Above all else, a fishing rod travel tube needs to be robust. We've all heard horror stories about checked luggage being tossed around carelessly, and the last thing you want is to have your pricey fly rods treated like a sack of potatoes. Just imagine going on the dream trip of a lifetime only to arrive with a bunch of broken rods...talk about a nightmare!
If you're planning to just fly fish on your trip, chances are you can simply carry on your rods with a shorter tube designed for standard 9 foot 4-piece fly rods, such as this one. However, I always take a combination of both fly and 2-piece conventional rods with me, so a longer and wider tube is required. I know that multi-piece casting and spinning rods exist, but I just don't like conventional rods to have more than two pieces.
My travel tube for the last few years has been the popular Plano Airliner. Let's take a closer look at its different features and craftsmanship...
I've been happy with the tube so far, but I should cite two negatives. First, I wouldn't say the refinement ranking is super high, as some of the plastic edges are a little rough. There's even some loose plastic shavings to be found.
Second, you have to take the tube apart to access the rods inside; there's no door or twist-off end cap for easy access. Truthfully, this is a pain in the ass sometimes, but it's something I have to live with. Another series of popular travel fishing rod tubes, the Flambeau Bazuka, appears to offer an easy access door on each tube.
There's something very relaxing about boarding a plane with my hands holding onto nothing but a boarding pass. It costs a pretty penny these days to check luggage on a flight, and I usually have to check TWO pieces when I fly, but not having to worry about overhead baggage space is priceless. While there are some things about the Plano Airliner fishing rod tube that I'd change, it gets the job done and lets me fly without worrying about my precious rods.
Plano shows a price of $99.99 on their site, but the Airliner can be purchased cheaper at many other places. Personally, I grabbed one on Amazon for much less!