Want to pack light for a fly fishing trip? Destinations and exploration create fly fishing possibilities.  Possibilities in turn result in lots of gear, preparation, packing and repacking to cover these eventualities within the constraints of space and weight.  But having to check in multiple bags, lots of luggage or tying rod tubes together somewhat detracted from the overall experience.

I wanted to share a system that has worked superbly for me over the last few years, providing portability, protection and organisation for several trips and road trips to various local and international destinations.

Pack light for a fly fishing trip: Problem #1

The first problem to solve was how to get down to a single piece of check in luggage that would hold everything, including the rod tubes, and which I could also comfortably carry for kilometres.   A hiking backpack was the only option here, but finding one long enough to internalise a 9ft 4-piece fly rod tube (75-80cm) was hard.

Enter the Tatonka Bison. One serious hiking pack at 90L and 84cm long proportions.  It also only weighs a tad over 3kg.

The pack itself engulfs several rod tubes, fishing gear, a small tent, camping gear, sleeping bags and more.  You do get stares when walking around with this on your back. I have been asked jokingly on several occasions whether I was carrying a body!

Even better is that once it is on your back, carrying 30kg is very manageable and you could walk serious distances.  Furthermore, with zips that allow you to access the luggage from the side and front, you do not need to unpack everything, even if you need something in the middle of the bag.

Pack light for a fly fishing trip: Problem #2

Despite the bag, unpacking and repacking on road trips inevitably became a disorganised mess, so I bought the medium size Orvis Safe Passage carry it all to hold the fly fishing gear.


This entire travel bag also fits inside the backpack. With its rod compartment, this removes the need for the rod tubes.  The weight of the bag is a bit on the heavy side at 2.5kg. But, since a typical aluminium rod tube weighs 450g, this is mostly counterbalanced, assuming 4 or 5 rods.

The carry all itself easily holds 5 saltwater rods (2x 12wt, 1×10wt, 1x9wt and 1x8wt) in the rod compartment. On top of that there is ample place for several reels, lines, leaders, accessories.

This system is not perfect, but works well for me.

How do you travel with all of your gear? Add into the comments below.

Note: This is an independent review. I am not sponsored, endorsed by or affiliated with Tatonka or Orvis in any way.