Catfish anglers are notorious for carrying a lot of rods on their boats.
This is often because they actually fish with that many rods at one time while on the water.
In some cases, the number of rods is because different catfish rods are rigged differently for different techniques or they use different setups for all of the catfish species.
You can check out these resources for more information on gear selection.
Ultimate Guide To Catfish Rods
Ultimate Guide To Catfish Reels
Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear
If you’re carrying multiple catfish rods in your boat, this leaves you with a need for a simple way to store and transport them when they’re not in use.
Leaving them laying on the floor of the boat or propped up against something is a recipe for disaster especially when trailering or running the water in big waves.
Then there’s the risk of someone stepping on them which takes the danger of broken rods to another level and most rods don’t carry a Trophy Tough “Chuck Norris” warranty.
Ease Of Use And Convenience
When you get on the water or change locations you want to be able to quickly and easily access your rods and get your baits in the water without fighting a big tangled mess of rods and catfish rigs.
Long story short, storing your rods upright is typically the best solution to make sure your rods and reels stay in tip-top shape and readily accessible.
I’ve always preferred to store my rods this way. In my old center console boat, I kept them on the sides of the console.
When I joined the SeaArk pro staff and started fishing from the SeaArk ProCat 240 catfish boat I had to start from scratch rigging.
I knew I wanted upright rod holders but wasn’t 100% sure where I wanted to put them.
I weighed all of the options and couldn’t make up my mind so I decided to come up with a temporary solution so I could get the location right.
That temporary solution ended up becoming my long-term plan for rod storage and the best option I’ve ever used!
My first thought was to build something utilizing the SeaArk track rail system. I still think this is a great option but the engineering was a bit more complex than I had time for so I decided to go another route using a seat post.
The DIY Vertical Rod Rack Design
When I look at something that I like the concept of but am not 100% happy with, the words “I can build something better than that” usually leave my mouth.
This is typically followed with an “oh no, here we go again” look from my wife because occasionally the end result ends up to be much more time-consuming and expensive than just buying something.
Fortunately, this was not one of those rare occurrences.
Here’s what I did to build the rod rack system for my boat.
I ordered a Swivel-Eze LockN Pin Seat Post on Amazon and had a Cabela’s coupon that saved me a chunk of cash on their six-rod rack.
I made a trip to the local steel house to pick up some aluminum stock. I went with the intent of getting a specific size but they had a pile of scrap rectangular stock in the bargain bin that was almost free and I found more than enough to build the rod rack and spent a total of about $3.00 on the aluminum stock.
With the parts in hand, a mapped out the design and made the cuts to layout the frame for the rod storage rack around the seat post.
With all of the aluminum stock measured, cut, and cleaned up I talked my buddy into welding the aluminum for some frosty adult beverages, and the DIY Rod Rack was born.
Total Cost: $83**
I used a coupon at Cabela’s for a discount on the Rod Tube Racks, purchased the aluminum stock at a discount from a scrap bin and paid full price for the seat post.
I built the rack so it could sit in any direction on the boat to save space and for ease of use and also so the interior of the rack could be used to store Plano Stowaway Tackle Boxes as well.
When I posted the video of my SeaArk Procat 240 I had a ton of requests from anglers wanting to know how I made the rod rack so i put together this video and information.
Here’s The Video
Here’s a quick video overview of what I did to build this rack (as well as why) and more details.
Tips For Building Your Own DIY Vertical Rod Rack
The basic concept of building a frame around the seat post will work for any number of rods. Just adjust the frame width accordingly to the number of rods you want to store and the type of upright rod holders you’re using.
I used the Cabelas Rod Racks but if you really want to do this on the cheap you can make your own tube rod holders out of PVC. There’s a great tutorial here from Palmetto Kayak Fishing on how to flare the PVC and how to remove the lettering as well.
There are other alternatives as well like the Berkley Tube Rod Rack.
Make sure you sandwich the frame tight against the seat post when you weld it and add extra reinforcement on the ends, top, and bottom. I went a little overboard on the bottom but this was because I wanted to use it to store tackle boxes also.
Once the frame is built, welded, and secure to the seat post simple drill holes in your preferred rack and securely mount them to the frame. I used stainless steel hardware with nylon lock nuts, lock washers, and added thread locker as well just to be certain the nuts didn’t loosen up.
How Strong Is It?
Several people asked me about the strength and durability of the rack and if I had used it while trailering.
I generally try to lay my rods down if I’m trailering a long distance.
Since building this upright rod storage rack I’ve trailered my boat on the Interstate multiple times as much as 80 miles one way at speeds of 65 to 70 miles per hour loaded down with my signature series catfish rods with no issues or concerns at all.
I’ve fished numerous times in 30–35 mile per hour winds and driven across the lake at high speeds with rods in the rack also with no concerns.
Can You Still Open The SeaArk ProCat Livewell?
Several people asked me about opening the live well on the SeaArk ProCat.
If I’m fishing primarily from the front or sides of the boat I leave the rack in the back seat post base that’s mounted on the live well.
If I’m fishing primarily from the back of the boat I either turn the rod rack so it’s running parallel with the length of the boat or move it to the front seat post on the ProCat.
Loaded with 12 rods the rack is a little heavy but can still be easily moved by one person.
You can open the Livewell with the rod rack fully loaded with 12 rods just be careful as the rods will hit the top of the outboard cowl at some point. If you’re concerned about scratching the cowl, simply stuff a hand towel between the cowl and rods when you open the live well, but it shouldn’t be an issue without it.
I also thought about cutting a section of swimming pool noodle lengthwise on one side and placing it on a couple of rods to help prevent cowl damage.
Simple, Low Cost, and Portable
If you’re looking for a versatile and portable solution that’s low cost for storing rods on your catfish boat then the DIY Vertical Rod Storage Rack is a great solution. If you’re handy and willing to do the work (including building your own upright rod holders) you should be able to build your own rack for less than fifty dollars.
If you’re not the handy type that does well-building things then check out the Cabela’s Quick Stow Rod Rack for another alternative.
If you build your own vertical rod storage rack please send me some photos, I’d love to see your design and end results!
Manufactured Option: Fat Fish Designz Upright Rod Holder
When I built this rod rock there were no other options available for upright seat post rod holders that would hold larger catfish rods and reels. Since I built this rod rack Eric Simmons started a company called Fat Fish Designs. He builds some awesome (and innovative) products and designed an upright rod holder that mounts in seat posts. I still have the original rod holder I built and it still works great but I have since started using the Fat Fish Designz rod holder. Unless you have the materials laying around to build your own the Fat Fish product is going to be a cheaper option than building your own!