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
Otter Sport Ice Sled
Let’s start with what is regarded as one of the best ice fishing sleds in the business, the Otter Sport sled.
100% roto-molded from one tough, durable polyethylene piece, the sled has been specifically designed to distribute the weight of the load, and absorb the shock and stress across its frame. Basically, it’s as rugged as they come and built to last a lifetime.
With a reinforced outer lip for added strength, the back and sidewalls are raised to protect all your gear, and to offer unbeatable stability. The front is also uniquely designed to make short work of snow and slush, so you can get to your destination with minimum fuss, thanks to its excellent stability and tracking.
A tow-rope is included for hand pulling, but it is compatible with an Otter sled tow hitch if you prefer – ensuring it’s suitable for ATV, snowmobile and 4×4 use.
- Solid construction.
- Affordable quality.
- Very stable.
- Glides well over the ice.
- Versatile use.
- None to speak of.
An outstanding ice fishing sled that is built to last and withstand the rigors of utility sled requirements, all while protecting your gear. But don’t forget, you’ll still need your own protection from the cold, so wear one of these warm ice fishing jackets, and you’ll be snug as a bug in a rug.
Pelican Nomad 40 Multi-Purpose Sled
Made with a heavy-duty, high-density polyethylene, this is a multipurpose sled that can be used for a variety of activities and needs during the winter, built to withstand whatever the elements throw at it.
With a maximum capacity of 90 lbs, and a total volume of 44 liters, you have plenty of scope for loading it up, and it’s been specially designed with higher walls – so it will keep whatever contents you need it to carry properly protected.
Underneath, you’ll find molded-in tracking rails, to help keep the sled on course through snow and slush. A pull rope is included.
Designed and made in Canada, you can be sure this can stand up to harsh winter conditions, and you’ll be hauling your gear (or your kids – if you have them) around for many years to come. In fact, it doubles as a great toboggan for any little ones in your life.
And as it’s the cheapest ice fishing sled in our review – so it saves you a fair bit of cash to boot.
- Versatile, utility sled.
- Side rope for cargo attachment.
- Molded tracking rails.
- Durable poly construction.
- Great price.
- Not the best for vehicles.
Suitable for kids sliding down a hill, towing fishing gear, firewood, or any number of other applications, this is a decent little utility sled that won’t break the bank.
Shappell Jet Ice Fishing Sled
Made from HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) the aptly-named Jet Sled from Shappell is a tough and durable transport solution that is able to carry a variety of gear and equipment with ease.
Suitable for ice fishing, transporting a deer carcass, hauling firewood – you name it, the rugged polyethylene construction can take a beating, while the molded runners offer strength and stability when you’re sliding across the ice, so you can build up a bit of pace. And while it’s designed to be heavy-duty, it never actually feels heavy, which also contributes to its speed and manageability.
The hull has been specially contoured to allow easy pulling by hand, and there’s a strong tow-rope included to get you going, whether it’s through terrain, snow, or ice. It’s also well-suited to being pulled by an ATV or similar vehicle, so you’ll have no problems hitching it up to your ride of choice.
This particular product is the camo version of the sled, (a UV-resistant, ultra-realistic winter design) but it’s also available in plain black, which is usually a little cheaper if you want to save a few bucks.
- Durable construction.
- Great across the ice.
- High sides for protection.
- Very highly rated.
- None apparent.
Another solid, versatile utility sled that will get the job done. Check out the other reviews if you’re still not convinced. And don’t forget you’ll need a pair of quality ice boots if you’re venturing out onto the ice this – or any season.
Flexible Flyer Winter Trek Sled
While this looks more like an adult toboggan for sledding down the slopes, it doubles perfectly as a utility sled and is more than suitable for ice fishing as a result.
Made from a heavy-duty, no-break resin, it can fit up to three kids or two adults – which means it’s ideal for carrying a lot of gear. Capable of holding up to 250 lbs maximum weight, its 5.5 feet length ensures it’s one of the longer sleds on the market. This extended length ensures you can comfortably use it for larger equipment – such as an ice auger.
Designed for pulling by hand or by a skier with the strong tow-rope included, the molded grooves on the hull add strength and improve tracking over all kinds of terrain.
It also comes from one of the oldest sled companies on the market, as the Flexible Flier has roots back to 1889. Originally made from wood, this version has been updated to withstand the rigors of modern use.
Tried and tested for decades, this is a great sport sled for any situation.
- Improved, solid build.
- Simple, no-nonsense design.
- Molded grooves for improved tracking.
- Highly versatile.
- Might be too large for some.
- Low profile walls.
A practical and well-built sport sled that will easily get your gear from A to B. And the fact that it can support three humans means that it should be able to handle one of these toasty ice fishing heaters with ease.
Pelican Mega Utility Glider Sled
There’s a reason this sled is called the Mega Utility Glider, as simply by looking at it, you know it’s going to be able to accommodate all your gear.
And with a volume of 52 liters, it’s capable of taking four kids or two adults for a ride, so it will transport all your ice fishing stuff with no problems.
Made with durable, RAM-X polyethylene, the heavy-duty molded tracking rails help it chart a straight course across snow and ice, with a low-friction hull that has been designed to glide easily over the terrain, with the high-density construction providing excellent shock resistance.
Durable rope sides are built-in for secure cargo attachment, and a pull rope is also included.
Whether transporting your ice fishing gear or a screaming child – this will do the job just fine.
- Extra-long sled.
- Deep walls.
- Fully tested in harsh conditions.
- Versatile use.
- Not the highest maximum weight capacity for a sled.
- Not suitable for pulling a deer.
This is a great sled for transporting your ice fishing gear, particularly your augers and shelters, where you need something a little longer to keep things protected and safely on board.
Clam Transport Ice Fishing Sled
Anyone who has ever ice-fished will know that Clam Outdoors are industry leaders when it comes to the sport. Founded in 2003, they’re dedicated to ice fishing, and pretty much don’t make products for anything else.
That’s why the Clam Transport is such a beast of a sled. It’s been designed by ice fishers for ice fishers, which is always a good sign in my book.
Made with a rugged single-piece of heavy-duty polyethylene, it has a maximum capacity of five cubic feet, with a deep, spacious tub that can carry all your gear.
And unlike other ice sleds, the Clam Transport comes with a practical bracket that can hold up to three buckets – which is ideal for carrying bait, extra gear, or anything else you need to keep secure. And with deep walls all the way around, you can be sure your stuff isn’t going anywhere except where you want it to.
- Ice fishing brand to trust.
- Solid, durable construction.
- Lightweight but heavy-duty design.
- The bucket bracket is a real winner.
- It’s on the pricey side of sports sleds.
This is a world-class ice fishing sled from the dedicated ice fishing experts. Sure, it might set you back a bit of coin, but it’s built to last, and that bucket bracket is a great addition to what is already a top-quality tub.
Beavertail Sport Sled
Suitable for camping, hunting and fishing, the Beavertail Sport sled is a popular addition to any outdoor person’s equipment arsenal, and a highly versatile option you can use year round.
Designed to be used in all seasons, you can be sure it will successfully transport both your gear and your quarry come rain or shine, at just over five feet in length.
The reliable polyethylene construction is sturdy and dependable, made from a single-piece of material that offers seamless durability, improved rigidity and strength, all while being as flexible as possible. The bottom runners are reinforced to allow an easier pull over snow, ice, and rough ground, so you’ll be able to move across all kinds of terrain with ease.
The forceful leading edge makes short work of debris in its path, while reinforced lips give additional sidewall strength all the way round the tub.
Whether you’re hauling a stack of decoys into the marsh, tools and equipment around your yard, or fishing gear across the ice, the Beavertail Sport Sled has you covered.
- Tough and durable construction.
- Tow-rope included.
- Deep walls.
- Highly rated.
- A little more expensive.
A top hunting tub no matter the season, this is ideal for use all year round. But if you are using it just in winter, you should also try one of these protective ice fishing suits to really keep the elements at bay.
Frabill Universal Shelter Tow Bar
Something a little different to finish, as it’s not actually an ice fishing sled – but rather a specially designed device for hauling ice shelters across the ice.
Frabill have been trusted by anglers since 1938, and their innovative designs have always been at the forefront of the industry. The Universal Shelter Tow Bar is no exception, capable of hauling just about any ice shelter wherever you need it to be.
Made with a powder-coated, durable metal, it has a rust-proof and anti-corrosion construction, and comes with all the necessary hardware with which to attach it to your ATV, snowmobile, or similar vehicle.
The compact design ensures it won’t take up too much space, and you can easily move between different fishing locations without the need to take your shelter down completely. Attachment is simple, with a single-pin that ensures set up is quick and easy, so you can spend less time towing, and more time fishing.
- Durable, long-lasting construction.
- Highly rated.
- Fast and easy attachment.
- Great price.
- Only really suitable for ice shelters.
Sure, it’s not an ice fishing sled – but it’s a great solution for dragging your shelter where you need it without having to take the time and effort to dismantle. Well worth the consideration of any keen ice fisher.
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.
This can include – but not limited to – ice augers, shelters, extra clothing, fish finders, and all your rods and tackle.
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!