Disability Fishing Rod

estuary disability fishing rodFor many with a disability fishing is a popular pastime. A spinal cord injury such as quadriplegia affects arm and hand function. A battery powered fishing rod like Roef Engineering’s disability fishing rod can assist disabled fishermen with limited hand or arm function. For quadriplegic wheelchair users perhaps the largest drawback with Roef’s however is no self-casting mechanism. Disabled fishermen unable to cast are restricted to fishing from a boat or jetty. Retailing at $295.00 we road test Roef’s lightweight 12 volt battery powered disability fishing rod and give you all the pros and cons.

Handicap Free Reef Fishing

Power wheelchair assisted disability fishingA keen fisherman before spinal cord injury and quadriplegia I was eager to get out and go reef fishing. So my brother adapted my electric power Quickie P200 wheelchair into a powerful wheelchair fishing rod. Hauling massive fish from 80 feet below no longer a problem we hired a charter boat from the Noosa Boardwalk. No more handicap fishing for me wheelchair thrill-seekers. A handline bolted onto the powerchair rear wheel gives me complete control over winding in and out. Friends are amazed how I’m able to wind fast and slow in time with the rocking motion of the boat. Leaves me one hand free for a cold beer!

Deep Sea Wheelchair Fishing

Disability fishing catch red emperor fishOn our latest off-shore wheelchair adventure we spent three days at sea fishing the continental shelf out of Seventeen Seventy Australia. The guys tied me to the refrigerator on the shaded rear deck in my power wheelchair fishing rod which assisted me in catching the second largest fish, a huge red emperor. We left my wheelchair and carried me to and from bed. Steak sandwiches, cold beer, good company and a couple of days fishing, what more could a salty cripple want. Make sure your wheelchair is fully charged and battery life strong. Sea sick tabets are recommended.

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12 thoughts on “Fishing

  1. Annabelle Davidson


    I am an Occupational Therapist working in Brisbane Australia. I have a client with C5 quadriplegia who is really keen to return to fishing. I was wondering where you are based? My client lives at the Sunshine Coast. Do you know of any fishing support services in this area?

    Kind Regards


  2. Graham Post author

    Hi Annabelle, we are based in Brisbane.

    I suggest contacting the Mooloolabah Marina (1). I’ve never taken a fishing charter out of the Maroochy River but do know they offer day fishing trips to the reefs off Point Cartwright. Keep in mind most charters do not cater for wheelchairs, so you have to cater to them or you will limit your options drastically. Most charter fishing operations don’t have a problem taking wheelchair users, as long as they don’t need assistance. Best if you can get a few friends to go that can lift you and your wheelchair onboard. Understanding this, I have found the Noosa Marina (2) accepting and very helpful in the past.

    One of my favourite ways to fish is from a houseboat. Again if you get a few mates to go, the cost is reasonable. Houseboats give greater freedom onboard in powerchairs, longer time – days or weeks, and you can fish, crab, prawn net, sleep, drive around yourself etc. I’ve been up the Noosa River and lake systems from the Noosa Marina (2) several times on houseboats with my family and it’s always a tonne of fun.

    Bribie Island Boat Hire (3) has B.B.Q boats for hire half day and full day. These are a flat pontoon with railing around the outside, bench seats, gas bbq in one corner, enclosed toilet the other, all covered with full shade canopy. No boat license required with a center console steering wheel even I can drive. I use these quite a bit as I cannot cast but drop my line over and let the current drag it out. You can fish a good stretch of the Bribie Passage from the bridge to Tripcony Beacon at Donnybrook. Tell Brendon (the owner) I sent you for a discount.

    The old Combie Trader ran disability fishing days out of Scarborough, Redcliffe. $10.00pp to board, they ferry cars over to Moreton Island, drop them off, back up and anchor, let you fish for a few hours, load up with cars again and return. They supply lines and tackle. It’s been a few years since I spoke to the guys running this however, worth looking into. — scratch that. I now see the Combie Trader was sold — There are other fishing charters that run out of Scarborough Harbour, this one (4) with a big rear deck could be great for power wheelchairs.

    You’re the O.T. Annabelle but if I may, I suggest starting off small. Get him a rod, modify it, then take him to a quiet jetty or pier where he can experiment. Contact your local Lions or Rotary club, TADQ (5) and RAD — Recreational Association for the Disabled — Wurtulla (6). They may be aware of, or will offer to, assist in fishing rod modification and recreational fishing activities. I’ll keep my eye out Annabelle. I love to be on the water. Let me know what you come up with.


  3. Jay Burke


    I’m working with a product developer that has a product idea we are interested in submitting to your company. The idea is currently in patent pending status. We are searching for a company that could help us make and distribute the product. We feel it could financially benefit your company. Does your company take outside submissions from product developers? If so, what is the process for submitting the product idea to you?

    Thank you for your time.

  4. Tarryn Brady


    I am an OT based in Melbourne, and we are trying to find wheelchair accessible fishing charters in the Point Lonsdale area (Geelong). Is there any chance you know of any, or have any contacts?

    Brilliant site by the way!


  5. Rob Gray

    we have wheelchair access on our 50 footer which is new to our fleet.we leave from westernport marina in hastings victoria all wheelchairs are welcome

  6. Louise Crosskill


    I am a Physiotherapist in Sydney and wondering if anyone knows of similar wheelchair accessible charters that are around Sydney for someone who is paraplegic. He has trialled jetty fishing but was a keen deep sea fisherman prior to injury and would love to get back out on a boat.


  7. Eddie

    I would like to take a brief moment to introduce myself. I am a Disabled American Veteran. I lost the use of my right arm and partial use of my right leg in combat. I started fishing again just a few years ago. I soon realized that there was not much equipment available for disabled anglers.

    The lack of equipment drove me to make my own. I now make the best rod holders for disabled anglers that there is. I’m trying to let organizations like yours know that they do exist. Please visit and see for yourself. We are shipping all over the U. S. and the world.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my email and have a great day.

    Tight lines,

  8. Kevin Spencer

    My name is Kevin and I have a spinal cord injury C 6-7 complete tetraplegia (quadriplegia). I live in Sydney and am a keen Fisher. You gave some advice to Louise Crosskill, to try can also recommend TCP Marine . They are a commercial fishing charter company. The Zane Grey is a twin hulled catamaran which has a large unobstructed lower deck 14.7m x 5.5m and a smaller upper deck for unobstructed views when whale watching (not wheelchair accessible).

    Being a catamaran the boat is very stable in rough seas. The first time I went out fishing in her was at night in 3m swell and fairly windy. It was made comfortable buy sheltering under the top deck, with the removable clear storm covers to keep you dry and out of the wind. Most people were sea sick that night after munching out on the free sausage sizzle as we headed to the Sydney Heads.

    I was so impressed about the size of the Zane Grey that I organised a private fishing charter with TCP Marine for the 28/6/14 and originally planned for 16 people. I was limiting the number of people going because there was going to be 4 people that use a wheelchair and I was concerned about space and getting tangles. I was amazed by the number of people interested in going fish so I increased the number to 18. Even with this number there were few tangles and plenty of room. As one wheelie said “there’s room for more wheelchairs”.

    There were 3 paraplegics using manual wheelchairs and myself in a powered wheelchair. The only problem was that the two toilets on board are not wheelchair accessible due to the requirement of bulkheads on the toilet doors. Since I was organising this adventure I made provisions for this. Most of these preparations were not needed because the paraplegics changed their bladder routines and wore leg bags. There were 9 people from my church there so there were plenty of hands to offer assistance when and if necessary to empty leg bags.

    At present I am planning on organising another fishing trip in September or October and have 5 wheelies already interested as well as some non-wheelchair users. Also since they are licensed to carry 49 people 30 nautical miles out to sea, in the future am interested in planning a trip out to Brown Mountain where albacore tuna, black marlin, blue marlin, blue-eye cod (trevalla), dolphin fish, gemfish, hapuka, skipjack tuna, striped marlin, swordfish, wahoo and yellowfin tuna can be caught. This trip will be for hard core fishers.

    All of the wheelies bought their own fishing gear on board. The paraplegics had no need to modify any of their equipment however I did.
    Specialised Equipment
    • Rod holder
    I had fited to my power chair a rod holder. This was made by Technical Aids for the Disabled, TAD Disability Services is a charity in NSW which designs and builds custom equipment to enable people with disabilities to lead more independent lives. They have qualified engineers, toolmakers et cetera who will consult with you as they build equipment to suit your needs.

    The Rod holder debited so I could still pump the rod when reeling the fishing and impart action on lures when retrieving them.

    •Electric Reel
    There are basically two different types of electric reals readily available ranging in price from approximately $600-$3000. They have various names describing the type of real, Spinning reel or egg beater picture left. These are either Shimano or Peen reels, the electric motors are retrofitted to specific models of existing reels. I personally have not seen any of these except on the Web. They tend to be for heavy freshwater or medium salt water fishing. The electrics cost around $600 plus the price of the fishing reel.

    The other type of electric fishing reel is the open face or drum reel. These reels can be used from medium freshwater to heavy salt water (even extremely heavy salt water). This is my preferred style of reel. The starting price of these reels is $600-$4000. The cheaper reels are not cheaper in quality just smaller in size. There is one reels that fit in the low price bracket that is imported into Australia, the banax Kaigen 500 XP. This reel is hard to come by in Australia and is imported by Gladiator. You can contact them for the location of a retailer near you.

    More easily available from retailers in Australia are the Diawa Tanacom Bull1000 $900, Shimano Dendou Maru Beastmaster Z9 $1700, banax Kaigen 1000 $949, WFT Elecra 1200 $899. These are more suited for fishing the continental shelf such as the Brown Mountains.

    There is only a little difference between these reels, line capacity and maximum drag varies between the different reels. The manufactures all make smaller electric reels but they are not imported into Australia. You can buy them on eBay but you must remember that you have to return the reel to the place of purchase if there is any warranty issues. This will cost you in postage and time. Gladiator offer a five year warranty on their banax Kaigen reels.

    • Rod
    I had a rod made by a rod builder to suit my needs. I needed a 5 to 15 Kg rod with a bent but so the but would clear the battery of my power chair. The only rods available with a bent butt were much heavier. It would be like fishing with a broom handle. Would reduce the amount of bites you could, feel even with braid.

    Best Regards

  9. narrowboat moorings

    Sometimes first obstacle to overcome is to find a location that is wheelchair accessible, we have that in most son had been left a quadriplegic after a tragic car accident, but the two were itching to get out fishing together again. That meant adapting a boat to make it wheelchair accessible.

  10. Marine Products

    This is a fantastic post because I am sure that there are plenty of people with disabilities who would love to go fishing but just need the properly tools to help them. Thanks for sharing this article with us!

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