For many anglers beach shelters are an essential piece of kit, a place to keep your gear out of the wind and the rain. They provide a safe haven for the weary, battered sea angler to tinker with rigs and bait up away from the elements. There are tackle shops brimming to the sides with beach shelters, some are ok, some are good, but all fundamentally do the same job. The differences between the ok ones and the good ones are subtle in looks, but massive in practically. The Shakespeare Salt Beach Shelter promises much, but how does it stack up, let's take a look.
For many years I never really saw the point in a beach shelter. My view was always…just why? Why would you want to carry extra kit with you when you could put on a perfectly good flotation suit that would keep you away from the elements. I remember taking the mickey out of a good mate of mine when he started to get into beach fishing regularly around Suffolk, he went and purchased a beach shelter, we all laughed! However, my take on beach shelters was about to change…
The Holderness coast…not exactly known for forgiving weather was the place that changed my view on beach shelters forever. I had the fortune to fish with an England International for the day. Fishing was actually limited as I was covering him with the camera for a feature in a sea angling magazine. When I met him on the beach he was already setup, he had his shelter erected, his rods setup and the rod rest was at the ready. Now this guy is a busy angler, always working, methodical and thorough and peaking into the beach shelter…was an eye opener. His entire kit was laid out, organised and ready for action. His bait was all prepped and sheltered. His tackle was laid out neat, tidy, organised and close to hand to save him time. As somebody who suffers from a mild form of tackle OCD, I was amazed, and suddenly I realised, none of this organisation could be achieved without the aid of a beach shelter. Not only that, but this anglers bait presentation would be nowhere near as good as it had to be had he not had all this setup and was sheltered from the wind to work. I was sold.
Ever since that day I’ve looked at beach shelters in a whole new light, which is why I was excited to get my hands on the Shakespeare Salt Beach Shelter (I know, I should really get a life).
The first thing you notice before you even get the shelter erected is just how small it packs down and also how lightweight it is. The whole shelter fits into a bag that is just over a meter in length and 30cm in width and height. This makes storing and transporting the shelter from your garage to the beach a doddle.
When the shelter first peaks out of the bag you notice just how blue it is, a perfect compliment to its sister product the Salt Rod Rest. It is worth noting that you can also get a mini shelter that attaches to the Salt Rod Rest, although why you would want that when you can get the full blown shelter is a mystery to me! The shelter is constructed of a blue, very strong nylon material that is waterproof and windproof providing ideal shelter for the angler.
Unpacking the Shakespeare Salt Beach Shelter and then erecting it is surprisingly quick and easy. Shakespeare say it can take around a minute with practice, it took these bumbling hands around five minutes to start with, however once I was more familiar with the procedure it took me a lot less, probably not a minute but certainly no more than two or three.
Around the edges of the Shakespeare Salt Beach Shelter there are extra wide base flaps. These base flaps allow for the angler to pile as much sand, shingle or rocks into the flaps as needed to make sure the shelter is secure in strong winds. The base flaps also feature metal eyelets, much like you might find on a carp fishing bivvy or an oversheet for a tent. These eyelets are designed for use with the provided tent pegs to add extra security when conditions allow. I wouldn’t recommend using the shelter with just the tent pegs though, in a decent to strong wind you could well find yourself chasing after your shelter down the beach! Always exercise caution (as with any shelter) and pack in the sand and rocks to really make sure your shelter won’t got for a walk.
The Shakespeare Salt Beach Shelter looks to have been designed with the busy sea angler in mind. It has a wide front which allows you to enter and exit the shelter easily and when that 10lb cod is determined to drag your prized rod into the sea, speed too. The central part of the shelter has a flat roof. This enables the angler to sit under the shelter without having to bend their back, it is high enough so an average angler can sit and stretch their back, sitting fully upright. I’m not exactly a giant at 5 – 10, but I reckon even the bigger lads amongst you shouldn’t have too much problems stretching your backs in this shelter. The flat roof also gives you a good view of your rods when sitting fully under the shelter.
When you are sitting centrally you can easily reach both sides of the shelter meaning you can have a central seat with your bait station to one side and your tackle box to the other. Alternatively your tackle box can be your seat which leaves extra room to keep other items under shelter such as cameras, lamps, food etc.
Overall the design is very well thought out giving the angler plenty of options on layout with a good height to save you crouching over and doing your back in. Also, if you’re feeling incredibly sociable and like to be cosy, you can fit two anglers in the shelter as well. A good feature to have for angling buddies when the weather is horrendous and you want to split a coffee or something stronger.