Kayak Fishing Rod Holder

Selecting the Right Kayak Fishing Rod Holder for Your Kayak

Featured Image Credit: Anthony Shingler

Out of curiosity, I created a Facebook poll for the members of the Clarksville Area Kayak Fishing group to see how many guys use a kayak fishing rod holder while bass fishing. Definitely not a statistically representative sampling, but since I only use them to hold rods I am not casting, it was an interesting way to learn more about possible uses. If there is anything kayak anglers love to talk about more than fishing, it is how they set up their equipment.

Bobby Brown started the poll with “rod holders are for storing rods, not for fishing”. Now since this guy is a fan of the Ned Rig, I thought that maybe he would use one to dead stick it; it is the only way I could fish a Ned Rig… cast it, put the rod in a holder and forget about it while you eat a snack; then reel it in and get back to fishing with something else.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Options Often Used

I wasn’t surprised when 79% of the responses were the same since the majority of kayak tournament anglers use holders for equipment while underway. Most of them are stored vertically in holders integrated with standard or modified milk crates, YakAttack BlackPack’s,  the Hobie H-Crate, or any number of creative pvc solutions.  

Several anglers prefer to use the “tube” designs that can easily be attached to GearTrac using one of the mounting designs on the market.  This allows the angler flexibility to store the rods vertically or horizontally to avoid overhanging trees or low bridges.  A friend, Ben Meredith, uses this type of design to secure his equipment while unhooking, measuring and photographing fish.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder(1)

When other anglers started to respond that they, “use rod holders while out on the kayak”, I was curious and reached out for more information.

It seems that there are many ways to fish while using them. KBF allows trolling in their bass tournaments, Trophy Catfish Kayak Anglers (TCKA) director Ron Himmelhaver uses a four rod holder setup to chase monster catfish and several guys who responded to the poll will drop worms or minnows while paddling. Ben even has a spider rig setup for crappie fishing that he uses on his kayak, not something I had even considered as an option.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Crate System

My first kayak, a Jackson Big Tuna, had a Ram Mount attached. It was more than enough to paddle around the local creeks. Within a few months, I decided to fish tournaments and I needed more rods.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder(2)

I replaced the Ram holder with a mutated milk crate because I wanted my equipment in front of me; the boat allowed for this setup to be efficient.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Crate and Cooler in One

It was not pretty, but it was highly functional; in my Hobie PA14, this setup would never work, so I opted for an Engel Dry Box with attached rod holders. It has a lid with latches that I use to store tackle, but can be used as a cooler on hot days. In the Outback, I have an H-Crate because of the types of water I fish in that boat, and I use it to get others involved in kayaking. The crate system is easy to load and unload, making it perfect for anyone to bring some gear along.

It will take you a few trips to decide what is the best setup, but you can start by asking yourself what types of water do you plan to fish and what fits your style.

Just remember to consider horizontal versus vertical storage options if you fish a lot of small water, how many rods you carry and what path you take to get there. Are you using the rod holders to fish, for trolling, or just to transport from one location to another launch?

In the end, it is up to you the angler to decide what works for you. Sit in the boat, paddle/pedal it for a while and see what fits. Your first setup will most likely not be your last and companies are now realizing the kayak market is growing, so you have a lot of options to pick from.  

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Mike Cheatham


May 2016, sat in my first kayak. October 2016, skunked in my first tournament. Spring of 2017, placed 11th in the KBF Open and have chased the addiction since. Fishing is the one place my mind gets quiet, the place I have always found peace. To do it competitively with a great bunch of folks is just a bonus. To have an opportunity to combine my love for fishing with writing...I feel like I have finally found a place in this world! I do have the support of a wonderful woman who understands my need to be on the water; she supports my dreams fully....life is truly good.

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