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[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or my friends and I, fly fishing has been a life long addiction that has included fishing some of the world’s best fishing holes, and we’re wishing our condition ain’t ever gonna’ go away.

In over four decades, we probably circumnavigated several times – if we were to string out our travels to the measure of a single length.

United Airlines carry-on dimension limits.

United Airlines carry-on dimension limits. Backpack dimension limits, should you go that way, are 9-inches depth, 22-inches tall and 14-inches wide.

We rode a WWII DeHavilland Beaver that skimmed tree tops in the NW Territories for more then a mile, landed in a soy field aboard a vintage DC-3 tail-dragger, watched a knife fight to the death in a river town near the Orinoco and we had our share of luggage issues. Including stolen, busted open with missing items, broken rods, lost forever, or not lost but arriving home a month later.

Today’s travelers have, unfortunately, the same problems, but have the added hassle possibilities of a show-boating TSA clerk confiscating your fly reel because it’s a dangerous weapon, or those 1/0 Decievers are weapons of mass destruction. And last but not least, that extra fly line could be used as a noose.

Packing your carry-on bag is a critical consideration

The first items of consideration are rod, reels and flies. Rods and reels are, of course, permitted as checked luggage. And, according to TSA manuals, allowed as carry-on luggage.  Reels, so far, haven’t been an issue.

The problem matter is always rod tube length. When you book a flight, make sure your rod tubes meet all the airlines you’ll be flying on length requirement (no, there isn’t a consistency). Also, confirm they will allow your rod tube/s aboard. If the agent seems confused on the phone, ask for a supervisor immediately. The airline’s decision as to whether or not your fly rod tubes can be transported carry-on, is their call, not yours.

What about your flies?

There are no set rules about flies in your carry-on, but any TSA agent can call them WMD and confiscate them. However, we’ve never experienced that.

Always make sure that everything in the carry-on is openly visible. Hidden will not work in your favor.

The best carry-on suggestion is to take a one or two day supply of flies in a clear, viewable zip-lock bag, roughly 15 or even two dozen flies. Of course, your main supply of flies would be in you checked luggage.


Most hiccups with baggage not arriving at your final destination are that they arrive a few days late. That’s OK in the Bahamas, Mexico, Belize or similar locales, but in Mongolia, Kamchatka, or other exotic destinations you’re out of luck for the duration.

Distinctly and boldly mark all your luggage with your current address and include your phone number

Here’s a  list of items our gang of six put together as must in the carry-on:

Always bring excellent double haul skills, passport, meds, get wet is OK camera, cell phone charger (universal adapter), sunglasses, sun screen, one complete change of clothes, fly rods, lined reels, flies, toiletries and flight itinerary.

If you’ve got the aforementioned items packed in your carry-on you’re good to go for the week should checked baggage have another destination in mind.


TSA Carry-on Guidelines . . .




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