How to Choose a Travel Fishing Rod

Select one of these three styles of packable fishing rods and stow them anyplace you might need to wet a line in an emergency.

man casting out fishing rod
Travel fishing rods are lightweight, compact, and something you’ll be happy to have should you find yourself in a “fishy” situation.Leah Kelley

There’s something about a travel fishing rod that’s exciting and full of promise. Travel fishing rods represent new waters, new possibilities, fishing experiences that you’ll remember the rest of your life. But that’s only going to happen if you choose the travel rod that’s right for your adventure. Here are three type of travel fishing rods and the situations they’re best suited for:

KastKing Blackhawk II telescopic fishing rod

The Travel Rod You Stash in Your Car

The KastKing Blackhawk II telescopic fishing rods have a consistent and smooth taper and are available in a variety of sizes for freshwater and saltwater fishing.KastKing

How many times have you been behind the wheel and crossed over a stream, or driven by a pond that looked perfect for fishing—but you had no rod with you? That’s where a telescopic fishing rod is perfect. Telescopic rods collapse down into the butt (bottom) section. That does two things: It makes the rod easy to get ready (you simply pull out the sections, starting with the tip) and it protects the delicate upper sections of the rod. Most fishing rods break during transport or handling (not when fighting a big fish, as romantic as that may seem), and considering that the rod will be bouncing around in your trunk or behind the seat, that’s important.

Daiwa Mini System Minispin Ultralight Spinning Reel and Rod Combo in Hard Carry Case

The Backpack Travel Rod

Daiwa’s Mini System Minispin ultralight spinning rod and reel combination comes with a hard case that does double-duty as a tackle box.Daiwa

Two factors come into play in a backpacking situation: The lengths of the pieces and the weight of the rod. The sections of a backpack fishing rod must be short enough to fit into a backpack, where they’ll be safe from drops or overhead obstructions. Also, considering that most people backpack into remote wooded areas, the rod must be light enough to fish small waters, and/or those with very clean, and thus clear, water. That means you need an ultralight fishing rod, so you can use small-diameter fishing line that won’t spook fish.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Travel Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

The Suitcase Travel Rod

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Travel Spinning Rod and Reel Combo in 6 1/2-foot length is well suited for freshwater lake and inshore saltwater fishing.Ugly Stik

If you’re traveling to a new destination with a suitcase or duffel bag, and you don’t know exactly how you’ll be fishing, or with what, go with a mid-weight, all-around travel rod. There are two reasons for this: First, if the fishing requires you to use lighter or heavier fishing line than what you have on the reel, you can always put new line on it. That’s easier than bringing several rods, and much cheaper than buying a new rod at your destination. Second, you have to consider that you’ll be bringing your travel rod to different places and for different species of fish, so a mid-weight, all-around rod will be one that you can use over and over again. In fact, that travel rod might become your favorite fishing rod of all.