Posted by: brettgaba | July 1, 2010

Rod holder placement on a Native Ultimate 12

Native Ultimate 12 rigged for a day on the Susquehanna Flats

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.

Fly Fishing
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.

Bass Fishing
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.

Native Ultimate 12 rigged for jigging the Bay Bridge pilings for stripers.

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.

Base Locations
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.



  1. Where did you get yours Brett? I’ve had my eye on that rig and totally want a used one. Could use some pointers on good spots and techniques if you are willing to share.

    • i got my native ultimate from survival products in salisbury, md. they are great people. they couldn’t come down in price, but they threw in a good paddle for free because this was the 2nd boat i bought from them. i absolutely love the boat, but have been thinking about getting a smaller SOT for my wife. i’d let this one go, fully rigged, for $1200. if that’s in your price range, let me know!

  2. did you mount a different cary strap on the bow? I have a bow skirt and it completely covers up the factory carry stap making lifting the kayak a hassle.
    Any ideas?

    • It’s the same handle that the kayak came with. Does the end run flush with the cross bar with a few inches below the very point of the bow of the boat? If not, I can see how that would interfere with the carrying handle. Is it possible you have the bow skirt of the U14 on your U12?

  3. You’re right! I checked my paper work from Austin Canoe & Kayak. I ordered a bow skirt for the native 12′ and they sent me the one for the 14′ boat.
    I did not realize at the time that they shipped the wrong one. Now it’s over a year and I don’t think I could exchange it.
    Oh well. I’ll have to cut an opening into the skrt in order to expose the handle and that may be tricky!
    Time to get creative.

    Thanks for your feedback.

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