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Best Fishing Rod Holders for Boats, Kayaks, Shore, and More

Updated on August 13, 2017
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HuntnFish has spent many years on the water fishing for and catching nearly every species of fish in Washington State.

My First Experience with Rod Holders

I remember as a kid the time my dad decided to buy some cheap knock-off rod holders for the family boat. It seemed like a great idea: the fishing rods would be held firmly in place by the rod holder while trolling or still-fishing, allowing two free hands to bait hooks, tie knots, eat a snack, or for him, drink a beer. In hindsight though, he should have gotten better rod holders. While trolling the first time out with the new rod holders, a line snagged bottom, or maybe a big fish, and the fishing rod popped out of the holder and into the lake, never to be seen again. He never trusted rod holders after that.

In the decades since then, however,, I quickly regained my trust of road holders, having never lost a single rod since. I can't imagine fishing without one for most fishing trips.

Rod holders are convenient when still-fishing from docks, piers, the beach, the shore, boats, kayaks, and canoes, and practically required for any type of trolling. Each fishing situation will have slightly different requirements for the rod holder.

For canoes, jon boats, and wooden boats, clamp on style rod holders provide a sturdy anchor without requiring any physical modifications to the boat, and can also be easily removed.
For canoes, jon boats, and wooden boats, clamp on style rod holders provide a sturdy anchor without requiring any physical modifications to the boat, and can also be easily removed. | Source

Fishing Rod Holder Style Overview

There are a number of types of different fishing hold holders, each designed for particular applications.

Spike Rod Holders

+ Best option for bank, shore, or surf fishing

+ Designed to by pressed, hammered, or screwed into the dirt or sand

+ Can be fairly easily removed and relocated throughout the day

- Cannot be used from boats, piers, or docks

Clamp-on Rod Holders

+ Best option for piers and docks

+ Good option for boats when a no mounting hardware solution is preferred

+ Can be quickly be installed or removed

- Not the most secure rod holding solution

Flush Mount Rod Holders

+ Best option for compact storage of extra fishing rods when fishing from a boat

+ Provides the most secure rod holding solution

- Not very versatile, fixed rod angle and position

- Does not fit all fishing rod types

- Hardest to install, require the most tools and modifications to the boat

Mounting Base Style Rod Holders

+ Best option for most boats and kayaks when modifications and mounting is possible

+ Interchangeable rod holders can be removed and swapped out into the mounting base, allowing for different rod types, as well as other attachment.

+ Provides a very strong support for all types of fishing

- Require some tools and hardware to mount


Spike Fishing Rod Holders

Spike fishing rod holders are the best option, and really the only option, if you will be fishing from the bank, shore, or beach. These type of rod holders are either hammered or screwed into the dirt or sand, providing a solid mounting solution that can easily be moved throughout the day. Spike rod holders can be mounted to docks or piers in a pinch with rope or zip-ties, but generally aren't a great solution anywhere there isn't sand, dirt, or snow.

When looking for spike style rod holders, consider the type of substrate you will likely be driving it into. Sand will require a much longer and wider spike than dirt, as sand has less holding force. Also consider the fish you will be targeting, hard pulling fish like catfish and carp will require a more secure mount than trout and panfish.

For most applications, spike fishing rod holders are a pretty easy DIY project. Solutions can be as simple as a piece of PVC pipe cut at an angle on one end to allow it to be more easily hammered into the ground.

Source

Clamp-on Rod Holders

Clamp-on style rod holders mount using a clamping screw mechanism. These rod holders are the best solution any time you do not want to use any tools or hardware to mount your rod holder. Since using drills or bolts on public piers and docks is generally frowned upon, and probably illegal, these are the best option when fishing from public fishing structures. Clamp-on rod holders are also popular with canoes and wooden boats when drilling holes or using mounting hardware could damage the integrity or aesthetic of the boat.

Due to the non-permanence of clamp-on rod holders, they can have a reduced maximum holding force.

Best Clamp-on Rod Holders- Scotty Portable Clamp Mount

Scotty #449 Rod Holder Portable Clamp Mount w/ #241 Side/Deck Mount
Scotty #449 Rod Holder Portable Clamp Mount w/ #241 Side/Deck Mount

The Scotty Portable Clamp Mount is the perfect solution for clamp-on rod holder applications. It combines the easy of installation of clamp-on rod holders with the versatility of base mounted rod holder systems. The Scotty Portable Clamp Mount will allow the entire range of Scotty rod holders and accessories to be easily mounted virtually anywhere you can place the mount. With a 2" clamping depth, you'll have a lot of options.

 

Have you ever lost a fishing rod due to a failed rod holder?

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Flush Mount Rod Holders

Flush mount rod holders provide the most rock solid rod holding solution. You can almost be guaranteed that either your fishing line or rod would break before a flush mount rod holder would fail.

For as good as they are at providing solid support, flush mount rod holders have a number of drawbacks. Most importantly, they require the most tools and hardware to install, and require the most severe modifications to your boat. In almost all case, a hole saw will be needed to create the flush mount through-hole, and well as mounting hardware to anchor the rod holder in place.

Additionally, flush mount rod holders are rigid, meaning the fishing rods can only be held in one position. You will not be able to move fishing rods between different positions depending on the type of fishing you will be doing. If the flush mounts are place with the rods at a 45 degree angle pointing off the stern, you will never be able to hold the rods in any other orientation. Also, flush mount rod holders cannot fit all types of fishing rods, including fly-rods and casting rods with large trigger grips.

Flush mount rod holders are a great solution for very large gear and fish, when anticipated loads will exceed those of other rod holding options, or if you are setting up your boat for a very particular type of fishing. They are the go-to style for most off-shore and deep water fishing.

Flush Mount Rod Holders

When targeting really big fish, flush mount rod holders will provide the most stable solution. As an added bonus, they preserve the aesthetic of the boat, as they are far less noticeable.
When targeting really big fish, flush mount rod holders will provide the most stable solution. As an added bonus, they preserve the aesthetic of the boat, as they are far less noticeable. | Source

Mounting Base Style Rod Holders

Mounting base style rod holders provide the best combination of flexibility and strength. These style of rod holders use a mounting base which is fixed to the boat, along with a quick-connect receiver to attach and detach the actual rod holder from the mounting base.

When mounted properly, this style of rod holder will provide a sufficiently stable rod holding solution for all but the biggest fish, while also allowing flexibility of rod holding position. With many systems, different rod holders can be mounted to the same base, allowing for trolling rods, spinning rods, and even fly rods. Additionally, nearly all off the rod holders will provide a number of tilt adjustments, allowing rods to be held in different positions for trolling with planar boards or downriggers.

Base mounted fishing rod holders do require some tools and modifications to your boat, however if your primary purpose with the boat is fishing, a reliable base mounted fishing rod holder system is one of the most important upgrades you can make on your boat. For kayaks and most fishing boats, this is the best rod holder solution.

Best Fishing Rod Holder- Scotty Rod Holder System

Scotty #279-BK Baitcaster/Spinning Rod Holder without Mount
Scotty #279-BK Baitcaster/Spinning Rod Holder without Mount

When is comes to boat or kayak mounted rod holders, Scotty provides the most reliable, dependable, and versatile rod holder mounting solutions. They hold up to the biggest fish, can be easily adjusted, and quickly be removed from their quick connect base to get out of the way when not fishing.

 

Different Types of Scotty Rod Holder Mounting Bases

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