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Transporting Fly Rods – Are Rod Vaults Worth The Money?

Fly rods are long pieces of equipment. Generally ranging from 8-13 feet long, it can be hard to transport them properly. Depending on the size of your vehicle, you may have to break the rods down completely as you drive to your favorite fishing spot. However, there are better options than this.

There are many methods of transporting fly rods, and this article will cover my favorite options. Some are cheap, while others can get very expensive. Depending on your budget, you can invest in a system that works for you.

Having a good rod storage system is very beneficial. It will give you more time on the water, since you are always rigged and ready to fish.

Although rod vaults can be a good investment, Sumo Mounts and internal rod racks are cheaper and just as effective. For folks looking to save money, there are better options than a rod vault.

#1 – Sumo Rod Mounts

We have written an article on these previously, and they really are one of my favorite rod racks. They are relatively inexpensive and will work on any vehicle. Sumos are definitely underrated, and most fly anglers could benefit from them.

Pros

  • Great Price – Around $170
  • Available in suction or magnet mounts
  • Can hold up to 6 fly rods
  • Ok to use on the highway
  • Easy to remove
  • Easy to customize – Mount on windshield, roof, etc.

Cons

  • Exposes your rods to road debris – Rocks, dust, etc.
  • Can fall off if not installed properly
  • Magnet mounts are only rated for 45 mph – Get the suction mounts!
  • Made of plastic and rubber
  • Chance of theft, especially if rods are left on it

If you like to drive around and fish in different spots throughout the day, consider a Sumo Mount. They are very easy to use, and you can remove them from your car easily.

#2 – Rod Vaults (Thule, River Quiver, Yakima Doublehaul, Fly Rod Safe)

These are by far the most popular rod racks around. Depending on the company, you can get a single rod vault – up to a 6 rod vault. Obviously, as you increase rod capacity, the price goes up.

Most rod vaults are made of aluminum, and will last a long time. They mount to your roof rack, and are pretty easy to install.

Thule vaults and River Quivers are more modestly priced, but they can still run up to $700 or more. The Yakima Doublehaul is more of a premium product, and comes in at $800. Fly Rod Safes are the highest end you can get, and will cost around $4,000 for the 6 banger.

Pros

  • They are all lockable with a key – Keeps rods safe
  • You can also lock them to your roof bars (see photo above)
  • Rods are protected from road debris
  • They work on most vehicles – As long as you have crossbars

Cons

  • Very pricey for most people
  • Most vaults are not lined, this means your rods are banging onto the aluminum all the time!
  • Advertises that you have expensive gear on your roof – Thieves take notice
  • Rods can fall out if not latched properly – I’ve seen it happen!

For most people, rod vaults can be a fine option. Especially if you fish a lot or guide a lot, they can be a valuable tool.

#3 – Internal Rod Racks

This is one of my favorite options, and it is what i’m currently using. If you have an SUV, truck, or longer vehicle, these can work very well. There is a main rod rack that is mounted at the back of your vehicle. You can mount it on the windows or upper handles (if you have them). The rods are secured with a rubber cord or a velcro system – depending on the brand.

Smith Creek makes the nicest internal rack, but there are cheaper options online as well.

The tips of the rods will rest at the front of your vehicle. You can hang a lanyard off of your rear view mirror for this. Trippin On Trout explains it really well in the video below.

If you have a vehicle that is long enough, this rod storage option is a no brainer. Especially if you want to be frugal and keep it under $200.

Pros

  • The cheapest option of all – Smith Creek Rod Racks are about $136
  • Much safer for your rods – They stay inside your vehicle at all times
  • Holds up to 7 rigged fly rods
  • Rods stay out of your way – Still easy to drive around and car camp

Cons

  • Adds clutter to your vehicle
  • Rods are visible to thieves
  • Doesn’t work with smaller vehicles
  • Rods bounce around on bumpy roads

Although there are downsides, the internal rack is my personal favorite. I have been using it for almost a year, and I have had no issues. I also like how cheap it is, much less than buying a rod vault.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article helped you in your rod rack decision. Everyone has personal preferences, and many prefer having an actual rod vault. However, I find that the Sumo Mount and the internal racks work just fine!