When planning a fly fishing trip, our excitement is so strong around the destination and the experience that we might have, that we often overlook the most important details; getting our gear there in one piece.
Nothing puts a damper on a highly anticipated fishing trip like losing your gear to a situation that could have been prevented.
Whether you are traveling by plane or car, your fly fishing gear should receive first class care.
Knowing how and what to pack for a plane trip, and how to store a fly rod in a vehicle that might not be sporting a roof rack, will make your trip smooth sailing and a lot of fun.
Taking Your Fly Fishing Gear On a Plane
It seems like every airport, airline, and T.S.A. agent’s standards, directions, and verdicts vary greatly. This unfortunate reality can make traveling all the more anxiety ridden.
It also doesn’t help that fly fishing gear can have some questionable components that may raise some red flags such as fishing hooks, pliers, knives, etc.
Fortunately, fly rods and their reels are deemed acceptable as checked luggage by most airline carriers, regardless of the carrier’s size.
To be absolutely sure that you will not have an unexpected hassle during your airport and plane experience, it’s always a good fail-safe to check with your specific airline carrier.
A great way to think of it is that T.S.A cares about what is inside your bag or on your person, whereas the carrier cares abouthow much your bag weighs and how much space it takes up.
Once you have determined what you can and cannot bring, you’ll need to think about what type of container you will use for transporting your fly rod.
Four-piece rods and rod tubes are always the most ideal given that they are built for this purpose.
That said, the most important thing is that the chosen container is a hard case, extremely durable, and shock absorbent.
Hitting a batch of heavy turbulence is an anxious situation all on its own. Don’t give yourself even more stress by worrying about what damage that said turbulence may inflict on your fly rod.
Flying with a 4 piece rod and rod tube will save you a ton of space and headache. Although all things have their pros and cons, it’s better to fish with your own gear than with rental gear used by all sorts of anglers because you had to leave yours at home.
Where to put “questionable” fly fishing items
So, what questionable fly fishing gear items might raise T.S.A eyebrows? It’s a good idea to leave all tools (such as snippers, pliers, and hooks) in your checked luggage.
It will also serve well to remove your fishing line from the reel and transport them in their respective packaging to prevent any security issues.
Other than that, so long as you don’t pack anything you can’t fit in your carry-on or checked baggage with ease, you’ll be down and off the runway with no problem.
Traveling With Your Fly Fishing Gear via Car
There are some really impressive fly rod roof racks on the market that are hands down the best way to travel via car with your fly rod.
Roof racks like Riversmith are exceptionally durable, can accommodate multiple and varying fly weights, and have protective liners that ensure your fly rod has a smooth and highly protected ride.
But, sometimes you might travel in a rental vehicle, with a buddy who doesn’t have a roof rack, or simply in a vehicle that is not your own. This can require fishermen to get creative with how they’ll go about getting their fly rod to its destination in one piece.
Here’s how you should protect your fly rod when traveling by vehicle:
Disassemble your fly rod down to the number of pieces it was manufactured to break down to.
Then, gently tape or strap the rod’s components together in several places.
Once these parts are secure, place them in the vehicle pointed in a direction safe from windows, doors, and other passengers or obstructions.
With the handles or butts of the fly rod down and a sock placed over the tip facing up, the rod should then also be strapped to the vehicle to prevent it from rolling around.
This security works both ways; it will ensure the vehicle doesn’t inflict damage to your fly rod, and that your fly rod won’t inflict damage to your vehicle.
There is no such thing as caring too much about your fly rod and fishing equipment and doing everything in your power to get all of your gear to your destination safely. So, take the extra minute to call your airline carrier and get information relevant to your rod and gear.
Invest some money into a fly rod roof rack for your personal vehicle so you can get from fishing spot to fishing spot with gentle ease. But, most importantly, don’t make impulsive and uneducated decisions on the fly so that you find yourself or your gear in a bad situation.
Do all your homework up front and your gear will thank you!
We are all wounded. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. The wounds remain. In time, the mind covers these wounds with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But, it never disappears; it is never gone. Sometimes, you’ll have good days, and in the midst of silent moments, it hits you: everything. It hurts to talk, to love, to remain above water.
Simply existing is difficult. No one cares; no one wants to hear about the days you spend lying in your bed, hoping to never wake up. You wish you could be anywhere or even in a time other than now.
“I love that which is invariably beautiful. Everything is beautiful where trout lie.”
We all have our ways of coping with these wounds. We have
our own acts of survival; our own ways of staying alive, even when life isn’t
life anymore. Your soul knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to
silence the mind.
Silence. The disappearance of white noise and chatter; the disappearance of people. Bubbling water, flowing from the snow melt, down the river and over stream beds of smoothed pebbles. Nothing but you and the reverie of what lies ahead.
I love that which is invariably beautiful. Everything is beautiful where trout lie. I hate that which is invariably ugly: people, television, iPads, and assorted social stigmas that come with living in a modern society. Doctors prescribing you a new prescription to dull your senses; to numb what you hope to one day feel.
In a world where most people spend their lives doing things they hate, my escape is the endless source of solitude. On the water, wading in a stream, or strolling through woods, I find solitude without loneliness. I fish because I love to; because fish do not lie; they cannot be bribed or impressed by power, but respond to humility. They respond to a patience only true fishermen know.
Patience. It is something I know. Mastering the art of fishing takes time. Taking that experience and portraying it on canvas takes even more time. But why? Anyone can paint a fish but where there is no emotion, it is just that: a picture of a fish. Channeling that feeling of excitement, the sweet fragrance of evergreen trees, or the repetitive song of a marsh wren into a visual work of art requires total immersion into the moment.
When I paint a fish, I’m painting the moment; I’m reminding myself that this is my refuge. A refuge where my lesions of life can heal; where my mind can drift like the dry fly on the Gros Ventre River. You watch your line or the reflection dancing and nothing more; somehow, you unconsciously grasp the sweet scent of summer, the memory of mountain bluebirds singing, and the wind gently sweeping the tinge of hair on your face. This is the calm; this is the silence your soul mediates with your mind.
“Trout… what fly fishermen are after. But are they really? Maybe it is the attainable sensation of hope that the next trout will be bigger, prettier, a challenge.”
Calm. At ease. I sit down and close my eyes, taking myself
back to a western seclusion. It’s like I’m sitting there on an exposed rock,
watching the sunset dance on cottonwood leaves. The towering Teton Mountains
are behind me. I’m watching time stroll by, sweeping in the last of the snowmelt.
Little did I know that this is where trout lie.
Trout… what fly fishermen are after. But are they really? Maybe it is the attainable sensation of hope that the next trout will be bigger, prettier, a challenge.
Me? I borrowed my husband’s rod, practicing the dance between rod, line, and water. Gently coaxing the fly back and forth then sorting the landing among the ripples, rocks, and current. I pick it up as it makes it way down river, ready to try again. Same movements, easing the line like I’m painting in plein aire.
I’m aiming at this swirl in the river, lessening the chance of a bite. I don’t care. I’m not fishing, or at least I didn’t think so.
I was immersed into the meditation of fly fishing; the flouncing elegance of casting and presenting my fly.
I start to bring in my line as it sweeps down river, but something happened. Something is different. My line is weighted. Then it moves upriver, unnaturally against the current.
My hands stay steady but my mind is still processing the thought that I have a trout on the end of the line.
How? Why? I wasn’t ready for a fish.
This uncontrollable feeling of pure excitement swept over me, and I couldn’t help but yell, “Holy Moly! I caught a trout!”
I still wasn’t sure if what I said was true. I reeled and hand-lined the trout in. Oh, indeed, it was a trout. It was a fine-spotted Snake River cutthroat.
I somehow caught a trout that fishermen go years trying to obtain but yet, always eluded.
“Pain is a part of life. Sometimes, it’s a big part. And sometimes, it’s as small as a nymph. But either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep waters, the great catch.”
In my excitement, I felt this peace overcome me. Contradictory, I know. I wasn’t after the trout. My soul knew the existence of what was there; a sense of healing and a chance to release.
All of this happened so fast, but my consciousness took in every millisecond, hyper-vigilant on my surroundings and emotions. I honestly could not process the disbelief and how an incredible moment was presented on my road to healing.
I’ve learned to control my outward emotions, but inside, I was weeping. I needed this. I looked down at this trout. It’s beautiful colors and spots matching the golden light that backlit my excitement.
Oh, how this trout unknowingly helped me; how the simple act of fishing helped me. I was releasing what pain and confusion my mind had warped into suffering. I gently supported the trout for it’s release.
For the release wasn’t just putting the fish back in the water. It was free; but was I? I had to let go. In doing so, I started to release the hurt. I released the fear. I started to heal. I have refused to entertain the old pain.
Pain is a part of life. Sometimes, it’s a big part. And sometimes, it’s as small as a nymph. But either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep waters, the great catch.
Pain does two things: it teaches you; it tells you that you’re alive. Then the reality of it drifts away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser. Sometimes, it leaves you stronger. That strength is hidden in the depths of weakness and despair. Either way, pain leaves its mark and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.
So take that rod, find water, and cast. You just might let something go.
The following is how my wife turned her pick-pocket skills into an East Tennessee fly fishing surprise and an N1 Moment for me.
Fly Fishing experience?
I had dabbled in fly fishing while in college, but I hadn’t done it in years and would still be considered very much a rookie fly fisherman.
Then, in 2013, while on a family vacation to Sevierville, Tennessee, my wife surprised me with a guided fly fishing trip. She had arranged for me to go on an all-day, smallmouth bass fishing float with Frontier Anglers TN.
Smallmouth bass fishing is fun. They are very aggressive fish and are a blast to catch. But, when you put a hook N1 with a fly rod, the experience goes to another level.
Frontier Anglers TN owner, Josh Pfeiffer, was my guide on this extremely hot July day. But, although the weather was sweltering hot, the fishing was hot as well.
Unfortunately, in addition to hooking several nice smallmouth, I also hooked Josh’s hat 3 consecutive casts (I told you I was a fly fishing rookie, remember?)
Thank goodness for patient fishing guides.
I tucked that trip away in the unforgettable outdoor moments files, but didn’t fish the area again… until 2018. And, this trip was as much of a surprise as the last one!
It was Father’s Day, 2018. My wife and two daughters gave me a few gifts like they do every year. The last gift was an envelope. I opened it up, and inside was a gift certificate for… you guessed it, a fly fishing trip with Josh Pfeiffer. And while I was certainly excited about getting to go fly fishing again with Josh, there was more to the story…
About a month prior to receiving this gift, I thought it would be great to contact Josh and see if we could set up a time to do a little fly fishing and film some instructional fishing videos.
Even after 5 years, I still had his business card in my wallet. So, I emailed him to see what he thought of my idea. He emailed me back and said he might be interested in working something out. But, I got sidetracked and never closed the deal.
My pick-pocket wife
My wife, who had no idea I had been communicating with Josh, thought that sending me fishing for the weekend would be a great Father’s Day idea. But, she couldn’t remember anything about who had taken me five years earlier. So what did she do? She went through my wallet, of course!
She found Josh’s business card and called him to book the trip. I later asked Josh if he thought it was strange that both my wife and myself were separately contacting him. He said he wasn’t really sure what to think, so he didn’t say anything to my wife. Smart man.
Fly Fishing with an old friend
So, a few weeks later, I was back on the water with Josh, five years removed from my last fly fishing trip with him. On this second trip, we fished for trout. And just like the previous trip, Josh’s knowledge of East Tennessee fly fishing didn’t disappoint. Over a two day span, I caught close to 30 rainbow trout. And while I love to put a hook N1, that was only part of what made the trip so special.
I wanted to go fly fishing again with Josh. My wife wanted me to go fly fishing with Josh. But, neither of us knew what the other was thinking. What resulted was a great surprise, a few laughs, and some great fishing.
I thought to myself, you know, this is what we always say at N1 Outdoors. It’s not the size of the fish or the wild game. It’s the unforgettable moments and memories that are made outdoors with friends and family. That’s what we love to celebrate. This trip was no different.
I’ll do some East Tennessee fly fishing again… and this time it will be a lot sooner than five years!