How To Take A Fishing Rod On A Plane? (DIY Rod Case Included)

How To Take A Fishing Rod On A Plane? (DIY Rod Case Included)

If you are going to travel and you want to take your fishing rod with you, but you don’t know how to pack the rod and how much it will cost to take it on the plane, then keep on reading! This article will walk you through every step.


To take one or more fishing rod(s) on a plane, we recommend wrapping the rod(s) with bubble wrap and putting them in a PVC tube. Make sure that the rod has enough wrap so the rods won’t jiggle inside the PCV tube when there are rough movements. If you have (or want to buy) a hard shell rod case, this will work as well. You can take the fishing rods as a carry-on bag as long as it fits the airline's measurement criteria.


It’s not fun to have to be relying on your friend’s fishing equipment when you go visit them on vacation, and renting equipment just involves spending more money and adapting to what the tackle shop has available. But let’s stop the chit chat and let’s get into it!


How should you take your fishing rod(s) on an airplane? What are the options?

To take your fishing rods on a plane, we recommend 2 options: put your rods in a solid rod case, or make a DIY rod case and put them in there. We will go into each one of those in more detail. 

How do you prepare your fishing rod(s) to take them on an airplane? Option 1 (DIY Rod Case)  

Do It Yourself Rod Case

We will first walk you through how to make a DIY rod case. We recommend this option if you don’t want to spend money on a solid rod case, which can be pricey. We also recommend this option if your trip is coming up very soon (in a couple of days), you don’t have a tackle shop anywhere around you, and the only way you can buy a rod case is to buy it online. It probably won’t get there on time.

Fishing Rod- Take Rod On A Plane

How To Do A DIY Rod Case To Take Your Rods On A Plane (Step by step)

1. First thing’s first. Go to your local store and get all the materials. This is what you will need:


Bubble Wrap




    Scotch Tape  




      PVC Caps


        PVC Pipe/Tube (3 or 4  inches of diameter should be good, but this will vary depending on how many rods you will be taking)

        2. The second thing you will want to do is to know how long your PVC tube will have to be, because you are going to have to cut it. To do this, you have to know exactly which rod you are going to take (don’t take 15 rods or it will be expensive to take them on the plane!). Knowing where you are going to fish will help you decide which rods you should take. 3 or 4 rods is the sweet spot, but this is totally up to you. There is no right or wrong answer for this.


        Once you know which rods you will take on the airplane, take the longest one. Add 2 inches to that measurement. So, for example, if the longest rod you are taking is a 7’3”, then you will want to cut your PVC pipe at 7’5”. Mark where you are going to cut the PVC tube.


        3. It’s time to cut the PVC tube! Cut the PVC tube where you made the mark (2 inches more than the longest rod). Now, we don’t want to be Mr. Obvious, especially with this task (you probably won’t achieve this with a kitchen knife). Here are some options on how to cut the PVC tube:


        • Use an electric saw. This will be the easiest. We know not everyone has a workshop in their garage but if you do, this will be the easiest for you. Remember to wear safety equipment!


        • Use a handsaw. This one is more likely to be in your go-to toolbox. Getting one shouldn’t be expensive or hard. Using this option will make a mess of your workspace. If you use this option, make sure you use a mask. Seriously, you don’t want to breathe that stuff.

        Hand Saw For cutting Rod Tube


        • Do it with a PVC cutter. They come in different sizes. Make sure you get one that will work with a 3 or 4 inch diameter, depending on your pipe. This will work better than the handsaw and it won’t leave such a mess. You won’t spend more than $20 on one of these.


        • Do it with hand files. This will take longer, but it’s very likely you have one of these in your toolbox. It will be hard work, but it’s an option if it’s what you have.


        4. Lay out your rods on the table (or floor, or wherever you want) and organize them by size. What you are going to do is to grab the two longest rods, and you are going to face them opposite to each other. Tip to butt, butt to tip.


        Once you’ve done this, grab the next 2 longest rods and do the same. Repeat this process with all of your rods. So here is an example: the 7’6” will face opposite to the 7’4”, the 7’3 will be facing the opposite to the 7’, and so on.


        Make sure that the butts are outside of the rod tips! This will prevent the rod tips from getting damaged.


        5. Bundle the rods together. It’s time to start wrapping them with bubble wrap. Not too tight, not too loose. If you are using a bubble wrap roll, it’s very unlikely that the roll is going to be wide enough to cover all of the rods, so do it in parts. Do one part, wrap it up 2 times around and tape it with the scotch tape. Go to the next part of the rods and do the same. Repeat this process until the whole thing is wrapped up. Once you have finished, put the bundle inside the PVC tube.


        Make sure that the wrapped rods don’t have any space to move or jiggle when they are inside the PVC tube if there are any rough movements.


        6. Put the PVC caps on both sides of the pipe. Make sure you tape the caps. Once you’ve done this, make sure you test the whole thing. Move the PVC tube back and forward. The rods shouldn’t bounce around when you do this.


        And vualá! Your fishing rods are ready to go on the plane! There are more aspects that we have to cover and we will, so keep on reading! But first, we will go to option #2 of how to take your fishing rods on a plane.


        How do you prepare your fishing rod(s) to take them on an airplane? Option 2 (Buy a Rod Case)

        Buy A Hard Shell Rod Case or Tube

        If you don’t want to deal with all the process of creating your own rod case, buying a rod case or tube is definitely the way to go. It will be pricier, but it’s worth it. Specially if you travel often.


        What rod case should you buy to take your fishing rods on an airplane?

         A hard shell case will be your best bet, specially when traveling on a plane. Like we said before, it’s likely that they will treat your rods roughly. A hard shell rod tube or rod case will prevent your tips, guides and butts from breaking. Besides a traditional rod tube, there are also telescopic tubes. Check around to see what case or tube fits best your needs!


        Should you just put the rods inside the rod case and forget about everything?

        The answer is no. Follow the steps we used on the DIY rod tube to cover the rods with bubble wrap and tape the bubble wrap. When you put the rods inside the rod case or tube, the rods shouldn’t have any space to move around and jiggle. They have to be tight. They shouldn’t move even if they are moved around roughly.


        How much will a rod case cost?

        This is a general price range, but expect to spend between $50 and $100 on a hard shell rod case or tube. We recommend shopping online. You will always find more variety on the web than at a single physical store.


        Can you take your fishing rods as carry-on bags when traveling on a plane?

        Although with each airline is different, we could say that in general, if the fishing rod fits in the overhead compartment, it can be taken as a carry on bag. A few airlines will allow you to bring it even if it doesn’t fit in the overhead compartment. Like we said, it varies from airline to airline.


        Will your rod be safe if it’s taken as checked luggage?

        Let’s be real. Luggage is often treated very roughly. If you follow the recommendations of either option 1 (DIY rod case) or option 2 (buy a hard shell rod case), your rods will be safe.


        What’s the limit for a fishing rod to be allowed as a carry-on bag?

        • Southwest Airlines: 10 x 16 x 24 inches. Although, you can substitute a free checked bag for your fishing rod, and if you have a tackle box, they count the fishing rod case and the tackle box as one free checked luggage.
        • Delta Airlines: They will have let you have it as a carry-on bag if it’s under 22in x 14in x 9 in. They allow fishing rods up to 115 linear inches (length + width + height) (292 cm) as checked luggage.
        • American Airlines: They will let you carry 1 rod case and 1 equipment bag or tackle box, which will count as 1 checked item. The fishing rod must have no more than 2 rods and 1 reel for this to apply. Standard checked bag fees apply up to 50 lbs / 23 kgs and 126 in / 320 cm.
        • United Airlines: They will accept one item of fishing equipment as one checked bag. They consider the following as one item of fishing equipment: two rods, one reel, one landing net, one pair of fishing boots, one tackle box. The container can’t be greater than 115 linear inches (292 centimeters) (length + width + height) and 50 pounds (23 kilograms).
        • JetBlue: They will count one rod case as a checked bag. They count the following as one item: two rods, one reel, one landing net, one pair of fishing boots, one fishing tackle box. There is no limit of how long the fishing rod can be.


        Consider Getting A Travel Rod (Simplest Solution for Air Traveling)

        This is probably the easiest solution, and you should consider it, especially if you travel frequently. They are made so they are not bulky and don’t take up a lot of space. Travel rods usually are collapsible, and you can find different options that best meet your needs. This is a big enough topic for another blog post, but we do want to suggest researching enough before you get one. There is a lot of bad quality stuff out there.


        There you have it. We covered everything we could think of. Needless to say, if there is anything we did not mention in this article, very definitely drop a comment below. We will get back to you as soon as possible! We truly hope this article helped you out.


        “Reel Fishermen Can Tackle Anything They Want”

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