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How to Select Rod Holders for Small Boats

Attaching a rod holder to the side of your boat means more lines in the water, which means a greater chance of catching fish, which is a big deal if you’re fishing alone.
Attaching a rod holder to the side of your boat means more lines in the water, which means a greater chance of catching fish, which is a big deal if you’re fishing alone. (Plusinno/)

If you are fishing in anything smaller than a center-console boat, you’re probably going to have to outfit the vessel with aftermarket rod holders. From johnboats and small runabouts right down to kayaks, canoes, and even one-man pontoons and cata-rafts, there’s a rod holder that can turn any small boat into a fishing-catching machine.

Track Mounted

Modern kayaks often include features that make attaching an aftermarket rod holder simple and easy.
Modern kayaks often include features that make attaching an aftermarket rod holder simple and easy. (YakAttack/)

Most modern kayaks come with a section of T-track integrated into the hull. This feature is useful for mounting everything from rod holders to GPS, cleats, anchors, and other accessories. The nice thing about running your rod holder in the tee track is that it can slide fore and aft to place the rod just the right distance away while you are paddling, trolling, or just hanging out.

Clamp-On

Clamp rod holders are great if you need to use them in other watercraft from time to time.
Clamp rod holders are great if you need to use them in other watercraft from time to time. (PLUSINNO/)

For johnboats and canoes with an exposed gunnel, it’s hard to beat a clamp-on rod holder. They are a little more cumbersome to deal with than T-track but can be placed virtually anywhere on the boat to accommodate a variety of fishing styles, from trolling for lake trout to side-pulling for crappies.

Deck-Mounted

Whichever rod holder you choose, make sure it can adjust to different angles as fishing conditions dictate.
Whichever rod holder you choose, make sure it can adjust to different angles as fishing conditions dictate. (Bekith/)

If you want to keep a clean deck, consider a deck-mounted rod holder that can be removed when not needed. That keeps the cockpit and deck free of obstructions and eliminates the chance that the holder itself will take a swim or get in the way when slinging fly line.

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