Whether it’s a road trip for big water Montana trout or a jaunt across town for carp, hauling rods can be a hassle. If you have a truck, problem solved – you drop them in the bed – but if you’re in a car or SUV it’s a hassle. And if you live near the water or can otherwise afford to fish eight days a week, you might even keep several rigs in your vehicle ready to go. You’ve seen the occasional glam shot of Alaskan guides with a dozen rods on a homemade, hood mounted rack – they’ll work fine as long as you’re an Alaskan guide. Another choice is to spend a hundred dollars or more for interior rod racks from a named brand.
Not keen on whipping out the benjamins, for a while I had large bungee cords strung between between the factory coat hanger hooks. They worked fairly well in the front, but in the rear where the reels were located they sagged, and otherwise bounced around on rough roads. It wasn’t until I found myself doing double time down a gravel washboard while running from a tornado did I realize I needed another solution – during that wild ride the bungees came loose and a pile of rigs went flying.
Soon after that run I found myself in AutoZone, picking up windshield wiper fluid, and that’s when I found the Ultra Clothes Bar from Bell Automotive.
These are the the type of bars you see loaded with pressed shirts inside the cars of traveling salemen’s Ford Tauruses. When I saw them in the store, I immediately thought if they can hold two weeks worth of business attire, there’s no doubt they could hold a half-dozen or more rods and reels. And my roughly $36 bet turned out correct.
For an SUV-based redeployment, two of these clothes bars (that’s correct…$18 a piece, plus tax of course) are needed – one in the rear and one in the passenger compartment. They are adjustable for vehicle width, and have hooks on the ends that are designed to work with both standard automotive coat hooks and interior “oh shit” handles. They are made of sturdy metal (exact composition unknown) – at least strong enough to hang hands on (which many of my passengers do now that the “oh shit” handles are in use). The perforated rubber wrapping on the bars, included to keep clothes from sliding back and forth, are a bonus – they protect rod finishes, and I’ve found it makes for a pretty good streamer drying rack too (just slip the hooks into the perforations for the drive home).
For the nine-foot crowd the system works perfectly. Rods are aligned from rear driver’s side to front passenger side, and by wrapped the loose line once around the rod and guides the line won’t hassle anyone but NBA players. I use a very short bungee cord to keep reel end snug, and I’ve carried as many as seven rods this way with ease. And probably saved seventy bucks in the process.