover – the shock cord is built in on the outside edge and it’s form fitting – custom made to fit perfectly, stay on and protect all your gear from the elements.”
If you tow your sled over pavement, gravel or really rough ice en route to your holes, consider installing Hyfax runners.
“For those people, Hyfax is essential,” Nelson says. “You’re putting all that wear and tear on the replaceable Hyfax runners, rather than the bottom your sled.”
Made from 5/8ths-inch-thick, high-density plastic, Hyfax runners bolt into the molded-in pockets on the bottom of your Otter sled. They extend the life of an Otter considerably and improve the towing characteristics at speed behind your ATV or snowmobile.
Rear Hitch Receiver
Otter’s Rear Sled Hitch Receiver is ice fishing’s first-ever factory-approved hitching system. On the inside of your sled, a big, steel Backer Plate disperses torque. On the outside, a specially engineered hitch pin (included) attaches your rear sled’s tow hitch to the Receiver Hitch.
“If you’re fishing with a buddy, you can hook up his sled to yours and tow it with one machine,” Nelson says. “Then you free up a vehicle to scout further-away holes or what have you.”
Both the Receiver Hitch and Hitch Pivot will work with any brand sled. But anglers will get better performance and more years of service from an Otter sled.