Do it Yourself Interior Fishing Rod Holder for a 5th Gen 4Runner – Complete DIY Guide
I live in the burbs of Denver, CO, and there is no shortage of fishing opportunities out here for an angler. I find that I often have small windows of time to take a quick drive and get on the water but I always wind up spending a good chunk of my time setting up my rod, reel, and flies.
I wanted to come up with some way to hold my fishing rods inside my 4Runner. I am not a fan of placing rods in my car loose because I have seen too many accidental rod tips snapped and rogue hooks flying around the back seat once you start rolling off the pavement. I wanted something that would secure the fishing rods that I could use for a quick after-work session or for a more elongated weekend trip.
A simple Google search yields hundreds of different types of fishing rod holders for SUVs. These include anything from an exterior hard-sided roof rack holder to a simple bungee or webbing straps to attach to your interior grab handles. The range in price is also all over the board with some of the nicest exterior roof rack holders being over $500. In the end, I decided I wanted to create my own interior fishing rod holder for my 4Runner.
Cheap, sturdy, and out of my field of view
My criteria were fairly simple: cheap, sturdy, and out of my field of view when I used my rearview mirror. What I ended up coming up with was using cheap electrical conduit components from Home Depot to create a pretty robust interior fishing rod holder that didn’t impede my field of view and didn’t let the fishing rods rattle or bounce all over the back of my car. The fabrication and installation were quick and it came out looking pretty solid.
Tools and Materials
- Power Drill with chock for 3/4” Diameter Drill bit
- 3/16” Diameter Drill bit
- 5/16” Diameter Drill bit
- 1/2” Diameter Drill bit
- 3/4” Diameter Drill bit
- 10 mm Socket
- Socket Wrench and 1/4″ Diameter Drive
- Flat Head Screw Driver
- Phillips Head Screw Driver
- Hack Saw
- Tape Measure
- Permanent Marker
- Leather Gloves
- Safety Glasses
- Black Spray Paint
- 1/2″ Diameter EMT Conduit by 5’-0” Length: Check Price
- 1/2″ Diameter 90 Degree Flex Connector: Check Price
- 1-1/2” by 5” Nail Plate: Check Price
- 2 – Small Quick Fist: Check Price
- 2 – #10 machine screw with washer, lock washer, and nut
Step 1. Remove Trunk Hooks and 10mm Bolt
The first step is to remove the two plastic hooks in the trunk and expose the 10 mm bolt. I had already removed these for the installation of my molle panels so the 10 mm bolt was already exposed. The plastic hooks are easy to remove and pop off. You can pry the cover off with some trim removal tools or a flat head screwdriver. I wasn’t going to use them again so I used the flathead.
Once these are removed, we can begin fabricating the fishing rod holder.
Step 2. Flatten Out Nail Plate
The second step is to fabricate two identical mounting brackets from the nail plates. You will need to flatten out the tabs that would typically be used to nail the plate into a wall stud. I bent them flat with some pliers and then banged them with a hammer to flatten them out and remove any protrusions.
This created a flat piece of steel for the mounting bracket. I am sure one of you could find a flat piece of plate to use without the nail tabs, but these were the cheapest I could find at Home Depot.
Step 3. Mark and Bend Nail Plate
Next was marking the plate with a line used for bending the plate as well as marking the locations of the drill holes. I placed the bend line 1-1/2” away from one end. The smaller diameter hole for the 10 mm bolt was 3/4″ away from the same edge used for the bending line. The 3/4″ diameter hole was 1-1/2” away from the other edge. I placed the plate into a vise and used my largest pliers to bend the piece of the plate at roughly a 30-degree angle off the vertical plane of the plate.
Step 4. Drill Holes and Install Flex Coupling
The final mounting bracket fabrication step was to drill the holes in the plate and install the flex coupling but, first, a note on safety. I highly recommend using safety glasses and gloves for this step. Drilling these holes will send off metal fragments and I have seen too many pictures of metal fragments in eyeballs. Additionally, the larger diameter hole takes a bit of drilling and will cause the metal plate to heat up. I used a 5/16” drill bit for the 10 mm bolt hole.
If your drill bit is dancing around and you are having a hard time keeping it in one location, take a screw with a sharp point and tap it with a hammer over your hole mark. This should imprint the plate and help keep your hole where you want it. I used several drill bits for the larger diameter hole for the flex coupling. I started with a 3/16” diameter bit, then 5/16” diameter bit, then 1/2” diameter bit, and finally the 3/4″ diameter bit.
It helped control the drilling process and helped move it along quicker. I did have to ream out the hole a bit for the flex coupling. The threads of the flex coupling are supposed to be 3/4″ wide but with the coating, it may be a bit more. When I was reaming out the hole, I placed the plate into the vice so I could really get some reaming action going with the drill bit.
Once your holes are drilled, pry off any sharp plate chunks with pliers and hammer out of the opening. I didn’t use a metal file here but you could use one to get rid of any sharp edges.
Step 5. Install QuickFists
I wanted to have two rod holders so I installed two quick fist clamps to the 1/2” diameter conduit. I marked the locations off of the passenger’s side end. I marked the first hole at 3” from the end and the second hole 4” away from that location. You can play with the locations but this seemed best for me to keep the reels out of the back window when I was using the rearview mirror. I placed the conduit in the vice to try and drill holes as straight as possible.
I used a 5/16” diameter drill bit. I also cut the extra mounting tabs off the bottom of the quick fists. I was only planning on using the center hole so I just got rid of them. Once the holes are drilled, you can install the hardware (machine screw, washer, lock washer, and nut).
Step 6. Cut 1/2” Diameter Conduit to Length
Using the vice and hacksaw, cut your conduit to the correct length you will need. You should field measure the distance between your flex couplings. Temporarily install your mounting brackets with flex couplings and measure the distance between the two couplings. I got about 32.25” but yours may be different. Using the hack saw, cut your conduit.
Step 7. Test Fit and Paint
I installed all the components for a test fit before painting. This might have been because I was trying to figure out how to do this before writing this article. You may be able to just go ahead and paint the sucker before doing the test fit.
Step 8. Install Rods
This part is pretty straightforward. Get your rods and put the handles into the quick fists and secure them. Move to your passenger’s seat and open up the visor. There should be plenty of room to place rod tips between your visor and the ceiling. The rod tips will have a gentle bend down your windshield.
For one of my rods, there were not eyelets above the visor when I closed it but there was one for my other rod. To combat this, I took some foam pipe wrap and cut out small segments to wrap the rod at the eyelet. This would prevent the eyelet from being smashed by accident.
I pushed both rod tips as far towards the “oh sh*t” handle as I could so they would be out of the way of the passenger’s field of vision. I am 6’1” and when I sat in the passenger’s seat, the tips of the rods were touching the top of my head. I think if you have a bit taller passenger that you might have some head contact.
So far, I really like my DIY fishing rod holder. It meets all my criteria and it was fairly cheap to make if you have the right tools. I have driven around with it for a week and have not noticed any additional vibration or noise from the fishing rods or the holder. I haven’t driven on any serious terrain yet, but for fire roads and paved roads, it has been stellar.
Additionally, it doesn’t impede my view out the back at all. I can see the reels off to the side, but they are out of the main field of view. Plus, it looks pretty professional as well, in my opinion. Without any rods installed, you can barely even see that anything is there. It keeps up and out of the way. Please reach out to me if you have any comments, thoughts, or if you want to show me the trophy you just caught after work one day.