Imagine you have an amazing angling trip on the horizon; you’re likely asking yourself, “Can you bring a fishing pole on a plane?“
With all the regulations surrounding other types of sporting equipment and planes, it can be tempting to assume fishing equipment will be treated the same.
However, there are some unique things to know as a traveling angler so you can guarantee your gear is ready to go when it comes time for your flight.
Does The TSA Restrict Fishing Poles on Planes?
The first thing to consider when flying with your fresh or saltwater fishing gear is whether the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) considers fishing poles a security threat.
As of 2023, the governing organization over airline travel states you can bring your fishing pole both in your checked bags and your carry-on bags.
This is a phenomenal benefit, as it means you can keep your fishing gear on you rather than leave it in the hands of gate agents.
It is also a good idea to check the individual guidelines for the airline you’re traveling with.
This is because many airlines have their own set of rules when it comes to bringing fishing gear onto a plane.
For example, your rod will likely have to be within a certain height and weight requirement to be accepted.
To find this information, you can easily visit your airline’s website and check their carry-on and checked baggage requirements.
Alternatively, you should be able to call their customer service team to get extra help.
What Type of Rods Can I Fly With?
As per TSA guidelines, there seem to be no specifications regarding the type of fishing pole you can travel with, whether for lake or deep-sea fishing.
You can use anything from a collapsible and lightweight travel rod to a massive trolling rod as long as it fits your airline’s guidelines.
The check-in process could be slightly different for heavier rods, and you could incur additional fees while flying.
In most instances, you should be able to bring even the heaviest trolling or beach-casting rods as sports equipment without additional fees.
Again, the best thing to do in this situation is double-checking your airline’s baggage requirements.
How Can I Safely Pack My Fishing Rod for Air Travel?
When it comes to domestic or international flights, keeping your rod and other angling gear secure is mandatory.
That said, you’ll want to ensure you have the safest carrying option if you keep your rod in your carry-on luggage or check it in the undercarriage.
Let’s explore some tips to keep your fishing pole in its best condition for your fishing trip.
A rod tube is one of the most popular options for keeping your fishing rod safe for travel, as it’s inexpensive, easy to use, and relatively straightforward.
Rod tubes are specifically designed to hold your entire rod (depending on its design) or protect the rod’s top half for travel.
It’s a fantastic way to provide hardshell coverage, ensuring your expensive reels, seat, and guides are adequately protected.
Fishing Rod Case
A far better alternative to a standard rod tube is to opt for a fishing rod case designed for your pole, expensive reels, and even fragile tackle.
Cases are usually designed to keep your must-have travel gear in one spot rather than individually wrapping and storing sharp fishing tackles to prevent them from breaking.
Another massive benefit of a case is you can find them in either hardshell or softshell designs, depending on your weight allowance and comfort.
Ideally, like rod tubes, you’ll want to consider a hardened fishing rod container to ensure your gear isn’t slaughtered.
It’s also a good idea to double-check with your airline that you can bring your fishing items in a rod case, although it shouldn’t be an issue in most situations.
If you’ve invested a lot of money into your fishing gear, going the extra mile never hurt, and this is where bubble wrap will quickly become your best friend.
Not only is bubble wrap a fantastic way to protect your rod, but it can also assist with protecting your fishing hooks in their fishing tackle box.
This is particularly important to note, as the TSA has specific requirements for the sharp equipment in your fishing gear, as we’ll get into below.
When packing your favorite hooks, use bubble wrap to protect them against squished and fall damage.
It can also be a fantastic material for protecting your nice reels and any fishing equipment you bring with you to catch the upcoming season.
Of course, there are numerous things you can purchase from the store to help protect your reels, fishing lures, and your rod.
However, there’s likely nothing better and more protective than the original packaging, especially regarding your expensive reels.
Remember, your rod and equipment were once shipped to a store in their original packaging, which kept them safe enough.
If you have your reel packaging, use it for your carry-on luggage.
It’s a fantastic low-cost solution that offers plenty of custom protection until you reach your fishing destination.
Restrictions on Fishing Gear
Along with weight restrictions, there could be additional things to note with your fishing reels as per TSA guidelines.
Let’s take a look at a couple of extra items to note before declaring all of your fishing gear as a carry-on item.
Packing Tackles and Lures
According to the agency, sharp fishing tackle and hooks are dangerous and can be used as weapons.
As such, they should be treated similarly to other sharp items, like knives.
Your lures and fish hooks should be heated, securely wrapped, and carefully packed.
You will also need to ensure that your sharp fishing lures are kept in your checked bags.
Otherwise, they could pose a considerable threat if you brought them in your carry-on.
Alternatively, non-threatening hooks and lures, like small flies, can be kept in your carry-on bags.
Other Sharp Gear
It’s important to use your common sense when packing for your fishing charter, especially regarding airline safety.
Remember, when going through security, the last thing you want is to get singled out by security and have your equipment confiscated.
Keeping your other sharp fishing gear, such as knives, in your checked baggage can be a good idea.
An even better solution is to buy a case to keep all of your gear together, making it easy for any TSA agent to see you’re traveling for fishing.
For example, keep all your metal rod holders, liquid fly floatant, and knives together.
If you know you’re bringing a lot of abnormal fishing gear with you, it never hurts to get to the airport early to give TSA time to check your bags properly.
Large Fishing Equipment
Apart from your fragile tackle and fishing reels, large pieces of fishing equipment will likely be confiscated at the airport.
Since 9/11, regulations surrounding carry-on items and checked luggage have changed drastically.
That said, you’re highly unlikely to be able to bring a kayak or dinghy with you during your travels.
Luckily, regardless if you’re visiting a fishing resort or going on a fishing charter, they likely have all the equipment you need already there.
In fact, most anglers can rent equipment directly from the resort or charter rather than bringing their own fishing tackle box in their checked or carry-on baggage.
Can You Bring a Fishing Pole on a Plane?
At the end of the day, you can adhere to as many baggage policies and pay any excess baggage fee necessary to try to get your fishing gear to its final destination.
However, whether your list of items gets through security is entirely up to the TSA agent you’re assigned to.
The best advice is to be as transparent and honest as possible if they ask questions about your travel fishing kit.
Otherwise, you may be in a situation where they can confiscate any item of fishing equipment at their discretion.
Although travel can be challenging, staying friendly is best to avoid losing your favorite fly fishing rod or gear.
Popular Airline Fishing Equipment Guidelines
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular airlines and their fishing equipment policies.
Air Canada Fishing Equipment Policy
- Fishing gear counts as one piece of baggage
- If carried with a tackle box, oversize fees don’t apply to fishing rods in cases.
- Fishing rods must be kept in rigid or hard shell containers.
Air Italy Fishing Equipment Policy
- Fishing gear is classified as sports equipment and is subject to additional charges.
American Airlines Fishing Equipment Policy
- Anglers can bring one rod case, one equipment bag, or one tackle box as a checked item.
- You can travel with two rods and one reel in a case, fishing boots, tackle, landing nets, and properly encased waders.
British Airways Fishing Equipment Policy
- Fishing rods must be checked due to their length.
- Each separate piece counts towards the total baggage allowance.
Caribbean Airlines Fishing Equipment Policy
- Fishing equipment must be properly encased
- Your gear can contain one tackle box, one landing net, one pair of boots, two rods, and one reel.
Delta Airlines Fishing Equipment Policy
- Fishing poles up to 115″ are allowed as checked baggage.
- Collapsible fishing poles are allowed as carry-ons.
EasyJet Fishing Equipment Policy
- Fishing gear is considered sports equipment and will have additional fees.
- Gear must also meet weight requirements.
Bringing a Fishing Pole on a Plane
If you’re asking, “Can you bring a fishing pole on a plane?” the simple answer is yes, depending on your airline’s baggage conditions and allowances.
The TSA allows all anglers to bring their adequately packed gear on flights, with some items being allowed as carry-ons and others having to b checked as baggage items.
Before your upcoming fishing trip, you must check from airline to airline to decide which airline carriers have the best fishing policies for your kit.