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How to Use Different Types of Kayak Dollies? – KayakFisherly

​How to Use a Kayak Dolly
Written by Derrick Riley
Last Update: August 14, 2023

Kayak dollies are one of the best ways to transport your kayak but they won’t be worth it if you don’t know how to use them right.

We’re to help with a detailed guide on how to use:

  • A sit-on-top or ?plug style kayak dolly
  • A strap or cradle style kayak dolly
  • A C-tug kayak dolly
  • A flat-free or double rail kayak dolly

How to Use a Kayak Dolly?

Sit-on-top or ?plug style kayak dolly

Sit-on-top or plug style kayak dolly

Step 1: Gather the essentials

  • The dolly
  • Bungee cord

?Step 2: Tip the kayak

Tip your kayak on a side so that you have access to the bottom of the hull.

Check if the watercraft has scupper plugs in the scrubber holes and remove them before you step forward to load the kayak.

?Step 3: Lift the dolly

Lift the dolly when the kayak is tilted on a side. Secure plug poles into the appropriate scupper holes on the button of your kayak.

You will find the holes either to the back of the kayak or close to the seat.

?Step 4: Turn the kayak back over

Turn your watercraft back to the upright position once the plug poles from the device are secured into the kayak scupper holes.

Hold onto the dolly tightly during the process so that the plugs stay into the scupper holes.

?Step 6: Check the balance of the dolly

Check the balance of the dolly with your kayak safely loaded onboard.

Make sure there’s no risk to lift the bow to pull your watercraft.

Step 7: Add bungee cord if needed

Some of the plug-in dollies require you to add a bungee cord to keep the watercraft right in place.

Check if the device with the kayak on top is secured enough to tow or needs a strap to get the job done.

Strap or cradle style kayak dolly

Step 1: Gather the essentials

  • Ratchet straps
  • The dolly

Step 2: Set up the dolly

Slide the wheels onto the dolly axles with the valve facing inside. Put the wheel pins in to keep the wheels in place.

Unfold the device and place it with the kickstand pointing towards the rear of the kayak.

Line up the dolly halfway along the watercraft or slightly forward if you want to keep the back-end of your kayak down.

Step 3: Place the kayak onto the dolly

Lift the front-end of the kayak up and aim for the middle when you place it onto the dolly.

Check if your watercraft is in the middle of the device. Make sure that the dolly is paralleled to your kayak to avoid running at an angle.

Swing your kayak round so that it lines up better.

Step 4: Select the right straps

The dolly usually comes with decent straps but they are not long enough to tie the boat.

Use the ratchet straps that you have for transporting the kayak on your car or trailer instead.

Step 5: Strap your kayak

Make one strap from the front to go forward in your kayak and then to the end on the other side.

Another strap needs to go from the rear of the frame around the watercraft to the rear at the opposite end.

The technique helps with the device and kayak alignment when you need to travel a long distance.

Step 6: Move the dolly

Push the dolly from the back when you are there just by yourself.

If you have two people for the job, one needs to pull at the front while the other pushes from the back.

Go forward-backward and do some turns to see if the device is maneuverable.

C-tug kayak dolly

Step 1: Gather the essentials

  • The dolly

Step 2: Detach the kayak seat

There are handles under the seat where you want to affix the dolly.

Move the seat out of the way so that the handles are available for the job.

Step 3: Thread the straps

Keep the kickstand down and away from the direction that you want to pull the watercraft.

Position the device under the boat and thread it through a handle. Go around to the other side to thread the other handle.

Attach both the straps and adjust to get them in the position.

Flat-free or double rail kayak dolly

Step 1: Gather the essentials

  • The dolly
  • Straps

Step 2: Put the dolly wheel next to the kayak

Place the wheel right next to your kayak along with the bar.

You don’t need to unfold a kickstand to put the device on a surface.

Step 3: Set the kayak on the device

Pick up the nose of your kayak and set it on the dolly. The watercraft will self-center onto the device so you don’t need to do any adjustment.

Step 4: Push around the kayak

Raise up the nose to go forward or keep it lowered to push backward.

Step 5: Pull the device to the back of your kayak

Lower the nose of your kayak and pull the dolly to the back.

This allows you to attach the kayak to the back of your vehicle.

Step 6: Put straps on

Put a strap around bars on both sides of the boat before you tighten them.

Pull up the nose to tow forward.

Step 7: Get you kayak off of the dolly

Detach the strap and push the kayak backward into the water with the nose down.

Stop the wheels right on the edge of the water. Set the rear end of the watercraft into the water and let that slide down.

Pros and Cons of a Kayak Dolly


  • Some dollies are designed to quickly disassemble and store
  • Allows to haul all of the equipment in a single trip
  • Saves time and physical effort
  • Easy to haul from your vehicle to the water
  • Less chance for damages to the kayak
  • No need to lift heavy equipment


  • Solid wheels aren’t a good fit for rugged terrain
  • Large wheels that don’t fit in kayak storage
  • Low-weight capacity devices aren’t good for use
  • Bigger models only accommodate wider kayaks
  • Inefficient and short straps
  • May fold when you hit a rock or a hard bump
  • Wide-tire models may sink


1. Where to put my kayak dolly?

Ans. Most of the kayak dollies are foldable or collapsible that fit inside the kayak with you. Another way is to secure them with a bungee cord or strap onto the watercraft.

About the author

Derrick Riley

I’m Derrick in my early 40s, but planning to bag from every saltwater source in America. In practice, I’ve explored over a dozen bodies of water that hosted almost all of the saltwater game fish. My personal favorites are brook trout and striped bass though. I don’t mind catching bluegill and white crappie either.

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