Calling all would-be cross-country or international anglers.
How would you feel if your perfect fishing trip got derailed by TSA airport security because—unbeknownst to you—you attempted to improperly carry your fishing gear?
Of all the ways I can think of a fishing trip to go wrong, this has to be at or near the top of the list.
Unfortunately, this could be a very real situation if you don’t take the time to adequately plan just how you’ll manage to transport your gear on your next fishing trip.
There once was a time when bringing fishing gear on an airplane wasn’t much of an issue, but modern flight security measures have muddied the waters around the process.
Before stepping foot in the airport, make sure that you have a clear understanding of how you can bring your fishing gear without any hang ups.
By following the tips below, you’ll be able to travel in confidence on your way to your next big catch.
What to Know Before You Fly
As you plan your next fishing trip, be sure to have a solid understanding of the following issues:
How to Bring a Fishing Rod on a Plane
Now, obviously, this is probably the most important consideration you can make.
But that doesn’t make it the easiest.
While most airlines will allow you to bring your fishing rod onto the plane, the rules can be unique to specific companies.
In other words, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll be able to take your rod on board without verifying it first.
Generally speaking, travel rods are typically permitted, provided they can fit in the overhead storage space. You might even find an airline or two that won’t charge you extra for bringing it as carry-on luggage.
However, this in itself raises complications. It’s possible that your rod won’t fit in the compartment, for instance, or you may find that you don’t want to risk leaving it unattended.
For those concerned with the latter issue, there is good news: you should be able to carry your rod beside you while the flight is in motion. This will better allow you to protect your rod from damage or theft.
How Much it Costs to Bring a Fishing Rod on a Plane
This commonly-asked question has no clear-cut answer.
As noted, you may be fortunate enough to find airlines that won’t charge to carry your rod, provided it can fit in the overhead compartment.
But even this is variable, and you’re likely going to find that airlines will want to squeeze whatever money they can from you.
How much they go for, though, depends on the airline.
It’s hard to put an exact figure on the amount you can expect to pay for bringing your fishing rod because there isn’t a set industry standard.
Because of this, the best practice to make sure that you’re getting the best deal is to call airlines before booking your ticket. Make sure that you have a solid grasp of their carry-on policy and ask them explicitly if what you’re looking to do is allowable—and how much they’ll charge you for it if it is.
You may even want to ask for an email transcript of the conversation or conduct the entire conversation through emails so that you can have written proof of the correspondence. This can help prevent airlines from changing their word or jacking up costs when you’re at the airport.
Remember: by taking a few precautionary steps, you can help ensure that you, your rod, and your gear all make it to the right place at the right time.
Do You Need a Specific Airline-Approved Fishing Rod Case?
Whether you’re looking to bring your rod on board or put it in your checked luggage, having a tube is required if you’re looking to keep your rod safe.
With that being said, however, you’re going to want to be careful in how you pack and transport your tube.
As noted, you’ll sometimes be able to carry it about the plane and even keep it as hand luggage, but for those looking to take bigger rods, you may want to consider adding it as part of your checked luggage.
No matter how you decide to carry your fishing rod case, keep the following tips in mind:
- Don’t Assume They’ll Be Handled with Care—When packing your rods, you’ll want to prepare for the worst. Assume that your case is going to be tossed, mishandled, and used as a lightsaber by airport personnel before you ever get it back. And while it’s likely that most of that won’t happen, you should make sure that you’re prepared against damage in advance. Importantly, this means that you shouldn’t bring your best fishing rods with you and that you should be careful to pack the case or tubing so that the rods inside have little room to jostle around and move. This can help protect your rods from bumping into each other and the sides of the case.
- Use a TSA-Approved Lock—Remember when I said you don’t want to get stopped by the TSA? You just might if you try to lock your case without a TSA-approved lock. Investing in one of these approved locks helps you not catch the unnecessary attention of security personnel and can help you make your trip on time. If you use a lock that the TSA hasn’t approved, you’re all but guaranteed to have them cut it off (and not return it), as well as pull you aside for extra questioning and inspections. And depending on the officer you get, it could make you late for your flight. Keep in mind that using a TSA-approved lock doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get stopped—it just reduces the likelihood.
- Be Wary of Theft—If you decide or are made to put your fishing rods in with checked baggage, go the extra mile in making sure that your luggage isn’t misplaced or stolen. While uncommon, baggage theft still happens—even accidentally—and you don’t want to lose your rods before your next fishing trip. Carrying your rods on board—if allowed—may be more inconvenient during the flight, but it can help protect your fishing assets.
Can You Take Fishing Hooks in Your Hand Luggage?
While technically, the TSA has approved small fishing hooks for carry-on purposes, there’s a bit of a gray area involved when it comes to determining what sizes are allowed. If you’re really wanting to bring your fish hooks on board, it’s probably best to speak with your airline first.
Unfortunately, the TSA’s handling of permitting fishing gear through the airport has been inconsistent. While some fishermen report no problems in bringing hooks, plugs, and other gear aboard, others have had it confiscated.
Personally, I would recommend going by stated TSA guidelines that suggest putting sharp gear in checked luggage. Though some have managed to get by security with these items in their carry-on luggage, you could find that your TSA agent has a different view of the matter.
And it’s just not worth risking it. Not only are you likely to be pulled aside, you’re also probably going to lose any gear they deem unfit for travel, as they will confiscate it instead of returning it to you. This means that even if you do manage to catch your flight, you’re going to have to repurchase necessary equipment once you arrive—and that’s no fun.
Can You Bring Fishing Line on a Plane?
All this leads us to the next question:
Is fishing line allowed on a plane?
Again, the answer seems to depend on which TSA agent you encounter, but there is one commonality that many fishermen have observed:
Braided fishing line seems to be a no-go in carry-on luggage.
For this reason, you may save yourself—and any others traveling with you—a lot of headache if you go ahead and place your fishing line with your other gear in checked luggage.
This will help prevent security issues with the TSA and keep you from possibly missing your flight.
Chances are that your small gear is perfectly safe as checked luggage, and you probably don’t have to worry about being charged and arm and a leg as long as you don’t reach an airline’s “oversized luggage” limit—so be careful to inquire about this before boarding the plane.
With a strategic plan in place, you can make carrying your fishing rods and gear a streamlined and hassle-free process.
But For Your Peace of Mind …
Consider investing in fishing gear insurance. With the right insurance plan, you can help protect your fishing assets just in case you encounter the worst-case scenario.
Several quality insurance plans that can protect your equipment exist, so if you’re unsure about taking your gear on board, either as a carry-on or in checked luggage, consider making an investment that will protect your valuables.
In doing so, you can travel with the confidence that you and your gear are protected.
The Bottom Line
Traveling with fishing gear isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. Making sure that you follow strict, but arbitrarily-enforced, TSA protocols can help you reach your destination without any unfortunate incidents.
Why you can bring your fishing rod on a plane, much of your other gear should be left with your checked luggage. You may even decide it best to place your rods there as well—just make sure that you’ve got a sturdy airline and TSA-approved case and lock.
By following the tips above, you can be on your way to safer and happier fishing travels.
I really hope that this article helped you in understanding all the measures you should take before planning a plane trip with fishing gear. If you liked the article, please be sure to share it with friends who might also be seeking that information.