Since my early childhood I’ve been an avid, recreational fisherman, living next to a Kyrönjoki river in Ostrobothnia, with abundance of fish. Back in the days perch and pike (up to and even above 20 kilograms) were the most common catch that was reeled in, and with hook and line one could catch also the common roach (or ide) and large breams, up to a kilogram and more. Also random trout, grayling and whitefish could be had on certain parts of the river. We initially did not have a boat in the family, but it was easy to fish from the shore, along the river and on the small rapids. Moving out to study and later for work fishing was pushed into the background for some time. Fishing from the shores of the Baltic Sea around Espoo, having no boat to access the right spots, did not really interest me. This changed when I bought my packraft few years ago, and suddenly all the lakes nearby, and the coastline, became accessible.
Having spent considerable time enjoying fishing from the little raft, using it to access good spots especially on small lakes and for example to troll along the shores for the main incredient of tasty homemade fish balls, pike, or some perch for the pan, I was looking into rigging some kind of a rod holder system on my Alpacka Llama. It was then when I ran across also the RodRig rod holder made in Norway. Initially designed for the Alpacka rafts, variants for kayaks, Ally canoes and alike are now available, and I contacted the owner Ståle to discuss about the product line. Learning more about the design, I agreed to take one in for testing and a review.
RodRig is made of high quality carbon fiber and aluminum frame and sports two rod holders for efficient trolling or easy swapping from side to side. Weighting a mere 220 grams, it packs in 5 pieces in a small nylon pouch, and has no loose bolts or nuts that could get lost easily. Assembly at first requires a look at the manual, but once assembled a few times, you can easily do without. The trick here is to use the included Pull-the-DOT snap fastener the right way, as trying to force them in or out the wrong way could lead to a failure. These fasteners, though new to me, have a long reputable history of hard use and abuse, in difficult environments, and for example conform with United States Military Standards - A solid choice also for this application.
Once assembled, the rigging slids tightly into the four standard tiedowns on Alpacka raft, keeping it securely in place simply with tension - no additional straps required. I’ve found it best not to completely inflate the raft at first, this way the RodRig slids into place easier and once fully inflated, you can adjust it as you wish. RodRig does not interfere with normal use of the bow and the frame is solid enough to withstand any normal cargo on top - your large backpack or a dry sack for example.
The rod holders (one slotted, one solid, interchangeable) are long enough to keep the rod securely in place, even when catching a large fish while trolling, and in my opinion no separate lock-down mechanisms are needed. They have a slight backwards angle, and as with any similar rigging, you need to watch out a bit especially with those power strokes, to not hit the backwards leaning rod(s) with your paddle. This is of course dependent a bit on your size (and your boat size), I have very long arms for example. While trolling not much speed is typically required and gentle strokes suffice, so this is more when you want to push it quickly to a new spot.
I have had the RodRig in use now for several weeks and been fishing with it in lakes and rivers. It is a very sophisticated yet not overly engineered piece of rigging for easy trolling with your Alpacka, or any comparable packraft with suitable tiedowns installed. Having done my fair share of trolling with the reel simply on my lap, rod thrown over the shoulder, this certainly is a lot better option and feels secure to use. With its low weight it’s a no-brainer to take along at all times, even if just used as a rod holder for hands free float fishing. All the different variants of the RodRig rod holder can be ordered directly through the website, which also includes detailed specifications and assembly instructions for the different types of boats.