Have you ever had your favorite fishing rod and reel jerked out of the boat? Was it from a fish? This is an event that will surely happen to the Catfish angler that anchor fishes without a rod holder. When catfishing, rod holders are something I cannot do without.
When fishing rivers with current, a big cat can have a rod out of the boat on its way to the bottom in half a heartbeat. Even when fishing lakes & reservoirs, the rod holder will prevent the loss of your best rod.
The first quality in a good rod holder is strength. I have seen fishermen using cheap light weight clamp on holders and not only did they loose their favorite rod, they lost the holder & clamp.
All my rod holders are a very simple but used & certified works of art. Even though there are a lot of good rod holders on the market, the 1/2 inch Driftmaster is by far my #1 choice. These rod holders in the 25 degree & 45 degree angles work best for me. They are formed from 1/2 steel round stock and are vinyl coated which will hold a rod as good as any. When a big cat hits and runs, there is no danger of the fish pulling the rod out of the holder. I have had big Blue Cats hammer the rod so hard that they were slipping the drag on the reel and it was set on as much as 10 pounds of drag. Now I don't know if most anglers realize how much drag that is, but I set that tension by lifting a 10 pound weight off the floor with the rod and the drag will slowly allow the weight to slip back to the floor. The average heavy bass rod would break under this pressure.
I always make sure the mounting bracket is mounted securely and then screw the 1/2 inch threaded end into the bracket, then I lock down the jam nut once I set the holder at the desired position.
I will position two rods on each side of the boat with one rod on each side angled outward of the boat. The other rod will be positioned in closer to the sides of the boat. That allows me to fish a wider path and keep the lines spread apart. I also throw one farther down stream than the other one. Usually I will throw the outside rods farther than the inside rods. This separation will help prevent the lines from tangling when a good size Cat runs cross current and across the other lines. Of course, some Cats seem to know just how to tangle all the lines!
Rod holders are relatively cheap compared to rods & reels. Good rod holders will last for years and are a necessary investment for the serious Catfish angler. The Driftmaster rod holders are what I use and suggest. You won't go wrong with the Driftmaster.