Rod tubes are essential for fishing travel. By air, train, land, or sea, these rod tubes will keep your fishing rods safe and secure for a very long time.
Traveling with your precious fishing rods always brings a bit of stress to your fishing trip.
Will the rods arrive safely at the correct destination? Did I pack them tight enough? Will the airline luggage handlers take the FRAGILE sticker seriously or do they see them at all?
But before even worrying about your rods arriving in the correct country, you must decide what and how to pack your rods for the trip.
Thus, our topic for today, fishing rod tubes.
Tough, durable, easy to use and airline approved fishing rod tubes.
As a fishing destination, we take a lot of guests fishing.
From picking up guests from the airport, setting up their gear, helping them pack up for their trip back home, and sending them off to the airport, we have handled a multitude of rod tubes.
We’ve seen rod tubes bent and broken beyond repair, and we’ve seen and handled rod tubes that looked like it has been through war and can’t wait to go back.
DIY rod tubes made out of PVC pipe and overly built rod tubes built by their local fabricator.
Most will not survive the drills of keeping fishing rods safe and secure for international fishing travel, but some accomplish the task very well.
Below, we list down our top 3 fishing rod tubes designed for international fishing travel and built to survive years of use and luggage handling abuse.
But before we proceed to show our top 3 rod tubes, let’s talk about what to look for in a good traveling rod tube and what to avoid when you decide to buy one.
Materials and Construction
The most common and most practical material used for fishing rod tubes is hard plastic.
They are lightweight and easily malleable and can be formed into unlimited shapes and forms, thus making this the perfect material for rod tubes.
They can be made tough but still flexible to avoid being brittle and prone to cracking.
Its flexibility allows it to withstand pressure from all angles, while still being stiff enough to protect the rods within.
Plastic lasts almost forever and if you choose a good rod tube, expect it to outlast your fishing career too.
Ease of Use
How to get your rods in and out of your rod tube easily is an important factor when deciding to pick a rod tube.
You wouldn’t want to be just putting your rods together while the other guys are on the boat, ready and waiting.
And you wouldn’t want to be left scratching your head when the time comes to pack up for the flight home.
The simplest rod tube designs are often the most efficient.
A rod tube with a big opening to easily slide rods in and out of the case is important.
Forget about rod cases that open like briefcases. The latches or slider locks always break after the first few uses, and you’ll find yourself needing to duct tape your rod case to keep it closed.
Briefcase style rod cases are also a nightmare to pack. If you’re like me, and you always bring ‘spare rods just in case’, you’ll always have to arrange the rods in a certain way before you can even attempt to close it shut.
Whereas the simple wide-mouthed bazooka rod tubes accept rods easily.
Even if you tend to bring too many rods, a little wiggling, and some twisting is all it takes to get them all to fit nicely.
The rod tubes we list down below are well worth the price.
Ranging from US$110 – 230, the value they will bring to you is immeasurable when traveling with your precious fishing rods.
“$200 for a rod tube you say. I’ll make one on my own for less than a quarter of the costs of a store-bought one, and it’ll be tougher and more protective!”
Yes, of course, you may want to go the DIY route at first but trust me when I say that the rod tubes listed below are plenty worth every penny.
DIY rod tubes made from pipes are either too heavy or too brittle for international travel.
More weight means more expenses for excess luggage weight. And the lighter you go in terms of PVC size, the more anxiety it’ll cause you throughout the flights.
Invest a little more into your fishing gear travel cases, and your gear will thank you for it.
Protect your rods and you’ll catch your fish. You’ll get to protect your dignity too.
With all that being said, let’s start with one of the most popular rod tubes from SporTube.
SporTube Series 1 and 2
The SporTube cases were originally designed for transporting skis and ski poles around the globe by avid skiers.
And by chance, an angler gets his hands on the case and realizes how well it swallows fishing rods of all sizes.
The SporTubes are length adjustable and can fit most rod sizes except for super long surf rods exceeding 8 feet in length when broken down.
Its hard plastic shell is more than thick enough and will protect our rods while in transit.
SporTube also offers 3 sizes to choose from, but the Series 1 and Series 2 sizes are the most practical for us anglers.
The Series 1 can fit up to 3 GT popping rods and 2 jigging rods.
While the Series 2 can fit up to 6 GT rods and 4 jigging rods, more if you are feeling lucky.
SporTubes come in black or orange. I am one for the orange color as it is easy to see and find in a busy airport and when transporting it through dense jungles and forests.
They also have wheels so to make them easy to pull around when traveling.
The SporTubes have some foam padding at each end, but not enough to just trust it without extra padding.
We’ll talk about how to properly pack the rods later on.
The case locking pin is extremely easy to use but does cause a lot of stress when lost.
This case locking pin is used to both lock the case and lock in the length of your tube when adjusting it.
It may seem a bit flimsy as it is the only thing securing your rod tube together, but it is tough and has yet to fail me.
Also, fishing rod tubes are often opened for inspection, and SporTube’s case locking pin can be easily misplaced by baggage checkers.
My tip is to tether the clip onto the case’s handle with some spare braid, minimum PE6, paracord, or old jigging assist cords you have lying around.
I’d also order some spares to keep in my tackle bag just in case it goes missing.
All in all, the SporTube Series 1 or 2 cases are an incredible value for the traveling angler.
Strong, light, easy to use, and has a 5-year manufacturer warranty.
Plano Jumbo Airliner
Next up we have the Plano Jumbo Airliner.
Plano has been making tackle storage systems since 1952, and with the Airliner, has possibly been the first to design and market a rod tube for the international travel angling community.
Its tube’s inner diameter measures in at 8.5 inches or 21.59cm which allows it to swallow your saltwater casting and jigging rods with aplomb.
The Jumbo Airliner has a screw-on type cap closure that firmly locks into place with a satisfying “clunk”. Although simple in design, the clasp works well and has yet to fail during trips.
That said, I would still recommend a bit of duct tape to secure the cap on.
It has a similar case locking pin with the SporTube cases that lock the rod tube’s length.
I’d lash this locking pin onto the case with paracord, spare braid or assist cord so I won’t easily misplace it.
The Jumbo Airliner also has big solid wheels to make it easier to transport in and around airports.
It only comes in black though. Customize it with your favorite fishing brand’s stickers or paint your details on it with white paint to make it easily seen from afar.
A solid, no-frills choice for the no-nonsense angler. The Plano Jumbo Airliner is a great bet for international fishing travel and will easily get the job done.
Flambeau Bazuka Pro Rod Tube
Last but not the least, we have the Flambeau Bazuka Pro rod tube.
Flambeau claims that it is “One Tough Son of a Gun” and when you feel the thickness of the tube’s shell, you’ll quickly agree.
The tube’s inner diameter measures in at 6 inches or 15.24cm. Not as big as the SporTube series 2 or the Plano Jumbo Airliner but will still easily swallow 6 saltwater fishing rods with ease.
The Bazuka Pro utilizes a simple ‘clasp’ type closure system for its hinged rod entryway.
Its simple design may look too primitive, but it works well. It being a plastic closure system makes it resistant to any sort of corrosion or ‘sticking’.
I’ve yet to see the clasps pull off from extreme abuse, but it may happen, but extremely late into its lifespan.
You also won’t need to rely on the clasp to keep it secure all the time anyway. Right below the clasp is where you would lock the tube with a separate padlock.
So once your clasp decides to send it and fall into the ocean, you can still secure the rod tube’s hatch with a snug-fitting padlock and some duct tape.
Like the two rod tubes above, the Bazuka Pro also uses the clip lock to secure the rod tube in its chosen length.
Tie some braid on it and tether it to your rod tube to avoid misplacing it.
And if you still manage to lose it, zip ties are a must in your tackle bag.
- If your rod comes with a sleeve or protective cover, keep it on when placing your rods in the rod tube. It helps keep the rods from slamming into each other and allows you to pack them tightly against each other without fear of scratching their finish.
- To maximize the rod tube’s space, arrange rods in an end-to-end orientation. Thick rod butt sections at opposite ends of the tube.
- Secure your rods together with rod straps. If you don’t have any, get some. They are time savers! And you can use them on the boats as well. They are stretchy thick bands that have Velcro on them so you can secure multiple rods together.
- If you don’t have rod straps with you, some string, bungee cord, or tape will get you through the trip. Just make sure you pack the rods together snugly.
- Pack the rods into the rod tube until there is no free space for the rods to slide around and damage themselves. Freely sliding rods are the number one cause of broken rod tips.
- The best material to use to keep things snug inside the rod tube is bubble wrap. We won’t have bubble wrap laying around the house all the time. Use your fishing shirts and shorts that you’ll use on the trip to secure the rods inside the rod tube. Wrap them around the rods before sliding them into the tube.
- Do the shake test always! Pack the rods into the rod tube, close it and shake from all sides and up and down. If you feel or hear any movement inside, open the tube and add some more clothing.
- Don’t be afraid to stick on as many fragile stickers on the rod tube as possible. The luggage handlers may still not notice it, but it feels cool to bring around a big bazooka looking tube around the airport with fragile stickers all over it.
- Secure everything inside so they don’t move around. If you intend to put in some spools of line, some lures, jigs, or other stuff, make sure to secure them with the rods. Nothing should be left freely moving inside. Nothing.
- Always bring a roll of duct tape. Keep it in your tackle bag, or your check-in luggage. It’ll find its use one day, and you’ll be glad you have it.
If you want more detailed packing tips for international fishing travel, click here to read our saltwater fishing packing list.
There are tons of other options out there that will suit any budget. And there are tons of other rod tubes that we’ve seen fail time and again.
To prevent any legal action against me, I won’t mention any of the brands that have failed us and our guests alike, but I’m sure you can easily discern which ones are quality and which ones are bootleg copies.
Investing a bit more for a better-built rod tube is a no-brainer. Something that keeps your expensive GT popping and jigging rods safe throughout an international fishing trip is an investment in itself.
Don’t be the guy who buys the cheapest rod tube available and ends up with 8 broken rods even the trip even starts.
Protect your rods and you’ll catch your fish. You’ll get to protect your dignity too.
What rod tube do you use?