Here's why flying with your fishing gear can be easier than you thought.
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Traveling with your fishing gear seems like a pain, but if you follow some simple guidelines, it's easier than most imagine.
Rules change often so you should still check with your specific airline as well as TSA before you fly. If you are traveling internationally it gets even more complicated especially with carrying on fishing rods.
Here is the scoop on traveling with a variety of fishing gear, both in the US and internationally.
Obviously one-piece rods need to be checked, and you need to have an adequate tube to protect them. When you are checking an oversize rod tube, you're going to pay. Expect fees to be $25 to $100 depending on how many checked bags you have. Also make sure to check with your airline about the length of the tube allowed. Typically you can expect airlines will allow a tube of at least 115 inches and sometimes a limit of two rods per container.
For travel rods or fly rods rods, you might be might be able to cary them on, especially when traveling within the US. The one hiccup you might face is full overhead storage bins. If so, you will be forced to gate check your rods, so be prepared with a rugged container if your plan goes awry.
You are explicitly allowed to carry on fishing reels. Simple, right? Sadly the rules don't say anything about fishing line.
The TSA agent on the ground will have to decide if the fishing line is dangerous. The consensus among traveling anglers is that at domestic airports you are extremely unlikely to have a problem. Internationally your fishing line is much more likely to face scrutiny. So be prepared to strip off the line or check reels if the security agents object.
TSA expressly allows you to carry on small and freshwater hooks, but "large deep sea fishing hooks" are not allowed. Defining a "large deep sea fishing hook" is up to the TSA agent (and they probably don't know much about fishing). When in doubt, checking hooks (including large flies) is your best bet.
The magic number for tools is seven inches. Pliers, hemostats, line clippers/nippers, zingers, knot tying tools, even scissors (with a blade under four inches in the US) are all ok as long as they are under seven inches in total length.
When flying abroad you will face more restrictions and it is safest to check anything you don't want confiscated.
In conclusion, when you are departing from the US, even if you end up abroad, you will be able to carry-on a lot of your gear ensuring it makes it to your fishing destination.