Outfitted with Frabill’s patented “Fishouflage” camo, vertical front wall and newly designed entry doors, the 2014 Ambush DLX Ice Shelter is breaking the mold when it comes to fishing on ice. The new sidestep doors are the biggest innovation Frabill has engineered in their portable ice shelters since the flip-style ice shanty was first introduced. Instead of a standard front-entry door, Frabill’s SideStep Entry models feature doors on each side to allow for easy access both in and out of the shelter. Anglers no longer need to step over heaters, bait buckets, flashers and fishing holes to enter the shelter, which provides improved safety and a new level of convenience. And because the front wall is now upright and not sloped, there is more room for longer rods and unobstructed hook sets. Yes ice fishermen – your prayers have been answered!
For the first half of this winter our good friends at Frabill hooked us up with one of their most advanced ice fishing shelters (we call em’ “shanties” here in Michigan) the Fishouflage Ambush DLX and we put it though the paces for more than two months and over a dozen trips to the lake and back. But before we delve to too deep into our review breakdown take a gander at some of the key features and specs that make this ice shanty top of the line…
- Fishes 2-3 anglers plus gear
- 2 large side doors with heavy duty zipper
- 2 deluxe padded swivel boat seats
- Patented MSS (Modular Seating System)
- Extra-tough, thermo-formed base
- 7/8” Heavy-duty aluminum frame
- 4 clear view, removable window
- MaxVent system adjusts for optimal venting
- Eight 2” x 2” Safety reflectors
- Fishable Area: 65″W x 59″H
- Max Occupants: 3
- Material: V600 Denier tent
- Set–up: 96″L x 66″W x 75″H
- Folded: 66″L x 40″W x 21″H
- Weight: 126 lbs
To say the Ambush DLX is roomy would be an understatement! This ice shanty has plenty of room for two fishermen, seats, gear, beer and more. With the addition of a third (additional purchase) seat you can even squeeze a another fisherman into the DLX – though for pure comfort sake we highly suggest sticking to the two-man setup for maximum elbow and leg room.
Beyond it’s vast footprint, the Ambush DLX is amazingly simple to transport and set up in just a matter of minutes (our personal record 2.5 mins!) The entire shelter folds down into an easy to transport sled which is capable of carrying all your fishing gear, seats, auger, shovel and any other odds-n-ends you might need for a day on the ice.
The only design flaw we found throughout testing is also one of the biggest selling points as well, and that is that this sucker is just so damn BIG. I’m 6’2″ and I have no problem fully standing up and stretching out in this shanty – it’s really quite wonderful. But with all that overhead space we noticed that our Buddy Heater at times struggled to keep the entire shelter heated – especially when outdoor temps dropped below zero and the winds picked up. TIP: to combat the cold a propane heater is always a good idea, but don’t count on that alone to keep you warm. Always bundle up and make sure all your shanty’s windows, zippers and vents are secure to retain the maximum amount of warmth. You can always shed layers if you’re warm, but it’s difficult to stay warm if you don’t come prepared.
As we hinted at in the section above, setup of the Ambush DLX is an absolute breeze. We’ve never had such an easy experience setting up an ice shelter for the first time. Without any directions we had no major hiccups or mistakes during initial setup to speak of. And as we used the shanty more and more we got quicker and quicker at setup/tear-down.
With two easy to install swivel seats, four telescoping sections and four support poles designed to give the shelter integrity/rigidity – setup can easily be handled by one fisherman in a matter of a few minutes. TIP: if you’re setting up or tearing down at dusk or dawn a headlamp is a smart choice for handling this chore.
By the end of testing we did however find out that while the setup of the DLX is remarkably easy – it does have it’s limits… and those come by way of wind. Mother nature can be nasty and when the winds whip up above 20 to 25 mph you’ll want to keep this shanty off the ice. Frabill’s setup for the DLX is quite impressive, but it counts solely on the weight of the fishermen to keep the shanty in place during windy conditions . During a testing session two weeks ago we reached the limits of what the Ambush DLX can handle. In sustained winds of 23 mph with gusts of up to 40 mph we set out to the lake for a morning of fishing, but were forced to turn right back around when we were unable to even setup the DLX.
Moral of the story? This shanty is super easy to setup as long as you’re doing so in winds under 20 mph.
We’ve never been so comfy sitting on a chunk of ice for the day. The Ambush DLX does a great job of blocking snow and wind to keep you protected from the elements. One of the biggest comfort factors for us during testing were the deluxe padded swivel seats. These seats are simply awesome! They are padded well and swivel nicely so that you can easily get to your gear at the back of the shanty and quickly move to grab your pole.
Additionally, we really fell in love with the ability to mange the ventilation of the DLX. With four removable windows and the MaxVent system at both peaks it is easy to control the flow of fresh air. For most of the ventilation we relied on the MaxVents which are adjustable on the inside and outside of the shanty, enabling you to get the airflow just right for the conditions you’re fishing in. The removable windows were also handy for smokers who don’t want to freeze to get their fix.
Throughout testing we fished from the Ambush DLX a total of 15 times over the course of 2 months in some down right fridged conditions. When it was all said and done there’s very little use and abuse to be seen. Mostly the bottom of the sled took a the brunt of our testing with scrapes and scratches covering it from dragging it across ice and boat launches.
One of the biggest durability downers that we experienced was actually during one of our last testing sessions – where the inside zipper-pull on the left door broke in half. Luckily this didn’t effect the zipper’s ability to zip/un-zip. We were actually able to re-tie the original cord to what was left of the zipper-pull and it continues to work nicely. That said, it’s obvious that in exceedingly cold conditions plastic and even metal become more brittle and can break.
Selling new for $700, the Frabill Ambush DLX is a great value for ice fishermen who are looking for a shanty that provides easy setup, spacious fishing quarters and exceedingly comfy amenities. It may sound like we’re describing a hotel stay and that’s what it feels like! Over the years our crew has had the opportunity to fish from many a ice shelter and this one from the boys at Frabill is top notch. It’s a great investment for any seasoned fisherman.
- Very Comfy
- Easy & Quick Setup/Tear Down
- Not Recommended in Winds above 20 mph
- Big Space to Heat