Rigging Your boat for Serious Fishing: Rodholders

If you want to rig your boat for serious fishing, gobs of rodholders are a must. But all rodholders are not created equal. Some are sturdy, some are weak; some allow you to spread your lines as you like, and others do not. If you’re getting ready to rig up for angling action, consider these factors before you choose your rodholders.

This set of rodholders, mirrored on the other side of the boat, allows fan-casting up to eight rigs for catfishing in a current.

  • Get and use flush-mounted rodholders whenever possible, if you’ll be fishing with heavy tackle for large fish. Rodholders mounted in the gunwale won’t ever break. And while some surface-mounted or side-mounted holders can take quite a bit of pressure, none are quite as strong as flush-mounted holders. There are some down-sides: you can only angle them out so far (depending somewhat on the width of your boat’s gunwales), so rigging a large number of multi-angled holders may not be possible. Also, mounting these holders requires cutting some serious (angled, oddly-shaped) holes in the boat and isn’t going to be a DIY project for many boaters.
  • Remember that the vast majority of side-mounted holders can’t be angled, at all. You can mitigate this a bit by cutting wedges and putting them between the side of the boat and the mount, but then you’ll be adding a knee-knocker to your boat’s interior. These are really best used for vertical holders, or transom-mounting.
  • Top-mounted rodholders with ball-joints are extremely versatile, and not only allow for angling the holder, they allow you to adjust that angle as fishing situations require. That makes these a top choice, but… they aren’t incredibly strong, and can’t handle heavy tackle fished with lots of drag. Try using them for big fish like bull reds, for example, and if you forget to loosen your drag before setting the rod in the holder you risk losing that rod, if a fish hits and pulls the rodholder down. The same is true of some, though not all, rail-mounts.
  • Whatever type of rodholders you’re mounting, through-bolt them whenever possible. This is far, far stronger than simply screwing them in.
  • Be very careful about mounting rodholders on the back of a transom, if your boat has an outboard mounted on a motor well or a short bracket. More than one boater has mounted a rack along the back, then discovered the rodholders interfered with tilting the outboard engine all the way up.
  • Be very careful about mounting rail-mount rodholders on the outside of your railings.  More than one boater has added rail-mounts, then discovered they stick out too far and hit the pier before the boat’s rubrail does—and become bent or damaged while docking.
  • Before you choose and mount holders, make sure they fit your gear. Believe it or not, some rods with thick grips won’t slide into some rodholders.


Lenny Rudow: