Just because the cold weather hits doesn’t mean it will stop us dedicated anglers from fishing.
The problem is, winter significantly increases the amount of gear and equipment that you need – on top of everything else.
But rather than try to heave it on your back, there’s a perfectly good alternative.
In this review, we take a look at the best ice fishing sleds on the market, helping to get you and your stuff to your favorite winter angling spot.
A buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow.
Let it freeze!
Table of Contents
- The 8 Best Ice Fishing Sleds for 2023
- How to Choose the Best Sled For Ice Fishing
- Do ice fishing sleds float?
- What is the best ice fishing sled?
- How do you make an ice fishing sled easier to pull?
- Can you make a DIY ice fishing sled?
- How do you put skis on an ice fishing sled?
- Can ice fishing sleds be used with snowmobiles?
- What is the best ice fishing shelter?
- Can I use my kid’s snow sled for ice fishing?
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The 8 Best Ice Fishing Sleds for 2023
How to Choose the Best Sled For Ice Fishing
Below, you’ll find a handy, bite-sized guide to the things you should be looking out for when choosing the best-rated ice fishing sled for your needs.
Ice Fishing Sleds – Do You Need One?
You don’t need an ice fishing sled.
It’s going to be entirely up to you if you want to try and carry all your ice fishing gear to your favorite spot – not to mention how you’re going to get back with anything you might catch.
Using a sled to get your equipment over the ice is a no-brainer. So, you don’t need one, but if you’re going to be ice fishing any distance from home, they’re still highly recommended.
Don’t forget, they can be versatile products for other uses, especially if you get a utility version that doesn’t have to be specifically used for ice fishing. You can use them for hauling firewood or deer during the hunting season, for example.
It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t try to use your kid’s snow sled as a substitute. It’s going to be a lot more trouble than it’s worth, as the smaller size and less durable quality will ensure your gear is tipped all over the ice.
A very important consideration when it comes to the best ice fishing sleds – is how much can it hold?
By the very nature of the sport, you’re going to be carrying much more gear and equipment than usual.
And don’t forget the most important consideration – somewhere to carry one of these awesome fishing coolers, so you can share some suds with your buddies.
The best sleds for ice fishing will have high sides – so your stuff doesn’t spill out everywhere. They’ll also be long enough to contain larger equipment – like an auger for example.
A fishing sled that’s too short will cause you all kinds of problems when it comes to balance.
And you don’t want to run the risk of damaging equipment by hitting obstacles, or as you attempt to negotiate hazards, with anything that’s hanging out over the lip of the tub.
The weight of an ice fishing sled might be arbitrary at first, but when you start to load it – things can quickly add up.
If you’re going to be pulling the sled by hand, then it’s important to choose something that you can manage, and you’re physically capable of pulling.
Likewise, if you’re pulling the sled with a snowmobile, ATV, or a 4×4, then it should be heavy-duty enough to handle that.
An ice fishing sled isn’t going to be much use if it’s not very portable, so bear that in mind before purchasing
Durability is key when it comes to most products, but when it comes to the best rated ice fishing sleds – it’s vitally important.
No matter how you drag your gear across the ice, you need a tough and rugged sled that’s going to stand up to taking a beating from both the elements and the ground conditions. Flimsy plastic sleds aren’t going to cut it.
Most sleds these days are made out of a super-strong polyethylene that are designed to handle the rigors of being hauled across ice and snow – but you still need to be aware of their level of quality.
Look for sleds that have reinforced runners on the bottom – which is the area that will take the most punishment.
Another consideration you’ll need to make is how you’re pulling an ice fishing sled. Here, you have a number of options – depending on how far you need to travel and your circumstances.
Pulling a sled by hand is, obviously, the most basic choice. That can take a fair bit of effort – especially if you’re packing a lot of gear, and you have some distance to cover.
A better option is using a snowmobile, ATV, or 4×4 – which lets a machine do the work and leaves you with more energy for actually fishing.
You just need to make sure the sled can handle it. Again, cheap plastic sleds will not last long being pulled behind a vehicle.
And it’s worth investing in a sled cover to keep your stuff protected – no matter how you decide to tow it.
Color doesn’t matter so much when it comes to ice fishing – as under a thick sheet of frozen water the fish are unlikely to see anything top side.
However, if you’re hunting, then a suitable camo design might be a good choice for your sled – if they’re available.
Bolder or colors can be a good option if you’re concerned about being seen. Brighter sleds are going to be more visible from distance, should the need arise in certain circumstances.
One of the best things about owning a good-quality ice fishing sled is the ability to pimp it out. Modifying your craft to hold all your gear can be a lot of fun.
Adding rod holders, extra storage, bungee webbing, towing bars, and even skis can turn an ordinary fishing sled into the king of the ice.
You can always add reflective tape or strips if you’re concerned about being visible.
Look for sleds that can accommodate such extras, if you want to fine tune your set up further down the line. Creating a dedicated space for stashing one of these powerful electric ice fishing augers is a great idea.
A Word on Safety
Whenever venturing anywhere on the ice for fishing, it’s important that you remember some safety considerations. This is especially true if you’re pulling a sled.
It’s highly recommended you wear a pair of good-quality ice cleats, as they’ll offer excellent grip and traction, helping you efficiently move your sled and get you to where you need to be with minimum effort.
It’s vital that your hands are fully protected, too, as aside from the cold, they’re going to be getting a work-out by pulling the sled rope. Choose a pair of these ice fishing gloves to sort both problems.
Don’t over-exert yourself and be aware of your own physical capabilities. You need a modicum of fitness to ice fish, so don’t push it – even if you’re only going relatively short distances.
For extra protection and warmth, as well as offering some practical storage features, you might want to try one of these ice fishing bibs, too.
I would highly recommend picking up a good ice fishing flasher if you’re trying to keep the freezer stocked in winter. Although they’re a little on the pricey side, they make a great investment, and they’ll save you money in the long run.
As such, it’s nice to know the price of a decent fishing sled isn’t going to break the bank, and you’ll pick up a good one for around $50.
Having said that, as with any product, you can throw money at it if you want to. More professional, heavy-duty set-ups and towing rigs can set you back a fair bit of coin.
It’s up to you to decide what will best suit your needs and budget accordingly.
Do ice fishing sleds float?
They can do – depending on the type and the quality of the sled itself. Some sleds are designed to float in the event of the ice giving way.
However, this will depend on where the load is distributed, as they are subject to tipping and will take on water as a result.
If a sled is too full or poorly loaded, it is likely to sink anyway, and they should never be used as flotation craft, regardless.
What is the best ice fishing sled?
Any of the sleds in this review – it just depends on your personal preferences and needs.
Look for a durable sled that’s built to take a beating. A good ice fishing sled will strike a balance between weight and strength, and be deep and long enough to carry all your gear comfortably.
Remember, it’s not a good idea to have equipment hanging out over the sides – especially if you’re using a vehicle to tow it, and/or crossing rough terrain.
How do you make an ice fishing sled easier to pull?
You can try adding a sled runner kit if it doesn’t already come with runners built-in. This will significantly improve the sled’s ability to glide over the ice.
Failing that, you can always build a “Smitty” style sled using skis – which will take your mobile ice fishing station to the next level. Check out the video below for a great example.
Can you make a DIY ice fishing sled?
You can certainly make a Smitty sled out of wood or metal pipes and/or skis that will make a sled easier to pull – again, see the video above.
However, making the actual sled itself will be a bit more challenging. Considering the price of today’s durable polyurethane sleds, it will be a lot more cost and time-effective to simply buy one.
How do you put skis on an ice fishing sled?
It’s actually a pretty simple and straightforward process for attaching skis to your ice fishing sled. Take a look at the video below, or search online for a number of other guides to show you how to achieve it.
Can ice fishing sleds be used with snowmobiles?
Yes – providing you purchase a good-quality ice fishing sled, and you have the necessary hardware with which to attach it safely.
The best ice fishing sleds for snowmobiles will be tough and durable – and capable of supporting said hardware for use with motor vehicles.
What is the best ice fishing shelter?
I’m so glad you asked. Check out this review on the best ice fishing shelters, so you can keep yourself warm and protected for as long as you’re out there.
Can I use my kid’s snow sled for ice fishing?
It’s not recommended, although if it’s durable, you’re not going that far, and you’re not carrying too much gear, you might be able to get away with it.
However, children’s snow sleds are not nearly as rugged and heavy-duty as their ice fishing counterparts, and your son or daughter isn’t going to forgive you if you bust up their ride for the season.
Check out some options in the review above that have been designed for both activities, and you can choose a versatile option that everyone can benefit from.
The best ice fishing sleds will make your life a lot easier when trying to cart gear and equipment to your favorite angling spot in winter.
Let me know which model you’ve gone for and why in the comments below – or any of your own top tips for fishing through the colder months you’d like to share.
Tight lines, everyone!