How to Fly with Fishing Gear (and Not Lose It)

by Owen James Burke


Fishing gear is expensive, and flying with it is nerve-wracking. (Photo: imgkid)

TSA’s regulations for fishing do not distinguish any size limitation on fishing rods. Neither do airports, and it comes down to the discretion of the individual security personnel you meet.

While living in Taipei, I flew in and out of the same airport three times taking the very same 12 weight fly rod with my carry-on luggage each time. On my final flight out of the country, I was told that the tube was too large, and I’d have to go back through security to add it to my checked baggage. The line for security was long, long enough that I I’d have missed my flight. The supervisor came along and I convinced him to agree to mail the rod to a local friend. I even paid him extra for postage. It never showed up.

I just recently heard a sob story about a fisherman missing his flight over having a fishing reel in his carry-on luggage which was worth $1500. I commiserated with him over my $800 fly rod which I left behind instead of missing my flight. He had wise words and suggested carrying a printout of TSA’s fishing gear regulations, which may or may not help your case, but can’t hurt.

Recently, I decided to mail my fishing gear. For one, it’s not cheap to send fishing gear around the world. If you want to insure your gear (you do), then you’re looking at potentially hefty import taxes as well. I shipped four fishing rods around the world for about $75. The import tax for the package to be delivered was nearly $200.


Another option is to purchase an airliner rod case (Plano makes a decent one), which can cost a good chunk of change every time you check it, but will be your best bet for finding your gear unharmed and in baggage claim, ready when you step off the plane. Whatever you decide to do, always carry a printout of these regs — OJB

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