If I plan on walking for several hours, I will dismantle my rod and store it inside a carry case. Most fly rods come with one. I then strap the case securely to the side of my pack. Having good side straps, and a ‘water bottle holder’ usually holds a fly rod very securely in place. If bringing a spare rod, simply use the other side of the pack.
When the fishing is only a short walk, say under half an hour. I simply carry the fly rod with the point facing backwards. If I need to use my hand for scrambling, I will consider moving the rod to the case but I usually do not have it with me. So proceed with caution.
If the rod is not in its case, always carry it fully rigged. With the fly securely attached to one of the lower guides. This will all but prevent the tip section from snagging on some track side vegetation and getting pulled off.
A hint, to speed fishing up even faster. Pull enough fly line out to wrap the leader around the reel, then secure the fly to one of the lower guide frames. To keep the line nice and snag, might want to wrap the tippet around several times before hooking it in place.
How to carry a fly rod when scrub bashing
Pushing through thickets of scrub, prickle thickets, ferns and general undergrowth can be challenging at the best of times. But, the best fishing spots is often on the other side of such difficult terrain.
When I first started fly fishing, I had a lot of difficulty navigating through the undergrowth. The mistake, I was holding my fly rod like a lance in front of me. Like a lance, it kept on piercing through gaps between stalks and generally getting tangled.
The solution, is not more simple. Simply carry the rod facing backwards. This simple act eliminates 99% of tangles and with practice, I can walk through scrub nearly as quickly while carrying a rod then without.
Like with hiking, always leave your rod fully rigged with line through the guides, and the fly securely attached to one of the lower guides. The line prevents the rod from being pulled apart, it does happen. I lost the tip section of my first sage rod once. Despite hours of searching over multiple trips I never found it. Luckily, Sage sent me out a replacement for a nominal fee.
Securing the fly to one of the lower guide also greatly reduces the chance of it hooking into vegetation. Nothing is more annoying then having to remove flies from a twig every few yards.
How to carry a fly rod in a car?
I rarely dismantle my fly rods and put them back in the case. I much rather store them fully rigged, but we all know they are a bit too long to store fully rigged in most cars.
The answer is simple, assuming you own a 4 piece or 2 piece rod. Simply separate the rod down the middle, and keep enough slack in the system to lay both sections side by side. I then gently wrap the tippet around both sections several times to hold everything together. These two 4.5ft sections now easily fit in the trunk of most cars.
If you want further protection, take a trip to the hardware store and purchase some 4.5ft lengths of PVC pipe. To one end glue a cap, and the other cut out a smooth groove about the correct dimension for the reel base. Now whenever you travel, simply thread both sections of the rod into the tube with the reel lodged into its grove. To protect the reel further, simply cover it with a thick woolen sock.
How to transport a single piece fly rod?
Transporting a single piece 9ft fly rod is difficult, which is why most anglers, myself included, prefer to fish 4 piece rods. They are simply much easier to live with. But for collectors, or advocates of single piece rods, there are a couple of ways to transport them.
The first is to own long SUV or Wagon which has enough internal length to transport the rod. I could transport a 9ft fly rod fully rigged inside my previous truck which was a Toyota 4runner. For this to work, you need the middle seat empty and the rod tip secures neatly close to the rear-view mirror.
External Storage options for one piece rods
While it might not be the most secure option, it is possible to transport fly rods on a roof rack.
While it is possible just to strap the rods directly to the crossbars, I will not recommend it. A more secure option is a system such as the Yakima ReelDeal Rooftop Fishing Rod Mount. This secures the rod, but it leaves the rod very vulnerable to damage. If a stone chip could crack glass and chip paint, imagine what it would do to a graphite blank. Bird strike is also a real possibility. If you insist on transporting your rods, I advise carrying them facing backwards. That protects the delicate tip from forward impacts.
Or better still, store them inside a long transport case on the racks. There are commercial solutions such as the Thule Rodvault Fly Fishing Rod Carrier but they do not come cheap.
A homemade solution would be a 9ft+ long section of PVC plumbing pipe. Attached securely to the racks with D bolts or similar. Internally, you might want to provide some form of padding to prevent the rods from rubbing against the bolts. At either end, you will have to install some type PVC end cap. Some are glued on, others are threaded. I will not give exact designs, just provide some inspiration.
How to carry a fly rod on a kayak?
There is a lot to cover here, and the answer really depends on the features of your kayak, and whether you are planning to fly fish from the kayak or just use it for transport.
Most fishing kayaks have features designed for carrying and storing rods, although because of the length of a fly rod. In some cases, you have to split them in half before storing them.
If using a kayak just for transport, hoping to reach a trout stream only accessible by boat then I typically leave my rod in its tube and store the rod inside the hull of my kayak. This keeps them secure and in no risk of getting lost even during a capsize.
If the kayak does not have an accessible hull, then the only option is to secure the rod externally. Usually under several bungees and other tie downs. These bungees are typically fairly secure, and nothing short of capsizing in rough conditions should cause a rod case being lost. Some kayaks simply do not have enough bungees. One non-destructive option is just to tape the tube in place with duct tape.
How to carry a fly rod on a plane?
Whenever I fly with my rods, I always store them inside their case inside my check-in luggage with most of my fishing gear. While TSA typically allows rods and reels to be carried on board, other fishing equipment such as scissors, flotants, Pliers, and large flies are not always allowed onboard. So the simple solution is to store all fly-fishing gear within your check-in luggage.
As we all know airlines, often enforce strict size limits for carry on luggage. Sometimes fly rods are simply too long. Checking them in is simply easier.
I do not know how up to date it is, but eddy outfitters have a list of carry on size restrictions on their blog.