Even lightweight and ergonomic fishing reel designs, such as the Black Max Baitcaster could pose a problem when you decide to take your fishing gear with you on a fly-fishing journey. Whether you use closed face spinning reels or open face reels you sometimes struggle to transport them by plane and this happens because of two main reasons.
First of all, you risk getting your gear damaged by the people who handle your luggage. There are numerous cases where people have retrieved their luggage extremely damaged or even worse, it got completely lost in the process. The second reason may come as a consequence of trying to avoid the first one. You could have problems getting your gear as a carry-on.
Fishing gear packing
As you should only trust yourself, you could bring your reels on the plane with you as a carry on luggage. Since this piece of gear doesn’t contain particular dangerous parts, you shouldn’t have a hard time managing to bring them with you. For added protection, you can place them in their original casing and in addition surround them with clothes or other soft items you carry.
Most airlines allow you to bring on the plane with you two carry-ons. In one of them you could place important stuff, things that can’t be replaced, such as cameras or medicine. For this, fishing backpacks are ideal, as they can be placed right under your seat. In the second luggage, you can place the rods and reels.
You can acquire fishing luggage as it is specifically designed for such things. These are large enough to accommodate large reels, four-piece rods and many accessories such as pliers and tippet material. This luggage easily fits above your head. Don’t forget to leave your knife at home as otherwise it will be confiscated.
Many anglers managed to travel by airplane and have their reels nearby declaring them as sports equipment. You must keep in mind though, that many airlines require you to remove the wire from the reel before taking it on the plane with you in hand luggage. To avoid this possibility you should pack the fishing line separately in hold luggage.
Fly fishing luggage
Designer luggage and luggage made for fly-fishing are two different things. Although the first kind is a sign of good taste, it is not made to withstand long trips to Alaska or remote islands. More specifically it’s not designed to endure carrying fly-fishing or hunting gear. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t travel and experience an outdoor adventure without quality luggage.
If you are an angler that likes to cast in remote locations and travels a lot, you have many luggage options at your disposal. This being said, when you want to find something to pack your fishing reels in with ease, there are three main features you should particularly look for.
The first one is the durability of the product. As your luggage is possibly going to be moved by careless workers at an airport, tossed inside a float plane, and carried on a mountain path, you have to buy something tough that is able to withstand the rigors of such a trip. The last thing you want is for the seams to come undone and your gear to start falling all over.
Another criterion is functionality. Besides your apparel, the luggage must be able to carry your fishing reels, fly-rods, vests, wading shoes, and many more accessories. Preferably it should have many separated compartments as surely at some point in your journey you’ll place inside dirty, muddy items together with other clothes.
Last but not least, one important aspect of your fly fishing luggage is its weight. You have to do your best to keep it lightweight. Not only you will find it easier to carry, but you must remember that on an airline there are strict weight limitations. Packing your gear in an already heavy leather bag is not a good idea.
Transportation Security Association
When it comes to what you can and can’t bring with you on the plane in the USA, the Transportation Security Association or TSA has the last word. According to them, you can take in your carry-on line snips and other fishing tools as long as they are under 7 inches of length. You can also bring on clothing items, any kind of boots or gloves. On the other hand knives and scissors must be packed in your checked baggage.
As long as they fit in your overhead compartment and meet the size specifications of carry-on luggage, fishing poles are also allowed to be taken on board. Depending on the airline, sometimes you are allowed to do that even if the poles don’t completely fit their carry-on size limit. To be sure you should call beforehand and find out.
This being said, there are cases when the TSA is ambiguous or inconsistent. For example, regarding hooks packed in carry-on luggage, they claim that “Small hooks for fly fishing or freshwater hooks are acceptable”. However, “deep sea fishing hooks” are not allowed. Unfortunately, it is not extremely clear as what would qualify in their opinion as a deep fishing hook.
There were cases when the TSA confiscated braided fishing lines, but other times passengers took them on board without any issues. A good idea would be to take with you a printed copy of their regulations that you can find online.
There they state that fishing equipment should be placed in checked baggage. They also mention that, because some tackle is sharp and dangerous, you might not be able to take them in your carry-on. However, when referring to expensive reels or fragile tackle such as flies, they recommend that you pack these in your carry-on baggage.
If you are not allowed with some fishing gear on the plane, many times they give you the option to mail certain items back home. However, this still means that you will not be able to make use of them on your fishing trip so it’s better if you plan these things ahead and inform yourself.