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Do you have a flipover ice shelter or a tonneau cover on your truck? Have you wanted to build a smitty sled but didn’t quite know how to do it? I love the smitty sled and it has changed the way I ice fish by making it so easy to haul my gear on foot. In my original smitty sled build, I outlined some history, benefits of the sled as well as how I built mine. For my new smitty sled, I want to tackle the problem of using a smitty with a flipover ice shelter.
There are two problems with traditional smitty sleds that ice anglers often run into. The first is when used with a flipover ice shelter. A flipover shanty such as the Eskimo Eskape series or Clam Fish Traps are designed to be pulled around and set up with the tub of the shelter directly on the ice. By placing your shelter on top of a smitty, you are creating a gap underneath the skirting that allows wind into your shelter. The added height also raises the seating position and makes it uncomfortable for long stretches of ice fishing. Most who use a smitty sled with a flipover end up taking the shelter on and off the sled several times a day, which wastes precious time and energy that could be spent chasing fish!
Handy, DIY anglers looking to solve this problem often turn to heavy duty coffee table lift hinges to make their smitty sled drop down on the ice and to fit under their tonneau cover. These hinges are a convenient solution but have limitations as well. They are typically rated for a modest load, which is not enough for some gear-happy anglers (like myself). Also, the hinges are long and skinny and can often bend or break if a large enough side load is applied, such as when turning the sled in deep snow or sliding sideways down a hill.
The second problem is when using a smitty sled with a tonneau cover. Again, the added height of the smitty sled often means the setup won’t fit underneath a tonneau cover, and again, you end up disassembling and reassembling your setup just to transport it. What a waste of valuable fishing time!
Collapsible Smitty Sled
In my latest smitty sled build I will show you how I made telescopic legs and mounted them directly to the tub of my sled. This design is ideal for anglers wanting their smitty compact, easy to use, to fit underneath their tonneau cover and to use with flipover style shelters that keep the seat height original. This design is also something I was able to build at home with common tools. There is no welding or grinding, and if you can find a metal shop that has a band saw, there is no cutting as well! All you will have to do is measure and drill some holes.
- 4 pcs – 2″ Square Tube x 0.188″ wall with round corners – Cut to 8″ long
- 4 pcs – 1.5″ Square Tube x 0.065″ wall with round corners – Cut to 9″ long
- 8pcs – 1.5″ x 1.5″ Angle x 0.125″ thick – Cut 1.5″ wide
- 8 pcs – 1/4″ UNC Bolts x 2.5″ long
- 8 pcs – 1/4″ UNC Flat-head screws x 1.5″ long
- 4 pcs – 2″ Square U-Bolts
- 20 pcs – 1/4″ Washers
- 16 pcs – 1/4″ Nylon Locking Nuts
- 4 pcs – 3/8″ Double Button Snap Spring Clips (can also use 2″ wire-lock pins)
For this build I am starting with my Jet Sled XL. The height of the Jet Sled is 10 inches from the ground to underneath the lip of the sled. From my experience with my previous sled, I knew I wanted to have at least 4 inches of lift, so the 10″ of space is on the tub is the minimum I need to allow 3″ of engagement inside the tube for the spring button clips and to reach my requirement of 4″ of lift. I found that most of the time 4″ of clearance was enough to be well above the snow on the lake, but I may end up plowing some snow near the bank or on trails.
The bolt holes on the tubing are all drilled using a 1/4″ bit. Since the spring button is 3/8″ diameter I used a 3/8″ drill bit on the 1.5″ tubing. For the 2″ tubing however, I opened up the hole to 7/16″ diameter to allow the buttons to locate in the hole a bit easier when I raise the sled up. Due to the wall thickness of the 2″ tubing I also added a chamfer to the hole so my fingers would fit better when depressing the snap buttons.
The snap buttons were the most difficult item to locate for this build. I was able to track down a set through my local Grainger distributor, but if you are in the U.S. you might have to order from McMaster-Carr.
To secure the new telescopic legs to the sled I used a single quarter inch bolt at the top and a 2″ square tubing clamp to secure the bottom. The top bolt has two jobs, it secures the leg to the sled with a washer and nylok nut on the other side and it also acts as a stop for the inner tubing so that it doesn’t slide all the way through. Square tubing clamps are used to secure the bottom of the leg so the result is three holes in my jet sled.
Next, I flipped the sled upside down and marked the hole locations on the ski’s. The skis are the same length as my sled so I lined the back of the ski up with the back of the sled and marked my first hole. Once the hole was drilled out I used a screw to locate the hole on the angle bracket and placed the ski on top. I then repeated the process marking out my holes on the ski using the angle brackets as guides.
At first I was a little worried about the bolts pulling through the plastic tub since there were only three on each leg, but once everything was assembled I added all my gear (about 200 lbs worth) then I jumped on top (another 230 lbs) and started rocking everything side to side. In total there was well over 400 lbs in the sled and everything felt really solid. I was surprised that the base of the sled barely deformed with all that weight in it too. Of course, time will tell how everything holds up but right now I have full confidence in this design!
A drop-down smitty sled has long been in demand by the flipover crowd but it is also really useful for those anglers that want everything to fit neatly underneath their tonneau cover. I am very excited to share this idea with you all and hope that some of your take this build on yourself! One of the cornerstones of the smitty sled community is the ability to DIY, and I kept this in mind when creating these smitty sled plans. If you have any feedback or questions, please drop them in the comment section below, let’s keep the conversation going!
Benefits of my design
- Compact and easy to use
- Aluminum is really strong, able to handle over 400 lbs of load without the sled deforming or pins breaking
- No cross braces underneath the sled means its not impeded when the snow gets deep, the tub is still able to travel on top of the snow with assistance from the skis
- Simple design means anyone with common tools can build one at home
- Aluminum is expensive and is cold on the hands in the winter
- Your sled needs to have a minimum of 10 inches of room under the flange lip to mount the legs to. Anything shorter and you will have less height to work with when raised up.
- I’m not certain the bolts connecting the legs to the plastic on the sled or the snap spring buttons would be robust enough to pull behind an ATV or snowmobile. At a minimum I would recommend using either fender washers or a backing plate on the inside of the tub as well as wire gate pins instead of the buttons for durability.
If you like this design please share it, and if you build one yourself or have ideas on how to improve it, leave a comment and share a picture!
Happy trails and tight lines anglers,