How to Build a Fly Rod Holder Roof Rack Out of PVC

Fly rods can be challenging to transport. When broken down, four-piece rods take up almost no space. But when assembled, the typical nine-foot length makes stashing them in your vehicle nearly impossible. Fly anglers will often tuck their rods under their windshield wipers for jaunts along the river, saving themselves from re-rigging at every fishable hole along the way. But this is perilous, as every bump and pothole along the way has the potential to send your rod crashing into the ditch.

Here’s a better option: If your vehicle’s roof is equipped with crossbars, you can outfit it with a holder made of common PVC tube. This system will allow you to safely transport your rod fully assembled so you can you can start fishing right when you get to the water. You can also use this holder to transport spinning rods that won’t fit inside your car, but you will need to increase the diameter of the PVC pipe to accommodate the larger guides. You can build this holder for about $30.

To build this rod holder, you’ll need a ten-foot piece of 2-inch diameter schedule 40 PVC pipe that will serve as the outer shell, though you can easily make a longer version for switch, spey, or Euro nymphing rods by adding another piece of pipe using a coupler. Foam pipe insulation serves to protect the rod, but isn’t totally necessary. You will have to omit it if you’re building a holder for heavier weight rods, as the larger guides won’t fit in the one-inch hole in the center of the insulation. I used three-inch U-bolts to secure the rod holder to the vehicle’s roof.

A threaded cap allows you to open and close the tube, though some anglers choose to use a slip-on cap secured with a lock or some sort of pin instead. The addition of a lock means you don’t need to worry about leaving your rod unattended when you grab lunch, but be aware of its limitations. The PVC pipe can be easily cut with simple hand tools, so if someone really wants your rod they can find a way to get it. I used an extra handgun lock I had laying around, but any lock with a long enough shackle will work.

Materials & Tools

  • 2" male threaded PVC adaptor
  • 10' schedule 40 2" PVC pipe
  • 2" threaded PVC cap
  • PVC cleaner & glue
  • Blue painter's tape
  • 1" foam pipe insulation
  • Angle grinder
  • 2" slip PVC cap
  • 2x 3" U-bolts
  • Drill & bits
  • Duct tape
  • Lock
  • File