I thought long and hard this year on which Clam I was going to get for the 2016 hard water season. Slowly building up to the point where I can take multiple clients and guests ice fishing, but really wanted something just for me. Studied the website, and wore out the pages on last year’s Clam catalog, and just when I thought I had it all figured out, BOOM…they come out something new to throw a wrench into my well laid plans, the Yukon X Thermal. Within an hour or so, I knew this was going to be it for this year!
Clam’s Yukon X Thermal
I got it home, with a plan in mind, this baby was going to be all mine. With a little subtraction, as in not installing the second seat, I would make this into the ultimate single seat Lake Erie walleye shack. Roomy, warm due to the thermal insulation built into the tent and coupled with the tough constructed tub, and runners for added protection. Install the tow kit, and I would be ready to rock on the lake this year.
The build started outdoors, notice the orange contraption on the left, that is a hydraulic table, which makes transporting a large box an easier task. Is the table a must, of course not, but it sure makes things simpler when you are doing everything by yourself. Saw horses are a good idea, everything is easier to build when they are elevated to your level.
Clam Runner Kit
There are things you need to install before you start putting the shanty together, like the runner kit. Whenever I am helping customers pick out a shanty, the #1 suggestion is to buy the runner kit. You add years to even the toughest built tub, but if you buy later, after the shanty has been put together, you are asking for a headache while trying to install it.
Clam Tow Hitch
Another accessory I like to install before the rest of the shanty is the Universal Tow Hitch, again its just easier to do before the rest of the hardware is installed. You have two choices here, either buy the universal or pick up the new Pro Series Tow Hitch. Here is my thoughts on this matter, you plan on un-hooking your shack, and moving it around, then the Pro Series with its handle is for you. For me, this would have a great application for when I fish with my Kenai Pro and am moving from hole to hole panfishing. My personal style on the big water is just leave everything hooked up to the Bearcat and make sure the backside of the shack is facing the wind. Even with a thermal, every little bit helps.
That is why I went with the Universal Tow Hitch. They are TOUGH, and easy to install. Since I will never be using the tow rope, I patched up the holes with some heavy-duty duct tape on the outer shell of the tub. I made the mistake of installing the rope on my Voyager TCX, the rope would slide out and drag under the shack while traveling, or even just that little bit of distance between the circumference of the hole, and when the rope is installed, will allow just enough snow or slush in to make things a mess when you get back home.
Next up, install the side plates for mounting the tube frame, and the crossbar for mounting the seats later. This is probably the easiest part of the build. The directions are dead on, and easy to do while on the horses.
The speed clips, where were these when I bought my first Fish Trap Pro? These clips make opening and closing the shack a dream. Also, very easy to install when putting the rest of the framework in place. Note this though, go ahead and install the top sections, but leave the front hoop off until you are ready to install the tent. Remember, you do need to slide that hoop section through the front sleeves of the tent. It’s just much easier to do before installing the clips. Not that I did it or anything….guilty.
Next up the seat, perhaps the best piece of advice here is to rotate the base of the swivel plate 90′, it just makes everything easier to work with. Why the hammer, every build needs a hammer! Actually, this was just for the plastic inserts for the seat’s cross poles. These allow you to move the seat back and forth, and they are somewhat of a tight fit.
The seat is installed, the only thing I haven’t done yet is to install the Deluxe Seat Cushions that strap into place. I never thought I would need cushions like this, but they are so nice, I even pt them on the seat in my Kenai Pro. Luckily, with this model, they come as part of the package.
Even though I decided to make this into a roomy one seat shanty, I figured why not make myself an extra storage compartment of sorts. By simply not installing the hardware for the second seat, I still made use of the frame and sling. Its stays at arm’s reach, and I can easily move it from one side of the seat or the other. I can use it for extra tackle or even lunch.
The molding that goes around the back and sides of shack, this material is really stiff and hard to work with. Strongly suggest having a hair dryer handy, or as another alternative soaking in hot water as stated in the directions. Even though the booklet suggested starting in the middle of the tub and working your way out to each side, this wasn’t really easy. After measuring the molding, and the distance to be folded in, I started on the side, and worked my way around. My starting point was right where the skirts starts for shoveling snow around to keep the wind out. I was well in the area the directions told me to be, and still had plenty leftover where I needed to cut some off with some strong shears. No worries, they say you have to trim a little bit.
There she is, my new Clam Yukon X Thermal, or as I like to call it, my new Lake Erie Walleye Special! There is only one more thing that needed to be installed, and they are a must for traveling at high speeds across any body of water, the Travel Cover.
Yukon Travel Cover
The covers do everything; keep your gear dry, keep everything safe from falling out, and also for storage at the end of the season. Just be sure everything is dry before saying good bye for the final time to the 2016 season. The last thing you want is that mildew smell when you break it out for 2017.