How to Attach the Rod Holders to a Cooler (with video)

If you love kayak fishing, you must have rod holders on your kayak. Nowadays, many kayaks initially have the rod holders built in the deck or on the side. But some of them still don’t have yet or you own an old model that doesn’t have the modern design. If this is the case, why not mount the rod holders on your ice cooler? I know people who engage to the kayak fishing must own an ice cooler. This is the question I’ve heard many times, how to attach the rod holders to an ice cooler?

Here is the step by step instruction for mount the rod holder to your ice cooler. First of all, the list of tools and materials that you need to prepare.

  • Rod Holders with a base plate
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • 1/16 size drill bit
  • Screws

Here we go. You can watch the video, that’s way easier if you can’t watch it just follow the instructions I wrote. It basically explains the video.

  • Place one of your base plates on the side of the cooler. You are going to mount 2 rod holders on each side, in this case, you might want to put them first on the top.
  • Using the drill to pop the 4 pilot holes on the four sides of the first base plate. BE VERY CAREFUL to make sure you don’t punch it too deeply. Cooler usually has a very thin layer plastic on the outer shell, you just need to drill through the first layer, do not punch through all the inner layer, or you will get a hole on your cooler and it will be a detriment to the function of the cooler.  Just go slow, you will feel a pump and that’s it.
  • If your place the first base on the left, then now pop the second one on the right. Take the same base to punch the second round holder. Make sure they are aligned.
  • Put the backing nut inside the base plate.
  • Take the self-tapping screws, now with the pilot holes we made, it will be much easier to get them through. Again, be extra careful. You do not want to over drill them, go really slow, you can use a screwdriver to help.
  • Put in all the screws, fill out the holes you drill.
  • Till now, you should get the first two top base plates mounted with a backing nut inside of them. If not, go back and see what step you are missing.
  • Then, we’re getting ready to line up the rest base plates on the bottom.
  • Take the other base plate. The base plate and rod holder itself they have grooves to make them fit, once you line it up perfectly, the holder will sit in the groove. So, we’re going to put the rod holder in the top plate’s groove nicely, and we can get the idea that where the holder going to lay. Then we put the other base plate underneath the rod holder and line it up. Now you get the exact position that the base plate should be. Because you can’t drill while the rod holder above the base, so you can carefully remove the holder without moving the base plate(very hard.) or you can simply draw the contour of the base plate and then move the rod holder.
  • Do it on the other side, get the exact position.
  • Repeat the drilling, just repeat the thing you do on the top one.
  • Do the same things on the other side.
  • When you finish, the ice cooler will have four rod holders mounted on.

That’s pretty much the way on how to attach the rod holder to your ice cooler.

There are some alternative ways to “attach” your rod holder to an ice cooler. It doesn’t need any tools and craft.

  • Ice Cooler Holder
  • The Cooler With Rod Holder
  • Cooler Rod Holder

Ice Cooler Holder

You can buy a new ice cooler holder. This solution seems absurd, what the heck is the ice cooler holder? Shouldn’t I suppose to find a rod holder?

Calm down, a specific cooler holder can be a holder with multiple rod holders built in. As you can see from the picture below. They are usually made of aluminum, so it’s strong, sturdy and will not rust. Also, there are many different sizes in the market, it’s easy for you to find one which can fit your cooler.

This is probably not the answer for those who looking for an inexpensive solution, but the cooler holder did provide a solid option for you to hold the rods. And if you have a heavy duty rod, this is probably the best solution for you. Make sure that your kayak’s hatch can fit the cooler holder, the Amazon will always provide the dimension of the unit.

ice cooler holder

The Cooler With Rod Holder

If you already own a cooler and not plan to buy a new, you can skip this solution.

You can always buy a cooler that already has the rod holders. Instead of trying to mount the rod holder on the cooler, you can simply replace it with the one already has them. You don’t have to take the risk to break your cooler and there are many inexpensive choices on the market. If you don’t own a cooler yet, this is your great chance to make thing right in the first place.

The Cooler With Rod Holder

Cooler Rod Holder

This is a pretty simple solution for those who already own a cooler without rod holder. You can buy a fishing rod holder attachment for your cooler. It usually works with all casting and spinning fishing rods. Also, you can find some models on the market which made of heavy duty stainless steel. It is well built and has a sturdy connection to the cooler. It usually has a hook that can slide into your cooler’s tie-down slot. So you have to make sure your cooler’s slot has the right fit for the rod holder attachment.

Cooler Rod Holder


I hope you find this article interesting and helpful. I didn’t have “many” experiences in kayak fishing, but I still trying to provide the valuable content to you guys. So, if you find anything wrong or outdated in my article. Please leave your comment below I will update it as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading.

Happy kayaking.

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