Slush bags are watertight, vinyl coated nylon bags that isolate individual fish holds so water and ice can be added to chill the fish. They can be made with or without a layer of insulation and cost as little as $200 per bag.


Slush bags…are a good choice for those seeking a low cost chilling investment with a short payoff period.


As a nonpermanent chilling solution, slush bags are a good way for fishermen to test how well a slush ice program works for their operation without having to make the larger investment of insulating their fish holds. They are easy to install and will last five years or more if cared for properly. Slush bags have proven themselves an effective way to isolate holds and chill catch when properly insulated and used with an adequate quantity of ice. They are a good choice for those seeking a low cost chilling investment with a short payoff period.

 

Non-insulated Slush Bags

These watertight bags are custom built to fit a fish hold and are constructed of a single layer of vinyl-coated nylon. They are about half the price of insulated slush bags and much easier to handle due to their reduced weight and bulk. Because they lack insulating properties, it is necessary to add a layer of insulation between the fish hold walls and floor in order for these bags to be effective at holding a slush ice mixture for any practical duration. One of the more common forms of insulation for this purpose is ½’’ XPE flexible closed cell foam, which can easily be cut to fit and held in place within the hold through the use of silicon sealant or industrial Velcro, allowing it to be removed periodically for cleaning. Other insulation materials such as 1 ½’’ “Blue Board” which is commonly available at most hardware stores can be used as well and provides a substantially higher r-value than ½’’ XPE, although it is brittle and easily damaged. Often times, using a combination of these two insulation materials – depending on the location within the fish hold – provides the best balance of cost effectiveness, insulation performance and durability.

Insulated Slush Bags

These watertight bags are custom built to fit a fish hold and are constructed of ½’’ XPE flexible closed cell foam sandwiched between two layers of vinyl coated nylon. The added bulk and weight of these bags makes removing and cleaning them somewhat cumbersome so they are best suited for smaller fish holds. Although insulated slush bags greatly reduce the need for supplemental fish hold insulation, in many applications an additional thermal barrier between hot spots such as the engine room bulkhead and fish hold floor is still advisable. Depending on the layout of your fish holds and their dimensions, insulated slush bags can be a practical solution to slush icing your catch without the hassle of adding, maintaining and cleaning a substantial amount of additional insulation.

This table demonstrates how a $2,500 slush bag upgrade can increase your fishing income given the variables listed at the bottom of the chart. Although it might take a little extra effort to use slush bags to chill your catch, the additional income generated over the five-year life of the slush bags makes it well worth the effort! 

Pros

  • Low cost–They are the least expensive method to outfit your boat for chilling, with the total cost to outfit most boats in the $2,000-$3,500 range, including the cost of additional foam insulation.
  • No permanent alterations to boat—Slush bags can easily be removed after each season for storage and offer fishermen the chance to see how well a slush ice program works for their operation with little commitment.
  • High return on investment—Slush bags allow a dry boat fisherman to chill catch and receive the same quality premiums as those with more expensive chilling investments. This increase in the value of the fish delivered will often pay off a slush bag investment in less than one season, creating a very high return on the initial investment.

Cons

  • Labor intensiveSlush bags are cumbersome and difficult to clean properly on the water. They also have to be pumped out after each delivery and removed from the fish hold occasionally so the hold can be cleaned. Any additional foam insulation used must also be periodically removed and cleaned, adding to the workload.
  • Poor insulation/more ice required—Because a slush bag system is difficult to properly insulate, a substantial amount of ice is typically required to keep fish temperatures with the acceptable limits. This might not be an issue for low-volume short openings, but can be problematic for longer, higher-volume fishing periods.
  • Relatively short useful life—Slush bags are fairly durable, but they will inevitably break down over time, start leaking and need to be replaced. Unlike other chilling system investments like a permanent fish hold insulation job or installing RSW, slush bags do not typically retain their value or add much value to your boat.

To learn more about this chilling investment option or for other boat related needs, check out our list of Vendors & Professional Services.