By John Neporadny, Jr
The Rod Safe holds up to eight pre-rigged poles to prevent lines from tangling while the boat is running, and the storage system has a key lock to prevent theft.
Those long crappie poles offer many advantages for the various techniques used by today’s savvy crappie angler but the poles have one drawback.
Where do you store those 14- to 16-foot poles when you need to make a move from one spot to the next? I dip some minnows and jigs around timber at Truman Lake with 9- and 10-foot poles, but most of the time I cast or vertical jig for crappie with 6-foot rods at Lake of the Ozarks. So I can use the rod straps on the deck of my Ranger bass boat to secure my rods when I want to make a move. However, that system wouldn’t work for me if I had to use 14- to 16-footers because I have a dual console boat so I would have to stick the tip ends of the poles out of the boat to lay the poles flat on the deck.
“Crappie poles don’t fit into existing storage systems in boats because of their length,” says Driftmaster CEO David Baynard. “They have a greater need than shorter rods because the tips are smaller and more delicate. Crappie poles are made of graphite and break easily so you need to protect them.”
The best way to protect the long rods while in transit is to equip your boat with a storage system capable of keeping the rods secured horizontally and separately. I remember a few years ago seeing prototypes of these systems made of PVC on some of the crappie pros’ boats. Now Driftmaster and Rod Safe offer lockable sturdy systems for securing long poles while you’re on the move.
Rod Safe co-owner Bart Gillon lists three benefits of pole storage device that he and his dad, Darrell Gillon, sell. “It provides safety from theft for your equipment when you are on the road,” he says. “Two, from a tournament fisherman’s standpoint, we have a limited amount of time to fish, so if we have to change locations we need to do that as quickly as possible. My Rod Safe allows you to do that because you can just lay those poles down individually so they are separated and won’t tangle. You can lock them in, move and then pick them up and put them right back out. If you lie multiple poles down in the floorboard or deck of a boat I don’t care how you wrap them up two of them are going to be hung up at some point of that 14- or 16-foot rod.
“The third feature is the life of your pole will be unlimited now because you keep them from being stepped on and dinged which happens when stuff lies on the floor on top of them. (With Rod Safe) they are up and out of the way.”
The Driftmaster 2150 and 2160 systems both keep the tips of long poles separated during storage. “All of our systems have a section that holds two rod butts but the tips have their own separate compartments that not only protects them but allows you to put rods in that have already been rigged for fishing and keeps your lines from tangling,” Baynard says.
The 2150 model features a stem welded in the center for mounting to the deck of the boat. The stem of the 2160 model is offset to one side for mounting on the boat’s gunwale, which allows the system to be rotated so the poles can be shifted outside the boat for more room on the deck or kept inside the boat for more protection for the poles.
Both models are available with two stem heights (4 and 8 inches) to accommodate the various layouts of boats. “Since the butt and tip sections are independent of each other you can mount them in your boat on available surfaces,” Baynard says. Driftmaster also sells separately a third middle section to provide better support for crappie poles longer than 16 fee. Baynard notes Driftmaster can also make customized systems such as double racks or supports with different heights for customers needing special mounts for their boats.
Installing these storage systems is just a matter of find the right location for the supports and drilling some holes for the bases. “My unit can be set up for any length of rod that is made—from 10-footers all the way up to 18,” says Gillon.
The Rod Safe system features crow’s foot bases for both the tip and reel butt support sections. Each base comes with three self-tapping screws for securing to any part of the boat. “The unit will work on any boat out there but it will be more difficult on some boats,” Gillon says. “Some of the aluminum models that guys use for duck hunting and fishing don’t have the decking of a fishing boat. If you have a boat like that some type of bracket will have to be modified to mount everything on.”
The Driftmaster models are mounted to 210-B star bases. “Mounting our bases is fairly easy,” says Baynard, who estimates the installation process takes about 10 minutes. “You use the base as a drill guide so you set the base where you want it and drill right through the mounting holes to guide your drill bit.” He suggests drilling a 3/16 –inch pilot hole for the 1/4- inch screws that come with the kit.
Determining the right distance between the rod tip and reel seat holders depends on the length and stiffness of the poles you plan on storing. Baynard suggests have a rod handy during installation to determine the right distance. He recommends having the pole tips extend about 3 to 4 feet beyond the tip holder for most poles.
The Rod Safe model has a key lock on the bottom part of the reel clamp section that protects from theft. The system holds eight pole-and-reel combos that just snaps shut for running around the lake or can be locked with the half turn of a key when your boat is sitting in a motel parking lot.
The Driftmaster RL-175 Rod Locker organizes up to eight pre-rigged poles, keeps the tips apart and has a removable cover that locks in place to protect your expensive pole-and-reel combos from theft. The metal top covers the reel seats and is held in place by a stainless rod and secured with a pad lock.
For more information about these pole storage systems visit the web sites of Driftmaster (www.driftmaster.com) and Rod Safe (www.rod-safe.com).