I have a truck and car that I routinely drive on my personal fly fishing trips and guided trips with clients. I worry about the rods out on the water when we move to different spots to fish because I don’t want to break the fly rods. But I don’t want to put them completely away and have to string them back up because that takes up a lot of precious fishing time, especially with clients (and with a wife that likes to know when I’ll be home, I have to maximize my time)! I drive the car often because it gets better gas mileage than the truck. Luckily, the back seat in my car folds down exposing the trunk. I can thread the rods through the trunk up to the front of the the car and they travel pretty well. I get scared though threading the rods through the car because the rod tips sometimes catch on the seats or other things and I don’t want to break them. On the flip side, I don’t want any gear (duffel bags, chest packs, vests, coolers, etc.) shifting or tipping over during the drive and smashing the first couple sections of the rod or reel (they’re not cheap)! Luckily, it hasn’t happened yet. And with the back seat down there is only room for two of us in the car. If I’m fishing with a bigger party then dropping the back seat isn’t an option.
I face similar issues with the truck. I definitely don’t want the fly rods rattling around in the bed with all the gear. I can break the rods down in half and they fit in the back seat, but again, it’s not very feasible with more than two anglers and the rods aren’t secured at all.
So, long story short, I needed a rack for the fly rods. I know people with strong magnet rod racks and these seem to be super strong. But the strong magnets can scratch and ruin the paint on your vehicle. So suction cup fly rod racks were my preference. I’ve seen some commercially available ones that retail for $150 http://www.orvis.com/p/sumo-car-top-rod-rack/3l94 but I’ve seen some people that have made their own in various ways and configurations. After seeing a few DIY (do it yourself) fly rod racks online, I decided to build my own. In the end I spent about $25 and it took two hours of my time.
2 Dual Suction Cup Lifters–Harbor Freight $7.99 each
1 Four Piece Ball Stretch Cord–Harbor Freight $2.99
2 PVC Snap Tees 1″x 3/4″– Lowes $1.69 each
2 PVC Threaded Adapters 3/4″– Lowes $0.38 each
2 PVC Tees 3/4″ — Lowes $0.50 each
1 PVC Pipe 3/4″ x 2′ — Lowes $1.82 (Note: A 5′ piece of PVC 3/4″ is only $1.92)
* 1 Foam Plumbing Pipe Insulation 6′ — Lowes $1.18
PVC Pipe Cement — Lowes $4.98
* Electrical Tape
* Zip Ties
*(I had these items already so I didn’t need to purchase them)
Glue and snap the PVC snap tee right onto the handle of the suction cup lifter.
Thread the adapter onto the top of the snap tee (I didn’t glue it so, theoretically, I can separate the top and bottom half of the rack if needed, or turn the top and bottom pieces in opposite directions to find a flat place on the vehicle). I cut a small piece of 3/4″ PVC pipe and glued it inside the adapter. This allows the PVC tee to be attached to the top in the next step.
Glue and attach the PVC tee.
Cut the 3/4″ PVC pipe into equal lengths. Glue them into the PVC tee. I matched the lengths to equal the overall width (or so) of the suction cup lifter.
Cut the foam to length and slip over the top of the PVC. I secured it with zip ties and then electrical tape.
Run one shock cord through the entire length of the PVC pipe covered by the foam. The ball on the end of the cord will prevent it from sliding through the pipe. Tie a second cord to the end of the first. I used a clothes hanger to hook the end of the shock cord and pull it all the way through the pipe.
Finished product! These have been awesome! They’ve traveled great all day long moving around the river and haven’t ever come loose! The suction cups are rated for 200 lbs. so they’re very strong. I’ve taken them on many trips to and from the river and moving from spot to spot with zero problems. I’ve also transported rods attached going 75 mph and no issues. They’ve now performed through rain storms and a few cold days with some snow and below freezing temperatures with zero problems.
These work so great I’ve built them for other people and they love them as well!
One early morning I was headed out to the river and had the rods and racks attached to my truck cruising down the freeway at 75mph. Another truck passed me going pretty fast. Then they abruptly slowed down and we pulled alongside each other. I looked over to see what was going on and the female passenger had her phone up and was taking pictures of the racks. I could see the male driver looking over studying my handiwork. After a few pictures they smiled, waved and sped up. So I hope they figured out how to make the racks. And if by some small miracle those people were you and you’re now reading this blog post, let me know! Point of the story is, I’ve seen a demand for these and this is a fantastic, cheap, DIY option.
The suction cups hold best on flat surfaces, so make sure you find a flat spot on your vehicle to attach them to.
Now go fish!