They are very easy to change. Just remove the nut from the backing plate on the knuckle and replace the broken pole. I've owned a Quickfish 2 and a 949i. I've found being very deliberate when both putting them away and preparing to set them up has helped avoid unnecessary stress on the poles.
Are you using the float? As JT said if the ducer is at an angle for any reason you can have those issues. I'm not a fan of using the float myself - I use the support cord but make sure it is clipped to the main cord so the ducer hangs as close to parallel to the bottom as possible.
Thinking about buying an Otter XT Cabin. Anybody have one who would share a review? Also, I have the medium sled so I already bought the cover, tow bar and hitch pivot. Are these interchangeable or would I need to buy additional? Thanks guys!
Like you said - it's going to be tough in this weather. Since you'll want to keep your little guys interested I'd recommend jigging for crappies but putting out a few tip ups with shiners in shallower in hopes of hooking a northern. There are 3 main crappie holes out there all within range to set tip ups. I've iced some nice northerns there even in this kind of weather.