Rocket Launchers for Your Boat: More than Meets the Eye

Rocket launchers may all look the same at first glance, but anyone who’s owned a boat with imperfect rocket launchers lining the T-top or arch knows that several small details can make some great, and some others terrible. This is one of those little boat-building details that many manufacturers – especially those run by people who don’t actually fish – fail to recognize. And in the long run, just how good those rocket launchers are will have a significant impact on how much you enjoy a day of fishing.

These rocket launchers, seen lining the hard top on a Southport center console, are a great example of rodholders done right.

So, just what details are we talking about? The next time you look at a set of rocket launchers, be sure to inspect them for:

  1. Capacity: A set of four is barely minimal. The picture here shows a hard top with eight, yet you still see some rod tips sticking up (from the leaning post rodholders) because a day of mixed inshore/offshore angling requires a large selection of different sized rods and reels.
  2. Spacing: While more rocket launchers are better than fewer, if too many are crammed into too small an area the reels will bang into each other as you cruise. There needs to be enough space between each holder that the rods and reels don’t touch.
  3. Height: This is a toughie, and is where many builders fall down. They need to be low enough that an average-sized angler has no trouble reaching them, but MUST be high enough that people don’t bang their heads on them. This can be a serious hazard, and has led to many a bloodied forehead. If it comes down to holders being too low or too high they should be too high, and some part of the leaning post, an aft cooler, or a flip-out step can be used to step up and grab the rods.
  4. Gimbals: Rod holder gimbals are important, even if you use inshore gear that doesn’t “lock in” on a gimbal butt. The reason is, again, so your gear doesn’t get banged up. If the holders don’t have gimbals all the weight of the rig will be resting on the foot of the reel, connecting the reel itself with the reel seat. And with each and every wave, it’ll bang against the cold hard metal of the rodholder. Eventually, this will do some damage.
  5. Inserts: Once more, this is a matter of protecting your gear. Thick rubber inserts are a must-have, and its important that they fit tightly or sometimes they’ll come out with the rod.

So, what do you do when you find the ideal boat and it has sub-par rocket launchers? It’s worth taking the boat to a welder, and having new rocket launchers installed. This may cost a bit of extra cash but as we said before, it will have a serious impact on how much you enjoy a day of fishing – and that’s what we want our boats for, in the first place.

Lenny Rudow: