In the writer's opinion, it is almost impossible to have to many rod holders.RODHOLDERS
It is a standing joke that sometimes ‘Roddy’ (the rod holder) is the best fisherman on the boat, as rods left unattended in rod holders sometimes catch the most fish. They are certainly important fishing accessories, particularly when correctly positioned and aligned.

There are three main choices of construction materials: plastic, aluminium or stainless steel/chromed brass. Plastic is okay for use in small boats with relatively lightweight fishing tackle, but heavier game rigs, when repeatedly dropped into plastic through-gunwale holders, generate enough force to punch out the bottom of a plastic holder and its moulded-in gimbal bar.

Aluminium rod holders are robust and work well on aluminium boats, as there are no corrosion issues caused by contact between dissimilar metals. Stainless, or chromed-brass, rod-holders are mostly used on fibreglass boats.

There are plenty of adjustable plastic rod-holders that offer a range of mounting options (flat plate, vertical plate, rail clamp etc.). The holders themselves are adjustable in horizontal and vertical planes. This style of rod holder may not be strong enough for big-game work, but are brilliant for snapper, trout, gurnard, dory and the like (especially for deploying small live baits) – perfect supplements to the heavier alloy holders fitted at the factory.

If the rod holders are ‘through-gunwale’ types, the tops need to rise a bit above the gunwales to stop them funnelling water into the boat. For this reason, rod holders made for this job usually have domed tops or surrounds. Additionally, some boats have ‘turnouts’ – a short section of alloy plate angled across the gunwale top just forward of the cockpit to turn overboard any water running down from the bow.

When you look down a rod holder tube, you should see a gimbal pin running across near the bottom of the tube.
 This engages with the gimbal nock on the bottom of many fishing rod butts to hold the rod steady in a single plane in the same way an arrow nock fits a bowstring. This stops a rod-and-reel from spinning around when the boat is underway, which also prevents rod butts from wearing and reels from clashing together. It also holds the rod-and-reel facing in the correct direction when fishing.

This is especially important when trolling for big fish with heavy tackle.


Because most gimbal nocks in rod butts are a 90-degree ‘X’ shape, the rod can face in the same direction with the gimbal pin in two different positions at 90 degrees to each other. However, only one of these is correct. The gimbal should be installed so the pin is pointing down the direction the line runs. This is because if the pin is at right-angles to the direction of the line, under the load of a heavy drag th e nock will bind on the pin, making the rod very hard to get out of the holder under pressure. Fortunately, rod holders are made in a range of orientations, and some now have the gimbal pins made as part of an insert so the angle can be adjusted with a ‘key’.

If you wish to fit safety lines to your rods and reels, you may need points to attach them to the boat, so a series of U-brackets, stirrups, or similar fittings may be necessary. It is also becoming common to flush-mount a cup-holder near rod holders, providing a handy place to put a jig, sinker or other items, as well as a drink.

Electric reels are becoming popular with many of those who bottom-fish in deep water. If this is your bag, then electric sockets near the rod holders may be considered when the boat is constructed and fitted out. The alternative is to carry portable batteries to power each reel.

In short, choose a material, design and installation that is fit for your purpose. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to have too many rod holders.
If the rod holders are ‘through-gunwale’ types, the tops need to rise a bit above the gunwales to stop them funnelling water into the boat.There are plenty of adjustable plastic rod-holders that offer a range of mounting options.