Few fish-boat accessories are more useful than flush-mount, gunwale-top rod holders. Yet there’s more than meets the eye when installing these. Here are six tips.
1. Position Carefully: Gunwale-top rod holders are often installed in pairs, with one on each side. Make sure the surface-plate angle — be it straight back or outward — is replicated for each pair. Some rod holders come with templates to mark the position of the surface plate.
2. Cut an Angled Hole: The rod tube might be angled anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees. To cut a hole at the same angle, make a jig with a 1-inch scrap of wood wide enough to clamp over the gunwale. This will guide the hole saw. For more, see boatingmag.com/adding-gunwale-holders.
3. Seal Exposed Wood: Once you’ve made the cut, use fiberglass finishing resin to seal any exposed wood under the gunwale top to help prevent rot and delamination.
4. Through-Bolt the Holder: Some rod holders use a large nut on a threaded tube to secure the holder from below, but most have three mounting holes you need to drill at 90 degrees to the gunwale top. Use a backing plate and through-bolt the surface plate with stainless-steel bolts, locknuts and washers underneath.
5. Bed the Surface Plate: Use a marine-grade sealant such as 3M 4200 to bed the surface, and mounting holes to prevent water from seeping underneath, generating crevice corrosion. Use a clean cloth to wipe away excess sealant.
6. Install Drains: If the rod holders allow water inside an enclosed gunwale, you might need to install rod-holder drains. For more information, check out boatingmag.com/ rod-holder-drains. -- Jim Hendricks
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