Rigging a Crappie Boat: Rod Storage
Given the various size rods needed for different crappie fishing techniques, rod storage can be more important to crappie anglers than the average angler. Whether it is 16 footers used for spider rigging or 5 footers used for shooting docks, anglers need a way to store and protect the investment in their rods. Techniques like spider rigging and dipping require some pretty long poles and taking care of them requires special attention.
Correll’s custom installation holds 12 rods in various places around the boat for easy storage and access. Correll photo used with permission.
At a bare minimum crappie anglers should be prepared to run from one spot to another with some type of bungee cord system to lash their long poles to the deck. This simple procedure can keep poles from being chipped or bruised in transit, causing a weak spot that will break under pressure.
B’n’M Poles pro staffer Kent Driscoll fishes from a War Eagle 861 Predator. His deck has a flat surface on both sides that allow him to strap longer rods down to the carpet for long runs from crappie hole to crappie hole. “The biggest reason we break poles is through mistreatment,” warns Driscoll. “One of the worst things is to let them rub on an aluminum surface. The metal quickly rubs the finish off a pole. Once you get a weak spot on a crappie pole, it breaks soon enough.”
John Correll is another angler who takes protecting his rods seriously. He fishes from a Lund SSV-18, which he converted to accommodate his style of fishing. Keep in mind that he was building his dream walleye boat, but the rod storage solution he came up with can work perfectly well for crappie anglers too.
“My intended purpose for installing rod storage was to move fishing rods out of the way,” explained Correll. “The results are more convenient, hassle-free fishing and protecting the rods from being accidentally stepped on, bumped or broken.”
Correll worked through a couple of conversions before settling on the installation shown in the photo. He used a side mount product from Folbe called the Advantage Side Mount. He used support braces that already exist on the Lund, making it a relatively easy installation. He put the tip end rod holders on the brace and the rod handle end on the seat. In order to accommodate longer crappie poles spread out the rod holders and add a third support in the middle.
Underdeck storage is often too short for long crappie poles, but excellent for protecting short rods like those used for dock shooting.
Two units on each side hold three rods each for a total of 12 rods stored safely in the boat. Correll says his system, “positions rods out of the way, yet enables instant set-down and pick-up of a chosen rod no matter where you’re seated in the boat.”
“Sometimes by buddies don’t use the rod holders,” said Correll. “The main reason they don’t is that they think it is easier, or took less time, to set a rod down on a seat or the floor rather than the 10 to 15 seconds it takes to secure it in the rod holder or the 10 seconds it takes to extract it.” Unfortunately, if you don’t use them, the result could be tangled or broken equipment and a missed opportunity.
If you choose a larger, high perfomance boat it is likely to have some kind of built-in storage in a hatch under the deck. Jim Forrest, a crappie guide on Weiss Lake in Alabama, fishes from a G3 HP 200 DC. “The built-in rod storage is good for shorter rods, but the longer rods I use for crappie fishing won’t fit,” commented Forrest.
“To store the longer rods I use a Tip Saver made by Driftmaster which holds the rods up off the deck. The elevated racks prevent customers from stepping on them, which is what happens when the rods are on the deck of the boat. The Tip Saver also has a bungee cord which holds the rods securely in place while trailering or running across the lake,” explained Forrest.
Rod sleeves add a level of protection to individual rods and allow more rods to fit in the same storage without tangling. Shown are Slix Rod Sleeves.
Pro crappie angler Brad Taylor agrees with Forrest on solving the storage problem while in transit, but he chooses a slightly different product. “The tips on long crappie poles get banged around and eventually broken when not taken care of,” explained Taylor.
“I installed a product called Driftmaster Rod Locker to address the problem. I usually troll with 16-foot B’n’M poles and they can be hard to transport and have a tendency to tangle. When I transport rods in the Rod Locker, my fully extended rods are stored safely and securely. A bungee cord holds them horizontally and keeps tips in the air and off the deck.”
The Driftmaster Rod Locker goes one step further. It will actually lock your poles in place when needed. The Rod Locker will hold up to eight rods. The rear section holds the rod handles securely under a locking metal cover to prevent theft when you stop for coffee or overnight at a motel.
The other problem with transporting 6 to 8 long crappie poles is tangling. Most anglers wrap the line around the poles, but Taylor advises anglers to wrap the tips too before storing. “Always wrap your tips together with Rod Straps that you can get from Grizzly Jig,” said Taylor. “Wrap all tips together so they don’t flop around.”
Common sense is the essential ingredient in Taylor’s rod management. “Last but not least, when you haul these long poles, make sure you keep them all secure and out of the way of people walking and moving around. They can step or sit on them causing damage or even breakage,” concluded Taylor.
Horizontal rod storage can also make you a more efficient angler. “Most people think about transport when considering Driftmaster Tip Savers or Rod Locker products,” said David Baynard, Driftmaster designer and spokesman. “In reality the storage racks will also allow anglers to switch their fishing techniques efficiently. Elevated racks produce a clean organized boat deck for crank pulling rigs while the angler pushes jigs. If a change in technique is needed you can go 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.” (See photo)
Adding a Slix Rod Cover can add a layer of protection to individual fishing rods. FLW Pro Andy Young promotes the rod sleeves as an inexpensive way to protect the investment in your rod. “Using the Slix allows you to double the number of rods that you put in your rod locker because they wont get tangled,” explained Young. “It has a hanger on the top so you can hang it in your garage or wherever you want to hang it. It has an elastic band on the bottom to fasten around the reel and hold it on the rod. It also has a label on it so you can ID the rig you have stored.”
This appraisal has only scratched the surface of rod storage products available on the market and DIY solutions from creative anglers. Crappie anglers need to do their homework and find a rod storage solution that best suits their fishing style. Taking proper precautions to store and protect fishing rods from abuse and breakage becomes time well spent if you can avoid finding a broken rod as you load up for your next fishing adventure.
Information: John Correll’s complete boat conversion can be viewed at http://www.correllconcepts.com/boat_conversion.htm. Kent Driscoll is sponsored by B’n’M Poles, War Eagle Boats, and Driftmaster Rod Holders. Jim Forrest can be reached through his website at http://www.fishbama.com. Brad Taylor is sponsored by B’n’M Poles, War Eagle Boats, Driftmaster Rod Holders, TTI Blakemore Road Runners and Mid South Tackle.