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Luggage for fly-fishing travel and designer luggage are distinct creatures: expensive designer luggage is a sign of good taste and in most cases, beautiful luggage is an asset to your well-being. It was, though, never designed to withstand the rigors of a fly-fishing trip to Alaska or a lodge trip to a remote island in the Bahamas—and more importantly, is not designed to carry fly-fishing gear and hunting gear or deal with the abuse of remote travel. That being said, you can still carry quality luggage, but specifically designed to handle the rigors and needs of outdoor adventure travel.
Airline baggage handling is a gamble at best these days. The horror stories of lost and never-to-be-seen-again luggage are legion. If the luggage is lost, most apparel can be replaced easily enough. If the rods and reels in your fishing luggage don’t make it, that is a much more difficult, not to mention expensive, and often heart-breaking event. Besides, who wants to fish the trip of their dreams with borrowed equipment?
There is an easy way to avoid this. You are allowed two carry-ons. One should be your essentials bag (fishing backpacks are great for this) with cameras, medicines, and anything that absolutely cannot be replaced, that can fit under your seat. The other should be your rods and reels, and there is fishing luggage designed to do just that: long enough to carry four-piece rods, room for reels, pliers and other accessories, leaders and tippet material, and will easily fit in the overhead. NOTE: No knives. They’ll find them and you’ll lose them.