Fishing Trolley – Free, Easy Step By Step DIY Guide To Make Your Own At Home

Building a fishing trolley is a solution to a problem I began to experience some years back. My asthma had gotten worse.  It was starting to affect…

Building a fishing trolley is a solution to a problem I began to experience some years back.

My asthma had gotten worse.  It was starting to affect how I fished.  I built this to make it easier.

It worked out well for me so I decided to share my own fishing trolley or fishing cart in the hope it might help others.

  • For people who are disabled, elderly or have breathing conditions.
  • The ability to carry bulky equipment like rods, tackle box, cooler (aka “Eski”) easily.
  • Carrying gear over a long distance.
  • Something to sit on while soaking bait.
  • Somewhere to store bait, drinks and lunch for long sessions on a pier or riverbank.

This step by step guide is how I built mine. You can build one like it, or use it to inspire your own unique fishing trolley.

While this article’s about building a fishing trolley there’s something to be said for not carrying to much gear. That’s for sure.

That’s what I’m sharing with you here. It’s my solution. I’ve borrowed from fishing carts and seen people use on piers and beaches. Watched videos people have uploaded. Looked at commercial solutions.

Parts You Will Need

Tools You Will Need

  • Small drill/driver. One of the little two-speed rechargeable battery drills is perfect
  • 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 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.
  • Spanner to hold nuts while you tighten them

Steps To Build Your Fishing Trolley AKA “Fishing Cart”

1 Hour Approximately 1 hour.

This DIY Fishing Trolley or Fishing Cart is based on my build. Simpler or more complex designs will vary. Cost at the time of building was less than $90 AUD.

  1. Folding Aluminium Hand Trolley

    Fishing-Trolley-Folding-Aluminium-Hand-TrolleyFor 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!


    Pneumatic wheels (inflatable) would be quieter and you can select a trolley with those if you wish.  I didn’t as they are prone to deflation and puncture.

    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.

    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.
    When fishing a beach or travelling over dunes I rely on the wheels that come with the cooler I chose.  These tend to work better in sandy conditions.  Though not perfect.

  2. Cooler With Handle, Wheels & Lid

    fishing-trolley-Cooler-With-Handle-Wheels-Lid--300x259Hang 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. Like beach fishing.

    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 my previous 107kg (I lost over 20kg happy to say) quite well. So the 100kg is arbitrary.

  3. Rod Rack – Easy Carry & Easy Fishing

    Some folks use PVC piping – which is awesome for the task.

    fishing-trolley-rod-rackHowever, for this project, I opted for Rod Holder System With Knife & Pliers Storage 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.

    Rod Holder In Use

    fishing-rod-pvc-pipe-300x285In use, the rods are placed in their folded downstate (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.

    Reels fit into the slots 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.

  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-holderPlace 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.

    Remove the bolts.

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

    Completing Drilling & Assembly Of Rod Rack Onto Our Fishing TrolleyNow – 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 crossbars.

    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.

  6. Our Stainless Steel Trolley Attachment Points On Our Cooler

    steel tube hold cooler on 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 the strength and speed of assembly. It also looks neater and nicer with the square tube.

    wing nuts for diy fishing trolley or fishing cartI 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 stabilises 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.

    Heavier steel will require something like an angle grinder to cut.

    I chose 3/16″ Bolts, nuts and matching wing-nuts.

    Because the lower eye-hooks were kept at the bottom of the trolley (as described below) they became useful 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.

    Eyebolts Mount for fishing trolleyThe instructions below for the flat-strap version of this trolley contains the correct details as far as drilling etc goes. Just substitute the upper two eye hooks and flat-straps for the steel square tube, nuts, bolts and wing-nuts.

    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.

    Old Version – Using Flat Straps Instead Of Aluminium Bar (No Longer My Preferred Method)

    In the first build, I used flatstraps to attach the cooler to the trolley, rather than a piece of aluminium.

    While this works I found the aluminium with wing-nuts to be faster and more secure.  However, this flatstrap version may suit some people.

    Flat strap to hold cooler on fishing trolleyMost importantly, if using this method, choose flatstraps with carabiners. Rather than 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.

    Repeat 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.

  7. 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.

    DIY Fishing Trolley Cart - Step By Step Instructions To Make Your OwnTest 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.

    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.

    (Updated: As I’ve now lost over 20kg I can confirm you can sit on the trolley comfortably without stressing it.)



I'm Dave, I live and fish in and around Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
When it comes to fishing I love going out to land-based fishing spots, heading out in the tinny (aka an Aluminum Boat) and kayak fishing.

I've been fishing since I was a teen. Beginning way back in the 1970s. It was a hobby I picked up myself as my family certainly had no interest. Making me the black sheep! My favourite fish is Flathead and Snapper. Though I'm partial to Flake (Gummy Shark) and Calamari too! While I enjoy fishing for freshwater species like Redfin and Murray Cod I prefer eating saltwater species. They're just so mouth-wateringly tasty!

I love writing about some of my favourite Melbourne Fishing Spots while fishing around Victoria. As well as the tackle I use and test.
If you see me while you're out fishing say "G' day" - I'll be the one in a bush hat.

When I'm not fishing I'm working on my websites, such as Getfished, or writing computer software (my profession.)

I try to be as accurate as possible on this website. Most of the information is based on personal experience. However, if you spot an error or think there's something that I should add - no worries! Please use the Contact Form.