They must be. Because the last couple times I’ve checked a fly rod in my luggage, someone from the Transportation Security Administration has broken it.

A few days ago, I had a rod packed in the bottom of my fishpond luggage… in the special rod storage compartment where it belongs… wrapped in it’s sock, and cushioned by soft clothes. When I unpacked after my flight, the rod was out of its sock… and the tip section was in two pieces.

Apparently, the person who inspected my bags didn’t see fit to put the rod back in its sock, and thought it would be fine with the loose pieces wedged against some plastic fly boxes. I was really happy to get a nice card informing me why the government had the right to rummage through my stuff, and break the locks on my bag. It didn’t say anything about ruining my gear though, and didn’t offer any recourse for when that happens. Then again, TSA did leave a number for helpful packing tips.

I have a tip, TSA. Put things back exactly the way you found them. Or here’s a better one… leave your name and ID on those little white courtesy cards, so I’ll know who wrecked my stuff next time.

Traveling with a fly rod is a nightmare. You try to carry them on, and nine times out of 10, you’re fine. Then there’s always some ninny on the 10th trip that makes you check your rod. Ship the rods as a stand-alone luggage item? Not me. Pack them in the tubes they came in (if they fit in your luggage), and you’re looking at those extra few pounds that cost you $50 for overweight luggage. Which might not be a bad deal. As it stands, even the “lifetime warrantied” rods cost $100 to fix, once you factor in shipping and “processing fees.”

I know TSA has a tough job. I appreciate their efforts. But a little common courtesy when handling fishing gear would be appreciated. Any other horror stories?