December 08, 2020
Put those rods where they belong, without crimping your style or overloading your kayak.
A friend was getting into kayak fishing. He had bought a used sit-on top kayak and set it up with a milk crate with two PVC rod holders that he bungeed down in the rear tank well. One morning he decided to take a paddle off of Palm Beach and troll ballyhoo with his rod in the PVC holder. A little more than a mile off the beach, his reel screamed as a sailfish tailwalked across the water. He reached behind him for his rod, only to find that his rod and milk crate were stretched out as far as the bungees could give. The sail jumped again, throwing the hook and sending the rod and milk crate crashing back, hitting him in the ribs. Maybe a milk crate was not the best choice for trolling offshore.
What type of rod holder is best for your kayak will depend on how you plan to fish. If you are not going to troll and only need to store your rod while you paddle to your spot, a milk crate with PVC rod holders may be all you need. If you plan on trolling or using live bait, you will need to upgrade.
Flush mount holders, as you find on many powerboats, come standard on many fishing kayaks. Usually, they are mounted behind the seat on each side of the kayak. Flush holders are sturdy and should handle everything from small spinners to big boat rods.
Modular holders, such as those made by Scotty, Ram, Railblaza and YakAttack, can be found on many fishing-edition kayaks. Most of the time they will be mounted forward of the seat, giving an angler a place to hold a rod when rigging, trolling or paddling to a spot. Scotty-style holders will fit most rods, but may not hold larger outfits. In some cases, you do have the option to change out the holder for a larger one. This style holder is a good alternative to the flush holders. It will keep your rods more elevated and less likely to get water splashed on them. You also have the option of adding extenders, lifting the rods even higher. You have the opportunity to change the position of your rod from straight up to straight out. Most of this type of holder has the option to lock in your rod into it.
INSTALLING ROD HOLDERS
If you are looking to install a rod holder, first make sure the spot is out of the way and won't interfere with paddling. Go online and look up your make of kayak and see how other owners have set up theirs. To install a flush mount holder, you will have to drill out a good size hole. Scotty-style flush mounts require a much smaller hole. Other mounts that are not flush only need holes drilled for the fasteners.
Whatever type of holder you pick, make sure you secure it to your kayak using stainless steel nuts, bolts, washers, or rivets that are designed for this application. You may find that you will need a backing plate. Stainless steel screws screwed into the plastic will weaken with use.
Many of newer kayaks come with track systems that allow you to install rod holders almost anywhere. The sliding mount that can be moved along the track and tightened down. One day you might carry one fly rod and the next day you bass fish with six rods. Most of the Scotty-style rod holders are compatible with some form of track mount. The best part of having a track is that you do not have to drill a hole into your kayak. The track will hold everything from rod holders to fishfinders. You can add tracks to a standard kayak, but you would need to drill a lot of small holes with a lot of small rivets to hold it to the kayak.
How many rod holders should you have and where should they be placed? Easy to get carried away and load up with as many rods as a tournament pro on a bass boat. The truth is, kayak fishing is a simple way to fish. Try to keep it simple: One or two rods, with three being the max.
Keep the rods behind you for storage and use the front holder for rigging and trolling. It is a lot easier to get a rod out of a rod holder when a fish strikes and it is in front of you, and it allows you to keep a good eye on your rod tip when you are trolling. Watch the tip as you are trolling and see how the tip moves from the action of the lure. When the rod bends, you may have weeds or a small fish on the end of the line. FS
Published Florida Sportsman Magazine November 2019