Four Keys to Choosing a Fishing Rod Holder

Keep your hands free while your line is in the water with one of these simple devices.

A fishing rod holder acts as an extra arm for an angler. It lets you keep one or more lines in the water while you’re cutting bait, eating lunch, dealing with an anchor, or studying a fish finder to put your baits in front of fish. It’s a necessity for trolling, so you can operate the boat while dragging a lure through likely areas. And it’s a very handy place to safely keep a rod when you’re not fishing.

Anglers would catch far fewer fish without fishing rod holders. That’s why it’s important to choose the best one for your fishing style and for your boat. Here’s a quick guide to choosing the best fishing rod holder for you.

Multiple Options

Thanks to a specialized base, this product can also handle spinning reels. Scotty

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Many rod holders consist of three parts: A base that’s mounted on the boat via screws, the rod bracket, and the section in between that connects the rod bracket to the base. Several manufacturers make such holders, but make sure the one you buy has a low base that won’t get in the way when you’re not using the rod holder, allows easy adjustment of the rod angle and direction, and is easy to attach and remove.

Four-Part Rack

This rod holder will hold up to four rods and is ideal for spider-rigging for crappies. Millennium Outdoors

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If you keep a lot of lures in the water simultaneously, such as when trolling for walleyes, spider-rigging for crappies over structure, or blanketing baits on the bottom for catfish, one rod holder that holds several rods is your best choice. These setups have multiple individual holders mounted on the crossbar of a T mount. The vertical bar swivels, and the individual rod holders can be angled to various directions, so you can spread your lures or baits over a wide area even while the rods are close together. Changing lures and bringing in fish doesn’t require you to jump around the boat from rod to rod. Another advantage is you need to bolt only one mounting plate into the boat’s gunwale or transom, saving space and reducing holes in your boat. Look for a multiple-rod holder with multiple adjustments, a sturdy mounting system, and is easy to set up so you can spend less time dealing with the rod holder and more time fishing.

Works For You

This product will hold spinning, spincasting, and baitcasting categories, and allow you to easily adjust direction and angle. Plusinno

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Some boats can’t be fitted with rod holder mounts that fit flush against a gunwale or transom. Canoes, utility boats, rowboats, and other craft often don’t have places for standard mounts (or, if they do, are in inconvenient places, such as the bow). Clamp-mount rod holders are the right choice here, and they have several advantages. First, you don’t have to put permanent holes into your boat—you can clamp a holder just about anywhere. You can use them on rental boats, or bring them when you fish on a friend’s boat. If you sell your boat, you can keep the holders and use them on your next boat. You can also use these when fishing from a pier or a dock, because you can clamp it to any cross piece. Look for clamp-mount rod holders that allow you to easily adjust both the rod angle and direction.

Full Rotation

This product rotates 360 degrees and keeps the reel down, instead of to the side, which makes it quicker and easier to grab. YakAttack

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Kayaks with tracks—long, narrow metal or plastic strips with an open channel—allow you to easily mount accessories anywhere along the track. This is a huge plus because it eliminates the need to drill holes in your yak. It also allows you to put track-mounted rod holders anywhere that you want along the track. That’s important because there’s not a lot of room on a kayak, and you’ll find yourself moving the rod holder’s location several times during a fishing trip because of a change in current, wind, or even fishing method. That’s just not possible with a permanent mount. If your kayak didn’t come with a track system, consider getting and installing one to allow for such versatility.