Where Is the Best Place to Put Rod Holders in a Kayak?

Kayak fishing is a fun and versatile way to fish in many different bodies of water. However, one of the most important considerations for kayak anglers is where to position their rod holders for optimal fishing. In this article, we will explore the different types of kayaks, rod holder options, and recommended positions to mount rod holders.

kayak rod holder

Types of Kayaks: Sit-on-top kayaks, Sit-inside Kayaks

When shopping for a fishing kayak, you'll find two main options: sit-on-top and sit-inside designs.

Sit-on-top kayaks let you perch on the hull with your legs dangling inside. This design gives you maximum mobility to twist and turn for casting freedom. The open layout also boosts visibility and allows you to stow gear anywhere. You should just know that built-in storage is minimal with sit-on-tops, and you will get wet in splashes or waves!

In a sit-inside kayak, you sit snugly within the enclosed hull. This low center of gravity increases stability in windy conditions and rough water. The confinement also makes paddling in tight spaces easier for you. Sit-insides enable you to fish comfortably for hours, though you should watch your knees with the cramped cockpit. You also need to plan where to place rod holders accordingly.

When deciding between the two designs, you should match the design to your fishing style and likely weather conditions. If possible, you can test-drive both models on the water to choose the optimal kayak for your needs.

rod holder for kayaks

Kayak Rod Holders: Clamp-On, Screw-In, Flush-Mount Options

There are a few different types of rod holders that can be installed on a kayak. Clamp-on rod holders are an easy, versatile option because they don't require any permanent changes to the kayak. They use sturdy adjustable clamps to securely attach to the kayak's gunwales or other rigid structures. This allows anglers to easily try different placement positions until they find the ideal setup. Screw-in rod holders provide more stability but require drilling installation holes in the kayak, which could potentially compromise its integrity if not done properly. Flush-mount rod holders are recessed into the hull or gunwale and provide a very low profile and streamlined option that does not protrude above the kayak's edge. However, they usually involve more permanent modifications during installation. When choosing rod holders, consider your kayak material and fishing styles to determine the best balance of secure mounting and adjustable positioning for your needs.

Rod Positioning: Behind vs. In Front, Center vs. Sides

When deciding where to position rod holders, you'll want to consider whether rods should be mounted in front of or behind you, as well as toward the center of the kayak or off to the sides. Placing rod holders behind your seating position keeps the rods out of the way while paddling and allows easy access to them when you need to cast. This keeps the line and lure away from interfering with your paddling stroke as well. Mounting rod holders toward the sides give rods a wide coverage area to efficiently fish all around the kayak without obstructing your view directly in front. A good setup is usually two-rod holders behind you but off to either side of the kayak. This keeps multiple rods conveniently within reach, whether fishing to the right or left. Just be aware of your own range of motion so rods don't collide with you as you paddle or turn around.

rod holder

Ideal Rod Holder Positions: Behind & Sides, Front of Legs

Some rod holder positions are generally considered the most effective for maximizing a kayak angler's functionality and coverage. One such setup is mounting a rod holder on each side of the kayak just behind your legs. This keeps rods within easy reach to both cast right or left without struggle. It also prevents the lines from crossing in front of your body and interfering with paddling movements. Another excellent spot is placing two rod holders high on the kayak's stern behind your seat, one on each side. This reserves the prime real estate behind you for unobstructed storage while still conveniently positioning rods for efficient fishing. Whether using this configuration or another, the key is strategic placement to free up cockpit space while keeping fishing easy and safe. Proper rod positioning goes a long way in maximizing a kayak angler's versatility, productivity, and enjoyment on the water.

Rod Holder Tips: Length, Match, Secure

When setting up your rod holders, a few additional details are worth considering for an optimized fishing experience from your kayak. First, make sure to match the boat rod holders to your rod lengths. Holders that are too small will not fully support longer rods, while those too large create unnecessary excess movement while paddling. You'll also want to plan rod positioning according to the lengths you typically use. Longer rods may need to be mounted farther back for proper clearance. Another key is securely storing rods when not in active use. Clips, straps, or sections of elastic shock cord can prevent rods from accidentally falling out during transit. It's also wise to consider overall gear balance and weight distribution so you have a steady boat that's easy to paddle in any conditions. Taking the time for proper rod holder planning goes a long way in enjoying efficient, hassle-free fishing from your kayak.


In conclusion, properly positioning your rod holders is one of the most important factors for efficient and effective kayak fishing. Taking the time to thoughtfully consider rod holder type, placement locations, and additional mounting details can greatly enhance your time on the water. While recommendations like behind and to the sides tend to work well, every angler's needs are slightly different based on the specific boat, target species, and individual fishing style. Experimenting with different setups or asking more experienced kayak anglers for input can lead to discovering the absolute best configuration. With so many versatile kayak rod holder options now available, exploratory mounting allows you to find exceptional personalized solutions. Implementing even a few of these tips can transform a kayak into a streamlined fishing fighting machine. Ultimately, consider each rod's angling task and your space, then find the setup that matches both your boat and personalized skills.


Q: What if I have more than two rods with me?
A: Consider adding a second-rod holder on the opposite side or mounting a multi-rod holder that holds 3-4 rods.
Q: How do I determine the right rod holder height?
A: Try different heights and see what feels most comfortable to securely place and remove rods without hunching over too much.
Q: Can rod holders damage my kayak?
A: If mounted properly using the recommended installation methods, rod holders won't harm a modern kayak. Just be sure not to excessively overtighten clamps or screws.
Q: Will rod holders affect a kayak's balance?
A: Balance can be impacted more by heavier items like people, batteries, and motors. Rod holders don't notably change balance if mounted along the kayak's centerline from front to back.
Q: What if I want to bring fishing gear but not use rod holders?
A: Consider using GorillaPods or flexible arms that clamp onto rails or pockets to securely hold rods out of the way while not actively fishing. Rod tubes or buckets also work for temporary storage.

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