Rod Holders – A Versatile Kayak Accessory

By John Veil

A few days ago, I was paddling around a tidal creek moving to a different fishing spot.  I looked at the two rod holders mounted on the gear tracks in front of me. It inspired me to write a short piece about different ways in which I use my rod holders. When I got started in kayak fishing I looked for a way to hold rods when traveling. Later when I began trolling often, I wanted strong but easily adjustable rod holders. I started out using Scotty products and have stuck with them. I am used to how they work. However, this is not a commercial for Scotty. There are several other reputable brands out there that also work fine (for example, Ram and Railblaza, and probably others).

The above photos show the Scotty rod holder I use and the cylindrical base that has a metal foot to slide into the gear tracks along the sides of the front cockpit area. The bottom prong (male end) of the rod holder fits into an opening on the top of the base (female end). To adjust or release, you rotate the collar on the base then position the rod holder where you want it. Small splines on the male end fit into grooves on the female end to lock the rod holder securely in place.

The rod holder bases I showed above work very well in a gear track system. For the two rod holders I place behind my seat, I use the standard Scotty bases and bolt them through the hull with stainless steel bolts, nuts, and washers.

Here are the three ways in which I routinely use my rod holders.

1) Rod storage while paddling. Many kayak anglers use a milk crate or similar box that they place behind their seat. Typically vertical PVC tubes are added for vertical rod storage. I personally don’t like to have objects sticking up behind my seat. I use two rod holders in front of me and two behind me to hold rods at a slight angle above horizontal and in-line with the hull. They do not interfere with my casting, and they allow me to move under trees, low bridges, etc. without banging the rods.

2) Holding rods for trolling. I spend a lot of time trolling in my kayak. I appreciate having rod holders that are easily and quickly adjustable. For the front rod holders, I simply rotate the cylindrical bases. For the rear rod holders, I lift, rotate, and push down to reset the lateral angle. Either one of these adjustments takes less than 5 seconds.

When trolling, the two rods in front of me face forward but out to the side 45 degrees. The one or two rods behind me face rearward and out 45 degrees to the side.

I can also adjust the angle above horizontal. I added slip disks to allow an infinite range of angle adjustment.

3) A place to rest a rod while paddling a short distance. While fishing close to shorelines, as I do for perch or pickerel, I typically have several rods laid on the deck in front of me. The rod that I am actively using can be leaned up against one of the rod holders to keep it from tangling with the other rods. The photo shows one rod with a paddletail laying on the deck, and a rod with a spinnerbait leaning on the rod holder. On my kayak, the rod holder works better when I turn it to the side — it makes a broader resting area. Depending on how your rod is constructed, you may be able to drop the last line guide into the trough made by the rod holder — this makes for a very secure resting place.

About the Author:  John Veil is an avid light tackle fisherman who fishes from kayaks and small boats.  He fishes over 100 days each year in the Chesapeake Bay and over 25 days per year in Tampa Bay with guide Neil Taylor.  He is the author of the book “Fishing in the Comfort Zone”.