If you plan to transport your fly rods fully assembled, you may want to consider a fly rod roof rack. These racks allow you to stow your rods on the roof of your car, or above your head inside your car.
Why Use A Fly Rod Roof Rack?
There are several good reasons to use a roof rack to transport your fly rods.
- Convenience: A rooftop fly rod rack lets you easily transport your fishing gear on top of your car, freeing up space inside the vehicle for other items.
- Protection: If your rods are loose in the car, a sudden stop or sharp curve could send them crashing into other objects or the walls of your car– which could damage them. A good quality fly rod rack securely holds your rods in place, protecting them from damage during transport. They are highly recommended for long distance trips over rough roads. In addition to protecting the rods, when you lay your rods inside your vehicle, you often get flies stuck in your seats or other gear, which is both frustrating and damaging.
- Accessibility: Keeping your rods on the roof makes them easily accessible and ready to go. You can travel with your rods assembled and reels mounted, meaning you can start fishing as soon as you get to your spot. This can save you time and hassle compared to having to unpack and assemble your gear when you arrive.
Types of Fly Rod Roof Racks
There are three types of fly roof rod to choose from.
|Type of Roof Rack||Attachment System||Best Uses|
|Interior||Attaches to the interior of your car to hold rods and other equipment||Works with most hardtop vehicles|
|Temporary/Removable||Magnetic or vacuum seals that are removed at the end of the trip||Rented vehicles, infrequent trips with a small number of people, vehicles without crossbars|
|Permanent||Despite the name, is removable; this attachment system uses top rails or crossbars and may have a clamp or track system for quickly unmounting the rack||Frequent trips in vehicles you own, trips over rough terrain|
What To Consider When Choosing A Fly Rod Roof Rack
Once you’ve decided what type of fly rod roof rack attachment system you want to use, you have several other considerations to think about when looking for one of these racks.
Not all fly rod roof racks are compatible with all vehicles. While some, usually temporary racks, have flexible attachment systems that work with most vehicles, others are more limited by dimensions. Some roof racks may not be compatible with smaller cars and will not work with convertibles or other soft-top vehicles.
There are lots of reasons that you may not want to have any semi-permanent modifications on your vehicles. If you want to use a permanent rack, you’ll need crossbars– and if you don’t have those already, they can be expensive to purchase and install. We want to note that some of the permanent solutions have new attachment designs that allow for quick and easy removability.
On the other hand, permanent racks are more secure than removable racks, and if you’re frequently going over rough terrain, the additional security might be worth the additional expense.
Ease of Installation
Some fly rod roof racks are tricky to install. With vacuum suction mounts, you have to be careful with the surface you pick for attachment; too curved, and the rack won’t stick. If you take a lot of solo trips, some racks are harder to mount by yourself than others.
Backwoods rivers and mountain streams can pose more challenges than just the fishing; you may find that the way to your destination is hazardous. Look for a durable system that can withstand the dust, sun, wind, and weather. Make sure that your attachment system is secure enough that you can have your rods racked without worrying about them getting displaced or damaged by rough roads.
Fly fishing gear is valuable, and so you want to choose a fly rod roof rack that will protect your gear. Interior roof racks are a great choice for this, since they’re inside the car; if your car is secure, your rods will be secure.
Permanent systems often have rod boxes that lock, which is another way to ensure that your rods go nowhere without you. Temporary systems may be less secure; even if the rods are locked in, if a determined thief wanted to take the rods, they could just remove the whole rack from your vehicle.
While fly rod roof racks are not as heavy as a rooftop cargo box, they still add some weight to your car. You may see negative changes to your fuel economy with a fly rod roof rack attached to your vehicle. Removable roof racks are much lighter than permanent options, and interior roof racks can be even lighter than removable racks.
Fly rod roof racks can add height or length to your vehicle. You need to be cognizant of this when in tight quarters, like underground parking structures. Also, you should never go through a car wash with your fly rod roof rack attached, as it can damage your car and your roof rack.
Best Fly Rod Roof Racks
So what are the best fly rod roof racks available on the market today? We’ve found several handy options for you to choose from. The chart below gives you an at-a-glance look comparing the roof racks we feature.
|Roof Rack||Best Price||Rods||Weight||Attachment||Notes|
|Riversmith River Quiver||$799||2-4||44 lbs||Permanent||Versatile and secure|
|RodMounts Sumo Suction Carrier||$123.95||Up to 6||2.65 lbs||Removable||Works with all vehicles, very lightweight|
|Thule Rodvault Fly Fishing Rod Carrier||$749.95||2-4||35.7 lbs||Permanent||Very durable, especially for how lightweight it is|
|Smith Creek Rod Rack||$119.95||7||2.27 lbs||Interior||Easy to attach, but make sure all your gear is dry before using|
|Yakima DoubleHaul||$798.95||4||64 lbs||Permanent||Works with a wide variety of vehicles|
|Trxstle CRC Fly Rod Carrier V3.0||$800||2-4||15 lbs||Permanent or Removable||Mounting clamps are easy to install and remove, rod vault collapses to 44 inches|
|Gear Rak Low Profile Fishing Rod Transportation System||$190||4||6 lbs||Removable||Good option for tall vehicles|
Riversmith Standard River Quiver
Riversmith’s standout fly rod roof rack is their River Quiver, which comes in 2-rod and 4-rod capacities. It is our top pick, and the number one selling fly rod rack in the U.S.
We love the River Quiver’s versatile mounting system, excellent durability, great looks, and peerless fly rod protection. The closure features a tongue-and-groove joint that is impossible to open with a pry tool or without a key, so your rods are perfectly safe. Installation is simple, and the River Quiver has an aerodynamic profile to make travel easier.
Recently, Riversmith created a quick release mounting option which makes it very easy to add or remove the rack quickly.
This is the rack we have on our vehicle, and gas mileage is only affected by 1-2 mpg by our calculations.
- Attachment System: Permanent
- Rod Capacity: 4 rods
- Length: 10 feet 4 inches (Longer 11 foot 4 inch option available)
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Mounting System: Permanent, with three different options including a track system for vehicles with T-bars and a quick-release option.
- Price: $799
RodMounts Sumo Suction Carrier
The Sumo Suction Carrier is an interesting rod rack option; while it can go on the roof, many people prefer to have this carrier placed over the passenger side of the windshield. It is compatible with any type of hard-top vehicle, and does not require crossbars.
This rack consists of four independent lever-lock vacuum suction mounts held together in pairs by straps and crossbars. Your rods will be transported in the open using this system, so if you’re parking in a public space overnight, you will want to bring your rods inside with you. The straps cradle your rods on even rough terrain, and the padded crossbars and ball and socket joints allow you to keep your rods level during travel.
- Attachment System: Removable
- Rod Capacity: 6 rods
- Length: Variable (length of rods)
- Weight: 2.65 pounds
- Mounting System: Vacuum lock, magnetic adapters available but not recommended due to being less secure than the vacuum lock
- Price: $123.95-$179.95
Thule Rodvault Fly Fishing Rod Carrier
The Thule Rodvault is a sturdy, secure roof rack that stores your rods in durable aluminum shafts. This lightweight option is primarily made out of aircraft aluminum, ensuring your gear’s safety and minimal extra weight added to your car.
The Thule Rodvault works with most roof racks and crossbars. For higher security, you can use long-shackle padlocks to lock the rack to your vehicle via slots in the rack’s mounting feet. The Rodvault comes in a two-rod or four-rod capacity.
This is a great product from a reputable brand very comparable to the Riversmith rack. This only has one length option, so if you have 11 foot rods, you’ll need to go for the Riversmith’s system.
- Attachment System: Permanent
- Rod Capacity: Up to 4
- Length: 10 feet 8 inches
- Weight: 35.7 Pounds
- Mounting System: Permanent, works with all Thule crossbars and a wide range of other roof racks
- Price: $749.95
Smith Creek Rod Rack
The Smith Creek Rod Rack is an interior mounting system that’s versatile, durable, and highly affordable. There are three different ways to attach it to the interior of your car, and it can suspend up to seven rods safely above your head.
The four heavy-duty shock straps can attach to the grab handles in your car, your side windows, or to your car’s coat hooks depending on your car’s layout. Sliding buckles make the straps fully adjustable from 36 inches to 76 inches, which lets this system work with most cars. This rod rack assembles in minutes and disassembles in seconds, and comes with a bag for storage.
Fly rods are long, so you need short rods, or a long car in order to make this work. You’ll find this system used by those with longer cars. This is also a system that can be DIY’d with some enginuity.
- Attachment System: Interior
- Rod Capacity: Up to 7
- Length: Variable
- Weight: 2.27 pounds
- Mounting System: Variable; you can use lever vacuum suction cups, carabiners, or strap buckles
- Price: $119.95
The Yakima DoubleHaul roof rack is an adaptable rack that can hold shorter and longer rods and is configured to work with a wide variety of vehicles. The universal mounting hardware means that this rack works with more than just Yakima crossbars, and the company makes a conversion kit to attach to a T-slot crossbar.
One important feature of this rack is the security it offers. Yakima makes a single-key lock system that locks your rods in the rack and locks the rack to the top of your vehicle. This makes it impossible to remove the rods without the specialized key.
This is a well designed system by another well respected car rack manufacturer. This is the heaviest fly rod rack on the market.
- Rod Capacity: 4
- Length: Can be configured for 6 feet or 11 feet (maximum 10 foot rod length)
- Weight: 64 pounds
- Mounting System: Permanent; works with all Yakima crossbars and a wide range of other crossbars
- Price: $798.95
Trxstle CRC Fly Rod Carrier V3.0
The CRC Fly Rod Carrier 3.0 is Trxstle’s newest fly rod roof rack offering. It improves on the popular CRC 2.0, adding a 4-rod option to the standard 2-rod option, and offers a choice of standard or extra-large mounting clamps to make it compatible with a wide number of vehicles.
The CRC’s unique advancement is the ability to be mounted in four telescoping lengths. This unit can collapse down to the size of a standard rod and reel case, making it easy to store when you’re not traveling. It provides the safety and durability of a permanent option with the versatility of a removable option.
- Rod Capacity: 2-4
- Length: Up to 10 feet 6 inches
- Weight: 15 pounds
- Mounting System: Semi-permanent; comes with quick attach mounting clamps that you can leave on or easily remove
- Price: $800-816, depending on clamp hardware ($430-500 for 2 rod versions)
Gear Rak Low Profile Fishing Rod Transportation System
Like the Sumo Suction Carrier, the Gear Rak stores your assembled rods directly on top of the vehicle, not in a rod box. However, the attachment system is less flexible than that model. Instead of suction cups, it attaches securely to your crossbars, and works with any crossbar system.
This rack is in two pieces. One, which attaches to the rear crossbar, cradles the butt end of your rods. Fly fisherman need the upright version of this in order for it to hold fly rods. They will also need a fly rod that has a fighting butt. This solution is only suited for spey fly fisherman, but probably isn’t an ideal solution for the average fly fisherman.
This would be an interesting solution of you were both a spin fisherman, and a fly fisherman utilizing spey rods as you could carry both types of rods ready to go.
- Rod Capacity: 4
- Length: Variable
- Weight: 6 pounds
- Mounting System: Removable
- Price: $190-$229.98
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about