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Packing a Fishing [and T.S.A Friendly] Carry-On Bag

Here at Yellow Dog, we have had our fair share of luggage nightmares. It is not a regular occurrence, but when it does happen, we have learned you can still make the best of the situation with some preemptive planning. How you pack your carry-on bag can make or break your trip if you ever find yourself between a rock and an airline (hard place). Here are a few suggestions for packing your carry-on bag that we hope you find helpful when packing for your next fly fishing adventure.

Think about the vital pieces of equipment you will need to get on the water and into some fish. Obviously, the first three items that come to mind are a rod, reel, and some flies.


Rods and reels are permitted as checked luggage and are also allowed as carry-on luggage by T.S.A.  The only hold-up is that rod tubes can sometimes not meet size requirements set by airline carriers for carry-on items. Make sure you check with your carrier to confirm that they will allow you to bring your rod tube. If they seem hesitant, take a quick moment to explain just how vital this piece of equipment is to your trip. Ultimately, it is the carrier’s decision as to whether or not rods can be transported in your carry-on baggage.

Reels are never an issue to pack in your carry-on, but keeping them safe is. We recommend putting them in a nice reel case.  So, what about your flies?

While T.S.A. regulations do not technically prohibit fishing flies in carry-on luggage, if a security agent decides that they have a problem with your flies, they might confiscate them.

Take a small fly box or zip-lock bag, and load enough flies for a single day of fishing (about 12-18 flies total). Create a basic assortment that will allow you to fish for a day or two if the airline delays your checked luggage. Then, pack the rest of your flies securely in your checked luggage. If all of your luggage arrives, then you can use the small selection of flies you packed in your carry-on as a little “go-to” selection to toss in your pack.

Now that all of the vitals are taken care of and packed properly, here is the full list of items we on the Yellow Dog staff pack in our carry-on luggage.

  • Fly rods
  • Reels & fly line
  • A small selection of flies
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Toiletries kit
  • Change of clothes
  • Important medications
  • Yellow Dog Itinerary
  • Flight Itinerary
  • Passport/I.D.

If you’ve got these items packed in your carry-on, never mind that lost suitcase…you’re ready to fish!


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