There are never enough hands on board, but these cool gadgets keep things handy and secure while you do your thing.
They’re referring to the rod holders in their boat. You may not fish and, consequently, may not have rod holders installed aboard your boat, but after browsing this peek at the coolest boat gear designed to be mounted in rod holders, you may want to install some. And that might accidentally lead to fishing.
But bear in mind, some rod holders aren’t made to support much more than a light-action crappie fishing rod, and most of this gear needs more support than offered by light plastic mounts. These all require a solid offshore mount, not a plastic or light stainless mount, to hold this gear. It’s also a good idea to note that rod holders are built to hold rods at various angles, from vertical to 30 degrees. Some of our gear is capable of adjusting to any rod-holder angle, and some comes in various angles to match your rod holder.
Magma Newport II Infrared Grill
This marine-quality, highly polished stainless-steel grill has infrared heating grates that provide the most even heat for consistent cooking with no hot spots on the grill. A tempered-glass window lets you check your progress without losing heat, and a built-in thermometer keeps track of the temp. It’s equipped with a padded carrying bag with a corrosion-resistant zipper, folding legs for setting on the deck, a gourmet tray for added workspace, and stainless-steel barbecue tools to boot. It uses either a 2-pound Coleman propane bottle for fuel or can be hooked to an 18-pound tank.
Options: The ball-mount rod holder (from $82.98) is optional but a worthwhile purchase so you can keep away from foot traffic and at a comfortable work level.
Best Applications: Without the rod mount, use it dockside. It’s big enough to entertain at home, but easy to carry and stow in its custom shoulder bag.
Tips: Mount the grill in an aft rod holder in rougher seas, go forward when calm.
Cost: $519.88; magmaproducts.com
Magma Kayak/SUP Racks
These racks are beauties for carrying stand-up paddleboards and ’yaks to the paddling waters of your choice. Paddling has become so popular, it is a wonder these are the first racks we’ve seen to secure these popular vessels on board for transport. They are all stainless steel, and the gimbal mounts compression-clamp into the rod holders for security. Even better, each has a ball mount for perfect angle adjustment. They are all 316 stainless steel and fiber-reinforced polymer for long life.
Options: Mount the kayak of your choice across the transom or along the gunwales. Or put two SUPs together for tandem paddling.
Best Applications: Their secure compression clamps mean your ’yak or SUP can ride securely at any reasonable speed.
Tips: Use a bungee cord to secure the paddle vessels to the racks using the stainless-steel rings at the ends of the U-shaped supports.
Cost: $299 per pair; magmaproducts.com
These may be the most beautiful rod holders on the market. Made from 326 stainless steel, their most striking feature is the lack of mounting screws. This is possible thanks to the threaded barrel of the rod holder and the locking nut that spins on underneath the gunwale or transom.
Options: They are available on zero-, 15- and 30-degree models and come in models for coastal, bluewater and big-game fishing. The rod holder comes standard with mounting hardware; however, you’ll need one socket ($75) to tighten each locking nut.
Best Applications: The Bluewater model is ideal for trolling for mahi, stripers or sails, but the Bluewater Heavy Duty model is best selected to deep-drop for swordfish or pursue tuna. This model is plenty capable of handling all the gear in this installment of BoatingLAB.
Tips: If your mounting location is concealed behind coamings, be sure to plumb the drain hole and preferably connect it to an overboard drain.
Cost: $75; gemlux.com
Mate Series Rod Holder
Mate Series’ popularity has grown rapidly thanks to its unique integration of a solid, big-game-capable rod holder and a handy cup holder. The upper section of the rod holder fits a can in a koozie or a Yeti Rambler. Its unique design takes up nearly the same footprint as a regular rod holder, making it ideal for retrofitting. Adding to the appeal, the design allows a simple vertical hole, eliminating the need for a complicated angle cut.
Options: Models are available in zero, 15 and 30 degrees, and newer Elite models feature a screwless flange and fasten from beneath the gunwale.
Best Applications: Double your pleasure with these rod/cup holders and minimize deck and transom holes thanks to their dual-purpose design. All the 316 stainless models are offshore- capable and tough enough to handle the gear in this issue.
Tips: Vertical or zero-degree rod holders are an ideal choice for mounting umbrellas or other shades. Most other gear items have been designed for 30-degree mounts or are completely adjustable.
Cost: $139; mateseries.com
Gemlux Deluxe Carbon-Fiber Outriggers
Our pair of these riggers was so light, the shipping box felt empty. The rigger has a gimbal butt to fit into a rocket launcher when used as a center rigger or to lock into kingfish mounts when you want to spread your baits out. Instead of the annoying and hard-to-align snap-button clips, these feature anodized aluminum threaded locking rings for easy extension and retraction. Line guides are sleek integrated rollers.
Options: The integrated rigger line rollers are ideal for monofilament rigging kits available at any marine tackle supplier.
Best Applications: Today, bay boats in the 25-foot class are the hot ticket for inshore and offshore fishing, and these make ideal substitutes for heavy swiveling hardtop mounts.
Tips: While they are high enough to clear the seas for short moves, move them to rocket launcher mounts or vertical shotgun mounts at the transom for running.
Cost: $399 each; gemlux.com
Hydra Shade XL-100
There is never enough shade at the sandbar or when you’re on the hook at a party cove. The 8-foot-by-8-foot Hydra Shade solves that by clamping firmly into any rod holder. Its tilting head adjusts for any rod-holder angle, and five vertical positions let you set the head clearance needed. The nylon fabric is touted to have a UPF-30 rating, and the umbrella is made from corrosion-resistant aluminum, stainless steel and plastic.
Options: Forget about options, this comes with a carry bag and an extra auger post for screwing into the sandbar, or even in the backyard at a pool party.
Best Applications: Use it only when beached or on the hook.
Tips: Its adjustable nature makes it versatile for almost any rod holder, but this would be the ideal accessory for adding an extra rod holder somewhere along the centerline for optimal coverage.
Cost: $149; hydrashade.com
Austin Industries Party Tray
Be the most popular dockside entertainer with the Party Tray. It’s set up for wine, spirits and dual 2-liter bottles of your favorite mixers, plus glassware. Two cutting boards come with it for cutting lemons and limes. It’s made entirely of King Starboard and Thermo-weld-bonded and screwed together with stainless-steel screws. It sits perfectly level on 30-degree rod holders.
Options: Two cutting boards fit the large holes and are standard.
Best Applications: Dockside parties or overnights on the hook are the best times to break out the Party Tray.
Tips: Standard configuration for the Party Tray is 30 degrees, but Austin Industries makes them to order at no extra charge for 15- and zero-degree rod holders.
Cost: $150; jwaustin.com
Nautical Cross Boarding Pole
This is the ideal companion for stepping aboard and avoiding YouTube-worthy spills. It slips into a 30-degree rod holder for a perfectly vertical grab handle to steady your step aboard. We’ve used one on our boat, and it’s ideal for that extra boost up and out over the gunwale or to hold your balance when dropping inboard. It’s made of aircraft aluminum and rated for 300-pound capacity. Ours has remained handsomely polished for eight years.
Options: There is an extra-durable 15/8-inch model for larger rod holders for $99.99.
Best Applications: Besides climbing aboard, we found it was also ideal for positioning a Garmin Virb Ultra POV camera to capture video or photography of your day on the water.
Tips: Change your camera angle by rotating the mount in the rod hole until you reach the best angle.
Cost: $79.99 (11/2-inch-diameter pole); nauticalcross.com