Racking It For The Road


Unless you’re the FlyLife editor, you probably don’t have a river at the bottom of your block, so you need to drive somewhere to get to the fish. But how to carry your rod? There are a few different options, each with their pros and cons.

1. Keep rods in their supplied tubes

Most rods come with a strong aluminium, plastic or carbon rod tube, so why not use it?


  • Safe for rods – those tubes are tough.
  • Compact – will fit anywhere in any car (unless it’s a one-piece)
  • Easy to hide – avoids theft.


  • Have to rig rod each time, at each location
  • Rod and sock could get mouldy if put away wet.

2. Get a rod/reel travel case

These allow a fully rigged rod to be broken down into 2 or 4 pieces and stored with reel attached, line threaded and a fly tied on.


  • As above PLUS:
  • Allows reel to be kept with rod – won’t get to location with only one half of your essential equipment.
  • Quick to set up – Just extract pieces, pull out a bit of slack line from reel and assemble.
  • Can carry two complete rods in some cases.


  • Puts sharp bends in your leader (but also takes out coils…).
  • Still a chance of mould if put away wet, but breathe better than aluminium tubes.

3. Carry on bonnet/hood/roof

Devices are available that magnetically attach to the outside of the car.


  • Really quick to access rigged rod – undo the elastic straps and go fishing.
  • Can hold up to 8 rods fully assembled –  because we all fish in groups of 8…
  • Great for long rods – double handers etc.
  • Keeps reel and rod together.


  • Only suitable for short trips between fishing locations – I wouldn’t want to do 100k with them…
  • Easily stolen – can’t leave the car unattended.

4. Racking system for inside the car

There are a few systems available, or you can make your own fairly easily. Can go on top of seat backs or suspended from ceiling.


  • Rods are ready to go when you arrive – just slide ’em out the back and go fishing.
  • Secure – as safe as anything else in your car (depends on your car’s security system I guess).
  • Safe – especially if rods are attached to roof above all the rolling mess in the back.
  • Versatile – take several rods ready to go with appropriate line and fly for different conditions/locations you might visit.


  • Only suits wagons and vans – needs a tailgate to load and unload full-length rods.
  • Rods are visible – might be tempting to some undesirable cretin.
  • Puts a bend in your leader – although I’ve never found it a big deal myself.
  • You still have to wait for the one guy in the group who refuses to use the rack (if you’re being polite).

5. Leave on seat

Just pull apart your fully rigged rod and lay it on the seat. Easy!

  • Great if you’re looking for a way to get a new rod.


  • Possibly the main reason rods get broken – in short… No, just no.

A DIY ceiling-rack method

My preferred methods are the rod/reel cases for sedans, and the racking system for inside a wagon or van. Here’s how I made mine:

  • Reel seat/fighting butt holder : Elastic bungee shock-cord and spring-toggle (from camping store) screwed to roof near tailgate – Just cinch it up tight once rod is in.
  • Rest rail : Screwed to plastice mouldings above rear windows, just above and behind back seats. Made from a strip of 16mm ply with notches filed into top, lined with self-adhesive felt (hardware store) to protect blank.
  • Tip support : Velcro strip (hardware or fabric shop) across rods onto ceiling fabric. Not essential.
  • Tip-top protector : a triangle of 12-20mm thick urethane foam (sleeping pad, yoga mat) with a slit for rod-tip. Pressure from rod holds it against windscreen. Needed to keep tip away from glass, which can heat up enough to melt epoxy holding tip on.