I’m often asked how I travel with fly rods. Truth is, when I travel, I’m usually on a story assignment, so I’m more likely than not to be lugging a laptop computer and a camera or two. Because carry-on luggage is limited on most flights (and because I like to travel with as few bags as possible), I typically reserve the carry-on for the more expensive electronics, and check my rods through with the rest of my gear. (Usually in tubes, in the bottom of a large bag).
But my ideal travel scenario is when I only bring a notebook and can focus on the fishing gear. The carry-on I use in these situations is always the Dakota Carry-On Rod and Reel case from Fishpond (retail $170).
I just took it on a trip to South America and was able to stow a 6-weight, a Tenkara rod, an 8-weight, a 10-weight, and a three-piece baitcasting rod (all in their sleeves only), along with corresponding reels. That left me room for an iPod, a small camera, my notebook, and a few other items. My passport fit neatly in a water-resistant outside zip pocket, and I was good to go.
The things I like most about this bag: First, it’s easily to organize your stuff, and access it when you need it, where you need it. It’s also light, even with all that gear inside. And it seems to be reasonably tough—I’ve taken it from South America to Alaska, stashed it in bush planes and open boats, left it in the sun, seen it snowed on, and haven’t had any problems at all.
The main appeal is function. The only drawback is that when I travel with others, I often have to put a special piece of tape on it so I know it’s mine—it’s a popular case among other traveling anglers too.