Home » Rods on Rooftops: A Conversation with Riversmith

Rods on Rooftops: A Conversation with Riversmith

At riverside pull-offs, in fly shop parking lots, and online, we’ve all seen fly rod tubes affixed to vehicle roof racks. Guides use them out of necessity. Hardcore anglers have them for convenience. But are they something that the common, weekend warrior fly fisher needs?

Recently, I asked someone who knows a lot about them. Luke Winkler is the product manager for Riversmith. Based out of Boulder, Colorado, Riversmith is one of a handful of companies making rooftop rod holders. I asked Luke some legitimate questions I have had about products like this. Also, I played the devil’s advocate and raised some concerns I’ve heard thrown around by skeptical anglers.

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Aren’t rooftop rod holders only for guides and trout bums in their 20’s?

Not at all. We see applications for all kinds of different fly fishers. For example, time is one of the most valuable things we all have. Using a rod holder lets us stop and hit a few more holes more without taking that extra time to tie on tippet, tie on flies, and rig it up all over again. You might think that a spot might not be worth stopping and re-rigging. But if your rods are ready to go, you might get into fish when you wouldn’t have stopped otherwise.

Is there an advantage to putting something on the roof of my car over how I’ve always done things?

It much more protective than keeping an assembled rod in your car. Especially when there are multiple people in the car or rods are bent up against the windshield. It is also much more effective than breaking down your rod while it is rigged up and putting it in the car. That can work, but it usually leads to knots, tangles, and snagged flies. And another easy reason is that there are some really sweet one-piece rods, with manufacturers making more every year.

Can’t someone just bust into it and steal my stuff?

Really, the Riversmith River Quiver is as secure as keeping it in your backseat. You can’t shatter the lock or housing with a hammer. Someone would really have to work to get into it, and at that point they’d just as easily break a car window.

Will my rods, reels, and lines bake inside a rod holder?

Our rod holder gets about as hot as it gets in the cabin of your car. So just like I wouldn’t leave gear in a hot car for multiple days, I wouldn’t leave them in the holder. But the device is vented. It allows gear to get airflow from the tip to the tail.

What makes Riversmith unique among similar products?

First of all, we wanted to make it affordable and available. It was also important to make it very durable and friendlier to the rods being stored. We worked with a large team of engineers to come up with a unique joining method that minimizes flex and vibration while driving and experiencing wind. Our holders also utilize a custom extrusion method that eliminates the internal seams that could potentially catch and damage guides.

At Riversmith, we really want to support the fly shops. So, we designed our model to primarily sell our rod holders through local fly shops. People can see them and buy them locally. Currently we’re in over 80 shops in 8 states. And we’re growing. Of course, you can always order one online if you’re in an area where we don’t have a dealer yet. If you want to see one, we should have dealers at most of this season’s fly fishing shows.

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Here’s my take:

I appreciate Luke taking the time to talk and share why he is a believer in his product and the entire concept. I’m also a big fan of Riversmith’s plan to utilize local fly shops and put their product in front of the customer.

Since I’ve had to get a new vehicle, I can’t safely keep assembled rods inside the cabin of my car anymore. Having multiple rods, rigged and ready to fish, was incredibly convenient. From my perspective a rooftop rod holder allows you to use the gear you already have more efficiently and effectively. I agree with Luke: time is valuable. Even if you’re only taking one trip a month or simply hitting local ponds for a few hours here and there, being able to just pull up and fish is important.

Of course, there is a cost involved. But in the world of fly fishing gear, it isn’t that much. For the same price as a mid-range fly rod you can get a Riversmith River Quiver ($345 for their 2-rod case, $549 for the 4-rod model). I’d encourage you to head to their website and check them out for yourself.

6 comments

  1. JZ says:

    A simple breakdown of a rod wouldn’t be a big deal to me. To each there own though. I have seen them at fly shows in the past and they are a quality product that do offer advantages to anglers that find themselves on the move from spot to spot throughout the day. That isn’t my kind of angling so much and wasting time driving instead of fishing seems counter productive. Besides, I am mainly chasing brooks in secluded areas far away from the beating paths of the masses. The kind of fishing that would require me to think about buying me one of those rod carriers would push me off a cliff. I’m not falling for it…

  2. Ralph Nicosia-Rusin says:

    I just started fly fishing at 67 and rigging and tying on flies is a challenge with the diminished eyesight, feeling and dexterity of growing older. So there would be a productivity boost from a roof rack.. But I am still fishing with the $25 5/6 WT Wakeman outfit I bought to use to try this type of fishing until I had enough experience to select better equipment. So the next $350 to spend on catching fish is already earmarked. But this has me thinking about some PVC and maybe a large electrical work box as a worthy pairing for my Wakeman.

    Just came across your podcast today. I really enjoy those I heard. You have a good talent. Congrats on your Christmas child and wishing the best for all your family through the New Year.

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