Choosing rod holders and adding them to the kayak is the first step in personalizing your ride. Before heading to the paddle shop, consider where and how you fish. For trolling, flush mount rod holders are strongest.

To fish in rivers and ponds with overhanging trees, look for horizontal rod holders. Vertical holders are best for carrying multiple rods. To keep the rods away from the water and in reach, attach an adjustable rod holder to a gear track or deck mount.

Rod holders behind the seat are mostly for transportation. Place holders ahead of the seat for fishing. Here are four options for kayak rod holders.

Adjustable rod holders

For the ultimate in utility, adjustable, elevated rod holders can be configured for the perfect placement and function. Mount the rod holder base directly to the kayak hull for the strongest connection. Attach the rod holder to a gear track for infinite adjustability.

Adjustable rod holders come in a variety of sizes and configurations. Long, short, angled, straight, heavy duty, light weight—there’s an adjustable rod holder for every need.

Pros Adjustable length and angle. Fixed or track mounting. Elevates rods away from the water.

Cons Weaker connection. Can impede casting, paddling or entering the kayak.

An adjustable rod holder elevates the rod away from the water. | Photo: Brad Hole
An adjustable rod holder elevates the rod away from the water. | Photo: Brad Hole

Flush mount rod holders

Flush mount rod holders provide the strongest connection. Since the rod holder is below the deck, it stays out of the way. On the down side, flush mounts require drilling a two-inch hole in the deck. And, they can’t be adjusted or removed. Flush mounts are best for trolling or bait fishing, especially when you’re expecting a big bite.

Pros Low profile. Stronger connection.

Cons Requires cutting a hole in the kayak. Permanent installation.

Vertical rod holders

Vertical rod holders are mostly used for carrying rods to the fishing grounds. Attach rod tubes to fishing crates or angle-adjustable rod holders out of paddling and casting range. Four to six vertical rod holders behind the seat keep rods organized and out of the way. Add rod leashes or bungees to secure the rods in the kayak.

Pros Best for transporting rods to the fishing grounds. Keeps rods out of the path of casts and paddle strokes.

Cons Not angled or adjustable.

Horizontal rod holders

To keep rods out of overhangs, angle an adjustable rod holder parallel with the deck or use bungees and clips to secure rods on the deck. To keep lines and lures from tangling, limit the number of fishing rods.

Pros Keeps rod tips out of overhangs and trees. Easy to install. Requires open deck.

Cons Takes up space. Lines and lures tangle.

Horizontal rod holders avoid low hanging trees. | Photo: Roberto Westbrook
Horizontal rod holders avoid low hanging trees. | Photo: Roberto Westbrook

Notes on the placement of rod holders

  • Keep out of way of paddling and casting.
  • Do not impede entry, especially after a wet exit.
  • Measure twice, drill once.

Tips for installing rod holders

  • Install a backing plate to provide additional support.
  • If you can reach the inside of the hull, use stainless steel bolts and lock nuts.
  • If you can’t reach the inside of the hull, use pop rivets. Self-tapping screws are less secure than rivets, but easier to install and remove.
  • Close the bottom of a flush mount rod holder with a rubber bearing cap for a trailer hub.
  • Fold adjustable rod holders flat for transport.
  • Seal all holes with marine adhesive.
  • Trace the base on paper or cardboard and cut out a template.

Scotty Rod Holders

RAM Mounts Rod Holders

YakAttack Zooka II Rod Holder

Railblaza Rod Holder Mounts


  1. I typically use scotty style rod holders and keep them horizontal. With low profile mounts. So old school scotty #279 because of the small size in terms of overall diameter and height Track mounted on my kayak. I use the scotty 415 slip disks and the scotty 438 track adapters with them. If you want to keep rods horizontal and low this is the best I’ve found for now.

    I river kayak fish 95% of the time. I need to be able to get into overhangs well without creating a Christmas tree when retrieving a lure or when fishing the edges during high water. Often the water is up in the woods during that time. I also need to be able to nose in and out against brush. Vertical rods off the back create a special challenge.

    Horizontal mountings up front have a trade off though as it’s not as easy to swing your legs over to either control attitude during a drift or simply getting in and out. So as usual there is a trade off.

    The other mounts that have other capabilities say Power Locks, Orcas, Omega Pro, Stealth QR-1 have issues. Mostly due to height, bulk and ability to keep the rods low and horizontal once in the mount. ESPECIALLY with balanced rods (weighted in the back). If you balance your rods and have your handles weighted the tips will rise in the mount and stick up at weird angles. The wider diameter of the holder allows for more room for this even when strapped in. I’ve tried them all. QR-1 though promising – which I am trialing now included.

    Old school scotty #279 are still the best for my purpose.


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