How to Install Fishing Rod Holders on Kayak

Adding fishing rod holders are a great way to personalize your kayak.

But before you hang your hat on a specific rod holder, there are a few considerations you’re going to want to take into account to ensure that you get the right holder for your terrain.

Flush mount holders are generally considered the strongest, making them perfect for trolling.

Horizontal rod holders are ideal for fishing in rivers or ponds with overhanging trees.

The vertical rod holder will be your best option if you intend to carry multiple rods at once.

And finally, rod holders that will be used mainly for transporting are mounted behind the seat and you will need to place holders ahead of the seat for fishing.

Below we are going to help explain how to choose the perfect fishing rod holder for your surroundings out of the myriad of available options and how to install them successfully.

Young Man Kayak Fishing at Sunrise in Canada


Considerations Before Installing Rod Holders

There are a few things you need to check before beginning your rod holder purchases or installation process, and these choices may depend on how your specific kayak is designed.

Does your kayak have gear tracks already built-in for a rod holder base?

  • Where are the best places on the top area that will allow for placement of a track system or rod holder base?
  • Are there any flush mount holders already built-in?

In addition to these questions, it is a good idea also to consider the following:

  • How many rod holders do you want?
  • What do you intend to use them for?

These questions are useful because if you have a kayak with gear tracks, then you can simply find the bases which slide into the kayak’s tracks and then tighten them down.

This means there may not be a need to cut holes in the kayak, and installation is much quicker and easier.

Man on a fishing kayak shows catch fish. Leisure activities on the sea. Fisherman on the islands.

Types of Rod Holders and Installation Instructions

Here are the main rod holder options available and how to install them.

Flush Mount Rod Holders

Installing these rod holders in your kayak is considered to be a permanent installation because you will be required to drill a hole in the deck of the kayak if there are no tracks present.

This means that the rod tube will lie below deck, providing maximum support for trolling or larger bait.

Installed correctly, flush mount rod holders are the strongest holders on the boat.

How to install:

First and most importantly, measure the space below the deck to ensure that it can accommodate the holder.

Next, seal the bottom of the rod tube with a dust cover using a little sealant.

Drill a 2-inch hole using a hole saw and run more sealant around the edge.

Attach the rod holder to the deck using rust-proof lock nuts and bolts.

These rod holders are often installed ahead of the cockpit and behind the seat.

Vertical Rod Holders

These are ideal if you’re just looking for a rod holder to help transport your rods to and from fishing.

You can easily install four to six-rod holders behind the seat to keep rods organized and out of the way of casts and paddles.

Bungees and rod leashes can be added for extra security.

Tip: Never leave your rod in a vertical holder while fishing.

A good-sized fish can easily pull the rod overboard or even break the rod holder.

How to install:

The installation process for this type of rod holder is fairly simple compared to any others.

You can use a molded plastic rod holder, or for a simple do-it-yourself solution, you could use a 2-inch-thick and 2-foot-long PVC tubing cable.

Simply attach the rod holder with a rust-proof bolt, washer, and lock nut.

Horizontal Rod Holders

These rod holders are an absolute must-have for anglers that venture into more difficult waters such as thick brush.

By securing the rods parallel to the deck, the chances of snagging them in overhanging trees or bushes become significantly reduced.

Tip: Due to the more difficult fishing terrain, you may want to limit the number of fishing rods carried with these holders in order to reduce the chances of tangling lines and lures.

How to install:

Start by securing two pad eyes to the deck using a 6-inch bungee to hold the rods.

Next, using pop rivets or bolts, secure two pad eyes near the seat and two near the bow.

You can also use self-tapping screws. Finally, tie a 6-inch length of bungee to one pad eye, and then you could use a hook to attach it to the other.

Adjustable Rod Holders

The main reason for using an adjustable rod holder is to keep the reel further away from the water and closer to you.

It generally has an adjustable neck, and the base can be mounted almost anywhere via a gear track, allowing easy movement.

This means that these rod holders can be angled in various directions.

Therefore they can act as either vertical or horizontal rod holders. These are by far the most preferred and popular rod holders among anglers.

How to install:

Use rust-proof lock nuts and bolts to attach the base of the underside of the location is accessible.

If not, substitute the lock nuts and bolts for pop rivets or self-tapping screws.

Use the base as a template when drilling holes and use silicone around the edges of the base.


Rod holders are essential for kayak fishing.

Not only do they provide you with a safe and convenient way to transport your rods to and from your favorite fishing spot.

They also help with trolling and navigating difficult environments such as a heavy brush that often conceals the best fishing spots.

Before heading out to purchase your desired rod holder, you should conduct a quick survey of your kayak, fishing style, expected terrain, and the species you’re targeting.

This is to ensure that you purchase the correct equipment and know how to mount it adequately to suit your angling requirements.