A traveling note for fly fishing folks

During fly fishing travels I’ve always checked my bags. The last couple of times I flew I found TSA inspection tags on or in my multi-rod tube, and in one case my duffle (which contained fly boxes and reels) was completely ransacked. My rods are too much for carry-on (all three-piece), but during this trip I decided to avoid the reel rumble by toting everything else with me.big fly box

I knew I wouldn’t have a problem with reels and lines, but with my fly box containing slightly more than #20 Griffith’s Gnats I pinged Pete McDonald (figuring he knows salty travel pretty well) to see if there was any risk of my box getting bounced at the X-ray machine. I got a mixed response (i.e. carrying them is no problem but I check mine regardless), so I decided to take the chance that TSA understood big hooks are dangerous to nothing other than big fish. It turned out to be smooth sailing.

I wasn’t planning on seeing any bonefish or permit, but I left the crystal shrimp, Charlies, and other assorted small goodies in the box, hoping I might find a carp or two in one of the twenty-seven-point-nine million retention ponds located in the southern suburban sprawl. That bet didn’t pay off – it turns out you have to jump through hoops to get even triploid clean-up crews into the Sunshine State – despite tromping around a half-dozen developments I only saw one grassie, and it was tucked under the safest of cover.

No need to worry, fans of the crappiest luckiest fly fisherman on the Third Rock from the Sun, a blow by blow of my backcountry adventure is coming forthwith.

MG signing off (to pole around a salty creek)


Salty stuff–sounds fun! Can’t wait for the report. I’m too cheap to travel by plane, so I never have those “luggage” problems anyhow (although Dan might start charging me the next time I insist on bringing five duffels on a four day fishing trip).

Tim Marek says:

Michael, check the tsa site under special items. They actually suggest carrying fly’s and reels in your carry-on bags. This is what I printed and showed tsa when I traveled to Mexico and didn’t have any issues. Trade those 3 piece rods in for 4 piece rods and you can carry all your gear on without worrying about your gear getting poached.

Tight lines,


@Scott – I’m generally too cheap too, but the fam can usually bribe me by pre-arranging fishing outings on my behalf 😉

@Tim – I did check the TSA site, clicking through the “Prohibited Items” link straight from Google. Flies weren’t on the list, and when I saw the special items section (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1188.shtm) I didn’t read all the way to the bottom where the mention of flies is (in the very last sentence on that page). Pete also mentioned checking the prohibited list frequently, as things supposedly change fairly often. I guess I was most worried about an uninformed agent than anything else, but again everything went through without a hitch.

murdock says:

I always get antsy about flies and reels myself but usually check them. I once did get chastised for putting my hat on top of my laptop in Denver tough… Denver is one tough TSA barracks…

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