I think that once you rig your kayak up it’s easy to leave it the way it is. On my Native Ultimate 12 I initially rigged 2 RAM tubes behind the seat with a Scotty fly rod holder up front on the right side. This setup is good for trips when I bring 2 spinning rods and a fly rod, like in the spring on the Susquehanna Flats or in the fall when fishing the shallow water around Jane’s Island, but it isn’t perfect for every outing.
Some nice things about RAM and Scotty mount accessories are that they’re relatively cheap and by design they’re very easy to swap out. Once the base is mounted to the boat it’s a simple matter of changing the rod holder itself. During a fishing season in Maryland I can fish a variety of waters and configuring the rod holders specifically for the type of fishing I’m doing helps me make the most of each trip. One weekend I might be bass fishing on a slow moving river, the next I might be jigging bridge pilings for stripers.
In the summer if I’m floating the Potomac River I usually fly fish for its smallmouth bass. For trips like this I swap out the RAM tubes behind my seat with RAM fly rod holders. I keep the angle of the rods low to the water so I don’t snag them when I’m casting. I’ve also added a RAM GPS mount (with a wedge to make it compatible with the Scotty base that’s installed.) on the right to hold a GPS so I can track my float down the river between put-ins. A small net gets tucked in the netting on the stern skirt.
I also tend to do a fair share of largemouth bass fishing during the summers on local lakes and reservoirs. For this type of fishing I tend to stand and cast quite a bit. It took a little getting used to at first, but the Ultimate is a very stable considering that it’s a 12’ boat. To aid stability, I’ve added two lobster buoy outriggers from Kayak Fishing Stuff. These are easy to raise when paddling and deploy when I’m ready to fish. Although I can really tell the difference when I’m standing, the drawback is that I’ve sacrificed two principal rod holders. My solution is to have one rod in the Scotty holder and another just sitting in the cockpit with me. Not ideal but with the calm waters I’m fishing it hasn’t been much of an issue yet. I might add another Scotty flush mount to the left side for next season.
Saltwater Light Tackle and Bottom fishing
If I’m bottom fishing for croaker in Tangier Sound I’ll use the RAM tubes behind the seat for storing spinning rods along with a Scotty Rodmaster up front for holding the baited rod.
During the fall I tend to do a lot of vertical jigging on bridge pilings for stripers. I fish tight to the pilings, with my bow right up against them, so I don’t want any stored rods poking out front too much. I’ll just adjust the pitch of the front rod holder to be more vertical than horizontal. This is mainly if I want to bring three rods with me (One with a ½ oz lure, another with a ¼, and a 3rd with an 1/8th). If I’m ok with just bringing two rods, I’ll leave the front rod holder out completely.
These are just a few different configurations and I’ve certainly mixed and matched – when fly fishing for largemouth bass on smaller lakes I’ll bring the KFS outriggers and bring the Scotty fly rod holder up front. Ultimately this is the same setup as my original setup, just with the outriggers in the RAM tubes instead of fishing rods.
On an Ultimate there are really just a few key places to attach the rod holder bases – on either side of the crossbar behind the seat, where the cutout spaces in the stern skirt are. And up front you can mount a rod holder base on the left or right sides – just be sure that it isn’t mounted so close that it interferes with your paddle stroke.
Another thing I considered when mounting the bases was transportation. Initially I liked the idea of having Scotty flush mounts throughout, but I really liked the RAM tubes because they were so versatile. The only issue with the RAM balls was that I transport my kayak upside down, and I didn’t want anything scraping the roof of my truck when I was loading it. Obviously I went with a combination of the two – having the flush mounts up front enable me to slide the kayak up without catching on anything. By the time I get to the back where the RAM balls are, the kayak is pretty much loaded up.
This is probably overkill, but I just wanted to stress how easy it is to swap out rod holders and customize a kayak for specific fishing conditions – fly fishing, bass fishing, saltwater light tackle, bottom fishing all have different needs. I know that it’s easy to get into a rut and just head out when you have time, but swapping these rod holders is quick, cheap, and easy.