Updated with new rod holders for 2021!
I spend A LOT of time using fishing rod holders in boats. At first, I thought, listing the best rod holders will be easy. But with so many new competitors jumping into the space, and at great prices, it’s changing the way people buy and use them today.
You also need to keep in mind that open water trollers, on bodies of water such as Lake Erie, use multiple planer boards for trolling. So many are moving towards rod tree styles that stack rods for easy organization.
Most of the time, you’ll find me trolling for walleyes. Where I live, our fishing season never closes so we’re fishing late into the fall, and start early in the spring. I also spend some time trolling for muskies, and that requires some serious equipment. When a 50″+ musky hits your bait, it really puts your rod holder to the test. Lots of guys use rod leashes just for when the holder fails. So with that being said, I’ve really put ALL of my boat rod holders to the test.
Here are my top choices this year for the best fishing rod holders. Some surprises, and some not. Either way, these are my picks.
Folbe Rod Holders – Best Trolling Rod Holders
If you’re into trolling while fishing, you MUST at least look at the Folbe trolling rod holders. I’ve done a full review, with video at this Folbe Rod Holder review. I’ve been using them for maybe 10 years myself, along with a bunch of others in my boat. The Folbe’s rarely take a day off.
In my opinion, these are the best trolling rod holders on the market still today. The way they work is simple…they open freely when you pull up (and slightly to the side) on the rod. When I say, “slightly to the side”, I mean you want to pull in the direction that it opens. Sometimes if you pull straight up, it may stick. Pretty rare, and mostly happen to rookies, but I thought I’d mention it.
You can get side or flush-mounted rod holders (as pictured) or pedestal-style mounts, which work on rails. I’ve used my Folbe’s on 2 different boats, and run 6 to 8 in each boat for walleye trolling (and occasional musky trolling). They’ve never faltered in my experience, in terms of a fish TOO BIG for the rod holder (and it’s caught up to 54″ muskies using them). All in all, these rod holders are straight-up SOLID. They come highly recommended by me.
PROS: Very sturdy, easy to use, and a must for trolling crankbaits.
CONS: They are on the high side, money-wise, and they aren’t the best option for dead sticking/live bait or fishing bottom bouncers.
Millennium Spyder Rod Tree – Stackable Rod Holders
As I mentioned earlier, the “stackable” rod holders are all the rage for open water trolling. When you’re running 3 planer boards per side, it’s nice to have all the rods in one place.
There are a variety of rod trees on the market now. This one in particular caught my eye. It comes with a base to mount, and the rod holders are fully adjustable.
PROS: Made of aluminum and non-glare. Price is right.
CONS: They are really best for running planer boards only. You CAN use them to run 3 lines out the boat when trolling, just gotta get clever with the adjusting.
Cannon Adjustable Rod Holder
New from Cannon (or fairly new I should say), are their adjustable rod holders. They are cool because you can adjust in move them in any direction on the fly (360 degrees).
It’s 10 inches tall, and a lot of guys prefer this. Also, these are very popular for salmon trolling. Some guys swear by these for running Dipsy Divers…to each their own.
PROS: Very versatile and their strength is unmatched.
CONS: They’re expensive and you need to run them on the Cannon Track System.
Millennium Marine Spyderlok
These rod holders are solid for the crappie fishing guys. If you’re looking to get a lot of fishing rods out, this might be your best choice.
You can also use this for trolling as well. But as I stated earlier, I use a 3-pack of Folbe rod holders for my boat (and not switching).
But for pulling rods in and out quickly, this appears to be a solid option.
PROS: They’re well-made, but are light at the same time (7.5 lbs). The price is right for a 4 rod holder system.
CONS: I would like to see them a bit more spread out.
Brocraft Fully Adjustable Fishing Rod Holder
I’ve done a lot of looking for standard, affordable units that are bulletproof. A lot of the fishing rod holders on the market are somewhat similar in the mid-range, but it’s the little things that set the Brocraft rod holders apart. First, they’re not made of plastic…but fiberglass. They’re solid.
They’re easy to adjust. Sounds simple right? Well, I’ve sure you’ve been in a boat with cheap fishing rod holders and it feels like forever when you try to move them up and down. Also, they come ready to be mounted to the sides (flush mount rod holders) or the top. And it has a lock on it to keep it more secure. The brand is not one that I’ve been long familiar with, but they’re growing fast in popularity…especially when you can get a 2-pack to your door for around 30 bucks!
PROS: Affordable, sturdy, and fully adjustable
CONS: Takes a bit of practice getting rods out of the holder
Scotty fishing rod holders have been around forever. In fact, they were my first set of rod holders on my very first boat. I had 6 mounts in my Warrior, and use them for both trolling and deadsticking over the course of 2 seasons. Overall, I never really had an issue with them. They’re like a Jeep, they just work. It’s easily adjustable vertically, and there’s options to mount them in any situation. I had them on top mounts in my boat, but I’ve had rails ever since (I HATE drilling in fiberglass). It’s hard to find bad reviews from Scotty rod holders online or in person. They’re a bit on the high end price wise but like a lot of things in this world, you sometimes get what you pay for.
PROS: Great reputation, solid product, versatile for mounting
CONS: When trolling I don’t like pulling away to remove a rod, just a personal preference
Cannon Fishing Rod Holders
Cannon has been in the downrigging game since, well, I can remember… They basically wrote the downrigger playbook through the years by creating some innovative downriggers. I’m personally not much of a downrigger guy, however, I’ve been on maybe boats using them (mostly for salmon). Well, Cannon has come out with their own boat rod holders and have made some changes to the basic designs. First, they have a unique mold for sliding the fishing rod in and out. Also, it features a spring-loaded tension knob that allows you to move the rod holder in any direction. And you can adjust the whole unit to allow easy pickup when deadsticking. Simple, but innovative and is why it’s made our list of best fishing rod holders.
PROS: Great for deadsticking, easy to use and move around and retails around 20 bucks.
CONS: I haven’t used these enough to find any flaws
I kept out ALL of the cheaper fishing rod holders out of the mix, simply because once you drill those things into your boat…you’re going to wish you hadn’t. With all the expenses that come into play with fishing (especially boats), I see no need to short on your rod holders. They will stay with the boat, potentially forever, so choose wisely.
Hope you enjoyed our review of what we consider the top choices for rod holders. As always, we would love to hear any feedback from you. If you would like to see a specific product review or even see us add to our current rod holders review, send us an email! Also, be sure to check out our Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube Channel for the latest from RYG! Happy fishing and be sure to take lots of pictures and let us know how you are doing!