You have been planning this trip away for months, maybe years. It’s been top of mind for a while and you have been feverishly tying flies and getting the gear ready. You’ve spent a lot of money on gear, airfares and accommodation, but that’s the easy part. You start to pack and you look at all your gear laid out and think how do I get all that gear packed and stay under the 23kg baggage limit. Anyone who has travelled to a fishing destination has probably been through that scenario. Then there are the complexities in travelling with rods and not getting them broken. What you can and can’t take on the plane, and on, and on it goes.
Here are a few tips to see you getting all your gear packed and then arriving intact next time you travel.
First thing is pack light. Take rods out of the tubes that they come in. Why? Because in most cases those tubes are heavy and hold only one rod. I pack mine in larger heavy cardboard tubes cut to size. I can get 3 rods into a tube and they are packed nice and snuggly so there is no movement from vibration etc. The tubes I get are from big rolls of vinyl, so go looking for them at some of the carpet shops or signwriters. The standard rod tubes you get have PVC inserts in most cases and this adds to the weight, plus they are in general an inch or two longer than the rod, so become a problem to fit in a standard suitcase or duffle bag. I pack my clothes around the tubes for further protection.
Reels are another thing that can quickly add weight, especially if you have spare spools for different lines. So a spool for the floater, another for the intermediate and so on. I use the Omnispool system when I travel, that way I need only one reel and can change lines really fast out on the water if needed. In fact I can probably change lines just as fast as you can change spools and re-thread the line up the rod! RIO also have a crank handle now for their fly lines and standard spool that comes with the line.
So you are off somewhere tropical, where the fish and the sharks sure know how to test your gear and can destroy your fly in one hit? You need to take a fair number of flies in that case – that means boxes and that in turn means weight. All those fancy fly boxes add up in weight when fully loaded. I use a non-descript fly suitcase that hold about 190 1/0 clousers each and weigh next to nothing. They may not be the trendiest boxes on the planet, but they weigh nothing which means I can fit more other gear in and when I head out for the day I only need to pack one or two boxes and I have everything covered.
If you are also a spinfisher then you have even more weight woes! Same deal though, think about what you really need and work out how to pack it as light as possible. Take a tackle bag or backpack rather than that huge tacklebox – I use my tackle bag as carry-on luggage and pack the lures, jig heads etc in my check in. Pack some of your clothes into your carry on to cut down on space and weight in your check-in.
It’s worth seeing if there are any laundry facilities where you are heading. That can cut right down on what clothing you need to pack.
If you are traveling with others in your group, then work out how you can spread the weight across all the bags rather than every man for himself. It is also useful to make sure you only have one of everything like tools, knives etc. No point all 3 of you having pliers if you are in the same boat for a week. Same goes for camera gear, In this digital age it’s pretty easy to share your photos, so don’t all go mad and pack all your camera gear.
If you have 2 piece fly rods or spin rods you are going to need a tube to pack those and will have to check them in at the oversize counter and probably as extra baggage. Pay for that extra baggage before you get to the airport and save some $$$ – It’s worthwhile paying the extra, rather than trying to strap them to your baggage – $30 in the scheme of things is not a big outlay for what could be the trip of a lifetime. Remember you don’t want to be at your destination wishing you had brought that special rod.
What can you take on the plane? I get that question from people from time to time. Most of your fishing gear will have to be checked in. The obvious stuff like knives and tools have to be checked in, but so do rods and reels. Te backing on your reels can be used to strangle people so it’s a no go on the plane, same for fly lines. Obviously anything with a hook in it, whether a fly or a lure has to be checked in. Doesn’t leave a lot does it, hence the reason I say pack some of your clothes into your carry on. Most airlines will let you take up to 7kg in your carry on. Aerosols, like insect repellent, will also need to be checked in.
I am sure there are plenty of other really good ideas on how to cut down on the weight, but hopefully this short list gives you some ideas. Remember it all starts with your bag or suitcase. Get one that is as light as possible and long enough to fit your 4 piece rods and you’ll be well on your way. Happy Travels!