Travel tips for fishermen

One of the great things about vacationing with a fly rod is that mountain folks like us have the opportunity to fish salt water, but there are extra precautions for maintaining your gear. Salt water will wreak havoc on your fly reel, so I clean my gear every time it’s exposed to the stuff. Here’s how I make sure I get home with sound equipment.

When I’m heading out to wet a line in salt water, I’ll pick up a gallon-jug full of water at the local convenience store. As soon as I’m done fishing and back at my vehicle, I cut an opening in the top of the jug that’s big enough to stick my reel into—still attached to the rod. I can then slosh the reel around to get the first round of salt washed off. After that, I run the fly line out of the jug, threading it first from inside the water jug and out through its hollow handle.

With the reel still in the jug of water, I pull the whole reel-full of line out in a straight run along the edge of the parking lot where it won’t get run over by passing cars. When that’s done, I slosh the now empty reel one more time and then start reeling the line back in—through the hollow handle into the fresh water—to make sure the line gets rinsed before it goes onto the reel. The rod gets wiped down with a wet cloth, and the reel gets removed from the rod to dry on the dashboard.

When I get home, I give the whole outfit a good washing when in a bathtub filled with water and a drop or two of dish soap. I allow it to dry out completely before putting it away in its case.

Stealth-cruiser fly-rod case

Shipping an expensive fly rod on an airplane when you’re traveling can be a slightly anxious process. A nice-looking rod case generally houses an expensive rod, and it’s small enough to make it an easy target for unscrupulous people. I have a travel case made out of 4-inch PVC pipe that has one end glue-capped and the other end dry-capped but secured with Velcro that has been attached to the pipe with clear packing tape.

On the luggage carousel, the plastic pipe doesn’t have the look of something worth stealing, and it will carry two rods safely. The Velcro closure system allows airport security to easily open it up to look it over, and it’s simple enough they can re-secure it easily.

Buy a fishing license

In 40-odd years of fishing, I have been stopped a mere three times by a warden who checked to make sure I had a license. With those sorts of odds, it’s pretty darn seductive to avoid buying an expensive out-of-state license when you’re only going to be fishing for one or two days.

But getting busted is pretty expensive. In North Carolina, you can be charged up to $1,000 if you don’t have a license. If nothing else, buying a $20 two-day license is insurance that won’t add significant cost to your vacation. But it goes a little bit further than that. The dollars harvested on fishing licenses go toward the costs of game management, which ensures there’s good fishing for everyone. In the end, it’s a pretty good deal.


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