Look. If you’re going fishing you’re going to need more than one rod. You need two in case one falls in. And then a third rigged up for catfish. Plus your favorite ultra-light setup for baitfish. And then there’s that new reel you just bought but don’t really need. Ehh screw it, throw it on board. Now you’re 5 rods in (forgot the dock demon – just for funsies’) on a kayak with enough room for 2. Fret not my overzealous friend – there is a solution.
Kayak rod holders are an essential kayak accessory. They provide a simple solution to a simple problem – keeping your rods and reels from tangling up. There are loads of no-name brands and DIY options available, but there’s a lot of crud out there not worth your hard earned clamshells. Here at Yak Logic we know you expect the best. And boy do we deliver. Scope the best ways to rig your rod on a hard shell below.
Yak Attack Omega
If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes on a fishing kayak than you’ve seen the Yak Attack Omega rod holder. It’s one of the most popular rod holders and for good reason – it’s darn near perfect. Like most Yak Attack rod holders the Omega attaches o t-track with a proprietary gimbal mount. Depress the base lever to the left and you can freely rotate the angle of the rod-holder. Open it to the right and you can completely remove the kayak rod holder, leaving the base on the track.
Rod angle can be quickly adjusted by the mid-point knob. A few turns to the left allows one handed angle adjustments in 15° increments. Up top the collar rotates to allow casting, spinning, and fly rods in both a locked and unlocked configuration. And if you’re concerned about losing a rod two holes on the top provide the perfect anchor for a rod leash.
The Yak Attack Omega comes standard (as pictured above) and is also available in the “Pro” version, which adds an extra arm for greater articulation. The standard version can also be upgraded later with 4″ and 8″ extension arms, but we recommend starting with the Pro version from the outset. It’s more cost effective and you the extra articulation comes in handy.
Yak Attack AR Tube
It’s no secret that kayak fishing has a bit of a machismo vibe going on. Every year boats have more aggressive lines and sharper styling. So what better to compliment your fish wrecking rig than a rod holder with a firearm inspired aesthetic. The Yak Attack AR Tube is undoubtedly the most badass looking rod holder on this list. And it’s got plenty of functionality to go with all that form.
The AR Tube is a tube style rod holder (duh). And it’s perfectly suited for bigger rods and bigger loads. Tube style holders are great for trolling for bigger fish like stripers or walleye. In the down position the rear gimble will prevent compatible rods from twisting. While in the up position spinning reels can slide into the slot for quick indexing. The YakAttack AR Tube is a great accessory for vertical rod storage and a welcome addition to any warship.
Yak Attack Zooka II
If you’re going to war it’s always helpful to have some heavy artillery. The Zooka II, aptly named after everybody’s favorite brand of gum (JK – nobody likes bazooka bubblegum) is a streamlined tube-style rod holder. A wide opening and shorter body make for quick storage and access. The spin-reel side has a slot for trapping the reel body. While the baitcaster-side has a faring for caster on top storage.
This is a heavy duty no-nonsense rod holder that’s great for paddlers short on real estate. Two points of articulation offer greater flexibility for mounting options. And the tube-style is perfect for big rods. The Zooka II is a surefire option for any angler targeting catfish, stripers, or other big fish.
If your Grandpa ever took you out on his boat there’s a fair chance he was rockin’ a couple of Scotty’s. Scotty’s is one of the OG manufacturers of plastic rod holders and is still one of the best budget options for paddlers. Like most mature brands Scotty has a broad spectrum of accessories replete with different types of rod holders, anchor locks, and cup holders. Along with tons of accessories are a wide variety of mounting options, all at a very affordable price.
The 279 is recognizable for its ubiquity. It’s often the rod holder of choice in beginner kayak packages. It’s an easy to use and lightweight option that’s perfect for ultralight setups and fly rods. It doesn’t have all the frills as other rod holders, but smooth curves and a low profile help keep it out of your way when fishing. Scotty is also one of the few producers to offer a viable mounting solution for inflatable kayaks. Consider Scotty if you’re trying to keep things simple and affordable.
Flushmount rod holders
Flush mount rod holders are the gateway drug to kayak rod storage. They’re cheap, easy to install, and effective, Just about every entry level fishing kayak comes with two of these. And in some cases these rod holders are the only thing qualify a boat as “made for Anglers”.
Flush mount rod holders are typically placed behind and to the side of the cockpit. They’re usually angled at 45° and cant away from the body which can be great for trolling. A low profile keeps these out of the way when not in use. And when properly positioned they can be an excellent addition to a kayak.
The main problem with flush mount rod holders is that they are a fixed position solution. It’s impossible to adjust the angle. So if you’re unhappy with reaching behind you, well, that’s too bad buckaroo. Replacing these is also a tough putt since they leave a large hole in the deck. For these reasons manufacturers are moving towards more flexible mounting options like the Yak Attack Mighty Mount or t-track.
If you have a spot for a flush mount rod holder and are committed to the install then the Yak-Gear flush mount rod is one of your best options. Stainless steel hardware, a sealed bottom, and incorporated leash mount make this one of the best flush-mount rod holders on the market.
Clamp On Rod Holders
Clamp On kayak rod holders are traditionally reserved for jon-boats and canoes. Clamps grip over fiberglass and aluminum gunwales to provide a sturdy mounting point. But they’re also fantastic for retro-fitting Sit Inside (SIS) kayaks. These rod holders can be configured multiple ways to fit over cockpit coaming and provide a sturdy rest for your rod.
With any clamp-on mount the hold strength is limited by the composition of the underlying material. Clamp on rod holders will work with rotomolded kayaks, but tend to perform better on fiberglass hulls. In either case these are only intended for lightweight use. Try trolling for Tuna with one of these and you’ll be sorely disappointed, rather quickly.
The Plussino clamp on kayak rod holders pictured above are a great choice for light spinning and casting rods. Durable ABS plastic construction coupled with a 4.5″ clamp gap make this a great option for adding an extra hand to Sit Inside and Sit on Top kayaks. Best of all these kayak rod holders install without drilling any holes into your hull.
RailBlaza Starport Rod Holder II
Railblaza is well reknown for a lot of quality products, including the c-tug kayak cart, but none so much as the Starport Rod Holder II. Made in New Zealand and imbued with Kiwi pride the Starport Rod Holder II offers anglers an easily adjustable and adaptable mounting system. The Starport base is available in a variety of form-factors and mounting options and fits a variety of accessories. A quick push on the lever unlocks the fixture for easy rotation or swap-out.
The actual rod holder assembly offers a durable option for securing rods at an attractive price point. A locking collar, leash-anchor, and rear gimble which is great for preventing rotation in bigger rods. If you’re already invested in the Railblaza ecosystem, or just looking for a great rod holder, you’d be hard pressed to do better than a Railblaza.
Gatling Fishing Rod Holder
The Gatling Rod Holder is the flagship product of the Gatling Fishing; which has one of the coolest logos we’ve seen from a fishing company (seriously dope). The Gatling rod holder is one of the few off the shelf kayak rod holders that provides flexible horizontal rod storage. It can hold up to four rods at a time and fits spinning, casting, and fly rods.
The main assembly has two securing plates. The rear plate fits rod handles while the front has a simple locking mechanism to keep rods put while they’re not in use. Paddlers have the choice of mounting with either a flat or 45° track mounted swing arm. Both options feature a quick release mechanism to detach the rod-holder array for safe keeping during travel.
The Gating Rod Holder is reasonably priced considering its made with steel and starboard HDPE rather than plastic. Not to mention it holds four rods. This is an awesome add-on for easily accessible horizontal rod storage that doesn’t crowd your cockpit and looks great.
O Pros 3rd Hand
O Pros 3rd Hand is a nifty rod holder aimed primarily at fly fishermen. But it can be a handy accessory for paddlers as well. The 3rd Hand hooks to your belt/pants and provides a simple rest for fly rods and light spinning gear. Catching a fish on a kayak is easy enough to handle; just put down the rod, take the hook out, snap a selfie and you’re good to go. Go wading in a river and that process becomes a smidge more difficult.
The O Pros 3rd Hand is a slick and simple accessory that makes impromptu trips through the ripples a more pleasant experience. It’s a no-brainer for anyone rocking a fly-fishing yak or going for lighter fare.
Hobie Rod Rack
Hobie’s Rod Rack offers horizontal rod management for any model equiped with H-Rail; such as the Outback and Pro-Angler Line, and several discontinued models. Three slots offer support for (you guessed it) up to three rods that can be secured in place with the included bungee. Adding one of these up near the bow provides a protective housing for your delicate rod tips. It also keeps them from getting snagged during loading/unloading.
With two Hobie Rod Racks mounted you can effectively add up to 6 additional horizontal rod storage slots. Unfortunately this feat would only be easily feasible on the Pro-Angler (PA) models. The PA is the only Hobie model with a long length of H-Rail running down the side of each gunwale. And it comes with 6 horizontal rod slots already built in. So an extra 6 rod slots with four Hobie Rod Racks might be overkill.
Another mounting option is the top rail of Hobie’s kayak crate: the H crate. Throw the Rod Rack on a Hobie crate and you’ve got some handy rear facing horizontal rod storage.
Ram Mounts claim to fame in the kayak rod holder world is their ball and socket connecting system. Their proprietary ball mount allows for multi-planar articulation in each joint. This freedom of movement allows for quick micro-adjustments on the fly to get your reel positioned exactly the way you want it. Transitioning from completely vertical to an off kilter cant takes seconds and is inherently intuitive.
Ram Mounts has the largest catalog of mounts and accessories of any manufacturer on this list. In addition to rod holders they provide solutions for fish finders, camera gear, and more. And they’ve got some really creative mounting options for gunnels and even inflatables. One of our favorites is the rod holder with integrated GoPro mount. These aren’t as widely available in the big box stores as brands like Scotty and Yak Attack (at least in our experience). But they’re worth seeking out for their high quality and impressive lineup.
Overview on Kayak Rod Holders
Kayak Rod Holders are an incredibly useful implement for kayak fisherman. If you haven’t grabbed at least one yet then bro, what are you waiting for? These can make a serious difference in your enjoyment level without making a big dent in your wallet. Let us know your favorite rod holder by tagging us @YakLogic on Instagram and Facebook. And please, no dick pics.