3 Tips For Traveling With Fishing Rods (FREE DIY Rod Tube Instructions)

Traveling? Here’s The Best Way To Transport Your Fishing Rods (Plus DIY Rod Tube Instructions)

how to travel with fishing rods

Traveling with a fishing rod is a reality for many anglers. Whether traveling for the sole purpose of fishing, dual-purpose vacation, or simply as a “just-in-case”; having a fishing rod along on your travels can be incredibly rewarding. However, the hassle some people think that comes with traveling with these oversized and fragile objects can often times be a deterrent.

It can be quite cheap and easy to travel, or even fly, with fishing rods and have the piece of mind that they are safe and sound inside.

Every day, thousands of fishing rods are shipped damage free all over the country. With shorter break-down rods, you can even avoid excess baggage fees by following our tricks below. 

Whether it means transporting your one piece fly-rod on a road trip, flying with a stack of fishing rods to the remote Canadian tundra, backpacking into a remote mountain stream, or flying carry-on with a small rod tube; traveling with fishing rods is a reality.

Here are some great tips, tricks, and products that will make your life easier and keep your rod safe. 

Types Of Fishing Rod Cases

1. Rod Tubes

Rod tubes are typically the first association with heavy duty rod travel. After all, fishing rod tubes are the type of container fishing rods are shipped in from the manufacturer. From these cardboard shipping containers to more sophisticated rod tubes offering guaranteed protection, the natural geometric strength of a cylindrical design is hard to beat and has proven itself as a solid choice. Especially when on a budget.  

2. Rod Cases

Rod Cases are a more feature packed option and can be associated with seriously rugged use. However, some rod cases on the lower end of the price spectrum may not be suitable for heavy duty travel.

Rod cases offer a more appealing way to store your rods than shoving them in a tube. Generally protected by heavy duty locking latches or zippers, these flip open cases are often capable of holding multiple rods and reels in an appealing display style fashion.

For an attractive and protective cased to transport your rods in, check out this JEKOSEN 2019 Portable Travel Fishing Rod Reel Case review. 

At a nice mid-range price, this zip open rod case will store sections of rod up to 5 feet in length and can hold up to 4 sections of rod.

On top of that, it features additional zipper storage on the lid and can likely fit a few more key items stuffed inside the case with a little padding. 

Made from similar material to hard-shell suitcases, you can trust this case to protect its contents through rigorous travel. This is a simple no-frills rod case that will offer great protection in it’s slim and sleek design. 

3. Roof Vaults

Roof Vaults are great for anglers fishing out of their vehicles. Particularly, fly-fishing anglers and surf casters with exceedingly long rods. Jumping around from spot to spot on the river or lake to lake gets much easier with these roof vault type cases.

For longer rods, roof vaults offer the quick and easy convenience/access of slide-in storage securely mounted to your roof. Most are generally equipped to store the fully rigged rod and reel which makes them so convenient.

They're also a great tool for long road trips where you're taking a fishing rod along as it frees up much needed room inside the cab or bed. These options, while a little pricier than others, can be the best and most convenient option for certain styles of fishing.

4. DIY Sewer Tube (And How To Make Your Own Fishing Rod Case)

For the frugal folks, the budget bums, people like me; here is the cheap way to safely store your rods. All it takes is a little work. 

Starting off with a few simple components that should cost you around $20, you can have a durable and reliable rod tube for years to come. Fly it on a plane, strap in on a car, or make a small one for your break-down backcountry fishing rod setup. 

fishing rod travel case tube

-Purchase either traditional PVC pipe or lighter weight triple-wall sewer drain pipe from your local hardware store (I prefer the latter). This should cost you somewhere around $10. 

-For sizing, I like 3 inch or 4 inch pipe.

-Next, find some properly sized fittings for the ends. You will need a glue-on cap on one end and a screw on cap for the other. Lastly, you will need a can of two in one PVC glue. You want the one with both the primer and the actual glue.  (It always helps to buy the pipes and fittings in person to verify the size pipe you want and make sure the fittings are the proper size.)

diy fishing tube end cap

Glued on end-cap

-Once you have all your components, cut your pipe to the length you desire with a hacksaw or other tool.

-Liberally apply PVC glue to your pipe and cap both and then glue your end cap securely on one end.

-Now glue your screw on cap on the other, let it set, and you have a rod case.

make your own fishing rod case

For extra protection, you can always ad a piece of foam to your glue-on cap or slide it in after the fact to protect from rod tip damage. You can also paint the case as you wish and when traveling with it, it's always a good idea to have your name and contact info somewhere on the case written in permanent marker.

Expert Tips and Tricks For Traveling With A Fishing Rod

Flying With Fishing Rods

Flying can be the most rigorous type of travel on fishing rods. Worse yet, your precious cargo is out of your sight for most of it. As such, most people ensure they have a heavy duty case for checking their fishing poles as baggage.

When flying, you're certainly going to want to use a hard case for your rods. Whether you go with a rod case, rod tube, or make your own out of pvc, it's much more a personal choice in what you feel comfortable with.

Just make sure you pack your rod with plenty of padding and write your name and address permanently somewhere on your case.

Looking for a case for a flight coming up quickly? Check out the JEKOSEN 2019 Portable Travel Fishing Rod Reel Case

Expert Tip:

 Carry-on baggage can save you fees if you can somehow manage to pack all your belongings in it. One of which, can be a 4 piece break-down fishing pole or fly-rod that you can slide into your carry on bag or personal item. Save on fees and trust your fishing gear is in good hands.

Driving With Fishing Rods

Driving with your rod puts you in control of the handling. You can go with absolutely no protection or a full blown rod case when driving. Regardless, it is always nice to have your rod in some form of hard protection to avoid any accidents. If you are simply doing long distance travel to a fishing destination, any type of rod case or rod tube will offer more than ample protection. You can likely even strap it to the roof of your car.

Alternatively, if you are hoping from fishing hole to fishing hole in your car and want quick and easy access, consider something like a rod vault. These full protection tubes mount on the roof of your car and generally have room for a fully rigged rod/reel setup. These are often favored by fly fishing anglers who carry long cumbersome rods between shuttle points on rivers or fishing holes.  

Expert Tip:

 You can also use a clamping style ski rack or snowboard rack that mounts to your roof to hold your fishing rods.

Hiking With Fishing Rods

Hiking to access fishing spots can sometimes be the best way to get your lures or flies in front of wild and willing fish. When covering miles overland or backpacking in somewhere, you probably don’t want your rod in hand the whole time.

A small lightweight rod tube is generally the way to go for this type of transport to strap on to your pack. Also, for fly rods especially, a 4-piece take-down style is really the ticket for this type of travel.

Utilizing a small homemade pvc tube as seen above (maybe try 2 inch pipe) or a sleek and lightweight rod tube like this MaxCatch Carbon Fiber Rod Tube.

Expert Tip:

Slide your reel into an old sock or beanie to protect it in your backpack while hiking.

Final Thoughts

If you need to travel with your fishing rods, there's no reason you can't do so, especially with some of the tips and ideas we shared in this post. 

If you're on a tight budget, then consider making your own fishing rod tube. It's inexpensive and very simple to make. You can read through the instructions again by following this link: DIY Fishing Tube Instructions. 

But if you want something that looks a little nicer, then consider picking up the  JEKOSEN 2019 Portable Travel Fishing Rod Reel Case or the MaxCatch Carbon Fiber Rod Tube

You'll enjoy travelling a whole lot more knowing your fishing rods are safe and will be ready to toss a line in the water at your next destination. 


diy fishing rod tube instructions

About the Author

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure. I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!