Over the past decade, my career in the saltwater fly fishing industry has taken me to some of the world’s most beautiful and remote locations. Often getting there with all your gear in-tact is more of an adventure than the fishing itself.
I purchased my first travel fly rod case about 15 years ago, and I have been on a crusade to find a better one every day since. Rod technology may have come a long way since then, but when it comes to fly rod luggage, you only have two or three styles to choose from; The plain Ol’ rod tube, the reel-on model with no storage for anything other than a setup or two or the pragmatic padded rectangle. Since I often need to tote multiple rods for myself and clients, I ended up with the rectangular model with the greatest capacity. Most rod manufacturers still offer this style, the only difference being the color scheme and the logo embroidered on the side. The outside of the case is adorned with shallow pockets, only deep enough to carry a few leaders or your passport. Within the blocky bag are two padded storage channels; reels on top, rods on the bottom. Some have a few extra velcro dividers, but needless to say, not a lot of thought, styling, or R&D went into designing these rudimentary rod receptacles. And until now, they haven’t changed much over the past two decades.
With an upcoming trip to the Bahamas on the horizon, I was anxious to get my paws on one of Sea Run’s award-winning new travel cases. When I received my latest piece in the mail, I was aghast by its sturdy and luxurious feel. With a sleek modern design and handsome styling, the fit and finish alone put this precision piece in an entirely different category than the previously mentioned options. But as the old saying goes, “looks aren’t everything!” When it comes to luggage, I err on the side of function over form. On more occasions than I would like to remember, I have been strong-armed by airport security in a foreign country, insisting that I check my rod case that was carry-on luggage on the way in. This typically wouldn’t be an issue if I always remembered an approved luggage lock, but most of the time, I have to let it go unsecured and pray that my equipment shows up when I touch down on US soil. Sea Run’s international air travel certification and built-in TSA-compliant combination locks solve this nightmare once and for all. It’s hard to put a price tag on peace of mind, but the hardened German steel locks are worth every penny, in my opinion.
The features that really move the needle for me are capacity, efficient use of space, and the quality of the components used. Since the vast majority of my destination angling takes place in saltwater environs, stainless steel hardware is non-negotiable for rust prevention. High Tech synthetic canvas that is wear and rot-proof is used for enrobing the vast majority of the case—each hand-finished with canvas and foam padding inside and out.
I discovered a framework of well-thought-out organizational dividers, purposely positioned to maximize capacity upon opening the case. With room for 5 rods and up to 6 reels or fly boxes, the case had more than enough room to accommodate a week’s worth of fly fishing accouterments securely.
Another one of my gripes about my previous travel rod case was always the strap or handgrip for carrying it. Lugging around 15 plus pounds of equipment with an awkward handle or ill-fitting, poorly cushioned shoulder strap is miserable, and after a few hours, takes a toll on your traps and neck muscles. Fortunately, those days are over. Made with the best quality duck canvas, the fitted protective cover looks smart and provides a convenient detachable leather shoulder strap for hands-free use. Additional pockets for a luggage tag and travel documents keeps your required paperwork safe and at your fingertips.
As if the above list of attributes wasn’t motivation enough to shout “Take My Money!,” each case is 100% made in Italy. Call it what you will, but I may be slightly biased towards Italian craftsmanship. Whether your last name ends in a vowel or not, one can’t argue that these are unequivocally the most exemplary travel rod cases made.