In this final part of our how-to trilogy on “improving your boat’s fishability” that included tackle stowage and cooler capacity, the solutions for adding additional onboard rod stowage will follow the same logic stream of portable, transitional and permanent. Remember: You can never have enough rod holders.
For transporting rods from the parking lot to the boat, Taco Metals’ Rod Tote ’Em Rack is a convenient four-rod carrier. Once on board, Taco’s three-rod Kite Fishing Rod Cluster and five-rod Olympic Cluster are the gold standard for adding functional and portable rod stowage. The three-rod Trident is the perfect tool when shark drifting or tuna chunking, showing its unequaled versatility by turning one stationary rod holder into three, allowing you to fish multiple rods at various angles. When it’s time to get the trolling rods out of the way in a crazed cockpit during a hot bite, the five-rod Olympic Cluster really struts its stuff by racking your rods in an organized fashion. Both of these portable rod holders deploy or stow easily as needed. Competitive rod-holder manufacturers, like Tigress and others, also make versions of these.
We’ll define transitional rod holders as those that can clamp on to something sturdy, like a bow rail or tower leg. Examples are made by Lee’s Tackle, C.E. Smith, Taco Metals, Attwood and others. It’s critical that you accurately measure the diameter of where you intend to mount them to get the right-size rod holder to ensure a good fit. When using these various types of clamp-on units, whether drifting, trolling or underway, it’s always a good idea to employ a safety line on your rod/reel combo to prevent a wicked strike, rogue wave or rough seas from causing it to get unceremoniously launched into Davey Jones’ locker. I have used clamp-on rod holders with great success over the years, and there’s typically a size and shape that will meet both your budget and performance expectations.
Flush-mount gunwale rod holders are the most common permanent rod holder and are available in various lengths (8, 9 and 12 inches), angles (0, 15 and 30 degrees), with open bottoms, caps, or with a sealed bottom that features a hose barb to connect to a drain fitting. These are offered by Perko, Lee’s Tackle, C. E. Smith, Rupp, Attwood, Sea-Dog and many other manufacturers. Most factory fish boats are offered with two flush-mount rod holders per side. My philosophy is that anglers need a minimum of three per side.
Vertical rod racks range from inexpensive polymer to rugged anodized aluminum and stainless steel. Whatever vertical rack you choose, be sure to install it with through-bolts and oversize washers.
Yet another form of permanent rod stowage is horizontal undergunwale rod racks. Most are constructed from polymer or marine lumber. Manufacturers include Lee’s Tackle, Taco, boatoutfitters.com, Sea-Dog and many others. Bungee cords on either end are a welcome addition and prevent your rods from bouncing onto the cockpit sole, damaging both. Racks can also be installed on the underside of a hardtop or cabin headliner.