Security, Storage and Efficiency

Story & Photo by Ron Presley

            There is no one cookie-cutter setup that applies to every crappie fishing boat. The following are good product and design ideas that can help make most fishing rigs more comfortable and efficient.

“For a thief to get my rods out of the locker they will have to rip stuff apart. If it takes them too long they are not likely to pursue it.”

Adapting Racks and Holders to Angling Needs

Fishing rods are one of the most important pieces of equipment a crappie angler has. It is important to protect them. There is nothing worse than beginning that first pass through a crappie hole and discovering a broken tip or handle.

The Rod Locker secures crappie rods and reels for roadside stops while protecting sensitive tips from abuse and damage in transit.

The Rod Locker secures crappie rods and reels for roadside stops while protecting sensitive tips from abuse and damage in transit.

Fishing rods take plenty of abuse from anglers while fishing, but more when in transit from one location to another. No one knows better that Dan Dannenmueller, one half of the Crappie Country Fishing Team. He and his fishing partner, Garrett Steele, travel the country fishing crappie tournaments and they haul a lot of B’n’M rods with them.

“The problem is not just the abuse in transit,” explained Dannenmueller (AKA Crappie Dan). “There is also the possibility of theft while stopped overnight or along the road for lunch. It happened to me at Granada. All my rods were stolen right in front of the hotel. Matt Morgan loaned me a set so I could fish. From that point on I decided I would not be vulnerable again.”

Johnson Fishing

“With 16-footers and 14-footers you can’t really take them in anywhere,” added Steele. “They might get broken if you carry them into a motel room and if you break them down it’s a laborious thing to get them rigged again for fishing. Some anglers have several rods with different baits so they don’t have to change baits on the water. Storing all the rods safely is a must.”

Rod Lockers

Crappie Dan contacted David Baynard with Driftmaster Rod Holders concerning the issue of transporting rods. He discovered that Baynard was already working on a system to secure long crappie rods above the gunnel of a boat. After many improvements and revisions, the new Driftmaster Rod Locker features accessibility, protection and security.

The newest versions easily accommodate eight pre-rigged rods and keep them from tangling. With the locking cover in place thieves cannot remove the reels from the rods so they remain safe too. Standard versions feature an 8-inch vertical stem to clear boat hatches and leave them accessible.

David Baynard, Driftmaster owner and designer, shows off the results of using add-on accessories to the angler’s best advantage.

David Baynard, Driftmaster owner and designer, shows off the results of using add-on accessories to the angler’s best advantage.

The tip saver end holds each rod separately and protects them between rubber coated fingers. The middle and the tip saver end can be mounted to accommodate different rod lengths and boat configurations. The Rod Locker can be easily removed when not needed.

Crappie Dan feels pretty safe when he travels now. “For a thief to get my rods out of the locker they will have to rip stuff apart. If it takes them too long they are not likely to pursue it.”

“The tip saver protects the most vulnerable part of the rod,” continued Crappie Dan. “The middle support keeps those limber rods from bouncing all over the place. We can put two rods in each of those. We often put spare rods without reels in each fork to give us a backup rod if we need it.”

“In addition to security, storage racks allow anglers to switch their fishing techniques efficiently,” explained Steele. “Anglers can switch from pushing jigs to pulling cranks in minutes, without tangles. It is as simple as exchanging a jig pole for a crank pulling pole in the rack.”

Driftmaster Crappie Stalkers

“I use customizes Crappie Stalkers in the front,” explained Crappie Dan. “They are strong, durable, and completely adjustable, folding all the way down to the deck for travelling. We use them to spider rig jigs, minnows, and even crankbaits. Off-the-shelf models work fine, but ours are tweaked to Crappie Country’s personal preferences. They are taller and angled.”

The rod rack on the back of the Crappie Country boat is designed to allow two anglers to work the planner boards and still leave room for netting the fish.

The rod rack on the back of the Crappie Country boat is designed to allow two anglers to work the planner boards and still leave room for netting the fish.

“Because we are setting, we wanted our knees below the rod holders and we wanted our hands to go straight to the rods. The idea is to get the rods out quickly without leaning forward and disrupting the bite by disturbing the boat.”

“I have long legs,” added Steele. “For spider rigging I needed taller holders. Driftmaster added an angle so when I spin around I am not hitting my knees on the holders. Whether I am going for the net, going for the rod, or just getting a drink from the cooler my movement is unencumbered.”

Crappie Stalkers are shown here on guide Jim Forrest’s boat. They can be ordered customized for additional height and an angle to give knee room.

Crappie Stalkers are shown here on guide Jim Forrest’s boat. They can be ordered customized for additional height and an angle to give knee room.

Since the Stalkers are individual rod holders they do require more holes drilled in the boat. For anglers that don’t like that, Driftmaster offers systems that fit in the seat hole that can be removed when not in use. These systems require no new holes at all.

Trolling Racks

When not spider rigging Crappie Country is likely pulling Off Shore Tackle Planer Boards. “Traditional pulling racks have a bar across the back that can get in the way,” advised Crappie Dan. “If you are trying to net a fish, open your hatch to the batteries, or access the back of the boat you are blocked from access.”

He went on to explain the difficulty of keeping the lines separated when turning with the boards 200 feet behind the boat on each side. He asked Driftmaster to develop a rear rod rack that would accommodate the requirements of pulling boards and allow two people to fish them effectively.

“It takes two people to run an efficient planer board operation,” clarified Dan. “We wanted a rod rack with stations where one person was responsible for one side and another person responsible for the other side. When a fish gets on one side the other person comes over and helps out with all the tasks that have to be done. With this technique it is not as important to get the rod as soon, but it is important to be able to get two people back there to run the operations.”

The carefully thought out response was a rack design that followed the outside contour of the rear deck and could be either inside or outside that contour. They are constructed so there is room to get underneath them to net a fish and not in the way of trees or anything you might run up against when you are not fishing with the boards.

“Notice that the rod holders run from high in the front to low in the back,” noted Steele. “The high to low construction gives each rod a different height and that helps with line separation. The tiered rack and the angle of the rod holder is extremely important in pulling boards.”

The right side, left side notion is built into the hardware. “The rod holders have right and left threads on the appropriate side so they won’t come loose under pressure,” said Crappie Dan. “If the rod holder is pulled on, by a fish or a snag, they won’t come loose. They are designed for one side and must be mounted on that side.”

“The tiered rack and the high to low construction makes it easier to grab the rods,” explained Steele.  “We use the B’n’M Silver Cat Poles because they are strong enough to pull the boards. The rack has to be strong as well, to withstand the drag created by the boards.”

Crappie anglers are innovators and never stop looking for better ways to catch fish. Sometimes it is only a matter of adapting existing products and accessories to your own style of fishing. Follow the lead of Crappie County, be creative, and make your crappie fishing better through innovation.