Balancing Act

Simple Fishing Rod Rooftop Basket Travel Mod

Whenever I go fishing, I’ve always had to flex my 6′ Shimano rod and maneuver it around the cabin of our Prius. Unfortunately with a toddler riding in the back seat, this is no longer an option. I’ve searched for a fishing rod carrier attachment for roof racks but could not find any. Most of the results are either accessories to hold multiple rods on the back of a bed of a truck. Another popular solution is to add a ski carrier attachment. For multiple rods, this is not a bad idea. But to hold one rod is just silly. I don’t ski or snowboard, so adding a ski attachment for 1 fishing rod is a bad idea.

My solution? Use a pair of Yakima TopGrip OG with our Yakima OffGrid rooftop basket, a custom circular 1.5″ insert cut from a polyurethane foam sheet/block, scotch tape and a Shimano reel cover. Here’s how.

Yakima TopGrip OG

The Yakima TopGrip OG (OG for OffGrid) is a rooftop basket accessory attachment that allows the user to carry long narrow tools, such as an axe, shovel or paddle. It can grip gears with a diameter from 1.2″ / 30 mm to 2.0″ / 50 mm and a maximum weight of 9 lbs. I am using this accessory with a custom foam insert to carry my fishing rod on the Yakima OffGrid rooftop basket. This method also works with users with Yakima LoadWarrior rooftop basket. Just make sure to use the classic TopGrip accessory.

Since a fishing trip for me also means a road trip, mounting the fishing rod onto the rooftop basket is the perfect solution. I always carry folding lawn chairs, tackle box, lunch cooler for caught fishes and a large roto-cooler filled with beverages and food for grilling on the road to fishing. What better way to travel with than other than stashing them on the rooftop?

High Density Rigid Polyurethane Foam Insert

I’ve acquired a block of high density rigid polyurethane foam and used a 1.5″ / 38 mm hole saw cutter to cut a perfect cylindrical block of foam from it.

Next, I drilled a 1 cm hole right into the center of the cylindrical foam cutout. The drill bit size will vary and is dependent on the diameter of the second mounting point on your fishing rod.

Finally, I used a saw to cut a radius from the outer surface of the foam to the hole that was drilled in the center.

Now, I am able to easily slip this custom foam insert onto the fishing rod for the TopGrip OG to grip.

Shimano Reel Cover (Small)

Shimano offers three different neoprene reel cover size; small, medium and large. I have a smaller Okuma spinning reel and the smaller cover fits like a glove. Since the rod will be traveling on the rooftop at high speed over a long distance, the cover not only prevents the reel from spinning out of control, it also protect it from the elements, such as bug splats.


The Yakima TopGrip OG accessory can firmly grip any fishing rod handle with a minimum diameter of 1.2″ / 30 mm. Anything smaller you may need to wrap the handle with material to increase its diameter for the TopGrip to hold it down properly.

I mounted the TopGrip OG accessory on the passenger side so that the spinning reel handle is facing outward. This makes mounting easier, but you may mount it whichever side you want.

Next, I slipped the custom foam insert onto the area of the rod where the other TopGrip OG accessory unit will grip it. I mounted the 6′ fishing rod onto the TopGrip OG accessory, with the rod tip facing towards the rear of the car.

The TopGrip OG is then clamped down firmly and locked. To finalize the mount, I used 2 reusable twist ties to tie down the fishing line and secure them in place.

If twist ties are not available, Scotch tape may be used instead. If you are not planning to travel with fishing rods pre-threaded with fishing line, you can skip this step.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.