Got any big trips lined up? If so, you’ve probably been having an internal dialogue and struggle about what gear you are going to pack and how you are going to bring it all on an airplane. It is a battle as old as the airline industry itself, and it can be a tricky one to wage. There is more than one way to pull it off, but below are some suggestions to at least point you in a hassle-free direction.
1. Check rules and regulations: Different airlines have different rules, as well as different airports and countries. Potential contraband include pliers/cutters, large hooks, and even reels. The rules are often vague and depend on the interpretation of the person that you happen to encounter. A polite manner and a smile can help in a sticky situation. If you have doubt about the rules and regs, maybe leave the $200 pliers at home and grab the needle nose pair from the junk drawer in your kitchen. You won’t feel so bad when they get confiscated in Havana.
2. Bring more than one rod, always. ALWAYS. Things happen. Rods break all the time, and it helps to plan for it. I have at least one backup rod at all times; whether it’s in the truck, boat, backpack, or luggage. This practice has saved me many times. And, if there is another person in your party that breaks their only rod, you’ll have a significant advantage in the ensuing gear negotiations.
3. Streamline and consolidate your gear. Purchase a multiple-rod tube. Carrying bundles of rod tubes, or 2-piece rod tubes, is a pain. While they are a great (or annoying) conversation starter in the airport, if you want to be more low-key and evoke hushed and awe-inspired whispers from onlookers, then the multi-rod tube is the way to go. There are products available that incorporate rod and tackle storage together, but in my opinion they are too big and just complicate things. For me, the multi-rod tube is the way to go.
4. Consider if you need to bring any tackle at all. Is someone taking you fishing? If so, there is a good chance that they have all the gear you need. Sure, you still need to pack your sunnies and no-chafe underwear, but you might not need to bring rods, reels, leaders, flies, and all of that other junk that you bought specifically for your trip. Are you reluctant to use someone else’s rod? Get over it. You’re not that good of a caster for it to make a difference. Or if you are that good of a caster then you should be just fine with whatever limp noodle you find in your guide’s boat. Not sure if the guide’s reels are left or right-hand retrieve? It shouldn’t matter. Good anglers can reel, and even cast, with both hands. Did you tie some flies that you want to use? Fine, bring them. But your guide will probably tie on one of theirs instead. And you’ll only need a handful of flies, not your entire yellow box with custom artwork. You can go bonefishing in the Bahamas for a week with 4 flies.
5. To make your trip more enjoyable, make up an alternative identity and engage your fellow travelers. Toting fishing rods through an airport results in conversation 100% of the time. Who have you always wanted to be? A Swedish porn star? A Rabbi from Borneo? An Australian gnome wrangler? You can be all of these things and more. The flight attendant, bartender, or guy in the next bathroom stall will have no idea that it’s all made up. Be careful, though, if you meet an actual huge fly fisherman they will instantly see through your ruse because fly fishing is serious stuff. No tomfoolery allowed.