Introduction: PVC Modular Fishing Rod Holder

Picture of PVC Modular Fishing Rod Holder

My first Instructable!!!  Finally did something worth writing up... at least, I think it's worth writing up.  I'll let you be the judge...

As my interest in fishing grew, and the quality (and quantity) of the gear increased, I knew I needed a better way to store my rods and reels than just using a plastic trashcan in the garage.  At a visit to a Bass Pro Shops last year I had picked up some rod holders, thinking I would mount them on the wall in the garage and that would take care of that.  Well, I really didn't HAVE a good place to mount them on a wall, and things get rearranged in the garage so much anything that did get mounted would be getting "unmounted" before long.  No, I needed something freestanding... and sturdy... and cheap.  Having a bunch of PVC tubing and connectors already on hand, that seemed to be a good option for building something that would work.

But then I saw how people mounted these rod holders on different things, such as the sides of rolling ice chests, or on the sides of carts/wagons (to make a fishing cart).  Hmmm... I have a cart that would be perfect for that, but I don't want to mount a rod holder onto it permanently.  I need something that needs to be more... modular.

And so, after a few sketches and checks of my PVC inventory, I came up with this Fishing Rod Modular Storage System.  Each of the four rod holders are mounted onto PVC frames, with a freestanding base holding the frames.  Each frame can be easily removed and mounted onto the side of the cart, as needed.  And as other situations arise, other sort of stands/bases/mounts can be rigged up... PVC is wonderful stuff!

Now, this write-up is more about the concept... to show you what I did with what I had.  Your mileage may vary, depending on what you have (or are willing to get) and what you need.  Here is what I used:

The BPS 3 position rod holders (came 2 to a box, and I had 2 boxes so there were 4 total)
3/4" schedule 40 PVC -- about 15 feet.
3/4" THIN WALL PVC -- about 3 feet. What I used is marked PVC 1120 SDR-21 PR 200, and has an inside diameter of around 0.93 inches.
1/2" schedule 40 PVC -- about 5 feet
3/4" Tee Connectors -- 20
3/4" Side Outlet Elbow -- 4.  This looks like just a regular 90 degree elbow, but has an additional outlet on the side.
3/4" x 1/2" Reducing Bushing -- 8.
8-9" cable ties -- 16 (4 for each rod holder)

The use of the 3 feet  of SDR-21 thin-wall PVC is important as you'll see below.

Step 1: Build the PVC Frames

Picture of Build the PVC Frames

Each PVC frame is made from 4 of the 3/4" Tee connectors, 2 longer sections of the 3/4" schedule 40 PVC, and 2 short sections of the 3/4" THIN WALL PVC.  The length of the sections depends on the size of rod holders you are using, and how far apart the mounting holes are.  In my case, I used 14-3/4" long cross sections that needed to be spaced 4-1/2" apart.  I forget what the length of the thin wall PVC I used to get that separation... it will vary depending on the make/manufacturer of the connectors you are using.  Once completed, the distance between the centers of the two sides was 16"; this will come into play when we build the stand.

I did not use any sort of adhesive; these are all just pressed together (I used a rubber mallet to make sure everything was seated fully).   I haven't experienced any problems so far with that approach; you can use the appropriate PVC cement if you wish.

Step 2: Modify the Rod Holders

Picture of Modify the Rod Holders

I wanted the rod holders to fit nicely against the 3/4" PVC cross sections, so I cut/carved/sanded portions of the back of the rod holder so that the tubing would fit flush.  This was by far the hardest and most tedious portion of the entire build. 

Each rod holder had two mounting "bars", and each bar had 6 spots that needed to be relieved for the tube; 2 of those spots were much thicker plastic as it was where the mounting screws were supposed to go.  I used a hobby knife to carefully cut away the plastic, and a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a short piece of the 3/4" pipe to get the final fit.  I was going to use a sanding drum on my rotary tool for all of it but it turned out to be a bit too much; I only used it for those parts where the plastic was thickest.

Finally, I drilled some 3/8" holes through the mounting sections to slip some cable ties through for mounting the rod holders to the frames.  I had to be sure to drill through the top and bottom of each mounting section fairly straight (although it wasn't very critical).  Speaking of cable ties... 

Step 3: Mount the Rod Holders

Picture of Mount the Rod Holders

Use the cable ties through the holes you drilled to secure the rod holders to the cross members of the PVC frame.  'Nuff said.

Step 4: Make the Stand

Picture of Make the Stand

Basically the stand is a loop of PVC, using the side outlet elbows at the corners and tee connectors along the longer sections.  Standing up from the loop, coming out of the tees (and the side outlet elbows) are 1/2" PVC sections about 7" long; the reducer bushings were used to make the smaller pipe work in the larger tee openings. 

The connecting pieces of the loop (3/4" sched 40, because it's what I had) were cut so that the vertical pieces (the 1/2" PVC) were spaced 8" center-to-center along each side, and the two sides separated 16" center-to-center.  The pieces separating the sides should be the same (or close to) the same length as the cross pieces of the PVC frames where the rod holders are mounted.

This stand has room for the four frames, for the four rod holders I have.  If you have a different number of frames, or just want to be different, you can add or subtract as you want.  Knock yourself out.  Won't bother me any.

Again, I did not use any adhesive, just press fit and "encouraged" with the rubber mallet.  The nice part with this is that if need be, I can pull a section apart and put in a longer (or shorter) section of PVC, or add on additional spaces for more frames should I need.  Like the title says... modular.

Step 5: The Final Result

Picture of The Final Result

As you see, the frames slide over the 1/2" vertical sections -- but only the 3/4" thin wall PVC will slide over it, not the thicker walled schedule 40.  You can have as many frames as you need, rearrange as needed, etc.  If you have some larger reels those rods can either go on the front, or put in a longer section in the stand to make additional space.  PVC -- the adult version of Legos.

Step 6: Bonus (the Advantage of Modular)

Picture of Bonus (the Advantage of Modular)

The frames with the rod holders can be mounted almost anywhere.  I use cable ties to hook them to the sides of a wagon used as a fishing cart... I can put from one to four of the holders on there, depending on what I'm needing.   I'm thinking of making something that would be reusable to mount to the cart, perhaps something that slips over the sides.

As long as you use the 1/2" PVC uprights spaced 16" apart, you can make up almost any other sort of stand/mount that you need.


pcollin made it! (author)2014-04-13

Thanks for this idea, I decided to make a variation on the theme. I made a pvc rack and tied it to my soft tackle box and then added 4 holders, I expect this will be popular at my next fishing trip!

TampaGeek (author)pcollin2014-04-14

Outstanding!!! Great idea... one of the best things about Instructables is how someone can take a project, customize it and tweak it to fit their needs, and make it better. I'm going to see about rigging up a PVC frame for my existing racks that will let me carry a soft tackle box with it.. Thanks for trying it out and for posting your results!!!!

robit79 (author)2013-06-25

Thanks for the instructable. This will come in handy. Hope I ca build this before I take my father-in-law and my two sons fishing in Oldsmar on Friday. (author)2013-06-23

i totally agree with SpringRobin

SpringRobin (author)2013-06-14

That's an awesome instructible!! I've been trying to figure out a rod holder for quite some time now!

TampaGeek (author)SpringRobin2013-06-16

Thank you!! Hope you can make use of some of the ideas...