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What is the Best Way to Haul Ice Fishing Gear?

What is the Best Way to Haul Ice Fishing Gear?

For those who don’t have a lot of ice fishing experience, hauling gear can be the most daunting task. You imagine yourself making multiple trips as the blustery frozen wind hits your face like shards of glass.

Sounds fun, right?

It’s not. But if you prepare, bring the right gear, and only pack what you need, you’ll be able to make hauling your gear a simple experience. Continue reading to learn more about the best ways to haul ice fishing gear.

How Do You Transport Ice Fishing Gear?

Ice fishing can seem like an intimidating game, but it doesn’t have to be as long as you have a strategy. Getting all your gear onto the lake in the safest and easiest way possible is priority number one. This is something you should be thinking about long before you actually get to the ice.

Here are some important tips to help you transport your gear properly.

Bring a Sled

bring a sled when ice fishing

The ice fishing sled is one of the most useful tools for ice anglers. You’re crazy if you think you’ll be able to carry everything by hand. If you don’t have a snowmobile or the ice isn’t thick enough to drive your truck right out, a sled will become your favorite assistant.

Pack Only What You Need

light pack for ice fishing

It might seem obvious, but you don’t want to bring anything extra. Ice fishing requires a lot of additional gear such as augers, extra clothing, and skimmers, but bring only what is needed to get the job done.

This factor is especially true for beginners who don’t know how to identify safety hazards such as slush or cracking ice.

Watch The Weather

watch the weather

If you know what to expect, you can plan accordingly. Be aware of the weather on the day of fishing. If you’re anticipating snow leading up to your fishing trip, expect that snow to be present on the ice making your haul a little more difficult.

When you watch the weather and warmer temperatures are in the forecast, expect the snow on the ice to melt and cause a slushy mess. This too will make it difficult to haul all the gear.

Understand Safety Factors

understand safety factors when ice fishing

Safety is the most important thing to consider in ice fishing because a lot can go wrong. You can slip, fall through the ice, or get disoriented during a snow squall.

When you’re walking out onto the ice for the first time, start around the edges and test the ice. Make sure it’s thick enough before you pull any gear onto it.

Four inches is thick enough for one person to walk out with gear, and eight-inches is thick enough for a snowmobile with gear.

It’s also important that you never fish alone in the beginning. Until you’ve established yourself and you know what you’re doing, bring a buddy and tell someone that you’re going.

How Do You Pack an Ice Fishing Sled?

Shappell Jet Ice Fishing Sled

You want to pack your sled intelligently so things don’t fall out and get damaged. Here are a few ideas to help you pack it properly.

Heaviest on the bottom – Keeping the heaviest stuff at the bottom will make sure the weight is distributed properly and you won’t have to worry about heavy things such as augers breaking your small tackle boxes on top.

Pack small stuff in containers or buckets – Nothing small should be moving about the sled freely. Make sure all tackle, lines, hooks, and bait are properly tucked away inside of your tackle or bait boxes. You can also use bungee cords  to ensure everything stays together nicely.

Fill in all open space – Try your best to leave as little space as possible in the sled. The less space there is, the less things will slide around. I also recommend packing your sled ahead of time and simply pulling it out of your truck. Trying to pack everything lakeside isn’t always the best option.

How Do You Store Ice Fishing Lures? 

to store ice fishing lures

You want to make sure to store all fishing lures inside a tackle box or utility box. These items will get lost and damaged if they’re left around the ice. The Plano Tackle Organization system  is one that I use myself.

How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Sled?

While a sled might seem like a simple purchase, choosing the right ice fishing sled can mean the difference between an afternoon of fishing and one of aggravation. There are some slight differences between sleds so you want to make sure you get the right one.

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing an ice fishing sled:


capacity of ice fishing sled

The most important thing to look at is how much the sled can hold. How much gear do you plan to bring and can the sled carry it all? If you’re just starting out with ice fishing, you probably don’t have too much gear.

But, if you’ve been ice fishing for a while, you might have an ice fishing shelter, fishfinder, and multiple rods. Are you planning to bring a cooler and a bucket as well?

All of these are things to consider when deciding how large of an ice fishing sled  you need.


durability of ice fishing sled

You need to ensure that the sides and bottom of your sled are durable. You may bump into rocks and roots as you’re dragging the sled onto the ice, so durability is key.

Most ice fishing sleds come with a curved hull which allows you to pull the sled across snow with ease.

Pay attention to tie-down points as well. Do they look durable and long-lasting, or do they look like they’d break under pressure? This is an especially important point for sleds that will be pulled by ATVs and snowmobiles .


Shappell Jet Sled Junior Fishing Shelter

Do you like how your sled looks? While appearance isn’t the most important consideration, you’d be surprised how much it matters. Think about it this way. A sudden snow squall comes through as you were walking around the ice and now you can’t find your way back to your hole.

A brightly colored ice fishing sled may be the only thing preventing you from getting lost on the ice. You should also look for a sled with high sides because your gear will be less likely to fall out.


Eskimo 70" Grizzly Ice Shelter Travel Cover

Some ice fishing sleds come with covers  and tie-downs. These are great at preventing things from flying out of the sled as you’re moving it on the ice. Some sleds even come with shelters and chairs attached to them.

Final Thoughts

Transporting your gear onto the ice doesn’t have to be complicated or daunting. Ice fishing is all about preparation and the more you prepare, the better off you’ll be. If you only learn two things from this guide, it’s to limit the amount of gear you bring and ensure you bring an ice fishing sled on your trip.

Pack the sled carefully and keep in mind that the walk out to the ice might be bumpy one. Good luck and most importantly, have fun!