Few things compare to the excitement of planning and packing for a fly fishing travel trip. Whether you’re jet-setting across the globe or puddle jumping your way into the unknown, the thrill of new water and bigger fish is an irresistible draw. But, it can be daunting to plan, pack, and get to where you’re going knowing that you’re prepared. So, after years of fishing around the world and doing our fair share of mistakenly leaving gear behind, we’re here to provide some fly fishing travel tips to keep that gut-wrenching “Sh*t, I forgot ___” feeling at bay.


Tip 1: Be A List Maker

Make-a-List! And then edit it, check it, add to it, delete from it, and then recheck it. Not only will a list ensure that you actually have all of your gear, but seeing everything on paper will make it easier to determine what you actually need. Under packing and overpacking both cause problems of their own, so take your time to carefully inventory everything from clothes and accessories to rods, tippet, and flies. No one likes hauling extra gear, and nothing is worse than being unprepared.

*Pro-tip: if you’re using an outfitter or meeting a guide, ask if their lodge or shop has a packing list you can reference.

fly fishing travel tips

Tip 2: Use the Right Luggage

Choose your luggage carefully. We’re fly fishers, and we love and value our gear. Sure, clothes can get abused in an old duffel, but your rod and reel are everything for this trip. When it comes to security and peace of mind for transporting your most valuable angling assets, Sea Run Cases have you covered. Made in Italy and crafted with the traveling angler in mind, the company’s full line of cases can accommodate everything you need for your big trip. Plus, the TSA-compliant locks and compact size means you can carry them on – so no more waiting at the baggage carousel praying your gear hasn’t been lost or crushed. 

Tip 3: Pack Smart

Pack carefully and be organized. Ok, so you’ve got your packing list and your luggage, now what? Packing your bags in an organized manner isn’t an art, but it can save you from the headache of stressfully digging through bags to find something on the fly. Separating your around-town clothes from your waders is a wise idea, and you don’t want your toothpaste squeezing out into your gear. So consider packing cubes, compression travel bags, or even big ziplock bags to organize everything in your pack. Plus, one of these bags can be used as a laundry sack when it comes time to fly home.

*Pro tip: instead of folding, try rolling your clothes. They’ll be less wrinkly and will take up less space when packed. 

The Sea Run Case is the Ultimate Carry On for Anglers.

Tip 4: Carry it On

Save time and stress by carrying on your luggage when possible. Sure, some trips require more gear and bigger bags, that’s unavoidable. But if you’re able to, get it all into packs that’ll fit into the overhead and beneath your seat. You’ll absolutely want to carry your rod, reel, and all of your hardware with you – and you can do just that with a Sea Run Case. It’s also worth giving some thought to the contents of your backpack.

If you’re unable to avoid checking luggage, be sure to include the essentials in your pack. Toiletries, chargers, a spare change of fishing clothes, sunglasses, etc. Even if your luggage doesn’t make it, you’ll still be able to fish. Coming from someone who just returned from a two-week fishing trip without my checked bag, I was very appreciative of everything I carried on. 

Tip 5: Stay Charged

Between digital boarding passes, snapping fish photos, and looking up the best bar in town, phones and tech play a valuable role in having a successful trip. Plus, many of us travel with cameras, laptops, and other devices that require a charge. Buying a portable charger can save you lots of hassle, and with endless power-bank and charging options out there, it won’t be too big of a hit to your wallet. Getting off the grid is always nice, but you’ll wish your devices were charged when they’re needed the most.

*Pro-tip: International travel most likely means you’ll need an outlet adapter if you want to plug into the wall. 

Tip 6: Consider Insurance

Depending on where you’re going, you might want to think about some travel health insurance in the event of a medical emergency. A number of options exist for medical evacuation coverage, and an affordable annual cost is a small price to pay for a potentially life-saving service. Other travel insurance products can cover the costs of canceled trips, lost or stolen property, and other problems that may arise. Travel problems can be difficult to fix, so having some help is never a bad idea. 

Tip 7: Enjoy the Journey 

It’s easy to look past the planes, trains, buses, and layovers when dreaming about finally getting on the water. We’re fly fishers, we do it all the time. But the journey itself so often presents the opportunity to connect with people, experience a new place, or simply have a moment of reflection. Sure, it’s cliche, but it’s a rare chance to appreciate where you’re going, what awaits, and where you’ve been. You might as well enjoy it. 

From seasoned travelers to the occasional vacationer, traveling to fly fish is always a new and exciting experience. It doesn’t matter where you’re going or what you’re fishing for, as long as you’re prepared and open to adventure any trip can be the most memorable one. Hopefully, these fly fishing travel tips make the journey a bit more manageable and help you on your way to that destination you’ve been dreaming of.

The Norfork Expedition Fly Fishing Rod & Reel Travel Case $399.00.

Article by Jake Lebsack, an angler based in Denver, Colorado.

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