Carrying fishing gear on an airplane, especially a fishing rod, is not the toughest thing to figure out. But it’s a good idea to do a little reading before you start packing for your trip. So, here are the smartest and safest ways of how to bring a fishing rod on an airplane.
What Are Your Options?
Depending on the airline, you are actually allowed to carry your fishing gear, including the fishing rod, in the carry-on or the check-in baggage. But if you opt for the former, you must meet some requirements. These may vary from one airline to the other but here are some rough guidelines that will work.
Most airlines have a specific size for the items in a carry-on bag. Tall items like a fishing rod might not always make the cut. So, you will have to work your way around it. We’ll tell you how, in a minute.
While you’re at it, if you’re going to put it in your check baggage, you must think about packaging the rod in such a way that you don’t run into problems with the TSA staff.
Now, let’s look at your choices.
DIY Rod Case
This is our first answer to the question: how to bring a fishing rod on an airplane. This might take a little time but it is a one-time thing and is totally worth putting some effort into.
Author Note: You may even be able to use it in the future and if you’re a regular DIY enthusiast, well, you will have fun doing it. Here’s what you need.
Get a PVC tube that will act as the rod tube. Cover the fishing rod in bubble wrap and slide it into the PVC tube. Both ends of the tube must be closed with PVC caps and taped securely using scotch tape.
You can also buy a commercial rod case online. But this method comes in handy if you happen to plan the trip suddenly and even fast shipping options won’t get you the case in time for the flight.
This is also a good solution if you can’t make a quick trip to a tackle shop. By the way, even if you buy commercial rod cases, you must consider wrapping them with bubble wrap so that they are packed tight and don’t shake inside the tube.
In both cases, it must be tight enough for the rod to not make any sound. This will ensure that your rods are safe even if the luggage isn’t handled properly which is extremely likely.
DIY rod cases are also a good idea if you don’t want to spend money on commercial cases which can be expensive.
Collapsible Telescopic Fishing Rod
Our second solution to the problem of how to bring a fishing rod on an airplane is to buy a telescopic fishing rod.
What are those and how does this solve the problem at hand?
Well, for one, taking a fishing rod on an airplane is all about meeting the airline’s size requirements. A telescopic fishing rod is collapsible which takes care of the size issue rather elegantly.
And that is just one of the reasons why these fishing rods are very much preferred by anglers who travel quite a bit to their favorite fishing locations. And it gets better. These fishing rods fit quite well inside a bag of any size.
And if you tuck it in your carry-on backpack, you don’t even have to worry about the mishandling of the baggage which is a big relief for any serious angler not to mention those who buy expensive fishing rods.
Collapsible or telescopic fishing rods fall in the category of lightweight and compact gear which makes them portable. That is convenient for more than just flying. So you can take them anywhere without having to worry about space or dimensions of the bag.
You also don’t have to worry about the toughness of the case because the fact that it can collapse makes it slightly more immune to hits compared to its non-collapsible counterparts. But it is still a good idea to wrap them with at least one layer of bubble wrap.
When answering the question how to bring a fishing rod on an airplane, you must consider other benefits of carrying a telescopic fishing rod. The first of those benefits is that a telescopic fishing rod does not take up as much space as a regular one.
Author Note: They fit anywhere which also means you have the added benefit of not having to worry about storage once you’re back from the trip.
Lucky for you, these rods are also quite affordable and are available in combo packs with rods and reels. It’s kind of perfect for those who want to buy the whole fishing tackle set and are on a budget.
Check-in vs Carry-on Baggage
Now, another aspect when it comes to how to bring a fishing rod on an airplane is deciding whether you want to put the rod in your checked baggage or the carry-on.
The best option is to take it with you on the airplane. This way, you know that the chances of your gear being tossed around, prone to damage is almost zero unless you don’t trust yourself to be responsible.
It’s a problem many anglers who are not able to take the rod in their carry-ons are constantly worried about and rightfully so.
Why would they do that if they’re so concerned? Well, for one, some airplanes have limitations on carrying sharp objects like fishing gear in carry-ons. But usually, you can take one of two rod tubes, lines, reels and some flies too.
But if you can’t, you might want to get insurance for your check-in baggage.
Another option if you can’t take it in your carry-on is to get a travel fly rod.
If you are going to take a two-piece fly rod, be aware that these are long and not collapsible. So, you will have to spend some time packing them carefully.
And just in case you lose your check-in bags, make sure you pack your gear in different bags so that all your eggs are not in the same basket.
How to Figure Out Your Best Move
Now, which one works best for you obviously comes down to the requirements of the airline you’ve chosen. But even so, there are a few things to note. Some airlines charge additional charges if you want extra bags for exceeding size and weight limits.
Typically, they allow one carry-on and one checked bag. An exception is often made for laptop bags.
But some others charge an extra handling fee. You might also need to declare the number of bags you will be carrying while you are still buying the ticket.
That’s something to pay attention to if you’re carrying a non-collapsible fishing rod as an extra item.
Author Note: If you don’t take care of this beforehand, you might have to pay more at the airport. These charges can go up to $25-100 per bag as excess baggage.
If you are taking it as a separate carry-on bag and the fishing rod is an expensive one, you might not have the option of taking it as the second bag (instead of the laptop bag) unless the airplane policy has that exception.
And even if you are allowed, you must check their size and weight requirements. This is because carry-on bags must ideally fit under the seat or in the overhead baggage bin.
You might also want to see if there are other restrictions specifically for fishing gear. Some airlines stipulate that it must be less than 40 pounds or 62 inches (when measured linearly).
If the airline makes an exception for fishing gear like rods, you must still check the 62-inch size limitation which allows you to carry certain rod cases.
Some airlines make room for rod cases that are about 115 inches.
This is particularly applicable if you are making your own rod case. If your case is longer than this, you will have to shell out a few extra bucks or add it to your checked baggage which comes with its own rules.
If you are allowed only one check-in bag, you will end up paying an excess fee.
The question of how to bring a fishing rod on an airplane is not a tough one to answer. But it does require a little bit of research.
We’re so glad you are here, hopefully before it’s too late for your trip. And we hope you found the answers you were looking for in this piece.
And remember that if you don’t want to make your own rod case, you can always buy a commercial one. There are a lot of sturdy options in the market.
Just make sure you get one that is made of PVC so that you can control the budget while keeping your expensive fishing rod safe from possible damage because of mishandling of your baggage.