Rod holders are workhorses. Yet, in spite of their value, there seems to be little discussion of them, especially about drilling holes, or otherwise affixing them permanently to a boat. Rod-holder selection deserves careful consideration, but many modern solutions are a direct response to anglers’ calls for an approach that doesn’t involve permanent alteration of the gunnel or transom.
Lund and Princecraft have devised track systems for installing accessories along the gunnel without the need for clamps or holes. This is especially important for those multi-species anglers who need to switch things up throughout the year.
Such innovative solutions allow for various rod holders to be fastened on removable brackets. Boats with rails offer a similar way to add and remove clamps and mounts.
Arguably, the most popular rod-holder design, as evidenced by the number of companies that have one in their lineup, involves setting the butt of the rod in some form of rest. The Tite-Lok design uses an open V, while the Scotty and certain models of RAM holders use a twisting plastic ring to lock the rod in place. This design tends to be lightweight, compact, and will hold a wide range of spinning and casting rods.
Many charter captains opt for models without the locking mechanism, which saves time when repeatedly inserting and removing rods. These tend to take the form of elongated tubes, which are suited for the long butts on most trolling rods. They must, however, be positioned at an upward angle to prevent rods from slipping or bouncing out.
A third category of rod holder is the kind sold by Down East. These are particularly popular among muskie anglers, but have applications for big-water salmon and walleye fishing too. The holder is made of metal and allows the rod tip to be positioned towards the water’s surface. The rod is loaded into the holder from the top, via a pair of clamping jaws. These holders can handle hard-pulling baits, while allowing the rod to be removed easily, even with the pressure of a big fish on the line.
Many rod companies also offer a wide range of accessories that fit into rod holder mounts. Scotty makes inserts for mini digital camcorders and baiting platforms and RAM mounts offer a multitude of interchangeable attachments built around their infinitely positional ball-shaped connectors.
You owe it to yourself to check out the ever-expanding rod-holder options. It’s a great way to customize your boat and increase your fishing functionality at the same time.