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Rod Holders

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     Rod Holders
I have been float tubing since the late 1950's. I have been tinkering and experimenting with different ways to carry extra rods and to have a place to hold the rod I am using almost as long.

Many of my early rod carrying schemes were oriented around simply lashing them down, so I would not lose them while launching or beaching, especially when I went out through the surf into the Pacific Ocean. I used all kinds of ropes, cords, straps, clips and knots to prevent loss of gear. Most of my ideas created more problems than they solved. I discovered that waterlogged knots sometimes delayed being able to begin fishing.

Some of my early more successful rod holders were a simple matter of attaching a boat type rod holder, or a "sand spike" for shore fishing, directly to my tubes. They were cumbersome, heavy and sometimes dangerous themselves, but it was a start.

I graduated to lashing single tubes...metal, plastic or strategic points on my craft. In most cases, I was happy to be able to take two to cast with and a spare in a holder.

In the mid 70's, the Fishmaster company was selling quite a few of their commercially made float tube covers, and they also sold a few different accessories. One of those was a short plastic tube, attached to a rounded base plate with a strap, designed to fit on a float tube and hold a rod. However, the short tube was designed more for baitcasting rods and the only rod I ever lost while float tube fishing was lost as a result of using one of those silly rod holders. Still, they were the only thing available for awhile, and they also made a handy hook upon which to hang a fish basket from the front of the tube.

As I lusted to be able to take more rods afloat, I added to the number of PVC tubes I would lash onto my round tubes. I usually used either plastic coated clothesline cord or nylon rope. I had to be sure to tighten them down before topping off the air in my tube, to make sure the pressure of the fully inflated tube held the rod holders firmly. If my tube shrunk in cold water or weather, my rods kept sliding around the tube toward the water. No D rings in those days to help secure addons.

One of my ventures into rod rackdom was to make a three tube PVC rod rack, using all PVC, with elbows and tees. There are a couple or three pics of that contraption included in the series. As long as I lashed it down tight, it worked well.

When I began fishing more in the salt water, after moving to Arizona and heading south to the Sea of Cortez, I found a need to have my reels positioned a bit higher when going in and out of the small surf. Sand, salt water and delicate reel parts do not get along well together. So, I fashioned a modular wooden frame, lashed permenantly onto my tube, into which I inserted the raised rod rack. The reels did indeed ride nice and high, but the weight of the whole affair made it bulky and impractical fo carrying any distance. There are a couple of pics of that arrangement.

Next, I eliminated the permanent wooden frame and simply lashed the wood and PVC tube rack directly to the tube. That got rid of some weight and bulk, but made it more difficult to load and carry the tubes with the racks continuously lashed to the tubes.

Over the past 20 years, I have experimented with a neverending succession of different materials and configurations, in the attempt to create the perfect rod holding system for tubes and tunes. Most of my various brainstorms have one extent or another. But, there always seems to be both positives and negatives to every new incarnation.

Here are some pics of many of the past rod holding devices I have tried, along with pics submitted by other members of the systems they have used. Hopefully, there is enough to help provide members with ideas to come up with the ultimate design.

My earliest tube rod holders were either made from plumbing pipe or the commercially made strap on holders. They were single tubes only and it was difficult to handle more than two rods.

A better view of the two single tubes.

One of the strap on rod tubes used as a rear rod holder. The tubes were short and the risk of losing a rod was great, if you did not use a tie-down.

Another two tube system, incorporating a tube from a shore angler's rod spike on the left rear.

A serviceable but heavy three tube PVC rod rack. It was lashed permanently in place with nylon rope and had to be checked for snugness, to avoid having rods slide around and into the water.

Another view of the 3-tube PVC rod rack, and the large single tube for the rod being used.

A modular wood and PVC rod rack system. Originally designed to help keep reels up higher to avoid damage from salt and sand when launching in the Sea of Cortez.

The rectangular frame was permanently lashed to the tube, and the rod rack and transducer mount were slid into place just before launching.

I also conducted some experiments on a modular single tube system, to secure the single tube better, for the rod in use. It proved to be more cumbersome than effective.

TubeBabe used the same modular rack for a couple of years, and put it to good use.

The permanently lashed frame and modular rack were replaced by a wood and PVC rack that was fastened to D rings just before launching, by means of snaps on premeasured nylon rope. Lighter than the two part rack, it was still heavy and cumbersome.

The next generation of wood and PVC rod racks was this 4 tube model, with a system for attaching the transducer rod for the sonar. It is designed to attach quickly, to the D rings on the side, by using parachute cord.

Closeup of the construction of the finished wood and PVC model.

The two tube rod rack system devised by VITUBER on his new Bighorn. Modeled after the similar system developed by Cat_Man.

Cat_man's two tube system.

Cat_Man's new FC4, with two tube rod rack.

An angled PVC tube system which takes advantage of the unique side pockets on the Fat Cats.

An "outrigger" rod holder to allow dragging a bait around on one rod, while casting with another (where legal). The reel's bail or freespool is left open and a loose loop of line is tucked under a rubber band. When a fish takes the bait, it pulls the line from the rubber band and can run off line without pressure until the angler tightens up and sets the hook.

Dryrod's "fore and aft" rod holder, to which he later incorporated an adjustable transducer rod.

Dryrod's completed rod rack and transducer mounting system...on his Super Fat Cat.

Fishhound's aggressive and creative rod rack and paraphernalia system. It includes a sleeve for the sonar and another for the large landing net.

Closeup of Fishhound's left side setup.

Fishhound's right side setup, including a tool rack for lip grippers, pliers, etc.

Hustler898 added foam to his rod tubes, both to protect tackle and to make a snug fit.

A noble experiment in using foam tubes. Unfortunately, it did not work well on the water, since it did not hold the rod securely.

A few of the commercially sold boat rod racks. I have tried several models of these and find them not as suitable for tubing as homemade. They ride too low and allow rod handles to get wet.

Two commercial models and one of my wood and PVC creations.

A commercial model, customized to work better for float tubing. Might as well just make your own from scratch.

Example of a commercial rod holder, riding low in the water. Not good for rod handles and may put reels at risk of a dunking too.

Stugeonkid's horizontal bassin' rod rack.

Horizontal rack on a pontoon.

Horizontal rack utilizing foam both for rod placement and for the event of a disaster.

One of TubeDude's early experiments with a horizontal rod rack. Worked fine but tended to dip toward the water when fully loaded.

Saltwater halibut angler's horizontal rack on a Trout Unlimited Kennebec.

TubeDude on Lake Pleasant, AZ, with an angled horizontal rack. It worked fine, but is not recommended for fishing in cover or near shore.

Another view of TD's angled horizontal rack, using slit plastic tubing to hold rods in place. Also note the use of foam floatation to help save rods if the rack should become detached.

Another member's use of the angled horizontal rack. These are especially suitable for fly flingers, to keep the spare rods down and out of potential danger from errant or windblown backcasts.

An experimental 3-tube lite rack, using schedule 20 PVC (1") and only a single crosspiece. Tubes are screwed down with pipe hanger straps.

3-tube lite in action. The two outside tubes are held in place with premeasured and pretied loops of nylon rope, attached to D rings on the side of the tube.

The rod rack is stabilized, against flip flopping, by a length of stretch cord looped over a hook on one of the tubes, and attached to two D rings on the bottom of the craft.

Another BFT member's use of the 3-tube lite system on a Fish Cat 4.

The Scotty fly rod holder. Available in many places and a good way to secure valuable tackle.

Simple but effective fly rod tube, using velcro to hold the rod and reel in place.

One of TD's combo racks, including a tube with a deep slot for allowing a fly reel to sit far enough down to secure it in the tube.

TD's fly fishing rod rack setup. The heavy salmon rod (top) has a fighting butt, which fits in the standard tubes. The tube insert (on grass) slips down into a tube, and holds a fly rod. The third rod slips down into a tube with a precut slit for the reel to fit down further in the tube.

Fly rods in tubes. Far left, the rod with the fighting butt. Middle, fly rod in insert. Right, rod and reel down inside specially cut slot in tube.

TheeKillerBee's 3-tube custom rack mounted on the rear outside of his pontoon. The rack does not interfere with oars and the oar handles are placed inside the rack when not in use.

Closeup of TKB's 3-tube pontoon rod rack. It can be set up for quick connect to the frame.

Fishhound's 12' pontoon setup. He fishes with several different methods (trolling, drifting, casting, fly fishing, etc.) and he has several different rod holders scattered around his craft. Most are commercially made models that clamp or screw to the pontoon frame.

Rear mounted pontoon rod holders on bass chaser's Versa Vessel.

Rear view of Versa Vessel's rod rack.

Angled side view of tricked out Versa Vessel.

BFT member JohanP, from the Netherlands, sent us these pics of his flyrod rack...with net.

Closeup of the front of Johan's rod tubes, with his velcro rod securing system.

Rear view of Johan's rod rack, showing method of attachment to rear frame.

ATFishing came up with a great angled tube rod rack on his former craft.

Closeup, showing design and lower stabilizing crosspiece.

ATFishing's newer version, on his new Creek ODC 420. Great craft and great rack design. Good for fresh or salt water use. Especially effective at keeping rods and reels out of the water and mostly out of the way while fishing.

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