Packing for Fishing Air Travel

Flying off to fish can be very rewarding, as it affords anglers great opportunities to expand their horizons and experience things they might not encounter on their home waters.  But traveling with fishing gear can be tricky, and sometimes expensive.  Most importantly, you want to ensure that your gear arrives at your destination in one piece.  There’s nothing worse than discovering something broken or missing upon arrival.  So here are my five best “fishing road warrior” nuggets of advice.

  1. This is going to sound silly, but right as you are set to pack your bags, put on your gear as if you are actually going fishing.  Wear the vest or pack.  Look inside the pockets.  Make sure everything is there.  Pack from your body, directly into your luggage when you are satisfied that you have all you need.
  2. Be redundant on the most important items.  Bring two rods, if you have two rods, two reels, and extra line.  You might not be able to find these things where you are going.
  3. Rod safety is a question I get often.  Can I check my rods without worrying?  Can I carry them on.  The problem is, I don’t have a consistent answer for you.  Some airlines will let you carry on, no problem, and others make you check.  I check my rods in a special luggage tube.  I use a zip-tie to seal that rod tube shut.  Failing that, I like to cut a piece of PVC pipe that’s the length of my rods, and either check the rods in that, or use that pipe as a liner compartment where I can store rods, inside my checked duffel bag.
  4. Weight is a key concern, because if you are over the weight limit for most commercial flights (usually 50 pounds), that will cost you extra fees.  Wear your heavy stuff, because the airlines won’t weigh you.  You might look strange walking through an airport in boots and a raincoat on a sunny summer day, but that will save you money.  Also remember that you will usually return heavier from a fishing trip (at least your gear will) as it absorbs moisture.  So plan on at least a 10 percent weight gain.
  5. Lastly, if in doubt, check it through.  And by that, I mean that many fishing gear items have sharp edges and could be considered safety concerns by TSA agents at the security line.  Don’t take risks.  Any knife, multi-tool, even hooks and pliers, should be checked through.  Inspect your carry-on bags and make sure those things are not in there before you get in line.

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Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream, and he co-wrote The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing with the late Charlie Meyers.