UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Review: Yakima TopWater

Review: Yakima TopWater

As is typical for someone who works in the tournament bass business, I do a fair amount of traveling every year. Unlike the bass pros I work with, I generally don’t haul a boat with me. So, in the past, when I wanted to pack along a few rods, I either had to run them between the front seats of my Toyota Tundra or haul them in the truck bed, which is one of the fastest ways I’ve found for busting a rod tip or having your gear stolen.

Last fall, I upgraded my system when Yakima provided a new TopWater rooftop fishing rod box for review. The TopWater retails for $549 and has more bells and whistles than most of the other rooftop rod storage options out there. For some anglers, those extras would be much appreciated and worth the money, but for others they might be overkill.

Here’s what I’ve learned about the TopWater.

 

It looks like a rocket launcher

I still haven’t come up with a clever go-to response for when people ask me what that “thing” is on top of my truck when they see the TopWater at gas stations. I was calling it a rocket launcher, but nobody really laughed at my joke.

At 9 inches deep, 18 inches wide and 8 1/2 feet long, it’s definitely bigger than most other rooftop rod storage systems – most are plastic tubes – but it’s also designed for a slightly different purpose. Tube-style rooftop storage units hold bare rods that are slid in from the end. The TopWater, which has a hinged lid like on a gun case, opens up to hold rod-and-reel combos, with dual hinge stops on the ends to keep the wind from blowing the lid all the way back.

Also like a good gun case, the TopWater has an integrated lock. When the key is turned, two steel bars slide into place, locking things down tight and secure.

 

Organization within

Three elevated rod storage racks spaced throughout the box are lined with foam dividers that cradle up to eight combos and rods up to 8 feet long. A rubber strap on each rack does a really good job of holding the rods in place.

Combos get arranged in place butt-to-tip. It’s easiest to put them in starting from the back or hinge side and working toward the front edge. Adding or removing one from the middle sometimes takes a little fenagling, though it’s not at all hard. Rods definitely settle into place a little easier without protective sleeves, but I usually opt to leave the sleeves on anyway.

Despite driving about a hundred miles on bumpy gravel roads in northern Wisconsin last fall and way too many highway miles since then, I haven’t had any rods jump off the rack in transit. I have had some baits pop loose from the rods’ hook hangers. That’s mostly a problem for baits tied to braided line and could easily be remedied with a bait wrap or by cutting baits off before loading up.  

 

Important notes on storage

The rod racks can be removed to haul other gear by backing out a few screws, which is a nice design feature and helps justify the $549 price tag. There’s also room for storing some other essentials under the rods. I can fit 11 3600 Plano StowAways under the rod racks if I pack them in and don’t have any spinning reels hanging down (though, I think you could flip the reels up somehow and get it to work). The 3700 boxes drop in OK, too, but you have to shift them around to find the best fit. Realistically, I wouldn’t store more than a few StowAways on the bottom. You could also slide in quite a few extra rods without reels if you need to really haul a bunch, though I haven’t bothered with that.

Be aware that there are open holes in the bottom of the TopWater to let moisture out. They also let moisture in. So whatever you store inside needs to be watertight or safe getting wet.

This is a bit of an issue with tackle that’s left on the rods. I left several rods rigged and ready in the TopWater for up to a couple weeks, and the terminal tackle on some baits started to rust. Any hooks rigged with soft plastics (like my rigged and glued Ned heads) were guaranteed to rust. I even had a bit of corrosion on a metal component on one of my rods. The obvious fix is to cut baits off before stowing if the rods are going to be in the TopWater for more than a short trip, or to take everything out of the TopWater between trips.

 

The shell

The outer shell is made of the same lightweight, durable plastic material as many of Yakima’s other rooftop storage products. I’ve toted it around the country and parked my truck outside with the TopWater installed almost every day since September, and the plastic hasn’t faded or shown any wear.

When I first unboxed it, I thought the plastic was too flimsy to withstand 80-mph rips down the highway, and I was very wrong about that. Once you turn the key over in the lock, the locking bars slide into place and cinch things tight. It’s surprisingly rigid, and I really don’t think a thief could break in unless he was some sort of Houdini lock picker.

The plastic does a good job of shedding bugs and other road grime, too. I don’t even wash it. A heavy rain does the work for me.

I do notice a little bit of rattling when I drive with the windows down on gravel roads, but that’s not an everyday thing for most people.

 

Installation is cake

Installing the TopWater is dirt simple if you already have a roof rack on your vehicle. Just make sure you have the right hardware. You can check this on Yakima’s website. If you don’t have a roof rack, the company sells options for any type of vehicle on the road. They also sell riser kits for trucks without toppers if you like that “overlanding” look.

I mounted the TopWater to the Yakima SkyLine system fitted with Yakima’s CoreBar crossbars. A pair of brackets pass through the open slots in the bottom of the TopWater and draw tight against the crossbars to hold everything in place. Each bracket has a pair of easy-to-grip, oversized plastic nuts that can be turned down by hand. It’s a dirt-simple system, which means it’s a good system.

If you want to remove the TopWater, just open the lid and loosen the nuts. The way my crossbars are configured, I’m able to slide the whole thing off the ends without fully removing the nuts (there’s a lot of thread on them), but that won’t work on some roof racks. Re-installing is as simple as working the process in reverse. It’s an easy one-person job since the TopWater only weighs about 31 pounds.

 

It’s way up there

My biggest beef with the TopWater is really a beef with the height of my truck and my genetics. I’m 5 feet, 11 inches tall, and when the topwater is mounted in place and open, the front edge is 6 feet, 10 inches off the ground. I can reach up high enough to unhook the rubber straps and get the front rod or two out without needing a boost, but I can’t reach the rest of the rods.

Car owners won’t have the same issue, but there’s really no way around it when stowing gear on top of a full-sized truck or SUV, no matter what style of storage unit is being used. Also, I keep my truck parked outside. If you park in a garage and have a low overhead door, you might not fit through with the TopWater in place. Again, this is an issue with any rooftop storage unit and something you’ll have to figure out on your own.

To make life easier when I’m at home, I load rods with a step stool. At the lake, I’ve found it easiest to stand on the tailgate or open the rear driver’s side door and climb up. In either case, I can get rods in and out from one end of the TopWater, but I can’t reach all three rubber straps, so I usually undo them from the ground first.

Depending on how you want to access the box, you’ll want to tweak where you mount it on the crossbars. I originally had it as far to the driver’s side edge as I could get it (that’s how it is in the photos). When using a step stool, that’s the best place for it. If you’re standing on the tailgate, however, having it that far over requires a little bit too much of a reach. Shift it a little farther toward the center of the truck for easier access.

 

The verdict

At $549, the TopWater isn’t cheap. If you have enough rod storage in your boat, this is a luxury item that you could live without. Then again, because it can be configured to haul other gear, you might still give it a look.

Rod tubes are definitely another option. A DIY rod tube would certainly be much more affordable, but some of the commercially available tubes cost about as much as the TopWater and don’t hold combos. Which one you might choose depends on what style of fishing you enjoy.

For any hard-core canoe or kayak angler, the TopWater would be the cat’s meow for sure. With three components – 1) a high-quality roof rack, 2) a rooftop canoe or kayak mount, and 3) the TopWater – everything needed for a fishing trip could be stowed on top of the vehicle, leaving room inside for whatever else you need to haul. Granted, that’s a lot of money to invest to get set up (a good roof rack is surprisingly expensive), but it’s still a lot less than the cost of a bass boat.

John boat anglers and small boat anglers will probably appreciate the TopWater, too, since it allows them to haul extra combos and keep them locked up tight.

I also think this is a great option for traveling co-anglers. Six to eight combos rigged and ready to go is plenty for any co-angler, and a few extra specialty sticks could be stored under the combos just in case.

Personally, the TopWater has been super handy for me on road trips. It keeps rods out of the truck cab and bed, where I’m hauling anything from camera gear and suitcases to dog kennels and car seats. Now I almost never go anywhere without putting a few rods in the box, just in case I get a chance to do some fishing.

The best part is, they’re safe and secure, and that’s exactly what you want from a rod storage product.

 

Details

Company: Yakima

Product: TopWater rooftop fishing rod box

Price: $549

Website: Yakima.com

Tags: yakima  topwater  review  rod tube  bazuka  curtis-niedermier  tech-tackle-reviews 

Review: Favorite Soleus XCS

Review: Favorite Soleus XCS

Favorite Fishing stormed the rod market a few years back and has held its own against even the most established brands. Now, the company is diving into the reel market with the launch of their new baitcasting lineup this past fall – with the Favorite Soleus XCS leading the charge. READ MORE »

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

The frog world is pretty stacked with good options these days, but the Strike King Popping Perch still manages to stand out. READ MORE »

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

FLW has a long history of hosting multiple-day summertime tournaments on Lake Ouachita, where pros have to grind it out for three days in what are usually tough conditions. On June 27, when the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Arkie Division takes to Ouachita, the Natural State’s best bass anglers will need to game plan a little differently. With only one day to fish and a three-bass limit, they’ll have to swing for the fences with big-bass patterns to have a shot at winning. READ MORE »

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

If you wanted to design the perfect frog-fishing tournament, you might host it at Guntersville or the Cal Delta, but you could also copy the agenda for the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis. READ MORE »

Review: Berkley PowerBait The Deal

Review: Berkley PowerBait The Deal

Designed by Major League Fishing pro Skeet Reese, the Berkley PowerBait The Deal is a unique twin-tailed trailer that’s right at home on the back of a vibrating jig or a swim jig. The Deal comes in 3 1/2- and 4 1/2-inch versions (I tested the 4 1/2), all the standard colors and has already seen tournament success. READ MORE »

Review: Abu Garcia Revo EXD

Review: Abu Garcia Revo EXD

Sleek-looking with purple accents, the Abu Garcia Revo EXD looks like it should be something special. After slinging a lot of jerkbaits and topwaters with it and using it to put a bunch of fish in the boat, I think it lives up to its looks. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Eufaula

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Eufaula

Josh Stracner won the 2020 Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Eufaula by fishing offshore. He targeted deep ledges in the mid-lake area for two days before switching to brush piles in 12 to 15 feet on the final day when a front moved through and replaced still, sunny conditions with wind and overcast skies. The rest of the top 10, with one exception, also fished offshore in what turned out to be a pretty typical June ledge-fishing tournament.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Eufaula

Top 10 Baits from Lake Eufaula

June on Eufaula is ledge season. Well, mostly. Nine of the top 10 in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event at Eufaula fished offshore, but targets included ledges, brush piles, standing timber and some “in-between” offshore structure where bass stopped in transition from the bank to out deep. One pro even fished exclusively shallow. Here are the baits they used to make the cut. READ MORE »

Co-angler Lewis Wins at Eufaula

Co-angler Lewis Wins at Eufaula

Co-angler Blake Lewis followed the lead of pro Josh Stracner at Lake Eufaula today, coming from behind to earn the Toyota Series Southeastern Division tournament win. Lewis, of Pace, Fla., caught a three-day total weight of 44 pounds, 4 ounces to win by just 11 ounces. He came into the final day in fourth place. READ MORE »

Stracner Shifts to Brush for Eufaula Win

Stracner Shifts to Brush for Eufaula Win

What started as Michael Smith’s week turned into Josh Stracner’s day today, as Stracner came back from third place to win the Toyota Series Southeastern Division season opener at Lake Eufaula. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 3

For the first two days of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event at Lake Eufaula, the early morning bite was key for many of the top pros. It was almost common to hear comments from the top 10 anglers about catching 15 to 20 pounds within the first hour. Today, that’s changed. The first two hours of the day were actually pretty tough. There were some limits caught, but nobody lit up the leaderboard. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

It’s not like we didn’t already know it, but today the top 10 anglers drove home the point: To win at Lake Eufaula right now, you have to be fishing offshore. Among the ledge anglers this week is Michael Smith, who maintains his lead at the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event with a two-day total of 50 pounds. Here’s how the rest of the top performers made it to Saturday. READ MORE »

Smith Leads at Eufaula with 50 Pounds

Smith Leads at Eufaula with 50 Pounds

Competing in the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event at Lake Eufaula this week, Michael Smith weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces yesterday to take the lead and backed it up with 24-9 today. His 50-pound two-day total has Smith ahead of second-place pro Scott Montgomery by 5 pounds, 9 ounces.  READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 2

Fishing is good, but it’s not easy today at Lake Eufaula on the second day of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event. Well, that’s only part of the story. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Eufaula Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Michael Smith established the pace at the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Eufaula with a five-bass first-day limit that weighed 25 pounds, 7 ounces. He leads a crew of mostly offshore sticks that are mining Eufaula’s brush piles and ledges for some seriously big bass. Though, it’s worth pointing out that several in the top 10 did catch some or all of their keepers up shallow today. Here’s a rundown of the top five after one day of fishing. READ MORE »

Smith Smacks 25-7 at Eufaula

Smith Smacks 25-7 at Eufaula

It’s a 90-minute drive from Michael Smith’s Andalusia, Ala., home to Lakepoint Resort State Park where the Toyota Series Southeastern Division kicked off its season today on Lake Eufaula. That’s just close enough, says Smith, that he fishes here more than anywhere else. His understanding of how Eufaula’s bass transition from the bank to postspawn ares to the main lake really showed today while Smith put together an impressive 25-pound, 7-ounce limit to gain the day-one tournament lead. READ MORE »

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 1

It’s pretty clear from what went down on Lake Eufaula this morning that this lake is plumb full of fish. Almost everybody we pulled up on was catching bass. Yet, the consensus was that the bite isn’t quite as good today as it was during practice. No one reported the kind of mega-weights everyone expects to see. But there’s still some time. READ MORE »

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

For the second week in a row, FLW’s Toyota Series is visiting one of Alabama’s premier bass fisheries at the perfect time of year for pros to hammer on big bags of postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

FLW Revamps Pro Circuit

FLW Revamps Pro Circuit

FLW has extended an invitation to Major League Fishing’s pro anglers to join the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit for three newly created “Super Tournaments” that include an expanded roster and higher payouts. The Super Tournaments are made possible by the abbreviated schedules announced recently by MLF and FLW. READ MORE »

Review: Berkley Frittside

Review: Berkley Frittside

Berkley’s take on a flat-side crankbait is the Frittside, a plastic bait that is designed to have the same action and attraction as balsa baits. Designed in part by David Fritts, who is one of the best crankbait anglers of all time, it seems to be a good bait at a good price. READ MORE »