Early this spring, I traded in my old trusty, rusty, leprosy afflicted, bare bones 2001 Ford F-150 pickup truck that was beginning to nickel and dime me to death with repairs for a 2007 Nissan Xterra Off Road Edition SUV. I call the Xterra a truck because it’s built on a modified Nissan Titan truck frame, but Pennsylvania’s DMV calls it a station wagon for registration purposes, which is slightly insulting to the Xterra, but easier on the wallet when it comes to re-registering the vehicle each year. (For some reason the DMV had my Ford F-150 registered as the SVT version. I wish!) The trusty old Ford non SVT F-150 I had was the 6’6″ shortbox version, without 4 wheel drive. It hauled my 16’3 WarEagle aluminum boat around dutifully enough, but there were a few times that pulling out from a steep, unpaved and unimproved boat launch ramp proved challenging to say the least, especially without the ability to put it 4×4, low range and lug my way out.
What was great about the old F-150 was that it had a hard tonneau cover that served to make that 6’6″ bed a supersized trunk that could haul massive amounts of tackle and rods hidden from prying eyes. However, the downside was that it just barely fit my 8′ Powell/TW Punch Rod diagonally, was prone to moisture and seepage, and it was difficult to access any items that had slid to the front of the bed without climbing in and performing acrobatics over the assorted tackle and rods to get at them.
The Xterra is a great little truck. However, fitting all my tackle and boat necessities plus lots of rods (because that’s how I roll, even though I might use only two in a day’s fishing, lol.) required a little extra expenditure to optimize it’s tackle carrying capabilities. So, after a exhaustive search on the internet for interior rod storage, I narrowed my options to this short list of rod holding choices:
The RodSaver, the Inno and the RodMounts were the most widely available and easy to purchase rod rack systems that I found. I almost immediately dismissed the RodSaver Vehicle Rod Carrier System due to the sag in the design. I wanted something that held the rods securely up and out of the way, and though it was the least expensive at around $19.99, I decided that I could spend a little more to help keep my rod and reel investments as safe as possible. The Inno First Strike ZR356 8 Rod Holder interested me quite a bit, but I didn’t like the fact that it used suction cups applied to the vehicles side window glass to hold the rack, rods and reels up. Between the outward pressure on the glass from the weight of all the rods, reels and the rack itself, and the short length of the Xterra’s rear window glass which would greatly limit the amount of space between the two support bars that constitute the rack, it wouldn’t have given me much peace of mind driving over PA’s not so smooth roads. And to top it off, it’s not readily available from a local dealer, so I didn’t envision spending 159.99 plus shipping for an item that I had a fairly good idea wouldn’t work.
That brings me to the RodMounts Rod Loft Pro. It’s adjustable, modular, secure design seemed to be the most sturdy and user friendly, and included attachment hardware for mounting to both garment hangers and grab handles that were the logical mounting points in the Xterra. So, I coughed up the 129.99 (plus another 29.99 for an extra set of holders as the site at the time was not clear as to exactly what the total amount of rods held by the holders came in the box so I picked up another set just to be sure. The site has been updated and clarified since, and now shows that it does in fact come with enough holders to fit 6 rods.) and ordered the Rod Loft Pro (free shipping to store) from Cabelas. 5 days later I picked it up and my life with the Rod Loft Pro began.
What follows below is a detailed look at the installation process and the adjustments I made to make the Rod Loft Pro work optimally.
The parts included (and shown in the above picture):
1: 2 sets of suction cups for window mounting options.
2: 1 package containing 9 reusable zipties (the spare ziptie is a nice touch).
3: The extra set of holders I purchased in addition to the Rod Loft Pro. At the time I ordered the Rod Loft Pro, the Rodmounts website was unclear as to just how many holders the box included, so I did what any self respecting tackle junkie would do, which was to err on the side of more capacity and purchase the extra set.
4: 2 extendable bars that the holders mount to.
5: 2 rod tip holders.
6: 2 grab handle/garment bar mounting attachments.
7: 2 rod grip holders.
8: 1 package containing 4 stainless steel topper bracket attachments.
9: 1 package containing 4 stainless steel molding bracket attachments.
10: 1 package containing 4 stainless steel garment hook attachments.
11: 1 package containing 4 ball and socket connectors.
12: 1 package containing 8 thumbscrews.
13: 1 package containing 8 Phillips head screws.
Now that I had all the parts out of the box and accounted for, the next step of course was to begin the installation of the Rod Loft Pro. I decided to mount the front support bar first.
To attach the mounting hardware to the support bar, RodMounts uses a ball and socket system. Choose what type of mounting hardware you want to attach to the support bar, and just pop the ball into the socket. It takes a bit of pressure, but not an overly large amount to pop it together. The ball and socket connection has just under 12 degrees of usable angle.
After installing the front support bar, I moved to the rear of the Xterra and began the mounting of the rear support bar.
After the front and rear support bars were mounted to the grab handles and garment hooks respectively, it was time to attach the rod butt and tip holders to the support bars.
So, how to attach the extra set of rod holders? Easily. if you want, you can attach the additional holder and have 9 rods held on the same plane. I chose instead to keep my rods to the center and passenger side of the vehicle, so I chose the configuration shown in the picture below.
How I accomplished this was to just marry two of the supplied reusable zip-ties together giving the needed length to hold the two sets of holder on the bar, one on the bottom, one on the top.
After this step, there was only one more to go.
Of course, Part 1 of this review wouldn’t be complete without putting the holders to the test to see how it holds various sizes and types of rods.
How would I sum up my installation experience with the RodMounts Rod Loft Pro? It took approximately 1/2 hour to install, taking my time and including the breaks I took to get the above pictures of the assembly process. The quality of the components were top notch, with everything fitting together snugly and with no noticeable play or defects. As I become more familiar with the Rod Loft Pro, in the usual BassNastyFishing fashion, I shall add to this review additional notes, pictures and adjustments I have made to fully optimize this product’s capabilities.