If you’ve ever been ice fishing, or even if you can imagine going ice fishing, you know you’ll have a lot of gear. Fishing huts, ice fishing picks, buckets, ice fishing heaters, augers, tackle… the list goes on. How do you get all that stuff from your truck to your fishing spot?
An ice fishing sled, of course! In this guide, we’ll look at why you need an ice fishing sled. We’ll also give you a few of our favorites to check out for yourself. Ready to begin? Here’s everything you need to know about ice fishing sleds.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ice fishing sleds on the market. Whether you’re a casual angler or a competitive fisherman, you’ll find one of these four sleds will be just right for you.
Best All Around Ice Fishing Sled
The Shappell Jet Ice Fishing Sled was chosen as best all around because it’s versatile, affordable and the perfect size for fishermen of all experience levels.Check Today's Price
Dimensions: 53”L x 24”W x 10” H
Weight: 12 pounds
Warranty: Not mentioned
Carry your gear, bait and catch for a day trip on the lake. Or pack your hut and overnight equipment if you’ll be camping.
The sturdy Jet is stable on both ice and snow. Thick poly will last for years, and molded runners just add to the stability. Your Jet will float when not overpacked.
A contoured hull makes it easy to pull by hand or tied to your waist, but if you want to attach it to your snow machine, you’ll have to retrofit it a bit. Shappell Jet Ice Fishing Sled users have reported being able to carry over 150 pounds in this little beast.
Best XL Fishing Sled
With the ability to lug hundreds of pounds, your JSX will be more than able to tote your generator, shanty, food and fishing gear.Check Today's Price
Dimensions: 66”L x 31”W x 12” H
Weight: 22 pounds
Warranty: Not mentioned
If you’re planning to camp on the ice, the Shappell JSX Jet Sled is exactly what you need.
Sportsmen who have used this sled say that they’ve towed as much as half a ton when using it for hunting. You probably won’t carry that much with you, but that speaks to the durability of the sled.
If you’re an all-season sportsman, you might love that others have used this sled to retrieve duck and other game. While I don’t recommend you use it as your fishing boat, an average sized man or woman can absolutely float in this sled. That’s great for summer, but also imperative for emergencies.
Best Premium Ice Fishing Sled
if you’re looking for something truly versatile, look no further than the Pelican Trek 75.Check Today's Price
Dimensions: 74”L x 30.5”W
Weight: 43 pounds
Warranty: 60-day limited
This sled is massive, weighing in at 43 pounds. It’s meant to be towed with a truck or a snow machine, not manually pulled. In the summer, you can hitch it to your truck, ATV or UTV and carry your harvest home to process.
The Pelican Trek 75 is made from RAM-X, a multi-layer, proprietary material that’s treated to be protected from UV rays. That means that whether your adventures take you out on the ice or into the woods, or if your Pelican is just being stored in your back yard, the sled will maintain its durability.
Stable, durable and long-lasting, the Pelican Trek 75 will cost a bit more than other sleds, but it’s worth the price.
This little sled is perfect for beginner ice fisherman because of its small and lightweight size.Check Today's Price
Dimensions: 55”L x 24”W x 10” H (Medium)
Weight: 13 pounds (Medium)
Warranty: Not mentioned
Last but not least is the Beavertail Sport Sled. If you’re carrying your fishing tackle bag, bait and auger, but little else, this sled is great.
For longer trips out on the ice, you may need a bit more space. The Beavertail Sport comes in three sizes, so choose the large to accommodate bigger loads.
The Beavertail Sport Sled is awesome for solo or duo fishing trips. You may be limited in your ability to retrofit the sled, but it’ll carry everything you need. When you’re home, customers say the sled is ideal for bringing firewood from the woods to the house.
Why Do I Need an Ice Fishing Sled?
Is it going to be your first time ice fishing? You may not have a ton of equipment to carry with you just yet. But believe me – you’ll accumulate quite a bit of gear and might even get an underwater camera for ice fishing as you get more and more into the sport.
Your ice fishing sled is going to be absolutely invaluable to you whether you’re an ice veteran or this is your first trip out. They don’t cost a lot, they can carry pounds and pounds of gear and they’re going to save your back.
Bringing a sled on your fishing trip can be important for your safety, too. You’ll be able to keep your hands free to check ice thickness or, in worst case, protect yourself should you slip and fall onto the ground or through the ice.
I recommend you bring – and wear – a flotation device when you go ice fishing. Remember that your ice fishing sled will not double as a boat. They’ll float a bit with your equipment loaded, but aren’t meant to carry a human.
How To Choose The Best Ice Fishing Sled
When you’re just beginning to ice fish, you may not know exactly what to look for in an ice fishing sled. Don’t worry – your sled choice isn’t permanent! If you choose one that doesn’t quite suit your needs, you can always upgrade later.
That said, no one likes spending money twice. So we’re going to help you determine what you need in a sled so that you make the best choice. Here’s what you should look for when you’re choosing an ice fishing sled.
For some sportsmen, a kid’s snow sled will be plenty sufficient as an ice fishing sled. If you’re only fishing occasionally, you can get by with that, or with other household items you “upcycle” into a sled.
But if you’ve got more gear, or if you’re planning on camping on the ice, unless you’re bringing your truck you’ll need a sled with a bit more carrying capacity.
As you shop for sleds, make note of the dimensions of each product. Hand-tow sleds will generally (though not always) be smaller and more lightweight than machine-tow sleds. But they’ll still have the space you need to carry your buckets, bait and your catch on the way back to camp.
Machine-tow sleds have a tendency to allow for a little more equipment. So if you’ll be packing an ice fishing shelter, supplies like food and water and even a generator, these are the way to go.
When you’re choosing the carrying capacity of your sled, it’s just as important to think about what you’re carrying as how you’ll carry it. Luckily, while you shop, you’ll get a lot of information from the product descriptions. Read the reviews, too! What have others used the sleds for and how it’s worked for them.
You’re not going to find a ton of variance in the shape of your ice fishing sled. Most are elongated and designed to scoot easily over snow and ice with minimal effort on your part. However, you’ll again need to think about how you’re going to tow your sled before you choose the shape that’s best for you.
If you’ll be pulling it by hand, a sled that’s narrower at the front than the back may be better. This will help you get through deeper snowy patches. If you’re towing behind a vehicle, a shape that’s more squared can give you added stability.
Just as the shape of your sled probably won’t vary too much, neither will the material it’s made from. Most ice fishing sleds are built to be tough, made from a thick polyethylene that’s meant to withstand the outdoors.
As you shop, you may notice a metal sled or two. These can be just as durable as the polyethylene type, but I don’t really recommend them. After years of use, they can be prone to rust and oxidation. Also, they’re not going to be as likely to float in an emergency as a ply sled will.
I mentioned earlier that you can pretty much bring anything ice fishing to tote your gear. People in a pinch have used kids’ sleds, garbage can lids and concrete mixing tubs.
But if you’re not in a pinch, it’s a good idea to get something more durable. The topography your sled will see is much different than the powdery snow your kids love. You’re likely to encounter rough ice and rocks on the way from camp to your hole.
The thick polyethylene sleds I mentioned are designed to get the job done. They’ll last for years if you care for them, and the best sleds are compatible with machine-tow and hand-tow fishermen.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best ice fishing sled size?
The size of the sled you choose is completely up to you, but you’ll need to think about what you’ll use it for. If you’re spending the weekend camping on the ice, obviously you’ll need a larger sled than for a day trip.
Typically you can get away with a sled that’s about two feet wide and around five feet long to carry the basics. If you’re carrying more gear, obviously get a larger sled.
How can you drag an ice fishing sled faster?
If you’re towing your sled behind your truck or your snow machine, you should be more concerned with stability than speed. Look for a sled that can be attached with a tow bar rather than a rope.
If you’re manually pulling your sled, you can gain speed by looking for a sled that has reinforced runners on the bottom. You’ll be more easily able to cut through snow and gain speed on the ice than with a flat-bottomed sled.
How do you mount a seat on an ice fishing sled?
Hmmm… well, that depends on why you’d want to. If you’re intending to use your sled as a floatation device or a boat, please just don’t.
If you simply want a place to sit while you fish, you can absolutely “rig” your sled to fit a seat. There are plenty of seat options online – just search Amazon or your favorite outfitter. Ensure that your led is durable enough to support this upgrade before you try it. Instructions will be included with your seat.
Be sure that attaching a seat to your sled doesn’t void any warranty that may have covered your ice fishing sled.
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