If you’ve ever experienced the hassle of trying to balance your rod on your kayak, you’ll know the importance of a rod holder.
They’re a ridiculously simple invention, but they really do save you a lot of inconvenience and stress. And kayak fishing is supposed to be a stress-free hobby. Remember?
So if you’re looking to free up your hands or maybe even drop a couple of lines in the water simultaneously, here’s our round-up of the best kayak rod holders on the market.
Our Top Rated Rod Holders!
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What’s the Big Deal with Kayak Rod Holders Anyway?
When the weekend rolls around, we want nothing more than to be at the fishing hole with rod in hand. However, holding your rod the entire time you’re on the water can become tiring - it’s not so much strenuous, just a major pain in the ass.
Now, you could lay your rod across the deck or wedge it somewhere and keep your foot on it, but why trouble yourself and potentially risk losing your rod? Just chuck $20 at the problem, make it go away, and fish in style and comfort.
No more wasting time untangling lines or dealing with the frustration and heartbreak of losing or snapping a rod.
Fishing kayaks come with built-in, flush-mounted rod holders that solve the problem. And while they’re okay and do the job, they’re also very basic and limit your fishing style.
But if you’ve not bought a fishing kayak, you can still transform any kayak into the perfect fishing vessel with the addition of a few accessories. Items such as rod holders, fish finders, GPS units, and bait stations add a lot of functionality to your boat, make life easier, and even improve your odds of catching.
Out of the entire range of kayak fishing accessories, the humble rod holder is the cheapest and simplest, but it also delivers the best bang for your buck.
Rod holders will allow you to paddle with your line dropped in the water, mount your rod upwards for proper storage when not in use, and adjustable rod holders will let you position your rod at your chosen angle.
They make your fishing experience so much more enjoyable and hassle-free. Are they worth the twenty or so dollars? HELL YEAH!
Flush Mount or Adjustable? What’s the Difference?
There are two types of rod holder; flush-mount and adjustable.
Flush-mount rod holders finish flat with the surface, and the handle of the rod is nestled into the body of the kayak.
They hold your rod vertically or at a slight angle. Their downside is that the angle is fixed, and you have no adjustment.
They’re good for storing unused rods out of harm’s way, setting up several reels at the one time, and keeping your rod and line away from paddle movements when you’re trawling.
You have much greater control of rod positioning with adjustable rod holders mounted to the deck or side of your boat.
Many models have full 360 degree spinning as well as vertical tilting through 180 degrees allowing you to perch your rod at any angle you choose.
It’s beneficial to have multiple positions, and for that reason, I would choose a fishing kayak that had built-in flush-mount rod holders and then buy an adjustable rod holder for on top.
However, if it had to be one or the other, the versatility you get with adjustable holders just can’t be beaten.
Tips for Mounting Your Rod Holder
If your fishing kayak doesn’t come with mounting plates already in place, you’ll need to decide where’s the best place to fit them.
If you opt for an adjustable rod holder, their swivel function makes them very versatile, but proper planning is still essential if you want your set up to work as intended.
Long butted rods can stick out the back too far and get in the way. And what about when you’re trawling? Is the rod going to be in the way of paddle strokes?
Get it right the first time by considering our top tips for installing a rod holder.
- Don’t be in a rush to drill into your yak - Play about with several positions while you have your rod in the holder before fixing. Rotate through vertical and horizontal angles checking for clashes with your kayak and other accessories and that your rod is within easy reach. Don’t rush this part as location is key.
- Don’t be scared to put your holder off center - Not everything has to be aligned, and if having your holder fixed at an angle makes everything work correctly, it’s a small price to pay for a lack of symmetry.
- Use a Template - When you’re ready to mount, create a template out of an empty milk carton to ensure you get the bolt hole spacing perfect.
If you need more help with installation, check out this handy guide.
Full Reviews of the Best Kayak Rod Holders
Cannon Downrigger Rod Holder
This trusty little rod holder from Cannon is surely sent from the kayak fishing gods. It’s perfect in every way, and I would go as far as saying it’s a vital piece of equipment for any fishing kayak.
You’ll have flexible fishing options with vertical and 360 angle adjustment allowing both top and side mounting. There’s also a quick release knob if you need to change positions fast.
The holder works for trolling, baitcasting and spinning rods, and there is a slot on the underside that will hold your reel face down in the case of spinning rods. It will accommodate most rods, but those with larger handles work best. Smaller rod handles can be made to fit by taping foam sheets to the handle or by tilting the rod holder upwards.
The Cannon rod holder is made from tough plastic that won’t let you down. It’s not like cheap holders that eventually break and end up costing you to replace the holder and a lost rod.
Cannon is a trusted brand, and we highly recommend this product. You can pick one up for about $20, and you will be extremely glad you did.
Scotty Power Lock Rod Holder
The Powerlock Rod Holder by Scotty is a must-have if you’re modifying to create the ultimate fishing kayak!
The holder comes with a two-way mount (combination and deck) and is incredibly easy to install. The holder can be removed from the mount if it’s getting in the way or you’re transporting your yak.
It’s sturdy and well-built, and you can tell it’s a quality product when adjusting it.
The power lock system holds your rod rigidly and ensures it won’t slip out if it gets caught. However, the rod is easily disengaged if you have a fish on and have to retrieve it quickly.
You’ll have full control over position as the holder is adjustable up and down and rotates 360 degrees. Once you’ve adjusted the swivel to where you want it, just tighten the knob and the holder won’t budge.
With a rod holder of this calibre being available at such a reasonable price, it’s easy to see why the Power Lock is one of Scotty’s most popular products.
Scotty Rodmaster II Rod Holder
This is another first-class rod holder from Scotty that also features the 241 side deck mount that provides a ton of versatility.
At three inches in diameter, this rod holder is fairly wide and will accommodate larger rods. It has a removable gimbal pin and a slot for spinning reels. However, if you have a light-duty, spinning rod and you mainly fish for smaller species (such as trout), the Scotty Baitcaster/Spinning Rod Holder may be a better set up.
The Rodmaster II is beautifully engineered from tough material, and it won’t suffer sun damage or break easyily from the common mishaps that come with adventure fishing.
Scotty makes great fishing accessories and they never disappoint. This is another fantastic rod holder from Scotty that is available for a price that is sure to impress.
Piscifun Versatile Fishing Rod Holder
So, you purchased your kayak before you knew you were going to be dangling your line out of it. There are no built-in rod holders or mounting plates and you possess zero DIY skills.
Fear not, all is not lost.
You’re not going to have to come up with a wad of cash for a new fishing kayak or mutilate your beloved kayak with badly-drilled holes.
With the Piscifun clamp on rod holder, you can equip any kayak for fishing with a quick turn of the knob. And we really do mean any kayak. The large 4-3/4" opening will fit around the gunwales of any kayak or canoe.
It can be fixed to virtually any flat, solid surface whether it is on a boat or dry land. Users report that it’s perfect for attaching to handrails when fishing off bridges or piers.
Once clamped, the rod holder is securely locked in place, but you can still adjust it vertically and through any 360 angle.
The Piscifun rod holder is made from durable hard plastic that won’t fade, corrode, or become brittle.
CE Smith Tournament Style Triple Rod Rack
The main purpose of this triple rod holder is to tidy away spare rods and bring some organization to your boat or kayak.
The neat freak in me loves it, as I like having my rods set-up and on hand, but well out of the way of my cast or paddle movements and other rod set ups.
It has slots for 3 rod holders, 7 lures, a knife, and a pair of pliers.
However, the Smith Rod Rack isn’t only for storage, and you can prepare a rod or two on the rack and drag a lure.
It can be set up both horizontally and vertically and is easy to install (comes with all the required fixtures). It’s also well-constructed and made from durable, UV-resistant polypropylene.
Wrapping It Up
Fishing can be tedious, and you have to remain patient and play the long game. It’s annoying having to hold on to your rod for several hours or play the pole balancing game on your yak - plus, there’s the danger of a whopper of a fish yanking your treasured rod into the deep, never to be seen again.
Don’t risk it! Kit out your yak with a quality rod holder that will be the envy of your fellow anglers and free up your hands for more important stuff… like sandwiches and cold beers 😉