Written By
Published Sep. 21, 2021

At first look, a fishing rod holder seems like a simple device. It just holds a rod, right? But a fishing rod holder has a big responsibility. Not only does a rod holder protect fishing gear such as spinning rods and spinning reels from damage or loss, but it holds the rod when you’re waiting for a fish to bite. Selecting the right one out of the hundreds of best fishing rod holders available can be difficult. 

To keep rods secure on a boat, look for a flush mount rod holder that is the sturdiest and least intrusive way to hold a fishing rod. Flush mount rod holders put the rod tube below deck, which makes for excellent stability. That’s why flush mount rod holders are used for trolling big fish.

For kayak, canoes and small boats, an elevated rod holder keeps the reel away from spray. The best elevated rod holders are simple to attach and easily to adjust. Unlike a flush mount rod holder, elevated rod holders don’t require space below deck…but an elevated rod holder isn’t as strong as a flush mount.

At home, the job of organizing rods and keeping them untangled and secure falls to a rod rack. Storing rods in a rod rack keeps them away from feet, doors, pets and kids, and they won’t tip or slide off. One big advantage of storing rods on a fishing rod rack is that they’re always ready to go fishing.

Transporting rods to the water is the best opportunity for damage or loss. A sturdy car or truck rod rack with secure connections will protect rods and reels from banging around and breaking and keep lines and lures separate. 

To keep rods out of the sand and water, a rod holder is essential when fishing from the shore or beach. A rod holder with a sharp point to insert into the sand or dirt will keep the rod upright and secure. Those designed to fish from a sandy beach are called sand spikes. The best rod holders for the beach are adjustable.

Every rod needs a holder. Here are our selections of the best rod holders available today.

Best Fishing Rod Holder for Boats: CE Smith Flush Mount Rod Holder

Best Fishing Rod Holders for Boats

CE SMith Flush Mount Rod Holder CE Smith

3 Key Features 

  • Capacity: 9 inches deep
  • Dimensions: 13 x 5 x 4 inches
  • Materials: Stainless Steel

Why It Made The Cut: From offshore sportfishing boats to inshore flats skiffs, almost every fishing boat has flush mount rod holders, and the CE Smith Flush Mounts are excellent choices. With a wide mounting collar, a stainless steel gimbal bar welded in place, and a vinyl insert to protect the rod butt from damage. The CE Smith Flush Mount Rod Holder is the best fishing rod holder for boats. And, the low profile cap looks as good as it works.

Pros:

  • 316 Stainless steel is strong and corrosion resistant
  • Welded gimbal bar
  • Welded cap to tube connection
  • Vinyl liner is notched to prevent twisting

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

CE Smith is well known for high-end fishing and boating gear, and their flush mount rod holder is overbuilt and extremely well designed. The fully welded stainless steel tube, cap and gimbal resist corrosion and are nearly indestructible. A white vinyl liner secures and protects the rod. This rod holder has been tested on heavy offshore tackle and downriggers over the years and has stood up to it all.

Best Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: YakAttack Omega Rod Holder

Best Kayak Fishing Rod Holder

YakAttack Omega Rod Holder Bass Pro Shop

3 Key Features 

  • Injection-molded, reinforced plastic
  • Locking ring
  • Adjustable mount and arm
  • Quick release

Why It Made The Cut

For kayak and small boat anglers, there may not be space below deck to mount a flush mount rod holder. An elevated rod holder is the solution—and it keeps the reel farther from the water, a big plus when fishing saltwater, which can damage reels. The best kayak fishing rod holders allow the rod to be adjusted on two planes to set the perfect position for fishing or transporting the rod. YakAttack’s Omega Rod Holder has become the standard for security and versatility. The rod holder mounts to any standard gear track. The star of the show is the unique LockNLoad track mount that allows the rod holder to be quickly adjusted and removed.

Pros

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Quick adjustment of horizontal or vertical angle 
  • Rod can be locked into the holder

Cons

  • Requires two steps to disengage the lock and remove the rod

Elevated rod holders are popular with small boaters because they keep the reel away from the water. The best elevated rod holders accommodate spinning, casting and fly rods. YakAttack’s Omega Rod Holder is the best rod holder for kayaks and small boats because of its sturdy construction and ease of operation. To remove the rod holder, push a button and it pops off the gear track mount. The Omega offers easy adjustment and locks position into place.

Best Fishing Rod Holder for Garage: KastKing Fishing Rod Rack

Best Fishing Rod Holder for Garage

KastKing Fishing Rod Rack KastKing

3 Key Features 

  • Weight 4.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28.5″ H ×29″ W ×13″ D
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Capacity: 24 rods

Why It Made The Cut

Storing the most rods in the least space is the prime objective of a home rod rack. The KastKing Fishing Rod Rack holds up to 24 fishing rods in a compact frame that will fit anywhere. The lightweight aluminum frame is sturdy and good looking. Padded cradles keep rods free of scratches. It’ll also hold paddles, stakeout poles, or any long, narrow object.

Pros

  • Holds 24 rods
  • Requires less space
  • Sturdy, corrosion resistant aluminum

Cons

  • No wheels 

The award-winning KastKing’s Fishing Rod Rack is the best fishing rod holder for a garage. It features a sturdy and compact platform for storing up to 24 fishing rods. The rack holds spinning, fly and baitcasting rods, evenly spaced so they don’t tangle. Padded cradles keep the rods safe from scratches. Adjustable racks can be set to hold any type of fishing rod. The aluminum structure is sturdy and won’t rust.

Best Fishing Rod Holder for Truck: Thule Rodvault ST

Best Fishing Rod Holder for Truck

Thule Rodvault ST Thule

3 Key Features 

  • Weight: 37 pounds
  • Dimensions: 100” L x 15” W x 10” D
  • Materials: Aluminum rod tubes and thermoformed reel case
  • Capacity: Six rods up to 8 feet long

Why It Made The Cut

Thule racks are well respected for innovative storage and durability, and the brand is well known for its kayak roof racks. The RodVault ST holds six spinning, baitcasting or fly rods up to eight feet long. The locking hatch keeps rods safe, and the rack can be locked to the crossbars to prevent theft. The mounts will fit almost any factory or aftermarket crossbars.g aluminum shaft with a sharp point, which you drive into the sand or soft ground. The rod holder will stand solidly upright. The rod butt is adjustable to fit any size baitcasting or spinning rod. For surf rods with a long butt for casting, the Adjustable Sand Spike allows the rod to be removed quickly. Best of all, the V-collar and rod butt glow in the dark for night fishing.

Pros

  • Aluminum rod tubes are corrosion resistant
  • Glass infused nylon reel case
  • Padded rod tubes protect rods
  • Locking hatch and mounts
  •  

Cons

  • Limited capacity

Thule RodVault is a safe and secure place to transport rods on a car or truck roof rack making it the best fishing rod holder for a truck. The case holds six spinning, baitcasting or fly rods The hatch locks and the mounts lock to the crossbar. Oversized aluminum tubes accommodate larger stripping guides on heavy spinning reels. It comes in fly-fishing and four-rod capacity models, too. The RodVault is designed to fit onto almost any vehicle crossbars.

Best Fishing Rod Holder for the Beach: Offshore Angler Adjustable Sand Spike

Best Fishing Rod Holder for the Beach

Offshore Angler Adjustable Sand Spike Bass Pro Shop

3 Key Features 

  • Dimensions: 50” L
  • Materials: Aluminum and luminous plastic
  • Adjustable

Why It Made The Cut

The best fishing rod holder for the beach must do two things: Stay firmly attached to the ground, and hold the rod securely. The Offshore Angler Adjustable Sand Spike does just that. It features a strong aluminum shaft with a sharp point, which you drive into the sand or soft ground. The rod holder will stand solidly upright. The rod butt is adjustable to fit any size baitcasting or spinning rod. For surf rods with a long butt for casting, the Adjustable Sand Spike allows the rod to be removed quickly. Best of all, the V-collar and rod butt glow in the dark for night fishing.

Pros

  • Durable aluminum shaft
  • Luminous collar and butt holder
  • Adjustable butt holder for long rod butts

Cons

  • Plastic collar and butt holder

Popular with surf anglers and shore fishermen, the Offshore Angler Adjustable Sand Spike is light and low profile with a strong aluminum construction. The sharp, pointed spike is easy to drive into soft ground and sand. Adjust the butt holder and top V-collar to fit any spinning or casting rod. The butt holder and V-collar glow in the dark, so you can easily spot the rod holder at nighttime.

Methodology

To choose the best rod holder in each category, we evaluated strength, ergonomics and function. 

We looked at how each candidate compared to other rod holders in a category. We then tested the rod holder, including transportation and fishing. We picked a flush mount rod holder as best overall because the low profile and sturdy holders are most common. For a kayak rod holder, we chose an elevated rod holder that is easy to adjust and remove. A rod holder for truck and car should protect the rod from wind, rain, and thievery. And, rod holders for surf and shore fishing must be easy to drive into the ground and hold the rod securely.

There are a lot of great rod holders on the water, but our picks stand out among the crowd. Just remember–the only way a rod holder can protect your rod is if you use it.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Rod Holder

Before buying a rod holder, first consider how it will be used. Flush mount rod holders are strongest and least obtrusive, but they require clearance below deck. Be sure to measure the space for the rod tube. 

Kayak anglers and small boaters prefer elevated rod holders to keep the reels away from spray and errant waves. Don’t drill holes until you place the rod holder in the location you want it, and make sure that the rod butt will clear the deck. Or, choose an elevated rod holder that mounts to a gear track for quick adjustments and removal.

When it comes to storing rods at home, a rod rack keeps rods organized and safe. Look for a rack that is light and strong so it is easy to move even filled with rods. Verify that the rod holder is appropriate for the rods you plan to store. Rods with large reels need more space.

Most damage occurs when transporting fishing rods to the water. Piling rods in a truck bed or jamming them in a trunk or back seat with other gear doesn’t make for an easy ride. To keep rods out of danger and out of the way, a rod holder mounted to a roof rack is the best option. Check the length of the rod tube and the size of the reel box to match the rods you plan to carry. 

Rod holders for surf and shore fishing must be wide and long enough to hold the rod you plan to use. Then, consider the ground where you will drive the spike. Soft sand is easy to pierce but hard ground will require a narrower spike. Bring a rubber mallet so you can pound the spike deeply into the sand or ground.

There are a lot of considerations when choosing a rod holder, but when it comes to holding a fishing rod and reel worth hundreds of dollars, the effort that goes into choosing the right one for your fishing is well worth it.

FAQs

Q: How do you mount a fishing rod holder?

To mount a fishing rod holder on a boat so that it’s flush with the transom requires cutting and drilling, so you must first be certain you’re mounting it in the right location. Place the rod in the holder and set it next to the spot that you want to put it and make sure that the location and angle of the rod is correct. If the deck material is thin, use a backing plate to increase strength. Seal the edge and holes with silicone sealant. If you are mounting an elevated rod holder, make sure that the rod butt will clear the deck.

Q: What is the best fishing rod holder?

The best fishing rod holder is tough, secure, and easy to use. Look for quality materials like reinforced plastic and corrosion-resistant stainless steel. With a flush mount rod holder, steel rod holders with a vinyl insert are strongest. For an elevated rod holder, make sure the rod holder is easy to adjust and remove. CE Smith is a well-respected maker of flush mount rod holders. Thule makes rod carriers that are of excellent quality.

Q: How far apart should fishing rod holders be?

To make sure that the rod holders you are installing will be the correct distance apart from each other, hold the rod holder with a rod in it in the intended location (you may need someone to hold the holder for you. Note the angle of the rod, and insert and remove the rod from the holder so you can tell how much room you’ll need to do that. Rod holders should be placed far enough apart so they don’t interfere with other rods, a T-top, antennas or outriggers.

Final Thoughts

Fishing rods break, but often the reason is not because a big fish snapped it. Typically breakage is the result of the rod falling over at home or on a boat and someone steps on it. Or, a door slams on it, or a car window closes on it. That’s often the end of the rod, expensive or not. Rod holders aren’t just conveniences, they’re investments in tackle…and in fishing time.

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