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How to Pull Ice Fishing Sled Effectively?

How to Pull Ice Fishing Sled Effectively?

You’re ready to get out on the ice and do some ice fishing, but you need a way to get all your gear to your favorite ice fishing spot. So, you consider investing in an ice fishing sled.

But do you need to use an ice fishing sled for ice fishing, or can you use a regular sled?

What are some different ways to pull your sled effectively, and are there any tips for making it easier to pull?

Keep reading!

In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions.

Can I Use a Regular Sled for Ice Fishing?

sled for use on ice

Let’s talk about the first question: do you even need to have an ice fishing sled? Couldn’t you just use any sled to haul your ice fishing gear?

The short answer is yes. Any sled designed for use on snow and ice will work as an ice fishing sled.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need a sled for ice fishing at all. But having one can make it easier to transport your gear if you have more than you can carry or have to transport it over fairly long distances.

So yes, if you decide you would like to use a sled but don’t want to spend the extra money on an ice fishing sled, you can use any sled you happen to have on hand.

That said, any other sled may not work as well as an ice fishing sled because it would not be specifically designed for hauling gear across a flat surface. If you use a child’s sled, you may find it is too small for your needs or too difficult to pull. 

Sleds made specifically for ice fishing are generally more rugged and durable than other sleds. They have higher sides and a deeper base so you can haul more gear, and they are made for pulling long distances.

Yes, they may cost you a little extra, but they are fairly inexpensive. With this in mind, it won’t hurt to invest in an ice fishing sled if you plan to do a lot of ice fishing.

How to Pull an Ice Fishing Sled Effectively?

pulling an ice fishing sled with a snowmobile

There are different ways to pull an ice fishing sled; the most effective method can vary depending on how heavy the sled is and how far you have to pull it.

Different ways of pulling an ice fishing sled include:

  • A rope: If you don’t have far to go and aren’t hauling a lot of gear, you can probably get by with using a rope and the strength of your arms. You would attach the rope to the front of the sled and pull it along behind you.
  • A harness: For larger sleds, more gear, or greater distances, you can attach a harness to the sled. Wearing the harness will distribute the weight from the sled across your upper body, making it easier to pull.
  • An ATV or snowmobile: For the greatest distances and heaviest gear loads, you may want to hook up your sled to an ATV or snowmobile. Since the vehicle will be doing all the work of pulling the sled, you will save energy and reach your fishing spot more quickly.

Tips to Make an Ice Fishing Sled Easier to Pull

Regardless of the method you choose for pulling your ice fishing sled, there are things you can do to make the job easier. These tips can save you time and energy and will help your sled run more smoothly, limiting the chances it will flip over while you’re pulling it.

1/ Add Runners or Skis

Ice sleds are designed for moving easily through the snow, but adding runners or skis to the bottom of the sled can increase their efficiency and smoothness.

The "Sledski" Collapsible Smitty Sled

Rigging your sled with skis, as shown in the above video, will lift your sled up off the ground, leading to less surface area being in touch with the ground and keeping your sled from filling up with the snow it kicks up. You may be able to remove the skis for easier storage.

Adding runners, as shown in the following video, will deepen the grooves on the bottom of the sled, adding greater traction and helping the sled move through the snow easier. They are fairly easy to install and will not add much extra bulk to your sled.

Hyfax Runner Kit Benefits & How to Install on Ice Fishing Sled

2/ Use a Longer Rope

use a longer rope to pull ice fishing sleds

Most ice fishing sleds come with a short pull rope. Simply trading out this short rope for a longer one can make your job much easier.

With a short rope, your options are limited. You may have to stoop down or assume an uncomfortable pulling stance.

With a longer rope, you can use as much of the rope’s length as you need. You could even wrap it over one shoulder and under the opposite arm, allowing your upper body to do the pulling work much as a harness would do.

Using a longer rope is one of the simplest ways to make pulling an ice fishing sled easier.

3/ Redistribute the Weight

redistribute the weight

Some of your ice fishing gear could be pretty heavy. Augers, camp stoves, fishfinders, and other equipment can add a lot of extra weight to your sled.

It’s important to spread out these heavy items in your sled–don’t just pile them all in one corner. Evenly distributing the weight in your sled can make it much easier to pull and will keep it from digging into the ice and snow as you pull it.

You may also want to use ropes or bungee cords to tie everything down in your sled, so they don’t shift around or fall out.

4/ Cover the Sled

Eskimo 16475 50-inch Travel Cover

When you’re pulling your sled along, snow and chipped ice can get flung up into the sled as it passes by. The more snow gets into the sled, the more weight will be added to it, and the harder it will be to pull.

Using a tarp or even an old blanket to cover the sled will keep the snow out, preventing this additional weight and ensuring the sled doesn’t become bogged down. 

You could also purchase a cover made specifically to fit your ice fishing sled. This cover from Eskimo  is a great option.

5/ Use an ATV or Snowmobile

ice fishing sled & snowmobile

There are times when you have a great distance to travel and using an ATV or snowmobile is necessary. But even if you don’t have very far to go or much gear to haul, you can use one of these vehicles simply to make your job easier.

You’ll want to make sure the ice is thick enough to support the weight of an ATV or snowmobile–it should be at least 6 inches thick.

ATVs and snowmobiles are much more efficient than using your own strength to pull your sled. They will allow you to save your energy for ice fishing so you don’t have to waste it on moving your equipment.


There are different ways to pull an ice fishing sled effectively–you can use a rope and your arms, a harness strapped across your upper body, or a vehicle such as a snowmobile or ATV. Covering your sled, redistributing the weight, and adding runners or skis to the sled can also help by making it easier to pull your sled along.