I enjoy fishing from the bank when I can find a good accessible place to fish but most of the time I fish from my boat.   These days I have seen a lot of new boat fishing tackle available in stores or over the internet.  I am amazed at some of the things people have come up with. 

Though I am sure some of these accessory type gadgets are useful and may even work well I tend to stick with the more traditional items in my boat.  One of the basics we all need and use are boat fishing rods and boat fishing rod holders.   

I’ll give you my opinion on what I prefer and you can decide for yourself what really works best for you. I know everyone is different and what works well for one may not be the best for others. That’s just the way God made us to keep life interesting.  This should give you a good starting point if you want to try and improve your boat fishing gear. 

Boat Fishing Rods

Unless you have a very large boat the space is limited.  Space for standing, casting and storing your fishing rod will better serve you if you use a shorter rod.  In a boat you can also more easily get close to the location where you want your bait placed. The long cast offered by a rod length of 8-9 feet or more is not needed as it often is when fishing from the river or lake shore.  

Fishing rod, fast taper, slow taper

My favorite boat fishing rod length is between 5 ½ to 7  feet long.  The smaller your boat is the shorter the rod should be.  When using a shorter boat fishing rod, unless fishing for pan fish you should use a rod with a heavier spine but I personally like a rod with a light tip.  This will give you the best sensitivity to feel or see a bite.  Look at the chart to the left. The rods labeled “fast action” will give you a fast taper toward the last 1/3 of the rod length.  It will provide you with both a sensitive tip and a strong spine to set the hook or keep a fish away from structure or weeds.

If you are fishing for small fish such as pan fish you may want to use a medium action or even a slow action boat fishing rod.  These are designed to be very sensitive and bend most or all the way down to the handle.  It will give a light feel to the fish and not tear a hook from a soft mouth. 

I have often fished for shad in the river near my home and you need to be very careful not to pull too hard because of their paper soft mouth.  In this case a medium or slow action rod can be used to help prevent the fish from escaping.

One other point when using a slow action rod is that it only provides a soft pull when setting the hook.  Generally it is best to use the slow action rod with treble hooks and bait or swimming lures and plugs.  It’s not a bad choice for medium to small catfish which often swallow the hook.  The slow action rod will provide you with more feel of a fight from smaller fish.

Boat Fishing Rod Holders

There are a lot of different boat fishing rod holders available.  The opinions vary considerably on which one is best.  Personally I have rod holders on my fishing boat but I prefer to hold my rod with a finger on the line in order to sense when a fish is on the bite.  This is not always practical so getting the best rod holder for your boat is important. 

If you are serious about catching fish you need to use a boat fishing rod holder that both holds your rod secure as well as makes it easy to remove when you have a strike.  This can vary on the kind of fishing you are doing as well such as trolling or still fishing while anchored.

flush-mount gunwale rod holder

When trolling, depending on the type of fish, it is more likely to be hooked from the movement of the boat than when fishing while anchored. The lure will often be set in the fish’s mouth when he takes the bait.  Setting the hook as the pole is removed from the holder is not as critical as it is while fishing at anchor.  Using a boat mounted slip in holder may work fine for you in this case.  They are designed to be cosmetically pleasing when not in use and will hold a fishing rod by the handle. The rod is simply slipped into the tube and the pressure from the line drag or fish will bind the rod in place preventing it from coming out until it is removed by the fisherman. 

They will not work well with short handled bait casting style rods. 

If you want to be able to quickly grab a rod and set the hook then an open nesting type boat rod holder is good.  The rod handle will slip down into or under the lower portion of the holder allowing the pole above the reel to rest on the open nest.   When a bite occurs you can simply pull upward on the rod to set the hook or lightly remove the rod from the holder.  Be sure to find a design that will only take a small amount of movement to remove the fishing rod from the boat fishing rod holder.  I prefer the type with an open side to make it very easy when removing the fishing rod because you do not need to pull long handled rods out of a hole. rod holder extension lift

The holder shown here has a rod holder extension which lifts it above the boat rail. This can be very handy in making it easy to remove a long handled pole.

Most boat fishing rod holders have a security strap or loop that will connect over the rod above the fishing reel.  The use of this loop is a matter of personal opinion.  Normally is not needed as it will limit quick action in removing the fishing rod from the holder.  There are times when it may prevent loss of equipment.  I personally do not hook this loop or ring when fishing.  I have never lost any fishing tackle from lack of securing the rod to the holder but I’ll leave it up to your choice.  I would not want to give any advice that would lead to lost fish or fishing gear.

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