Thursday, March 5, 2009

Traveling with your rods

This is actually a two part post, which I only realized when I sat down to type it. The original intent is to pass on a "Helpful Hint" about packing and sending rods in rod tubes. I'll get to that in a second. But I started thinking about something else, in the same travel vein.

When most of us begin fishing, we start with a 2-pc., relatively cheap rod. When we progress to a level where we can discern the difference between rods, we usually gravitate toward one-piece rods. If I have 50 spin and baitcast rods at home, 45 of them are 1 piece, and I don't think that ratio is uncommon. So - why don't we use 2 pc. (or multi-piece) rods? It used to be that the ferrule technology just wasn't up to speed, and the ferrule (connection point) was the weak point of the rod. If so, why are the most expensive fly rods in the world 3, 4, or 5 pieces? Fly fishermen - myself included - won't stand for rods that don't perform, especially at the price of a premium rod. So - why the reluctance from baitcasters and spin fishermen to use 2 or 3 piece rods? They ARE easier to transport.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that many fishermen buy a rod, put it in the rod locker of their boat, and don't have any other issues to deal with. If they go somewhere to fish, they take their boat. But what about the traveling fisherman - going to Canada on fly-in, Bahamas for bonefish, ... My thought is that they simply don't know that there are very good quality 3 piece rods on the market. They might not be easy to find, but they're out there. One company who makes terrific 3-pc rods (and I know from experience - I own 4 of them) is St. Croix. I've used their 3-pc rods for smallmouth, pike, bonefish, tarpon and had NO problems. The ferrules and rod flex not noticeable - unless someone told you, you would never know you were fishing a 3 pc rod. And - they are EASY to transport.

But back to my original thought - taking along 1 piece rods on a plane. There are a few pointers you should follow to reduce the possibility of the Airport Baggage Beasts ruining your trip. I use either a Plano 45102 or a Plano 6508 for my trips. The 45102 is 4-1/2" inside diameter and will hold up to 8 rods comfortably. the 6508 is 6-1/2" inside and will easily hold a dozen rods. It has wheels for ease of transport.

1) Put padding on the bottom of the tube, and some around the top of the rods. Split the rods in half, so the tips of half are paired with the butts of the other half.

2)Next I wrap the rod bundles with some clothing for the trip. Saves on room in the suitcase and protects the rods.

3) Have the tube extended 4"-6" longer that the bundle of rods. Have a dowel rod cut about 3" longer than the rod bundle, and put it in the tube with the rods. The worst thing that can happen to a tube is for the piece that secures the extension to fail, causing the tube to collapse and break all the rods. IF that happens, and you have the dowel inside, it won't allow the inner part of the tube to collapse and will save your rods.

4) Duct tape the collar noted in 3 above to further reduce this possibility (Part A in the photo)

5) After checking the tube at the airport, ask to secure the top after it is inspected, if they need to. I tape a half dozen long plastic security ties to the inside of my tubes. Take one of them out (or tell the TSA where you have them) and zip-tie it shut. (Area B below)

I travel with my rods extensively and have never (knock on wood) had a problem by doing this.

Hope this helps on your journeys!



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Mel said...

Hello Wolfy - Very good post here! I don't travel much, but, rod security is very important rather your going a couple of miles, a couple hundred miles, or a couple thousand miles to fish. Great tips! By the way, would you consider updating my blog link? Drop by and say hello.

Anonymous said...

DON'T FLY U.S. AIRWAYS WITH A ONE PIECE ROD ... THEY CHARGE A RIDICULOUSLY HIGH FEE ... IT'S NOT WORTH IT ... FLY A DIFFERENT AIRLINE THAT DOESN'T CHARGE AN OUTRAGEOUS FEE!!!- i have been looking for places to post this info., so if you are aware of other places this info. should get out to fishermen, please cut and paste it there, or pass it on however you can- i was recently charged $100 to check my one piece/7 foot st. croix spinning rod, to fly from providence rhode island to west palm beach on U.S. Airways- i have flown with this same rod on several other occasions on the following airlines and was NOT charged: Airtran, Delta, and Southwest-