TOP 12 Best Travel Fishing Rods 2020 for Your Next Backpacking Trip


Do you love to travel?

Do you love fishing?

Well, how about combining the two?!

On-the-go fishing has never been more accessible, with some truly great rod options out there that will help you enjoy the sport practically anytime, anywhere.

So, read on to discover the best travel fishing rods available in 2020, and you’ll never have to sacrifice one activity for another again!

Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.

TOP 12 Best Travel and Backpacking Fishing Rods 2020

Okuma Citrix Travel Rod

Okuma is a global leader when it comes to fishing gear and will need little introduction for those in the know.

This is a top-quality four-piece spinning travel rod that is a total of seven feet in length, made with IM8 graphite blank construction.

The grip has split EVA foam to reduce weight, with APLS stainless steel guide frames, durable zirconium line guide inserts for use with braid or mono lines, and a Pac Bay minima reel seat that also helps to keep things lighter and well-balanced.

This is a solid, well-made option that just might be the best travel spinning rod there is.

Pros

  • Outstanding price for the quality.
  • Durable build construction.
  • Lightweight.
  • Travel tube included.

Cons

  • None immediately apparent.

Takeaway

You’ll pay double and sometimes triple for other brands offering this kind of quality, which is why it’s a very popular choice for anglers on the go.

Rigged & Ready Smuggler Travel Fishing Rod

Designed to be the ideal size for small luggage and carry-ons, this rod is from travel fishing store Rigged and Ready.

The clue is in the name, and this will easily fit into or as part of one of these excellent fishing backpacks so you’re kitted out for a moment’s notice.

Made with premium-quality nano-carbon, it’s a seven-piece kit that offers a choice of set-up lengths depending on your preferred style of fishing.

The fiberglass tip is “unbreakable,” with a casting weight of 5-20 grams and 15-40 gram fast action.

A graphite reel seat is durable and well-balanced, and the interchangeable tips give you the option to fish the way you want.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Durable construction.
  • Silicone eyes.
  • Compact design.
  • Four interchangeable tips.
  • Attractive, rugged travel case.

Cons

  • Not actually “rigged and ready,” so be aware of that.

Takeaway

A well-designed travel rod from a company that specializes in travel fishing. The choice of set-up lengths and tips to cater for your preferred fishing style means you only ever have to take one rod with you.

Flying Fisherman Passport Travel Fishing Rod

If you purchase the aptly-named Flying Fisherman Passport travel rod, you’re actually getting two rods for your money.

You can select your preferred weight, and you will receive a fly and spinning rod in an attractive travel-friendly case.

The fly rod is four-piece while the spinner is three, each made with high-strain, Japanese graphite with nano-resin, while the grips are high-quality Portuguese cork.

The reel seat and guides are made by Fuji, and the blank taper of each rod has been designed to improve sensitivity, as well as their overall strength and performance.

Pros

  • Two rod options.
  • Reinforced connections.
  • Premium-quality materials and parts.
  • Durable carry-case and black velvet rod bags.

Cons

  • A little on the expensive side.

Takeaway

This would make the perfect gift for the traveling fisherperson in your life (and it’s perfectly fine if that’s you). Two excellent rods for fly and spinning, this is one of the best travel fishing kits out there. But maybe a reel would have been nice, too.

TFO Traveler Fishing Spinning Rod

Next up we have this three-piece, 7.3 foot travel rod designed for spin fishing with medium power.

It’s been made with a combination of IM carbon-fiber and proprietary lightweight scrim, which ensures the rod is very easy to handle, with decent sensitivity and a nice, medium-fast action to cover most bases.

With an attractive sky-blue finish, the rod has premium-quality cork grips, TFO’s skeletal reel seat, and with Fuji’s corrosion-control K-frame guides, this is a beautiful travel rod that offers a lot of versatility no matter where you’re heading.

Pros

  • Attractive design.
  • Suitable for fresh and saltwater.
  • Well-balanced.
  • Airline-friendly rod tube.
  • Premium materials and parts.

Cons

  • A little on the pricey side.

Takeaway

There’s a lot to like here from TFO, a travel fishing rod that has been well-designed and thought out, with an attractive aesthetic that’s sure to turn a few heads when you unveil it by the water.

Unless you’re on your own, of course – then you can just admire it yourself.

KastKing Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rod

On to the first of our telescopic rod options now, with the famous Blackhawk II from KastKing.

With a great range of 14 lengths and actions cater to all types of fishing, so you’re certainly not short of choice when it comes to probably the best backpacking fishing rod there is.

Made with durable carbon-matrix blanks and solid fiberglass tip, it offers a super-fast setup, with stainless steel line guide, graphite reel seat and comfortable EVA handle for performance and control.

Whether fishing in salt or freshwater, for bass or trout, in shore, on a kayak, or anything and everything in between, the Blackhawk II range has you covered.

Pros

  • Excellent price point.
  • Very highly rated.
  • One-piece performance.
  • Consistent, smooth taper.
  • Name to trust.

Cons

  • Eyelets can be tricky to align.

Takeaway

Probably the best telescopic fishing rod there is – or at least one of them. The Blackhawk II has garnered a great reputation as a product that will leave you pleasantly surprised.

But check out this review of other quality telescopic rods if you’d like more to compare.

Okuma Fishing Tackle Nomad Travel Rod

Let’s return to an Okuma rod now with this seven foot, medium/medium-light spinning option.

The appropriately named Nomad breaks down into three sections for easy transportation, and includes two tips that will offer different actions depending on your preference.

Featuring European spigot ferrule connections for added strength, so you have the look, feel, and performance of a one-piece pole with the convenience of being travel-friendly.

It’s also very easy to use, and a great travel-rod option if you’re looking to up your game as a beginner in the sport.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Zirconium guide inserts.
  • Sturdy construction.
  • Highly accessible.

Cons

  • Might be a bit on the heavy side for some.
  • Unclear if any carry bag or box is included.

Takeaway

A quality travel fishing rod that can offer very close to single-piece performance and quality, ensuring you should be able to land some decent-sized fish with this baby.

St Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod

Another world-class fishing brand that produces some top-quality gear and equipment, St Croix were always going to have a place somewhere in this review.

This is one of their excellent travel spinning rods, with a premium SCII graphite construction, and available in a choice of lengths and actions to suit your preferred style.

The Fuji DPS reel seat is strong and durable, with a frosted silver hood, while the high-quality cork handle ensures a firm grip and unbeatable control.

And two-coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish improves the rod’s already excellent strength, sensitivity and hook-setting power.

Pros

  • Name to trust in fishing.
  • Aluminum-oxide guides.
  • Hard carry-case included.
  • Beautifully designed and made.

Cons

  • Expensive.

Takeaway

One of the finest fishing tackle manufacturers in the world, you know you’re getting a quality rod with St Croix, and that’s exactly what this is. Up there with the best travel spinning rods available.

Goture Travel Fishing Rod

Made with a 30-ton carbon matrix, this four-piece travel fishing rod from Goture has been designed to offer the perfect balance between sensitivity, strength, and power.

Another brand that offers a great choice of rod lengths and styles, you can pick your poison to suit the type of fishing you do.

The reel seats are made with tough ABS material, while the EVA grips are super-comfortable to hold and offer nice balance and control.

Corrosion-resistant guides have ceramic inserts for durability, and well-spaced to offer the best casting experience and free-flowing line action.

Pros

  • Excellent price.
  • Sturdy blanks.
  • Spigot ferrule construction.
  • Finely tuned action.
  • Hard carry case included.

Cons

  • Reel seat isn’t the best.
  • Balance might be a bit questionable for some.

Takeaway

You get what you pay for, and this rod is a decent option considering the price, but just don’t expect to be blown away by it.

For more stuff that won’t blow you away (thanks to great weather protection), check out this review on the best fishing jackets around.

Plusinno Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Now, I think this is a cracking travel-friendly fishing kit that comes with just about everything you need to get yourself in the game.

Available in a choice of lengths, the Plusinno telescopic fishing rod comes with its own aluminum spool that fits in the stainless steel hooded reel seats, while the rod itself is made from a combination of carbon-fiber and fiberglass.

Tough and durable, the rod has EVA grips for comfort, and the reel has anti-reverse and power-drive gears for extra strength.

And line and lures are also included so there’s no time wasted for catching fish with this all-in-one package.

Pros

  • Excellent price.
  • Super compact design.
  • Everything included.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • Not the best reel – but still decent for the price.

Takeaway

A one-stop-shop for all your fishing needs, this set makes a great kit to throw in the back of your car. You don’t need anything else to get going – and as a travel fishing option, you can’t say fairer than that.

Shimano STC Spin Travel Fishing Rod

Japanese manufacturer Shimano are at the top of their game when it comes to fishing rods and reels, and this is one example of their travel rod options.

Available in a choice of lengths and actions, this spin rod comes in four or five sections, and because of the new X5 Nano-carbon technology, each rod is super-lightweight, yet powerful and responsive.

The durable cork handles offer comfort and control, and although designed with travel in mind, there’s no reason you couldn’t use one of these rods as your regular setup, given the quality that Shimano are famous for.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Premium-quality construction.
  • Excellent choice of length and action.
  • Surprisingly affordable.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

One of the market leaders in fishing gear and technology, Shimano has put together a really awesome travel rod here that is highly versatile and able to be taken just about anywhere to fish for just about anything.

Capaci Travel Spinning Fishing Rod

When it comes to the best budget travel rod, then this effort from Capaci just might have a shot at the title.

Available as a choice of either casting or spinning, they’re constructed from Toray 24-ton carbon which gives each rod incredible sensitivity and power.

Six pieces make up the rod regardless of length chosen, and you’ll have a one-piece rod fishing experience that might surprise you.

Super lightweight and highly portable, you might just enjoy the performance of these carp fishing rods and reels with the bonus of being travel-friendly.

Pros

  • Outstanding price.
  • High-density EVA and cork handles.
  • Smooth guides.
  • Durable reel seat.
  • Bag included.

Cons

  • A hard case would have been preferable.
  • Fitting it together can be a challenge.
  • Won’t be the strongest option there is.

Takeaway

Whether spinning or casting, you can’t go wrong with the price here, and so you might as well get one of each. Easily one of the most affordable rods for traveling there is.

Ronco Pocket Fisherman

You want travel fishing? You’ve got travel fishing. We finish with something different altogether that I thought would be fun to include at the end of this review.

The Ronco pocket fisherman isn’t going to land you that dream bass, but it can fit into your glove compartment, backpack, or even a larger jacket pocket.

You can also hang the ingenious device from your belt, ensuring it’s a great option to take camping and hiking, or anywhere you might need to catch your dinner in a hurry.

The automatic anti-reverse prevents the handle from turning backwards, and there’s even a mini-tackle box hidden in the handle for added convenience and portability.

Pros

  • Super compact and portable.
  • Bonus lures included.
  • Very easy to use.
  • Great for kids/fun/emergencies.

Cons

  • Not very strong at all.
  • Not actually a fishing rod.

Takeaway

An indispensable little fishing gadget that you can store just about anywhere, and whip it out at a moment’s notice to fish a spot you might otherwise have missed. It’s simply loads of fun – and that’s what it’s all about.

How to Choose the Best Travel and Backpacking Fishing Rod

Size matters.

But there are other considerations when it comes to choosing the best backpacking fishing rods, so check out the buyer’s guide below for some insider tips and advice on what to look for.

man going fishing with kayak and telescopic fishing rod

Type of Rod

Rods come in a variety of types to suit a variety of fishing styles. The same is true for travel fishing rods just as it is for all other kinds.

Casting rods, spinning rods, fly-fishing rods, surf-fishing rods, trolling rods, telescopic rods…the list can be mind-boggling if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

It would take too long to explain everything here, but with regard to travel rods, you’re mainly looking at casting, spinning, telescopic, and perhaps the odd fly.

Do your research carefully to choose the one that’s right for you.

Telescopic vs Collapsible

When it comes to travel rods, the debate of telescopic versus collapsible models rages on. Which is actually the better for travel and fishing?

To be honest, there isn’t really that much in it when it comes to which one is more travel-friendly.

But if push-comes-to-shove, for the actual purpose of fishing, collapsible rods are much better. They’re stronger, more durable, and are much simpler to set up.

That’s not to say telescopic rods don’t have a place in your backpack or the trunk of your car – and they’re certainly the preferred choice for hikers.

fly fisherman trout fishing with backpack and rain jacket in the mountains

Size and Weight

By their definition, travel rods really should be as light and as compact as possible – but you still want to be able to pack a six-nine foot rod at the very least.

The best backpacking fly-fishing rods might be a little longer, but for the most part, a decent travel rod will be somewhere between that sweet-spot, with a seven-foot rod recommended as a beginner, or all-purpose option.

You don’t want the rod to be too heavy for travel purposes, and as such, most rods in this review have been crafted with that in mind, and are super-lightweight in their design.

Materials/Construction

Fishing rods are most commonly available in three distinctive materials. Fiberglass, graphite (carbon), and bamboo.

Bamboo rods tend to be more old school and traditional, and they don’t make good travel rods at all.

You’ll be choosing between fiberglass and graphite, but most travel fishing rods utilize a combination of both materials for durability, strength, and performance.

Check out the video below for a brief guide to choosing the right rod material and the advantages of each.

Action and Power

Two very important aspects when it comes to choosing the right rod for you – and thus increasing your chance of success depending on where and how you’re fishing – is a rod’s action and power.

It’s quite a complex topic with a lot of science and tech behind it, and so it makes more sense to watch this excellent video below that goes into the differences in depth – but still keeps things understandable.

For travel rods, you’ll probably be happy choosing a medium-weight rod that offers a nice smooth action and balance of power.

However, you can purchase rods that come with a choice of different tips, so you can cover all the bases and get the best of both worlds.

Reels

Aside from the rod itself, a reel is a very important and necessary addition to your fishing set up. And this is where your budget can be seriously stretched.

Good-quality reels can be eye-wateringly pricey, which is why it’s often a good idea to look for the best travel fishing rod and reel combo so you get everything you need in a set.

Unfortunately, they’re few and far between (mostly consisting of the telescopic variety) and even then, the reel is rarely up to standard.

Still, it’s important to bear this in mind when budgeting your fishing gear, and if you can find a quality combo then it’s well-worth considering.

Transport Options

It stands to reason that travel fishing rods should come with some sort of carry case, bag, tube, or box in which you can safely transport your new acquisition.

This is often overlooked when it comes to choosing a rod, but it shouldn’t be an afterthought. How you carry your rod is, after all, very important when you’re traveling.

Look for products that come with good quality carrying options, and keep an eye out for those that specifically say they’re carry-on/overhead locker friendly.

Cost

The final (or perhaps the first) consideration will be to do with your own budget. Travel fishing rods vary wildly in cost, and you can spend as much or as little as you like.

While keeping your own personal finances in order, I would encourage you to select a rod based on how much you’re actually going to use it.

If you’re traveling regularly, then you might want to go for something more high-end, whereas if you think you’ll only use it once or twice a year – maybe go a little cheaper.

Of course, you could easily use a good travel rod as the main weapon in your fishing arsenal, and as such you should spend accordingly. There are prices out there to suit everyone’s pocket.

fishing backpack and rod close-up on the riverbank

FAQs

How do you carry a fishing pole while hiking?

There are a number of ways you can accomplish this – depending, of course, on the fishing pole itself.

Many rods in the review above come with their own carry bag, and it’s possible that you’ll be able to fit this directly into your backpack depending on its size.

A more common solution is to attach the rod to the outside of your pack using D-rings, webbing, bungee, straps, or whatever else your setup offers for carrying gear externally.

Telescopic rods are often preferred by hikers, as they can pack down much smaller than collapsible versions.

How do you pack a fishing pole?

While this is similar to the question above, if you’re looking for a more detailed answer, I would watch the video below that gives you some great advice on how to pack and travel with multiple fishing rods.

Are collapsible fishing rods any good?

Yes, they are. Unless you’re getting a one-piece, most rods are collapsible anyway, and you can easily find two, three, and four-piece rods that will give comparable performance all things being equal.

In the end, you need to understand that a quality one-piece rod is still likely to outperform anything that collapses.

Just don’t go too cheap when you’re in the market for a rod and you won’t have any problems finding a good quality option, regardless of the style you choose.

What is the best backpacking fishing pole?

For backpacking, I would be tempted to lean towards a compact telescopic rod, and I personally believe that the KastKing Blackhawk II is one of the best on the market.

Having said that, this is still a subjective question, and what’s best for me might not be the best for you. So long as you can fit it on or in your pack – you should be good to go.

Can I carry a fishing rod on a plane?

Yes, of course – providing that it meets with the airlines carry-on luggage restrictions. So long as you adhere to them, there’s no issue in bringing a fishing rod on board.

Obviously, it will need to be a collapsible or telescopic rod, as you still have to fit it into the overhead bins. Look for rods in the review above that specifically say they’re safe for air travel – if you’re in any doubt.

Anything larger than that, and you’ll need to check it in. Contact your chosen airline directly for full confirmation.

What do I need for backpack fishing?

I think a fishing rod and a backpack would be a great start.

All joking aside, you can keep things relatively simple when it comes to backpack fishing, in order to travel as light as possible and keep plenty of space for all your other gear and equipment.

Take a look at one fisherman’s backpack set up in the video below to give yourself some ideas.

How do you travel with a fishing rod?

There are all kinds of ways to travel with a fishing rod – but it helps a great deal if you’re traveling with a good travel rod in the first place.

Then, it becomes simple enough to either carry in your luggage, or strap it to your backpack. Just make sure it’s securely fastened and not sticking out anywhere that you’re risking putting someone’s eye out.

Summary

Never miss the opportunity to fish on your travels again by choosing one of the best travel fishing rods of 2020.

Let me know which one you’ve gone for and why – and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more top tips, advice and reviews.

Tight lines, folks, and happy fishing.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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