How to Buy Used Travel Fishing Rods

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How to Buy Used Travel Fishing Rods

Travel rods of all varieties have one thing in common; that is the ability to pack what is normally a long and cumbersome set of rods. Standard three piece salmon fly rods have sections of at least 4’6’’. Packing them securely makes it much easier to transport them. It also protects them from bumps and knocks.

Baggage handling

Airport baggage handling has improved greatly in the last few years, particularly in the Americas, Europe and the UK. However fishermen travel to all manner of destinations and some parts of Russia, South America, Africa and the Indian Sub Continent are slightly less concerned with customer service. 

It is actually not the fact that the people don’t care but that baggage-handling technology, which has so advanced in the major airports is still far from sympathetic to non-standard luggage.

Early travel rods

Hardy Bros of Alnwick, Northumberland was the first fishing tackle manufacturer to identify the issue. At that time they were the leading rod makers for a sport that was only really enjoyed by the privileged.

Gentry, the Royal family and great angling travellers like Hemingway and Zane Grey were the only people in the 1950’s who ever went on fishing holidays in far-away lands and by travelled by aeroplane. In those times baggage would have been well looked after but was very well travelled.

For this reason the first rod tubes that protected the bamboo sections on their arduous adventures were developed. These travelling products were not changed in any way, merely packaged better.

The Hardy Smuggler

It was in fly-fishing and specifically trout fishing that Hardy spotted a new opportunity to develop the first travel rod.

The Smuggler four piece cane trout rod was beautifully presented in a strong box, which was no more than two feet long. The original Smuggler sets fetch substantial prices from antique tackle enthusiasts.

Hardy started a revolution; for the first time fishing tackle could be added to the general luggage on business trips or family holidays that weren’t specifically fishing holidays. Effectively the enthusiastic angler could always be ready to have a fish wherever he or she was and whatever the reason for travel.

The Smuggler range still exists today and is a great tribute to the development of fishing tackle across disciplines and price ranges. All rods now are shorter, stronger and lighter then ever they were.

Other modern travel rods and tubes

Generally a fishing rod will be sold new in a strong tube, which even if long is well protected. If you are buying a used travel rod, be sure to check that:

  • the tube comes with it
  • it is strong enough for travel purposes.

Carbon development has allowed manufacturers to develop rods that, even with many sections, are as strong as their less divided cousins, which was always the issue with split cane rods.

In the original split cane rods the joints had to be specially designed to give strength to the many sections of the rod. This meant that rods for anything other than small trout were not really strong enough.

Even rods designed for big game, wreck and heavy-weighted bottom angling come in well packaged and easily-managed travel tubes. The sections are as strong as ever.

How to pick the right travel rod

There are ranges of travel rods in all the fishing disciplines. Whatever the fish the travelling angler is pursuing there is a rod available that in its case is:

  • well protected
  • an easily portable length.

Many products will fit in a standard size suitcase.

Brands to look out for

For coarse fishing Shakespeare, Daiwa and Hardy produce a range of spinning rods that are of a travel format. They are multi-sectioned and come with a strong tube as well as the usual cloth slip.

The Shimano Beastmaster Range offers a spinning and coarse selection of five piece rods. The Beastmaster Range also offers a surf fixed spool surf rod range with seven sections.

The travel rod range in fly rods is even more prolific. Hardy, Sage, Snowbee and Loop all have travel rod ranges in single and double handed rods. At the more affordable end of the price range Shakespeare, Flextec and Airflo might be worth consideration.

As with so many things, you will often be better off buying pre-owned quality goods than new items for roughly same price. However, when buying a used travel fishing rod, it is a good idea to make sure that your seller has a returns policy so that you can inspect the rod carefully yourself.

Match the rod to the fishing

When buying travel rods the portability and convenience of the rod is important particularly if you are visiting less developed countries.  However, the buying decision should be influenced by other, more important, matters.

The rod must be right for the water conditions, the fish being pursued, the weight of the bait and the line being fished as well as the ability of the angler.

Ask an expert

With angling, the expert generally has a specific, specialist discipline. To buy any tackle with a limited knowledge it is best to find an expert in the fields you are about to explore. If the expert really is an expert then their advice on the right tackle will be a fundamental element of the lesson.

That said there are a number of simple rules which, when buying any fishing rod should be applied.

Quick Guide to Finding the Right Used Travel Rod for You

Look and feel

Does the rod feel comfortable in the hand and does it look right? An angler spends a lot of time with a rod and if it does not feel right then the enjoyment of the sport is reduced.

Quality of fittings

Are the rod rings, whipping, reel fittings and the handles of a quality that justifies the price?  The higher priced rods are always finished to a very high specification and at times seem over-embellished.

Fly rod handles

The design of the handle on a fly rod doesn’t need to be over complicated but it must be comfortable, robust and well enough designed to stand the test of time.

Reel compatibility

Reel fittings on certain rods are not compatible with certain reels. This is particularly prevalent in fly rods where the reel saddles, on which the reels are mounted to the rod, are different shapes and lengths. As more rods are designed over time the reel fittings often fail to fit older generation reels.

Buy rod & reel together

The reel can be a very much more expensive element of the tackle than the rod so buy the rod and reel together if possible.

Otherwise make sure that the rod you are buying carries the reel you already own. This is a particular problem with travel rods as they are often too light for older reels and have lighter fittings.

Travel rod joints

Even with modern rods it is important that the joints are of the highest quality.

With so many sections, the joints are all potentially weak spots. The sensible approach is actually to tape the joints when assembling the rod. This stops the joints turning and potentially twisting out of position, which can cause havoc with the line.

If a joint moves apart it can shatter and render the rod useless.


Most rod manufacturers offer very good guarantees on their fishing tackle. Some give a lifetime guarantee. When buying any rod ask what guarantees come with the rod. Even the best made, best protected fishing rods can easily be broken in a car door or possibly by an enormous fish.

How to buy Used Travel Fishing Rods on Ebay

Now that you've worked out which rods you want, find them quickly on eBay. While you shop, don't forget Tackle, Fly Tying Tools/ Materials, Bait, Bivvy/ Accessories, Line, Nets.  To start shopping, go to the Sports and Leisure category. Click the Sporting Goods portal and click Fishing.


The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links for Clothing & Footwear, Coarse Fishing, DVDs, Fly Fishing, Sea Fishing, Tackle Boxes, Universal Accessories, Videos, Trophies, Vintage and Other Fishing. As you refine your search you'll be able to narrow down your choice by subcategory.

Product Finder

Use the Fishing Rod Finder to quickly narrow down item listings by type of hook, brand, model and condition (click used).

Keyword search

Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find new fishing rods, type the keywords "new fishing rods" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

If you can't find exactly what you want, try browsing eBay Stores or tell the eBay Community what you’re looking for by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a matching item becomes available.

Buy Used Travel Fishing Rods with Confidence

Make sure that you know exactly what you’re buying and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know your item

Read the details in the item listing carefully.

Remember to add delivery costs to your final price. If you’re buying a high value item, check that the seller will insure it until it is delivered to you.

If you want more information, click the “Ask seller a question” button on the seller’s profile or the “Ask a question” link at the bottom of the item listing page.

Always complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy it Now or Best Offer) otherwise you will not be covered by eBay Buyer Protection.

Never pay for your eBay item using an instant cash wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram. These are not safe ways of paying someone you do not know.

Know your seller

Research your seller so that you feel safe and positive about every transaction.

  • What is the seller’s Feedback rating? 
  • How many transactions have they completed?
  • How many positive responses do they have?
  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? 
  • Are they positive about the seller?

Most top eBay sellers operate like retail shops and have a returns policy.

  • Do they offer a money-back guarantee? 
  • What are their terms and conditions?

Buyer protection

In the very unlikely event that you do not receive your item or it is not as described, eBay Buyer Protection your purchase price plus original delivery cost.


Read through the quick guide above.  If you are confident that you have matched your ability, the fishing and the weight of bait and line to the travel fishing rod and reel you want, you are in a good position to start searching on eBay.

You will often be better off buying pre-owned quality goods than new items for roughly same price. 

Tight lines!

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