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How To Take Fishing Rods On A Plane: Complete Mini-Guide

How To Take Fishing Rods On A Plane: Complete Mini-Guide

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 rods on a plane, we recommend wrapping the rods 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, which is usually very limited. If your rods are not collapsible or travel rods, it's very probable that you will need to take them as checked luggage. 


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 rods 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 rods to take them on an airplane? Option 1 (DIY Rod Case)  

To do a DIY rod tube, you have to cut a PVC tube, wrap your fishing rods with bubble wrap and put them inside the PVC tube. Close the tube with the end PVC caps and tape it with scotch tape. We have a full guide on how to make a DIY rod case using PVC tubes, click here to see it.


Yes, you will invest a little bit of time into it but consider that it’s a one-time effort. Once you build it, you will have something prepared for future occasions. Also, it could be fun to do it!




*Important to note: if you are either putting your rods in a DIY rod tube or you buy a rod case for it, make sure that you wrap your rods with bubble wrap. Once the rods are inside the tube/case, they should be tight enough that if you shake the rod tube, there should be no sound of the rods bouncing around. If the rods do have space to move inside the rod tube when you shake it, add more bubble wrap to them until they don’t have space to move inside. This is to protect your rods. Often times, luggage is mistreated.


When would we recommend a DIY rod case for travelling on an airplane?

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.


How do you prepare your fishing rods 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.

Airport Luggage picture

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

Let’s be real. Luggage is often treated very roughly. Just make sure your rods have enough bubble wrap that they don't have any space to move when there are rough movements, when inside the rod case or tube.


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. To learn more, click here.

  • 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. To learn more, click here.

  • 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. To learn more, click here.

  • 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). To learn more, click here.

  • 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. To learn more, click here.


 What rods should you take when traveling?

If you know what spot you are going to fish at, then you can easily figure out exactly what rods you will need. But if you are simply going to fish at several spots, or maybe you are going to travel to several places, then you need a rod system in place that consists of fewer rods. Here is a 3 rod system that will work. They will have you covered in most situations:

  • 7' Medium Heavy, Fast (Spinning)

Use it for: shaky heads, drop-shot rigs, weightless worms, swimming grubs and more.
Our suggestion: Kodiak Spinning by Big Bear


  •   7' Medium Heavy, Fast (Casting)

Use it for: Spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs, stand-up jigs, anything you would cast on 12- to 20-pound line.
Our suggestion: WMB71MHF GEN 3 by FX Custom Rods


  • 7' Medium or Medium Heavy, Moderate (Casting)

Use it for: Any surface lures(from crankbaits to poppers)

Our suggestion: Ikos Hustler by ALX Rods


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.



Consider Shipping Your Rods Separately 

It might be logistically more convenient for you. You will travel lighter and it will make things simpler, in case you are taking a lot of luggage with you. When you arrive to your destination, your rods will already be there (or arrive later), and you won't have to carry them at the airport, the cab, etc. 


Also, consider comparing prices if you were to ship the rod vs if you take it as extra luggage. It could be cheaper to ship it.


And 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”

1 Comment

  • I’m going on Hawaiian airlines and I was wondering what are the guidelines for carry-on. Thank you

    Leon Schmidt

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