Traveling With Fishing Rods, Reels, Hooks and Lures

Travel with Hogy

Mike Avatar 80pxAt Hogy, we travel all over the world to film our products in action. In the process, we have learned a thing or two about preparing our gear for air travel. Careful planning is a must – what I land with is what I have. Compounding the packing dilemma is the fact that (in my experience) there are all kinds of opportunities to lose gear. So I tend to hedge all my bets. Here are some notes based on my experiences:

Carry On Luggage

Size: Most carry-on luggage has a max length of 24 inches. I typically only use one-piece rods for filming, so I have little experience on how lenient this policy is.

Airlines: In my research, Jet Blue seems to be the only major carrier that OFFICIALLY allows you to have “small hooks and flies” in a carry-on, checked baggage may have any standard fishing gear. That said, I travel with Hogy lures and associated rigs all the time in my carry on luggage and have NEVER had an issue. I do however have the lures and rigs in their own carry-on bag for a quick conversion to checked luggage. Note: 1 Full tackle box is considered a bag.

Tools: 7” or less is TSA’s regulation for tool size allowed in a carry on – anything but a knife, pliers, hammer, or anything they may construe to be a “weapon.” It also depends on the airline preferences.


Checked Luggage

Rods: I am very fond of some particular outfits for species-specific fishing. Since all of my outfits include one-piece rods, I check them. Two (2) complete poles are considered a checked bag. Depending on airline the max length can be between 80-102 inches.

Rods: I always recommend a lockable case. If you think about it, it’s pretty hard to steal an 8’ case. My personal favorite is the Telescoping 6508 by Plano. This tube is so great for so many reasons. I could go on, but it’s easier to watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRZJWGAra-E

Rods: These rod socks from Cabela’s are great for protecting your rod inside the case. They are fairly inexpensive and add virtually no weight. http://www.cabelas.com/product/Cabelas-Rod-and-Reel-Socks/741196.uts?productVariantId=1294879&srccode=cii_17588969&cpncode=42-20236508-2&WT.tsrc=CSE&WT.mc_id=GoogleProductAds&WT.z_mc_id1=02516855&rid=20

Reels: With the exception of a few surf reels, most spinning reels have bails. If you choose to check your reels, be sure to package them so that the bail will not bend if the bag is thrown or dropped. For the same reason, I also like to remove the handle from the reel. It’s one less thing to bend or get damaged. I would like to note here, reels are relatively easy to steal (and fence for that matter) so I only check reels when I have to.

Lures: As I have touched upon above, bags get dropped all the time. Furthermore, the cargo areas of the plane are very cold places. Hard plastic becomes brittle in these conditions and will shatter easily. Be sure to insulate your tackle boxes with clothes so they don’t break. There are no size regulations on which hooks you can bring.

Travel Insurance: You have to buy separate insurance at the airport – most major airlines have limited liability even in appropriate transportation containers. Here are a few links to look into for insurance on fishing gear:


Questions? Not sure what you are looking to cover exactly, equipment, boat, fees, etc? A lot of companies seemed to be based in the UK with worldwide coverage. Most seem to cover fishing equipment and/or boats. As far as homeowners insurance goes, you have to check with your specific carrier and they usually require you to provide a detailed list of covered items.



Rod Boxes: It can be difficult to find a shipping container suitable for shipping rods. Your best bet is to visit your local tackle shop. Many shops hang on to the tubes and boxes they receive their rods in and save them for returns or regular customers. If your local shop doesn’t have any, you can make a shipping tube out of PVC pipe, but that adds a lot of weight. Lastly, these telescoping boxes from Uline are great. The only snag is they come in cases of 5 to 10 units depending on size. I personally ship with these all the time and they work great. http://www.uline.com/BL_424/Telescopic-Boxes?keywords=2%20piece%20boxes

Major hotel chains: (I personally called each of these to confirm this): including Best Western, Embassy Suites, Hilton, and Marriott will all accept shipments to registered and reserved guests as long as the package is addressed to registered name at hotel.
Local hotels: check with your destination accommodations to ensure that they will hold the box or boxes for you, and ship well ahead of time to be sure your gear will be waiting for you when you arrive. This is common practice in fishy areas so there should have no problem doing this.
Assuming you don’t expect to add anything to the box a nice time saver is to generate a return shipping label plus some packing tape and put that in the box too.

Final thoughts: Lastly, keep in mind that in the end, what you’re allowed to take on the plane is at the discretion of the gate attendants. With every increasing fees for checked luggage, many people try to bend the rules of carry-on luggage to avoid those fees and overhead storage space is at a premium. The longer it takes to load a plane, the more of a possibility the airline will be hit with a fee for late take-off. Always pack what you hope to carry-on with the idea that it may have to be gate-checked. And remember a smile and a friendly greeting to the harried gate attendant may mean the difference between getting your gear on board or handing it over to the baggage handler gorillas!

KW Shoreline

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One comment on “Traveling With Fishing Rods, Reels, Hooks and Lures
  1. Gert Walter says:

    I agree with your tackle and reel packing methods. But I don’t use rod tubes any more. I’ve had several cracked or shortened with snapped rod tips inside them. I have mainly 2 piece rods and will often bring 4-6 rods along on a trip. I’ve found that taping them together and hand carrying them onto the plane works great. The over head compartments aren’t rectangular, so they often slip into the back without luggage hitting them. When the plane is full, I’ll also put them into the overhead as the last item, so they don’t get damaged by others. Some airlines will allow me to put them into the coat closet that is just inside the front entrance door. I prepare them with half the butts and tips facing one way, and the other half facing the other way. Packing tape is light, cheap and secure. The rod eyes face inward and sometimes the tips fit into the butt end guides. The packing tape wrapped multiple times in 4 or 6 areas makes one solid object. I’ve never had a tip or guide break this way. On smaller puddle jumpers the overheads are too small, so sometime they have to be gate checked. TSA has never been a problem. I also have 4 piece St Croix rod in a case that I use for GT fishing, and when that is taped to the “loose rods”, it creates a great carrying handle for the entire mess.
    This obviously wouldn’t work for one piece rods.

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