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There are just about as many answers to this question as there are types of rods. But before we dig into the details, or vaguely broad brush over a few, there is something we need to get out in the open right off the bat. There is a huge difference between fly fishing and flying with your fishing gear. Sorry, that just had to be said.

Most airlines now will let anyone travel with anything, as long as it is checked properly. If you can check a set of golf clubs on a plane, you can check a fishing rod and gear. However, don’t assume that you can just bring anything you want on a plane with you because it just doesn’t work like that. We are going to list some things to consider when trying to travel with a fishing rod and that lucky lure your grandpa gave you, and also some tips on how to get around the checked baggage all together.

We get that the average angler is just into the sport and although we may think it is criminal how successful some of them are on our local lakes, we don’t know any we would consider terrorists. With that being said, you have a lot of different options available to you. For example, there are different rules for the following:

  • Local Flights
  • Domestic Flights
  • International Flights

Add to this the fact that under each of those categories you will find numerous different airlines. Each carrier has their own set of rules. Some of them make sense, some of them don’t. What all of them have in common is that none of them are standard and tend to change or get altered without a lot of advance notice. Oh, and mood seems to pay a role in what is considered carry on and what isn’t.

Alas, it’s simply a crap shoot depending on where you are flying, what airline you are on and what gear you are carrying. However, there are a few common sense tips we can offer.

Hooks & Tools

Sharp objects are generally considered dangerous in any setting. Fishing hooks are often frowned upon on many airlines. However, there are those that don’t seem to know that a barbless hook is generally useless in applications that don’t involve mosquitoes and electric boat motors. As a result, you may be able to get some of these items onboard your flight. Then again, you may not. For example, if you are a spear fisherman, expect to get patted down a time or two and asked to stow your gear away from the passenger compartment. Of course, you also risk having some of your tools of the trade confiscated because you didn’t ‘look’ like a catch ‘n’ release kind of guy.

Rods

Well, considering the whole point of this article is about fishing rods, we were going to get to this part eventually. Again, the variables here are as many as your set ups on the lake depending on temperature, feeding time, lunar schedule and lures you took with you. If your rod breaks down and can be fitted neatly in a locked rod case, you may be good to go to your destination. We say ‘may’ because it depends on a lot of different things. If your rod happens to be a collector or have some significant value to it, you know, it happens to be made of gold or something like that, you have a pretty good argument for wanting to include it in carry-on. Again, depending on the airline and whether or not the Air Marshall had a good day, you might get it onboard. If your rod is of a ridiculously long length and does not break down, you may find yourself either shipping it to your destination via ground travel or if the stewardess likes you, you may get it on. The rod onboard, that is.

In Case You Were Fishing For Some Tricks

We would never suggest bribing anyone to get your rod or other fishing gear on a plane. But there are more ways than one to skin a cat. Okay, gut a fish. You could do one of the following to avoid all the hassle of trying to either smuggle or blatantly drag your angling toys through the airport.

Shipping The Stuff To Where You Are Going

We hinted at this a few sentences ago. When you encounter what appears to be a major hurdle in getting your fill of trout because you can’t get your rod the seat next to you on your flight, you could just go to Plan B. Plan B is shipping your rod to wherever you are going. Naturally, you have several shipping options and regardless of how good some of them are, you still risk damage and loss during transport – the only similarity to having your gear in baggage on a flight. Plan B also takes some advance homework. For example, did you phone the airline first to see if you could take your rod in your flight? If the answer was ‘no’ then Plan B applies.

 Don’t Fly, Take An Alternate Mode of Travel

We know, the title of this article relates to planes, but you know, you could just travel on ground if you had to. Of course, if your destination is overseas you’ll have to think this one through a little more. However, it’s not impossible to get you and your fishing gear at the same place sooner or later and not have to go through the motions of flight delays, possible hijackings and all the other fun things that could be awaiting you in the friendly skies. Besides, road trips are fun. If you are the driver, you may discover fishing holes you would have otherwise only been able to see from 12,000 feet. This way you get to stick your feet in them as you fish from shore.

Go To A Fishing Resort

Okay, we know. It’s a lot like a fish farm but you know what? If the fishing resort you end up spending a couple of weeks or months at has a charter plane that takes you to secluded islands or special fishing spots along the coastline, guess what? You’ll be able to pack your rod and all of your other fishing gear on these flights. That’s because you don’t normally hear about 4-seaters getting hijacked.

Conclusion

Here’s where the common sense part fits into the equation. Pick up your phone. Call the airline you intend to use and ask them if you can get your rod onboard. Expect to hear different answers depending on when you call, what airline you are in contact with and whether or not the fish are biting. You could also check the general regulations with the agency that governs the skies over the region you plan to blast through the ozone. Again, you will find the answers here may not match with the ones you get from your actual airline. The solution? Well, at least ask. At the very least you may have to send your rod as baggage. If you do, make sure it is in a travel case that is strong enough to protect it from potential damage. Other than that, good luck out there!