Rod holders, what’s all the fuss?

When it comes to fishing whether it is in a boat or from the land, one of the more essential tools is a rod holder and without one, you’re sure to get a sore arm from holding onto your rod all day.

Fishing rod holders come in all sorts of designs but all in all, they suit a specific purpose. Over the years I’ve seen many anglers out fishing, most with the right rod holders but there are still a select few which try to utilise what came standard with their boat or if fishing land based they tend to stick the rod in the sand. On few occasions, I have seen anglers even leaning their rods against the boats transom or even breaking a tree branch to make a rod holder.

While to some degree this will work, it can cause many problems such as the rod flicking out of the boat and into the water because it is not secure or if in the sand, it could topple over and the reel may get covered in sand destroying the reel.

A fishing rod holder actually serves a specific purpose and can actually increase success and enables a hands free approach when fishing. There are holders available for all styles of fishing wether from the land or boat and are a necessary requirement to fish comfortably.

Thought there is quite a range available; knowing what style to purchase can be frustrating. Take your time, measure your boat and where you want to place them and familiarise yourself with the different options available before purchasing is the key to having an organised boat or being organised when fishing from the shore.

Main functions:

The main purpose of a fishing rod holder is to allow the angler to either store their rods when travelling and to hold the rods while fishing. Some rod holders are designed for storage while others are designed to set out your rods when fishing.

The most popular design comes standard with boats; they are the vertical and angled single holder designed for trolling applications. These are screwed into the gunwales and transom of the boat during manufacture. Another use for rod holders is during a fishing session, whereby rods can be set out to avoid tangles by being cast in a fan like fashion and left to sit while waiting for the bite.

Whether your trolling for pelagics or bait fishing for bottom dwellers, rod holders offer a range of user-friendly attributes, allowing you to have better success and a tangle free day when out on the water.

What’s the difference?:

Rod holders are available in a wide range of sizes, shapes and styles to accommodate all types of rods and reels. Though manufactured from different materials, they still perform in the same manner. Steel, aluminium, polypropylene and copolymer are the range of materials which rod holders are mainly manufactured from. Each has their own benefit and some are better than others.

Of the two metals steel and aluminium, aluminium is the lighter of the two. The strength factor between them is much the same enabling them a good choice when considering for purchase. Rod holders which are made from plastic are still quite strong but over time can deteriorate or weaken if they are not UV resistant.

Generally speaking, the metal rod holders will be more expensive but don’t let the price influence your purchasing decision. More expensive holders may not necessarily mean a better unit. In rod holder terms, the more expensive the holder, then the more complex the holder will be.

Overall, each of the materials they are made from are designed to last, it is just up to you to figure out which will suit your fishing style.

The most important factor is to buy a quality product. If the holders look stable and worthy of lasting then the chances are it will. As with all fishing equipment, trying to save a few dollars by purchasing a cheaper version will only land you in trouble down the track.


Rod holders can be mounted to a boat in a range of ways. These could either be by clamping them to a rail, screwing into the boat or simply by sitting them into the already existing vertical rod holders which come standard with any new boat. Either way, each has their own benefit to suit your fishing styles.

Screw on – screwing rod holders to your boat means they are going to be a permanent fixture. Screwing rod holder to the boat is the best and strongest way to attach rod holders and for those fishing in Bays and offshore tend to use these styles. Wrap around snapper racks tend to be quite popular these days. These are ideal when bait fishing but cannot be removed. Full wrap around snapper racks are screwed on allowing multiple rods to be fished at any one time. These are ideal and you won’t have to get any other rod holders again. They are the cream of the crop and I suggest going this way if you can afford it.

Trolling methods require vertical holders which are flush mounted into the transom or gunwales. They are simple to install, and will usually involve only two- to-four holes being drilled, causing minimal “damage” to your boat.

Clamp On – Clamp-on rod holders offer a simple design for attaching to your boat, leaving little fuss for the angler. The clamping variety can be removed and used on any boat; they also come with the option of being adjusted to face in different directions.

They are generally less expensive than the screwed in units and are ideal when using on smaller boats. Unfortunately with clamp on holders they can slip. When wet or if not secured correctly they can cause your rods to fall overboard.

Slide In – Slide in holders are exactly that, they slide into an existing vertical holder. There benefit is to enable rods to be fanned out when cast keeping the lines apart from one another. The only downfall is they often don’t sit tight and tend to rattle around a little.

Tight fit:

When purchasing, you need to make sure that your rods and reels fit comfortably into the holders. Any slight movement could cause the rods to slip and fall out. Some holders are designed for bait casters while other for spin outfits. You need to make sure you can accommodate for this by having a range of holders suited to your fishing rod types.

Shore based fishing:

Even when land-based fishing, rod holders are available. Surf anglers tend to use a simple design which is more like a piece of storm water pipe with a flanged rim. This is stabbed into the sand and works very well. Alternatively, stainless surf holders are available complete with gimble mounts and drink holders but do cost quite a bit more.

For the fresh water angler, metal bank holders are also a worthy addition enabling the rod to be set in a horizontal position like that with boat fishing, they also save using a branch from a tree and are far more secure and strong.

There are multiple rod holder designs available for all styles of fishing and can provide you with not just better fishing success but a more comfortable, stress free and clear fishing adventure. If you put in a little research and understanding of what is available, you’ll be sure to find the correct holder that suits you.

Jarrod Day

About Jarrod Day

As a young boy, fishing from the Portsea and Sorrento piers along the Mornington Peninsula coastline was a regular occurrence during the school holidays. My love for fishing grew and many years later now find it much more than a hobby, but a lifestyle. My website has been developed with fishing and photography in mind. Take a look around, I hope you enjoy it.

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