Planes and fly-fishing gear

Don Oliver | Special to the Drum

In my opinion, traveling on commercial airlines is no fun. It’s a hassle. The planes are crowded, have no legroom, and the seats are uncomfortable. The aircraft are old, not on time, your luggage gets lost, and a large number of travelers wear their flannel pajamas. I’m old. I remember when air travel was an adventure. While the food wasn’t good, at least it was served with real silverware and a cigarettes.

In today’s world of air travel it seems luggage is the big issue. It never ceases to amaze me how travelers define carry-on bags. I believe whomever invented the game “Whack-a-mole” got their inspiration from watching people trying to hammer huge bags into little spaces. When they are successful your proper size carry-on, that was stowed first, gets crushed. With that ugly vision planted firmly in your brain, I have some tips for those that have never traveled on an airplane with their fly-fishing gear.

It’s a sad start of a trip to arrive at the luggage carousal only to watch everyone else claim their bags. Then find the airline office – that tracks lost bags – closed. Now you begin the search for your gear via cell phone, only to have your bags and equipment delivered to your lodge the day before you leave to come home. I have seen this happen.

Tip one, is don’t check everything.

To avoid this acquire a rod bag that can hold several 4-piece rods, reels, and other items that will make it through security. The other items, for me, include an extra pair of sunglasses and my sun gloves. Don’t try to carry on 100’s of flies, liquid-floatant, pliers, and a leather-man tool. Several types of rod bags are on the market and fit into the overhead storage bins. My bag even fits into the bins on the commuter flights to Denver.

Tip two, make use of the personal carry-on bag you’re allowed. In it, put one pair of fishing pants and a fishing shirt.

So if your checked luggage is delayed, you’ll  still be comfortable while fishing. If your bag, holding your flies, doesn’t arrive hopefully your fishing partners won’t charge much for flies. Of course, that means you are traveling with different partners than I travel with.

Tip three, know the laws about bringing waders, felt soled boots, rods and reels, into the state or country you are traveling to.

Some states and countries have banned felt soled boots. It would sure take the fun out of a fly-fishing trip to have your wadding boots confiscated at an airport.

I recently saw several fly-fishermen having to check their rods after changing airports in Argentina. The national airport had a different set of rules from the international airport.

Don’t argue with the folks from TSA or U.S. Customs is tip four.

You’ll lose this argument every time. Even if an item makes it through one airport, there is no law that says it will make it through another.

I had a nail knot tool make it through the first airport and taken away at another. That was TSA.

Arguing with a U.S Custom Official goes to another level – they carry guns. If you don’t like losing a nail-knot tool, you’ll really have a bad day as you watch your toothpaste squeezed out. And that will just be for starters. These folks have a thankless job to do, try thanking them.

Travel on airplanes is not fun, again my opinion. However, a few hours of cramped and uncomfortable seating can deliver days of wonderful fly-fishing. Make the best of the ride; have a great day on the water.

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