How To Make An Amazing Fishing Trolley Easy And Cheap

So. you carry a bit of gear? Use several rods? Like the odd cup of coffee or a cool drink? This fishing trolley project will make it simple, easy & smarter. Lots better than struggling with your arms full of rods, reels, buckets and bags.

A project that’ll take you less than an hour to make and will give you years of service. Perfect for piers, jetties, estuaries beaches and even river banks.

Plus I updated the trolley Spring 2018.  The original design, details still included, used flatstraps.  I’ve replaced those with square steel tubing, nuts, bolts and wingnuts.  It’s massively improved stability and is neater and easier to assemble in and out of the car.  The updated details are included below.

Why A Fishing Trolley?

While my main goal was to reduce armfuls of rods, tackle, thermos flasks and bait, I also like to fish with more than one rod. So a fishing trolley or “cart” seemed smarter.

That meant either clamping rods to a jetty, which doesn’t work well on spinning rods, or leaning them against a rail. I’ve seen a lot of rods fall in and become lost as a result of this.

This setup solves both these issues, even on a beach.

Plus – reducing unnecessary labour from any task is always worthwhile. Not to mention folks who have muscular, arthritic or even breathing issues like asthma.


  1. Folding Aluminium Hand Trolley x 1
    (Recommended – Bunnings for the great Toplift brand, Click Here.)
  2. Cooler.  38 Litres x 1
    Recommend one with its own handle and wheels, but it’s optional.
  3. Jarvis Walker 3 Rod Boat Rod Holder System x 1
    This is optional but recommended. – You certainly can make your own using PVC pipe.
  4. Nuts and Cuphead bolts.  Pack of 12
    Best to get stainless steel or Galvanised
  5. Eye hook bolts x 4.
    Make sure the eyes are able to accept the flatstrap hooks below.
  6. Flatstraps (octopus straps) with carabiner style buckles. You’ll need at least 3 of these:   Click Here.
  7. OR – In an update, described below, I’ve replaced the flatstraps with a steel square tube, nuts, bolts and wingnuts.

The Design Of Our Fishing Tackle Trolley

The design of this fishing trolley is based on the original “bucket on a removal trolley” that folks have used for years.

There’s some smart folk who’ve built similar fishing tackle trolleys. You can find them around the internet. The one we are building here adds some features I’ve found to be valuable in real usage.

Also, where this design differs, is it’s quicker to build, is a little more robust and has some cool little “extras” that make a big difference in my opinion.

The goal is simplicity and speed. Simple and quick to make. Simple and quick to put together from your car. Simple and easy to use getting to and while at your fishing spot, pier or beach.

In usage, I’ve found I’ve unpacked, assembled and am ready to go in under 5 minutes after parking the car.


Tools You Need & Probably Already Have In The Shed

  • A small drill/driver.  One of the little two-speed rechargeable battery drills is perfect
  • A pack of drill bits.  You’ll be using small bits to get started, larger to expand holes as needed.  So a variety of sizes is great.
  • A small spanner or similar to gently grip nuts when tightening.
  • A hacksaw.  This is to trim down our custom bolt sizes.  You’ll appreciate not stabbing your hand reaching in when you’re using your trolley while fishing.

1 Folding Aluminium Hand Trolley

Fishing Trolley Folding Aluminium Hand Trolley
They come in several sizes. BCF and similar stores sell one variety. I chose Bunnings for the great Toplift brand, ( Click Here ) as I wanted a broader baseplate – the 70kg model – for the cooler to be mounted on.

For my own, I chose the TopLift 70kg model from Bunnings.

I wanted a good base-plate, durable wheels and medium-lift for the price. These units fold completely flat into my Ford Falcon’s boot. But it’s flat enough and folds small enough to fit into my wife’s Hyundai hatch. So it’s a good choice, even if you have a much smaller car.

The wheels are reasonably quiet and robust. A lot quieter and stronger than the wheels that come pre-mounted on some coolers. So they’re harder to damage and don’t cause heaps of noise when pulling it. Other folks fishing on the pier will thank you for that!

I don’t use this on the ocean beaches and dunes. Like all smaller wheeled trolleys, it’s going to get caught in the sand. But on piers, river banks and smaller beaches, it works a treat.

Even with a full load in the cooler I still find it pretty easy to lift over obstacles when I need to. So it’s extremely lightweight.

2 Cooler With Handle, Wheels & Lid

fishing trolley Cooler With Handle, Wheels & LidHang on? Wheels? Haven’t we already got a trolley?

Yup. But having the wheels on the cooler as well means I can still pull it in places where the stainless steel trolley won’t work.

The wheels on the model I chose are fairly robust and don’t interfere with being mounted on the trolley.

This increases the variety of environments we can put our fishing trolley to use.

It needs to be pointed out though – that the wheels on most coolers are not strong enough for long-term use. This is why the aluminium hand trolley was selected.

I tested the “cooler with wheels” without the aluminium hand trolley and it quickly became clear that the wheels on the cooler are a back up only. Great for some beach use. Otherwise, they are noisier, have less strength and won’t last on their own.

Bonus – if you’re around 100kg or less – the cooler makes a useful seat while fishing. It seems to tolerate this well.

3 Rod Rack – Easy Carry & Easy Fishing

fishing trolley rod rackSome folks use PVC piping – which is awesome for the task.

However, for this project, I opted for factory made because I wanted a “finished look” and the factory made rod holder came with great “extras.” For example – knife and plier storage.

The one I chose is all plastic and made for boating by Jarvis walker. It holds three rods, two knives and two pliers (or substitute other tools as needed.)

It’s quite sturdy as it’s back braced. It’s fast to assemble as it’s pre-drilled. It does come with mounting nuts and bolts. However, I found them a tad short for passing through the front panel of the cooler. So I substituted those.

In use, the rods are placed in their folded down state (halves etc) with reels attached. If they are fully assembled when pulling you’re likely to get a continuous thwack in the head from the rods.

fishing rod pvc pipeReels fit into the slits on each “pipe.” This gives them some free movement of the bail, when needed, while seated in place. It keeps most rods from touching the ground. The slits for the reels are nicely rolled smoothly to avoid friction.

When fishing they sit inside, just as intended, as they would onboard a boat. No more leaning against pier rails or on the ground!

It makes a solid, flexible, easy to use and great looking fishing trolley setup.



Jarvis Walker 3 Rod Boat Rod Holder System

Nice, easy to install rod holder system for boats.  Works well, comes with built-in pliers and knife holder.  I actually used these on our fishing trolly DIY project.
Priced from $19.95

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission
at no additional cost to you.

4 Drilling Your Mounting Holes In The Cooler

drilling fishing rod trolleyWith a small drill bit in your drill.  Gently drill a hole in the top crossbar – the starter hole is already done in the factory – into the cooler.  Repeat with the bottom hole, making sure the bars are level to the cooler.

Remove the rod rack from its position.  Take a wider drill bit and widen the holes to the circumference of your bolts.  Clear away any excess plastic and pieces from the holes as you go.

To test your holes and position: Place the rod rack back in position and insert your bolts, with the nuts on the inside of the cooler. Finger tighten, not tight. Top and bottom bar.  Don’t worry about bolt overhang as we’ll trim down to size with the hacksaw later.

fishing trolley rod holderRemove the bolts. Place the centre rod tube in place.  Reinsert bolts through the tubes factory drilled holes – so they match up on the pipes and the back bars – and finger tighten.

Now – you can drill the starter holes for the left and right outer pipes and their top and bottom crossbar positions.  To do this – remove one of the side pipes.  Left or right.

5 Completing Drilling & Assembly Of Rod Rack Onto Our Fishing Trolley

getfished fishing rod trolley projectNow – you can drill the starter holes for the left and right outer pipes and their top and bottom crossbar positions.  To do this – remove one of the side pipes.  Left or right.

Making sure the rack is level.  Repeat the drilling process above for the top and bottom cross bars.

Once drilled, replace the removed pipe into its slots on the crossbars.  Insert bolts and finger tighten.  Repeat with the whole process with the pipe on the other side, depending on whether you removed the left or right pipe.

Tighten the nuts gently.  You could optionally place rubber washers under each at this point to protect the cooler plastic.  Also – a touch of lock tight spray is probably better than winding the nuts on too tight.

fishing rod trolley boltFinally – use the hacksaw to gently cut the end of the bolts so they are level with the nut.

Optional – I glued little plastic covers, similar to those used on small chairs, over the top of the nuts and bolts as caps.  This helps prevent me from catching my hand or arm on the metal.

The rod holder should now be fully assembled and our fishing trolley is almost complete.


6 Our Stainless Steel Trolley Attachment Points On Our Cooler

Steel Square Tube For Fishing TrolleyIn a recent update of this fishing trolley project, I’ve replaced the eye hooks (described in 6b below) with a steel square tube, bolts, nuts and wingnuts.

The advantage is strength and speed of assembly.  It also looks neater and nicer with the square tube.

I found the flatstraps would move on some surfaces, making the trolley a bit harder to pull at times.  This fixes that.  One steel tube and it stabalizes 10 times compared to the straps.

These can be bought from most hardware stores.  I picked mine up from Bunnings.  You can buy these in lengths at some places, such as where I bought mine,  pre-cut to around a metre (3 foot) which required only minimal trimming with a hacksaw once fitted.

wingnutsI chose 3/16″ Bolts, nuts and matching wingnuts.

I kept the lower eyehooks, at the bottom of the trolley (as described below) for using as peg holders.  A trolley like this can get a little top heavy with rods in.  So jamming tent pegs (or other spikes) into the pier between the planks, or into the ground on land, helps keep it from tipping.

The instructions below for the flatstrap version of this trolley contains the correct details as far as drilling etc goes.  Just substitute the upper two eye hooks and flatstraps for the steel square tube, nuts, bolts and wingnuts.


6b Alternate – Old Version – Using Flatstraps

Eyebolts MountOK.  This part could be argued as being optional.  That is if you didn’t want to attach the cooler to a stainless steel trolley.  I recommend you use the trolley.  You won’t regret it!

Bonus – the eye-hook bolts we use also make a great anchor point for passing a couple of hefty tent pegs through if you’ve got your fishing trolley cooler on the beach.

We use flatstraps with carabiner’s – instead of traditional octopus straps with hooks – because they are sturdier and less prone to fly off by accident.  However – like it’s octopus strap cousin – if you let go of a fully stretched strap it springs back hard.  Watch your eyes and watch your knuckles when connecting and disconnecting!

So here’s how we attach it firmly and securely so our cooler – and it’s contents – don’t fall off.  Whether we’re pulling it up a pier or path – or while we’re fishing.

First off, drill a hole, in the top of cooler on the left edge, with a drill bit that matches the diameter of the shaft of your eyebolt.

FlathstrapRepeat this on the right top edge, making sure the holes are level.  It’s smart to drill a centimetre or two below the lid, taking into consideration any handles, hinges, etc if there are any, already on the cooler.

Repeat the above at the bottom of the cooler.  Taking the same spacing considerations into account.

Insert your eyebolts.

Cut down the bolts of the eyebolts as necessary within the cooler.  Make them level with the nuts.  Once again, this will help you reduce catching your hand or arm on the steel.

Our DIY Fishing Trolley With Cooler & Rod Holder Is Complete!

Now, all you need to do is place the cooler onto the baseplate of your foldout stainless steel trolley. Hook up your flatstraps – winding them around the extended handle a few times to get the desired tension and clipping the buckles each end onto your eye hooks.

Test it out. Put in some rods into the holders. Fill it with some tackle. Move it about. Test the rod holders with your rods fully extended.

fishing rod trolley on pier
The finished trolley on a deep water pier. Fully rigged with two 7 foot rods and one 12 foot surf rod. The trolley handles are folded down during use and the roll-up camping chair bag is left in place, preventing it from blowing away, easy to find and put back when I’ve finished fishing.

Then start planning your next, comfortable fishing trip.

BTW – if you’re under 100kg – depending on the cooler you choose, it can make a comfy place to park your backside, between casts.

As I weigh in at a fraction over this I strap a roll-up camping chair to the handle. It sits just on the lid while pulling the trolley. You can see the empty bag in the photo of my own fishing trolley.



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