Just-Fish.co.uk - Andrew Kennedy's Angling Adventures

Travel Tackle Guide - Part 1

By Andrew Kennedy

Deciding to take fishing tackle with you on a family holiday can be a potential excuse for divorce! However, if your situation allows, with a little bit of planning and careful purchasing, a lot of great fishing can be enjoyed - whether you've got a spare couple of days, or just the odd free hour here and there. The rewards can be excellent - catching exotic species you would never dream of catching at home, or if you're a coarse angler on a trip to the coast - holidays at home or abroad can be a chance to add new species to your PB list!

Sure - there are tailor-made fishing holidays where tackle is supplied, and then there are fishing trips to Ireland, France, etc - where plenty of tackle can be taken with you in the car or van. There isn't much I can say about these trips which hasn't been said before, so this article is based on both long-distance fishing holidays and holidays where angling is not the main focus, but a welcome interlude!

Back in 1987, when I was just 5 years old, I caught my first ever fish whilst on holiday with my family. The fish was a small mullet and I caught it on a telescopic rod my dad had bought for me. Little did I know that this rod would change my life. It helped sow the seeds of angling passion within me and this passion has only grown since that day.

Those were the days - five years old, with my first fish - a mullet caught using a telescopic rod. My fish-holding style has changed slightly since then!

There are many things to consider when planning to fish on holiday, but in this article I shall concentrate on the primary aspect - tackle. Which tackle should you pack? How much should you pack? Are telescopic rods worth bothering with at all? What other alternatives are there? These are the types of questions I shall try to answer in this article - based on my own experience and the tackle available today. First, I shall tackle the broad field of travel rods.

If you're travelling with just a suitcase for your belongings, there isn't much room to fit your fishing tackle in - especially the most bulky item - rods. The past 15 years have seen vast improvements in travel rod technology. With more people holidaying globally, many manufacturers have realised there is money to be made in the market of quality travel rods, so we now have great and diverse ranges available from manufacturers such as Shimano, Wychwood, K-Class, Shakespeare and Fox.

In the past, buying a telescopic rod meant buying a 5-section collapsible glass-fibre rod, sold in the region of £10. These rods are fine for some occasional spinning or float-fishing from the docks, but they are quite weak and cumbersome when compared with some of today's superb carbon-fibre telescopic rods. If you expect to be fishing on holiday regularly, or if you want to target larger specimens whilst there, then it is definitely worthwhile investing in one of these rods.

The majority of rods built for travelling are still designed as spinning rods, which are suitable for most holiday situations as they are quite versatile. However, more and more rods designed for specific purposes are emerging all the time, so it may be worthwhile considering what you intend to target before dashing out and buying any old rod. Shimano in particular, have managed to produce a thorough range of multi-piece rods under their STC (Shimano Travel Concept) banner. Many models of telescopics are also available under the Shimano brand.

Spinning Rods

If you intend to only occasionally fish on holiday, one of these value telescopic spinning rods would be the way to go. Capable of a multitude of tasks including float fishing, light legering and light-medium lure fishing, they are good fun to use, but lack the power to control large fish once hooked. Six feet is usually as long as you can buy these rods, which can be a little restrictive. They also lack the finesse you may be used to with your rods back home.

Left, A budget telescopic rod can provide hours of fun on holiday, for not a lot of money

A more expensive model, such as this Shimano Exage Mini Tele Spinning STC rod (currently the smallest telescopic rod range in the world!), which has 9 collapsible sections, besides a detachable butt section - allowing it to reach 2.7 metres in length, but collapse down to a tiny 31 centimetres for transport! Because there are so many sections and rod rings, the curve of the rod is much more natural and controlled when put under load. This, combined with the carbon construction gives excellent strength for playing bigger fish and it allows you to fish much more confidently.

I use this rod with a very light reel and fish ultra-light lure tackle, or light float and leger tackle. The rod tip is extremely sensitive, so it can be used for bite indication when legering, and will flick out a float with ease. All Shimano STC rods come with a semi-rigid rod tube for extra protection. This also means there's a nice, clean tube to be easily stowed in the suitcase or bag, instead of a scaly, dirty, smelly rod!

Left, The tiny but powerful Shimano Exage STC telescopic spinning rod with it's detachable butt section, alongside it's protective tube case.

Another method of producing a travel rod is to make it take-apart with smaller sections than a standard take-apart rod. I currently own a four-piece Shakespeare Ugly Stik medium spinning rod. This is a hollow-glass construction, with a clear glass tip which helps when using the rod for legering. This rod is nice and comfortable to use, but a little heavier than it's carbon and graphite counterparts. One problem with this rod was when it was new, the spigot joints worked loose after a few casts - sending sections flying into the water on the cast, which is very impractical for a rod designed for spinning! This looseness does disappear after a while though, as the spigots appear to "bed-in". I found that until the joints bedded in, a quick push on all the joints every 10 casts or so would ensure they remained in place. If you are keeping mobile, then maybe check the joints before your first cast on every new swim.

I had some great fun in America with this rod, where I purchased it for a bargain £20. I used light lure tackle to take fish of four different species, including Largemouth Bass and beautiful Chain Pickerel; on Ondex spinners and cricket-imitation floating plugs. Later in the trip I switched to float fishing with the rod, in search of Walleye and I landed a few Rainbow Trout and some hard-fighting Catfish on this set-up.

Multi-piece rods are generally shorter in their packed-away state than telescopics. However the pieces are loose and must be packed properly to prevent them scratching or chafing each other.

The lightweight 4-piece Ugly Stik, and a small but very pretty Chain Pickerel caught with the rod in 2004

If you would like to discuss anything related to this issue, or if you have a question I may be able to help with, please feel free to email me.

Good luck and good fishing to you all - wherever in the world you go!
Andrew Kennedy.

Click here to read Part 2of Andrew's Travel Tackle article

My Angling Blog
My Fishing Blog can be accessed at the following web addresses:


Relevant Page Tags:  Travel Fishing Tackle Review Telescopic
Multi Piece Travel Rods