DIY: A Fly Fishing Rod Rack & Carrier

DIY: A Fly Fishing Rod Rack & Carrier

Let’s be honest, the rod vaults that adorn some of our cars are outrageously cool. Their sleek designs keep rods safe during transportation, and even protect rods from falling trees. Let’s be honest again; they are expensive and pretty hard to find.

Being an inventive grad student, I took to google to find a cheaper alternative. There are few plans to be found, but I discovered one that seemed easy and informative. This guide will serve as a how-to for both a DIY rod vault and a rod holster that I pieced together last summer to carry some of my smaller rods.

Rod Vault

A DIY rod vault is inexpensive to produce and can be as custom as you need it to be. My parts list for 2 rod vaults are as follows:

  • (2) Sticks 2” PVC (I used thin wall, although schedule 40 may be the better option)
  • (2) 2” PVC threaded couplers
  • (2) 2” O Rings
  • (2) 30 Cal/7.62 ammo cans (Either plastic or metal would work)
  • PVC cement
  • (4) 6’ sticks of 2” OD PVC insulation
  • A cheap camping pad
  • (2) 2” PVC caps
  • 2” hole saw
  • Drill
  • Sand paper

These are the essentials for the rod vault, I customized mine with some Plasti Dip to cover up the standard white PVC color.

Step 1: Insert Foam into PVC, Attach Caps and Couplers

This step is self-explanatory. I started here to cut the foam to the appropriate length. Once inserted and cut, I glued the PVC caps to one end on each PVC pipe to ensure a water-tight fit. On the opposite ends, I used the same glue to secure the female-threaded ends of the couplers. It probably doesn’t matter if you secure the male or female coupler to the PVC. I just went with the female and it worked for me.

PVC pipe with foam lining for DIY fly rod roof rack.

Step 2: Cut into Ammo Can with Hole Saw

This step was a bit dangerous for me, since I’m working with few tools to do it without any risk. Ideally, you’ll want to secure the ammo can to a vice or clamp it to a table top and drill your 2” hole. Since I used steel ammo cans, the bit had the tendency to get stuck and jerk the can. Once through, clean up the edges with some sand paper.

Step 3: Check Fit

It’s always a good idea to check fittings as you go, rather than at the end of your project. Open the can and push the male end through the hole and screw it into the female end of the coupler. Make sure the O Ring forms a tight seal against the inside of the ammo can. If it needs adjusting, do so now. The next step seals the deal.

Step 4: Bond Coupler

With the male end pushing through the can from the inside out, apply PVC cement to the threads and secure into female coupler. This will seal the parts together and prevent water from seeping through the threads.

Bond coupler for DIY fly rod roof rack.

Step 5: Line Can with Foam

I went to Wally World and picked up a cheap sleeping pad for $7. I then cut individual pieces to size to fit on the sides of the ammo can. I cut them close and didn’t need to glue them to the can. Don’t forget to apply foam to the can’s lid!

Sleeping pad used as foam liner for DIY fly rod roof rack.

Step 6: Mount to Car

Hopefully at this point, you will end up with something resembling this:

DIY fly rod roof rack mounted on car.

A few aspects I ended up changing:

  • I chopped off 10” from the PVC. My rods are all 9’ and under, so the extra space wasn’t necessary.
  • I peeled some of the paint off the PVC when mounting the vault. Be ready to fix any spots that may have peeled during installation.
  • As an extra precaution, it may be wise to seal any pipe fittings with silicon.

Clip Carrier

This carrying system is highly dependent on the length of your rods and the length of your car. My 4Runner has about 8’ of room inside to carry rods along the top of the pillars. The supply list for 2 rod carriers is as follows:

  • Command Light Clips (Sold in packs of 16)
  • ¾” Adjustable Kwik Klips
  • Gorilla Glue or Velcro

Step 1: Attach Light Clips to Pillars

The command hooks come with some strong adhesive that can pull off clean if needed. I set two of these on the pillars between my front and back doors, and the pillar leading to the rear of my 4Runner. I put them up high enough to not hit my head while entering the vehicle.

Command hooks used for DIY fly rod clip carrier inside car.

Step 2: Attach Kwik Klips to Rear of Car

The kwik klips were mounted sideways to the rear top panel of my car. They hold the reels and can open/close to keep the rod secure. I used gorilla glue to secure them after they fell a few times, but I wouldn’t suggest this if you care about the cleanliness of your panels. Alternatives like Velcro may serve better if this is the case.

Kwik Klips used for DIY fly rod clip carrier inside car.

Your rod carrier should look something like this at the end:

DIY fly rod clip carrier inside car.

Hopefully these two guides will help keep your rod safe during transport!

Fish on, my friends.