On my last fishing trip, I wanted to fly rather than drive but wasn’t sure whether I’d be allowed to bring my rods on the plane. After searching for answers online and contacting the airlines, I found that bringing fishing gear on a plane requires a little extra planning.
Do Airlines Let You Bring Rods on a Plane?
All major airlines allow passengers to carry fishing rods on a plane or check them with the rest of their baggage.
When bringing a fishing rod or rod case as a carry-on item, the carry-on baggage size and weight restrictions apply. If the item exceeds these restrictions, the passenger may need to check the rod with his or her checked baggage, which includes a different set of size and weight limits. Exceeding these limits typically results in an oversized or overweight baggage fee.
Passengers may also be charged an excess baggage fee if their total number of checked bags exceeds the standard checked baggage limit. The dimensions used for the size limits on carry-on and checked baggage typically include the height, width, and length.
However, some airlines list a linear size limit, which refers to the total of these three dimensions. For example, the average linear size limit is 62 inches, which is the same as 27 x 21 x 14 inches.
While these limits vary between airlines, the typical carry-on and checked baggage policies include the following limits:
- Carry-on baggage size limit: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
- Carry-on baggage weight limit: 20 to 40 pounds
- Checked baggage size limit: 27 x 21 x 14 inches
- Checked baggage weight limit: 40 to 50 pounds
The policies for bringing fishing rods vary from airline to airline. If you want to avoid expensive excess baggage fees and other charges, there is a lot more to consider before packing your gear for your next fishing trip.
Determining If You Can Carry Your Rod on the Plane
Before booking a flight, it is important to understand the baggage policies of the airline. There are many details that can result in additional fees and charges, including checking extra bags and bags that exceed weight or size limits.
Most airlines allow one carry-on item, one personal item, and one checked bag. Additional bags may be checked for an additional fee, which is often called the excess baggage fee or handling fee.
Some airlines also require you to report the number of bags that you need to check when purchasing the ticket.
Arriving at the airline with additional bags that need to be checked may result in extra handling fees and excess baggage charges, which may cost $25 to $100 per bag.
If you want to bring your expensive fishing rod on the plane as a carry-on item, you will not be allowed to bring a second bag on the plane unless the airline allows a personal item.
The personal item size and weight limits are typically less than the standard carry-on limits. A large purse, a laptop case, or other small bags may count as a personal item if it can fit underneath the seat.
Other restrictions also apply to travelers who want to bring a fishing rod on a plane as a carry-on item. It still needs to comply with the weight and size limits.
Typically, the fishing rod cannot exceed 40 pounds or 62 linear inches. However, some airlines do offer exceptions for fishing rods.
Instead of the standard 62-inch limit, they may allow tubes or cases measuring up to 115 inches. Exceeding these limits may also result in $25 to $100 in additional fees.
If the fishing rod, case, or tube does not fit within these boundaries, it needs to be checked with the rest of the luggage.
As most airlines only allow one checked bag, passengers may end up paying the excess baggage fee if they bring a fishing rod in addition to a suitcase or other checked item.
Again, the size and weight limits apply to checked bags and some airlines offer exceptions for fishing poles.
Fishing Rods Are Often Considered Specialty Baggage
Most airlines categorize your fishing rods, tackle box, and other gear as specialty baggage if you need to check the fishing rod rather than carry it onto the plane.
These airlines may also include a separate set of weight and size limits for these specialty items.
For example, several airlines specifically list a separate size limit for fishing rod cases. Instead of the standard 62-linear-inch limit, they may allow cases or tubes holding fishing rods measuring up to 115 inches. There are also a few airlines that allow cases measuring up to 126 inches.
Additional Fishing Gear May Require Extra Precautions
Besides the fishing poles, travelers are likely to need additional fishing gear such as the reel, lures, hooks, fishing line, bobbers, pliers, and more.
Most airlines do not have any specific restrictions for these items. However, the TSA does prohibit hooks in carry-on bags.
While the TSA prohibits sharp objects from the carry-on bags, they do permit reels, lures, and flies. The TSA states that expensive items that do not pose a danger should be stored in the carry-on luggage.
However, due to the variety of items that an angler may need to pack, it is often best to pack most of these items in a checked bag.
Many travelers have reported spending up to an hour while TSA agents inspect their carry-on fishing gear. While many items may not pose a security risk, they may require a more detailed search by TSA agents.
Fishing Reels and Line May Need to Be Checked
Most airlines and the TSA do not have restrictions on bringing reels or fishing line in your carry-on bag. However, the rules and policies can vary between airports, airlines, and individual TSA agents.
Some TSA agents may require you to remove the fishing line and place it in a checked bag while others allow the line to remain in place.
Travelers also report similar experiences with their fishing reels. One TSA agent may allow the reel in the carry-on bag while another agent would require it to be checked.
For international flights, TSA agents and airlines are often even more restrictive and likely to require these items to be checked.
Instead of waiting until the last minute to deal with these issues, it is often best to simply pack the fishing reels and line with the rest of the fishing gear in a checked bag.
Airlines May Count Multiple Items as One Bag
Airlines are already used to passengers wanting to travel with their fishing gear. To accommodate these travelers, several airlines allow multiple items to count as one checked bag. However, this may not apply to carry-on bags.
For example, American Airlines allows passengers to travel with rods and reels safely secured in a case, one bag with fishing tackle, fishing boots, and a landing net.
The American Airlines policy allows two of these items to count as one checked bag. They also offer a longer size limits for the fishing rod cases, allowing travelers to bring cases measuring up to 126 inches instead of the standard 115 inches.
How many fishing rods can you bring on a plane? As the fishing rod case or tube typically needs to comply with the standard carry-on size and weight limits, most passengers will only be able to bring one fishing rod on the plane as a carry-on item.
However, a fishing rod case that holds multiple rods may still count as one carry-on item if it complies with the carry-on size and weight limits.
How many fishing rods can you bring as checked baggage? Most airlines allow passengers to check one bag before charging excess baggage fees. A fishing rod case containing three rods still counts as one checked bag if it does not exceed the typical 115-inch height limit or 50-pound weight limit. Passengers can often bring as many items as they want if they are willing to pay the additional fees and there is enough space in the cargo hold of the plane.
Are there any fishing items that are prohibited? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does have restrictions when it comes to fishing gear that may be considered dangerous. For example, sharp fishing tackle and hooks need to be securely wrapped and stored in your checked baggage.
While you can bring a fishing rod on a plane, you may need to pay extra fees and follow a few extra restrictions. If you’re bringing the rod as a carry-on item, it still needs to comply with the weight and size limits that the airline sets for carry-on baggage.
Otherwise, you need to check it, which may result in the oversized baggage fee or excess baggage fee, depending on the number of bags that you check.
As these details vary with each airline, the best way to determine what you can and can’t bring on the plane is to contact the airline.
Along with checking the size and weight restrictions, you can determine exactly how much your fishing equipment will cost to check.