Overview: I hate breaking down my fly rods when I am heading out to fish or even more so when I'm simply moving from spot to spot. I prefer to keep them assembled and ready to roll. At the same time I have a lot of money invested into my gear and I don't want it to get damaged. For a long time I seriously considered purchasing the Rod Vault, but I just couldn't bring myself to drop the $600. And then I found the Smith Creek Rod Rack interior rod racking system. The system included two rod carrier straps, two heavy duty locking suction cups, two round carabiners, four strap retainers and a draw string storage bag. The rod retention system uses a patented locking shock cord and eyelet setup to keep rods secure. The forward carrier attaches to the grab handles above the back seat doors or the vehicle accessory hooks. The rear carrier can be attached to the vehicles rear side windows using supplied heavy-duty dual suction cup mounts, overhead grab handles, or to fixed accessory hooks using supplied carabiners as shown in the manufacturer photo below. Perfect.
The set up would allow me to carry up to 7 assembled rods/reels securely and easily accessible inside my 4runner and it was $130 versus $600. It got added to my Christmas list and wound up under the tree as a gift from my wife. I couldn't wait to try it and set out to put it to the test over Christmas break when my two boys and I headed out to fish the Muskegon. Here's what I found.
What I like: Mostly what I like about the Smith Creek Rod Rack is the idea. A simple system that allows me to keep my rods assembled, secure, out of the way and still accessible for $130.
What I don’t like: The "extensively tested, heavy-duty locking dual suction cup mounts" suck and not in the right way. I attached them and less than 5 minutes later, before I could even load any rods, they fell off. I tried dry, wet, warm and cold applications. I was pissed. Beyond the locking shock cord system (which is pretty cool) and the suction cups, this product is pretty basic - essentially some nylon straps with adjustable buckles and a couple carabiners.
So naturally I sent a note to the company. I was pleased to receive a response directly from the owner. But I wasn't pleased with his answer. "We’re sorry that you’re having issues with the suction cups. I can pretty much guarantee that you’re positioning the suction cups over in-window antenna / heater wires (I was). They hold like crazy for a few minutes or a day or two then fall off, it’s the wires. It’s noted in the suction cups instruction sheet (it was), the outside of the box (nope) and on the video (nope). The only way around this is to use another attachment option. In your case, I’d remove the plastic cover on the hook in your photo, remove the hook, place a strap with a ring in one end under the existing hook, reattach and use the strap it to attach the carabiners. I put eyelets in the back of my Land Cruiser and use the carabiners." So basically my options were to get a different vehicle, modify the product or modify (IE add eyebolts to) my 4runner. Not really what I was looking for in a system that was supposed to be easy. At this point I do plan to modify them and find a way to make them work, but if I would have realized modification was in the cards PRIOR to making the purchase, I likely could have rigged something similar for myself for far less than $130.
Perfect for: For me, this product would probably be great if you have a vehicle that doesn't have rear windows with either in-window antennas or heater wires. Like I said, the idea is pretty slick, the problem, at least for me, was the execution.
Stars: 2 out of 5
Learn more: https://smithcreek.co/rod-rack.php