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If you have a fishing kayak, chances are you already know a bit about kayak rod holders. And if you don’t already have rod holders on your kayak, you might want to install them yourself.
We’ve put together a quick guide on the types of rod holders out there for your kayak and how you can mount them to your deck for your next kayak fishing trip.
Are Rod Holders On A Kayak Worth It?
If you plan to fish from your kayak, rod holders can definitely be worth it. Dedicated rod holders can give you a safe place to store your rods while you paddle, keeping them out of the way.
Having rod holders installed on your kayak also means you can increase the storage capacity without taking up too much room on your deck. So you can use the rest of your space to store other essential equipment, such as your backpack, crate or cooler, and other gear. .
It’s also possible to install accessory tracks to your kayak, which can give you further opportunities to attach other items in addition to multiple rod holders. Track-mounted rod holders can be beneficial if you want to be able to remove them or adjust the position of them on your deck, as you can usually slide them along to your preferred spot.
Some rod holders can be useful for holding your rod while you’re fishing, for example if you’re trolling or simply waiting for the bite. This can free up your hands to paddle, tie lures, or tend to another rod. You may not be able to do this with all types of rod holders and remember, you should secure the rods to your kayak with a rod leash if you can.
A downside to installing rod holders on your kayak is that you often need to drill a hole in your kayak to attach the mount, which you might not want to do. However, you may be able to find alternative options that don’t require drilling holes in your boat.
Some fishing rod holders can also get in the way of your paddle stroke or even your fishing line, particularly if you’re fly fishing. Some of the vertical rod holders can even cause your fishing rods to get snagged on overhanging branches.
> Ways to attach kayak accessories
Other Usage Possibilities
If you don’t plan to fish at all from your kayak, you may not need or want rod holders on your kayak.
However, you may find other uses for the rod holders if you have them, such as using them to hold safety flags for visibility and diving. Or you can also use the rod holder to attach bimini shades to keep the sun off your deck while you’re paddling in hot weather.
Usually if you want to use the rod holders for other things, flush mount rod holders can be more suitable than other types and are often in more convenient spots on the deck for mounting other accessories such as a sun shade or flag. Some outriggers can also be attached to your kayak using the rod holders.
Can You Drill Into A Kayak?
The quick answer is: yes, you can drill into a kayak. Many aftermarket rod holders will often require you to drill into the hull of your kayak to install them.
You may also have to drill into your kayak to install other accessories, such as a fish finder or a camera mount, for example.
The main thing you want to keep in mind if you’re drilling into your kayak is to keep all drill holes above the water line. This can help to prevent water from seeping into the hull through any gaps.
After you drill a hole and install your mounts or rod holders, you can seal around the screws with a marine sealant to give an additional layer of protection against leaks if you choose.
It’s not always absolutely necessary to drill into your kayak if you have gear tracks installed, as you can opt for a track-mounted rod holder for drill-free installation.
Types Of Fishing Rod Holders For Kayaks
Flush Mount Rod Holders
Flush mount rod holders are probably the most commonly seen rod holders on kayaks and are usually a standard feature on most fishing kayaks. While these types of rod holders often come pre-installed, you can add your own.
These types of rod holders are designed to be flush to the deck, so that the butt of the rod is within the hull when stored and the majority of the rod is outside the holder. The rod is positioned vertically in a flush mount rod holder, at a slight angle, usually behind the cockpit.
Flush mount rod holders generally offer a secure storage solution for your fishing rods. They can be ideal for trolling and your rods can remain in the holders while you’re fishing. But remember to attach a rod leash to keep them from taking a dive.
> The best trolling rods for kayaks
These types of rod holders can also be used for installing other accessories, such as flags, outriggers or sun canopies.
How To Install A Flush Mount Rod Holder & Where Should They Be Placed?
To install a flush mount rod holder, you would need to drill a hole into your kayak that is the same width as the rod holder.
This will usually require a hole drill bit or hole saw that attaches to your drill to create holes. The size of hole drill bit you’ll need will depend on the size required by your rod holders in the installation instructions.
You can install flush mount rod holders anywhere on your kayak that you have a suitable flat area of deck, with enough room underneath to support the length of the rod holder.
Video: How to Install a Kayak Fishing Rod Holder
Our Top Picks
Borogo Kayak Fishing Flush Mount Rod Holders
These Borogo flush mount rod holders come as a set of two. They’re designed to be easy to install on most kayaks and come with all the necessary hardware for installation (except the tools).
Anndason Kayak Deck Flush Mount Rod Holders
The Anndason flush mount rod holders can be ideal for just about any fishing kayak. They feature splash covers when not in use and come with the installation hardware to fix them to your deck.
Yak Gear Flush Mount Rod Holder Kit
This Yak Gear rod holder kit can be simple to install, with no splash cover, and ideal for a range of kayaks. It comes with the installation hardware and features a pad eye to attach a leash to your fishing rod for security.
Vertical Rod Holders
Vertical rod holders can be a good option if you don’t want to have to drill into your kayak. These types of fishing rod holders can generally be attached to a fishing crate, increasing your storage space without taking up much room.
These can be a less permanent solution for storing rods on your kayak, as you can easily remove them with the fishing crate. This means you can also transport your rods with your fishing crate when you’re heading to the water, making it easier to carry the rest of your gear.
A downside to vertical rod holders is that they tend to be less secure than other types of rod holders and may not be the best choice if you want to use them to hold trolling rods. A large fish or a snagged line could cause the rod to fall overboard or snap the holder.
How To Install A Vertical Rod Holder & Where Should They Be Placed?
Vertical rod holders can be easily installed to a fishing crate by utilizing the holes that are already on the fishing crate and securing the screws with nuts on the other side.
To install these rod holders on a cooler, you may have to drill small holes into the side of your cooler. You can use marine sealant to seal the gaps around the screws once you’ve fixed the rod holders in place.
Most fishing crates with rod holders can be placed in the rear tank well of your fishing kayak.
Our Top Picks
Yak Gear Build A Crate Kit
The Yak Gear Build A Crate Kit can be a great choice for adding vertical rod holders to a milk crate or cooler. As well as providing three vertical rod holders, there is also space for pliers, knives and lures, so it can really maximize the storage space on your kayak.
These vertical rod holders can be fixed to the side of a crate, giving you full access to the inside of the crate.
BigTron Fishing Rod Holder Bracket
The BigTron vertical fishing rod holders are designed to be mounted to a variety of objects and can be ideal for attaching to the side of a fishing crate. There are three rod holders in the bracket and it comes with all the necessary hardware for fixing to a crate or cooler.
Isure Marine Vertical Fishing Rod Holders
These Isure Marine rod holders are designed to be easily installed on fishing crates, coolers and buckets (or even a wall in your garage).
There are three rod holders and there’s additional space for holding lures or a knife, so it can provide excellent storage for extra tackle.
Horizontal Rod Holders
Horizontal rod holders can be ideal for keeping your rods safe while you’re paddling through areas with lots of cover, such as overhanging branches.
Some quality fishing kayaks come with horizontal rod holders already installed. They’re not the easiest aftermarket rod holders to come by but you can install your own if your kayak has enough deck space on the sides.
Make sure that installing these rod holders won’t interfere with your paddle strokes or foot braces if you’re mounting them inside the cockpit area.
These types of fishing rod holders are designed as a storage solution. So if you want a rod holder that will hold your rod while your line is in the water, you’ll likely still need another type of rod holder.
A horizontal rod holder can be useful if you plan to bring along multiple rods and need a place to store the ones you’re not using.
How To Install A Horizontal Rod Holder & Where Should They Be Placed?
Horizontal rod holders may require you to drill holes into the kayak but there are some that can work with accessory rails and track mounts.
These tend to be mounted on the sides of the kayak, usually along the top edge of the gunwales. But depending on your kayak and if the sides are deep enough, you may have room to install these rod holders along the inside of your cockpit area.
Our Top Picks
Hobie Horizontal Rod Rack
This Hobie Horizontal Rod Rack is designed to attach to H-rails on Hobie kayaks. This one can be easily installed to the H-rail and can hold three fishing rods in a horizontal position.
This versatile rack can also be used to store a paddle or a stake out pole.
Native Watercraft Rod Butt Lay
The Native Watercraft Rod Butt Lay can be installed on the side of most kayaks. This can let you store your rod horizontally along the side of your kayak. It features bungees to keep the rod secure and installation hardware for mounting to your deck.
Railblaza QuickGrip Paddle Clip Track Mount
This Railblaza QuickGrip Paddle Clip is designed to be mounted to accessory tracks so you don’t need to drill into your boat. While this is made to hold your kayak paddle, it can work with some fishing rods and nets as well.
Adjustable Rod Holders
Adjustable rod holders tend to offer the most freedom in terms of position. This is because as well as being able to swivel in various directions to face the fish, they can often be mounted in a variety of places on your deck, including the center of the cockpit.
These types of rod holders can be useful for actively fishing, as you can keep the rod secured in the holder while you’re waiting for the bite.
Some adjustable rod holders can be mounted to a gear track, which can let you easily install and remove the rod holder, as well as slide it to the best position while you’re on the water.
Track-mounted rod holders can be beneficial if you don’t want to drill holes in your kayak.
However, there are also adjustable rod holders that do require you to drill into your hull for permanent installation.
How To Install An Adjustable Rod Holder & Where Should They Be Placed?
The easiest way to install an adjustable rod holder is if you have gear tracks already installed on your kayak. This lets you attach the mount to the track with no drilling required, giving the option to remove it at the end of the day.
If you choose to install this type of rod holder directly to your boat, you’ll need to drill into the kayak using self-tapping screws if you don’t have access to the inside of the hull. Remember to think about the placement of the rod holder before you drill your holes. You don’t want it getting in the way of your paddle.
Our Top Picks
Railblaza Rod Holder II
The Railblaza Rod Holder II is designed to be easy to install on any kayak with accessory tracks. It features a 360-degree rotation and is compatible with a range of fishing rods, including baitcasting, spinning, and fly rods.
RAM Fly Rod Holder
This RAM fly rod holder can be an ideal choice if you like fly fishing from your kayak. This is specifically designed to hold a fly rod and has a ball-and-socket pivot so you can adjust the angle of the cradle quickly and easily.
This is designed to be mounted directly to your kayak but does not come with any installation hardware.
RAM Rod Holder With Track Ball Mount
The RAM rod holder has a Track Ball mount and is designed to work with almost any kayak track system, making installation quick and easy, with no need to drill into your boat.
The rod holder tilts forward and back and can rotate in any direction for convenience. It can be ideal for holding both spinning and baitcasting reels.
Are Rod Holders Worth It?
Rod holders can be an essential piece of equipment when it comes to kayak fishing. They can give you a secure place to store your fishing rods out of the way of all the rest of your gear, but within easy reach for added convenience.
If you’re looking to bring multiple fishing rods, you might want to think about a variety of rod holders, both for storage and when you’re actively fishing. Or maybe you want the versatility of being able to use the rod holders for other accessories.
Have you added rod holders to your kayak? Let us know. And don’t forget to share this to help other anglers rig their fishing machine.