The best travel fishing rod is lightweight, portable, and easy to transport. But, does that mean you have to sacrifice important fishing rod characteristics like durability and sensitivity?
That’s the big question I had when I started researching for this guide, and after some time, I found the answer I was looking for. Let’s check out some of the 10 top travel rods and see if you can uncover the answer for yourself!
Our Reviews Of The Best Travel Fishing Rods
PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
If you’re looking for a versatile and high-quality rod and reel combo for traveling, this is the one. Telescopic rods have a bad reputation for either being so stiff that they don’t fish well or so flimsy that they break easily.
This one is an excellent choice for durability, functionality, and high-quality materials. Plus, you get it at an affordable price, so I highly recommend checking it out.
Sougayilang Spinning Rod and Reel Combo
Sougayilang is a popular Amazon brand of fishing gear, but this rod and reel combo really stands out. They work for both fresh and saltwater, and the rod is made using high-density materials that make it affordable but more durable than fiberglass alone.
The rod’s portability is what makes it a great option for travel, though, and for a telescopic fishing rod combo, this one really impresses.
Goture Travel Casting Rod
If the best travel fishing rod is what you seek, the best travel fishing rod you shall find. This rod is made for travel because it breaks down into four pieces that you can put inside the carry case they include. While rods of this nature are almost always low-quality because they just don’t hold up, this one impressed me quite a bit.
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
When you need an all-purpose rod, this is the one you turn to. It’s designed primarily for finesse angling, which means you’ll want to keep the lures pretty light and stick to lightweight fishing lines in mostly small backwater fishing applications. While you don’t have to limit yourself to this, that’s merely my recommendation if you want the rod to hold up.
KastKing Telescopic Spinning Rod
I personally love KastKing products, I think their rods are great, and the reels that they include are usually decent for the price. You can separate this rod into six pieces, which is awesome for travel and the performance is pretty great for something so portable.
Daiwa Mini System Rod and Reel Combo
I love Daiwa, and I respect brands like Daiwa, Okuma, St. Croix, and Fenwick so I knew I had to include it in this review. It’s a unique rod and reel combo unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, but it could make a great first rod for kids. Instead of buying your kids one of those joke rods from Walmart, go with this one instead.
It’s highly portable, breaks down into five pieces, and your kid can use it when backpacking.
Daiwa Ardito-TR Multipiece Travel Rod
If you’re a serious angler, you know that a lot of travel fishing rods simply aren’t the best quality. I will say this one impresses me, though, because it fishes like a one-piece rod, it’s got exceptional sensitivity, and the joint system is very functional.
JEKOSEN Portable Travel Rod
One thing I want to be clear about; none of these rods are as durable as a one or two-piece rod from a reputable company. They never will be, so I don’t recommend using them unless you need something specific for travel.
That said, the rod is highly sensitive, which is great for bass fishing in lakes and ponds plus, the ceramic guides are a nice premium touch that allows for more control over your cast.
KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod
We all know I like KastKing, but I’m also realistic with my expectations. You can’t expect a budget rod to perform like a premium saltwater rod you’d pay $400 for; you just can’t. That said, if you’re looking for something to get the job done with light offshore and inshore saltwater fishing, this is a great option for travel.
Fiblink Offshore 3-Piece Travel Baitcasting Rod
As you may already know, assembling rods with multiple pieces isn’t always as easy as it looks. When you break the rod down, the pieces must fit snugly together; otherwise, you won’t get the proper sensitivity and smoothness you need. This baitcasting rod has some issues with that, but they’re somewhat isolated.
The upside is that you’re getting a long surf rod geared for travel. It comes with high-quality materials, it’s durable, and an overall solid choice for my surf anglers.
How to Choose the Perfect Travel Fishing Rod
Now that you’ve seen some great examples of the best travel fishing rods, how do you decide? How can you choose only one, what criteria should you choose on, and how do you make a final decision.
I’m peeling back the onion here to help you find an answer to those questions.
Size and Weight
One of the first criteria you’ll look for in the perfect travel fishing rod is the size and weight, of course. The reason you’re not taking your standard rod is that you likely can’t fit it in your suitcase, the airline has rules against you bringing it, or you’re walking long distances to get to the fishing spot, and you need something that’s easier to bring along.
Regardless of what way you look at it, all of these travel rods recommended above will be easier to transport than your standard fishing rod. Some of them break down into as many as four pieces, others are telescopic, and some are just lightweight and easy to carry.
However, you should not choose a rod that is too small, which would make it impossible for you to fish with. The perfect example is the Daiwa Mini-Set I reviewed above. That fishing tackle will not work for everyone, and it won’t work in all applications.
If you fish a variety of different bodies of water for many species of fish, you’d want to go with something more versatile like one of the KastKing rods or the Ugly Stik.
Construction and Material
Material is critical to the success of your fishing. When you have a rod that contains a lot of low-quality materials, you’re likely to sacrifice in two areas:
Both of these are important for obvious reasons. You need a rod that is durable; otherwise, it will break, snap, damage, or simply not work properly. The rod needs to be sensitive because that’s how you’ll feel nibbles on the end of your line.
If you’re surf fishing or fishing offshore, sensitivity isn’t as important because it requires more power rather than sensitivity. That said, if you’re fishing for bass or panfish, you’ll need a sensitive rod, so that’s why most of the recommendations combine elements of carbon fiber and graphite for maximum sensitivity and durability.
It’s also important to be realistic. I like to think I’m pretty transparent in my reviews, and I never say things just to promote a rod.
You need to understand that multi-piece rods will never outperform one-piece rods. They’re not as sensitive, they’re more fragile, and they’re more prone to having issues.
But, when you need a rod to transport via plane, this is the only way to go.
Most rods run between six and eight feet in length, and that’s the same with travel rods. When you’re deciding on the perfect rod length, you want to consider what types of fishing lures you use, where you’re fishing, how long you need to cast, and what species of fish you’re chasing.
So, the first factor that rod length determines is how long you can cast. That’s why I recommend longer rods for surf fishing because you need to cast beyond the waves. A shorter rod will result in a shorter casting distance, which you can optimize by using a heavier lure.
The general rule of thumb is larger lures, larger rod. But, if you’re looking for the perfect travel rod, then you’ll want to be careful with length. Since all of these rods break down into multiple pieces, the length isn’t that important in terms of travel, but you need to keep these factors in mind to make sure you get the right rod for your method of fishing.
The action of your rod refers to the location on the blank where the rod flexes. If the rod has a fast action, it bends towards the top of the blank, which means you’ll get the most sensitivity but the lowest flexibility.
If the rod has a slow action, it bends at the bottom of the blank, which means you’ll get the least sensitivity but the highest flexibility.
So, fast action rods work with smaller fish because they help you feel more nibbles and slow action rods work best with larger fish because you’ll need that flexibility to manage them; otherwise, you’ll snap your line or your rod.
The action you choose depends on what type of fishing you do. If you’re fishing in lakes, ponds, and rivers for bass or trout, you’ll want a fast action rod. If you’re doing offshore fishing or surf fishing, a medium or slow action is more ideal.
Combo or No Combo?
This is a soft spot for me because I’m a big believer in understanding what you’re buying before you do it. Now, again with the transparency. Whenever you buy a rod and reel combo, the reel will not be the same quality as a reel you buy on its own. It never has and never will be high-quality.
So, if you’re fine with that, then proceed to buy one of the combos. Also, keep in mind that a lot of telescopic rods and reel combos are one piece, which means you can’t remove the reel from the seat, so you’re stuck with whatever reel you get.
When it comes to travel rods, you don’t always have a choice, and sometimes you have to take it as-is. But, if you can fit it into the budget, I would highly recommend purchasing the rod and reel separately because you’ll end up with two higher-quality pieces.
What Lures Do You Use?
The lures you use will play a major role in the rod you choose as well. Your technique should always drive your purchasing choices. If you fish smaller finesse style lures such as jigs and soft plastics, you’ll want to go with a 6-7 foot ultralight spinning rod because you’ll need that sensitivity.
If you’re fishing deep crankbaits, you might want to opt for a 7-foot medium-action casting rod because you’ll need the extra power. You also need to pay attention to the reel because you’ll want a slower gear ratio such as 5:1.
There are a ton of factors that determine what you should choose, so don’t let information overload take over. Read through this and don’t think about it for too long, or else you might not take action!
Regular rods are not constructed with travel in mind. They’re designed for durability, sensitivity, and functionality alone, which makes them a better quality rod overall. If you’re looking for something specifically for transportation, a travel rod is the way to go.
You should maintain your travel rod like you would any other rod. Inspect it thoroughly on a regular basis, wipe it down with a rod cleaner, check for damage, clear any debris, and oil up your reel periodically.
It’s highly recommended that you do this after every fishing trip, and if you’re fishing in saltwater, you’ll want to disassemble the reel as much as possible to prevent corrosion. If you’re fishing the salt, you’ll also want to unspool your line after each trip because the line will get brittle.
Yes, you can travel with a fishing rod on a plane as long as it fits properly inside the carry-on or travel bag. Telescopic rods are a nice choice for this, but multi-piece options with their own carrying bag work as well. If you can’t fit the rod inside a suitcase, you may be able to check the bag containing the rod by itself. Just beware of the potential damage that can occur due to mishandling.
Yes, the more pieces you create, the less durable the rod will be. This is just an unfortunate fact that we have to accept, so I suggest going with only as many pieces as you can tolerate for the situation. Don’t get a four-piece rod just to have one, only get one if it’s absolutely necessary.
The best travel fishing rod is out there waiting for you, and if you combine all the important buying factors we’ve discussed, you’ll be sure to find the right one for your needs. In fact, maybe you’ve decided you don’t even need a travel rod. If that’s the case, check out some of our best standard fishing rods.
Regardless of your reason, if you’re traveling on a plane, you’ll need a travel rod. All of these top-recommended options are the highest quality and the most portable. Safe travels and good luck out there!