It’s widely accepted that rafts are experts at breaking fly rods. Without proper, protective storage for rods, raft owners typically end up improvising by laying rods across their raft frames, stashing them out of the way(ish) in the bow or stern, or storing them half broken down someplace resembling safe. But chaos has a way of finding its way into a small, inflatable boat floating down a river and unprotected rods hanging out in a raft have a clear path to breakage, whether by getting stepped on by anglers moving in and out of the boat, by an errant oar, through impact with trees, rocks, or deadfall, and so on. As a result, a handful of fly rod holders for rafts have popped up over the years, helping raft owners keep their spare rods intact from launch to takeout. Most recently, Riversmith, the Colorado outfit known best for its rooftop rod carriers for cars and trucks, introduced its entry into the raft rod holder market — the Riversmith Swiftcast.
Made using a combination of aluminum, stainless steel, and high tensile-strength polymer, the Swiftcast is designed to be weather-resistant and lightweight. Perhaps more importantly, Riversmith seems to have focused intently on designing the Swiftcast to be modular — to make it compatible with a wide range of different raft brands, sizes, and configurations.
“We’re anglers and river rafters so we know the challenges that anglers face off and on the water. The awesome thing is though, if you stop and listen to the fly fishing community they’ll tell you directly which problems need solving versus those we can live with,” said Jason Thomas, Director of Design and Product Development at Riversmith. “The need for a universal rod carrier for rafts was clear – folks have been trying to solve the problem on their own for years now. With a year and a half of development under its belt, the Swiftcast solves this problem for all raft anglers, no matter what size or configuration boat they have. It was designed to suit and help protect what is most important to our customers – their time spent on the water, their gear and overall experience fishing.”
Riversmith indicates that the Swiftcast is compatible with rafts as short as 8 feet in length and even those longer than 15 feet in length. In addition to designing its new rod holder to accommodate different raft lengths, Riversmith also took care to address differing raft shapes by allowing its modular sections to be rotated to match the shape of the raft it’s being mounted to. For those that have found more rigid solutions from other manufacturers frustrating to mount flush to their raft’s body, this should serve as a welcome feature.
The Riversmith Swiftcast is also designed to be mounted in pairs, either inline (same side of the raft) or bi-directional (opposite sides of the raft). Front or rear-facing mounting is also possible, allowing for a configuration where anglers in both the bow and stern of the boat will have easy access to rod storage.
Riversmith’s new rod holder also offers a few other notable features, including an open-bottom reel box to allow water to drain out and a tapered “nose cone” that guides rod tips safely from the straight-line channel section of the Swiftcast to the curved section that wraps around the raft frame.
The Riversmith Swiftcast Rod Holder is available immediately from Riversmith and authorized retailers. Retail price is $349.99. Extension tubes for longer rafts are priced at $34.99 (12 inch) and $59.99 (24 inch).