I love to fish all over the world. Fishing somewhere new is always fun, but the exciting uncertainty of fishing in a totally new country or biome is unbeatable.

I’ve had some of my most raw and authentic travel experiences with local fishermen in remote locations. It’s so rewarding bonding over such a primal activity and commonly shared passion, all whilst spending time in nature. Nothing beats enjoying a well-earned meal at the end of it too!

Fish of all shapes, sizes and colours can be found in each of the world’s waters. Spending time in some unbelievable and serene off-the-beaten-path spots is what makes travel and fishing such a match made in heaven.

Talking as someone with plenty of experience, travelling with bulky fishing gear isn’t ideal. The best travel fishing rods, however, bridge this great divide and allow me to combine my two favourite activities effortlessly – fishing and travel.

If you’re wondering how to travel with fishing rods, the number one piece of advice I’ll give you is to invest in a travel rod! I’m going to share with you some of my personal favourite travel rods in this post, some of which fit INSIDE my backpack.

posing with a sailfish in mexico
Travel + Fishing = GREAT MEMORIES.
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

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    The 5 BEST Fishing Rods For Travel

    Travel fishing rods are better for backpackers as they take up far less space than your standard rods – without compromising on quality. Fitting a rod into your bag or strapping it to the outside of your pack makes for a more realistic approach to fishing on the road.

    Travelling the world with a fishing rod opens so many doors. You can catch your dinner in the smallest of streams by the roadside, or hop on a local’s boat and explore the ocean. Different fishing rods are good for different things, so here’s a list of my favourite travel rods, and what I think they’re useful for.

    three men with fish out at sea
    Locals are ALWAYS down to get some line wet!
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    Overall Best Travel Fishing Rod – X5 Adventure by Rigged and Ready

    Image: Rigged and Ready


    • Length: 1.90m – 2.20m (41 cm transport length)

    • Weight: 160g to 163g

    • Price: £75 or $91 (£129 or $161 With Reels)

    • Type: Spin and Fly

    The X5 Adventure is my number one travel companion. The rod packs up so small it fits INSIDE of my day pack. I mean, the thing is bonkers.

    For a rod so small, it packs a serious punch. It comes with five different combinations and four unbreakable rod tips. It’s my favourite travel rod because, thanks to the interchangeable rod tips, I basically have four different rods. This lets me do all my types of fishing, all with just the X5 (fly, cast, bait-cast, spin and bait).

    I recently took this rod along with me on my brief stay in Malta and had a great time. I caught lots of different fish and it fit in my easyJet carry-on luggage. Yep, it’s that small.

    malta fishing rod rigged and ready
    The X5 and RR3000 crushed it on my recent trip to Malta.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    There is also an X5 MAX version of this rod, which I would recommend to anyone who wants a great travel rod with a bit more backbone for heavier lures, or surf/sea fishing. There is an option to get an X5 package with a great spin (RR3000) and fly reel included too which is what I did. I love it.

    One of the main reasons I love Rigged and Ready products so much is their unbeatable warranty and parts replacement service. They have a no-questions-asked part replacement or money-back policy that lasts for two years! This is valid if you lose or break a part on the road, for ANY reason.

    There is a five-year support system too (you basically just pay for postage) on all products which is very easy to claim too. In short, investing in a Rigged and Ready Travel is a safe bet by definition. Not only do you get multiple rods in one, but it pretty much comes insured!

    Second Best Fishing Rod for Travel – Shimano STC

    Image: Shimano


    • Length: 2.40m (64cm transport length)

    • Weight: 142g

    • Price: £107 or $131

    • Type: Spin

    The STC series is a classic travel rod range of spinning rods with lengths from 2.4m up to 3m and casting weights from 10 to 100g. I like the 20-60 gram STC rod as a good all-rounder (stats listed as 20-60g variant).

    The transport length of the rods is kept to a maximum of 65cm, ensuring that you can fit the rod in your backpack, suitcase, car or wherever you want to store it!

    The Shimano STC is a great option for any traveller looking to purchase a travel rod for a specific usage such as spinning and knows the weight of lures they want to use. Shimano is a great brand, and this lightweight, ultra-strong rod is one of my favourite pieces of Shimano kit.

    The rods come with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty – but it can be difficult to claim.

    Best Collapsable Travel Fishing Rod – Infinite Ultimate by Rigged and Ready

    Image: Rigged and Ready


    • Length: 1.07m to 2.80m (49cm transport length)

    • Weight: 125g to 245g

    • Price: £130 or $163

    • Type: All Types

    The Infinite Ultimate by Rigged and Ready is essentially the most comprehensive rod package out there.

    If you are looking to just buy one rod and use it for all your fishing, look no further than the infinite ultimate. This rod is a 25-in-1. Yes, there are 25 different ways to use this fishing rod – it truly is one of a kind.

    The numerous parts and combinations can be a little confusing at the beginning, but that’s the only remotely negative thing I can say about this rod. It’s not as small or compact as some of the other travel rods on this list, but you won’t find a more complete travel fishing set out there, I promise. This thing is a unique piece of kit for any avid all-round angler who loves to travel.

    It’s not the cheapest travel rod on the internet, but when you consider the fact that you’re buying 25 rods in one, all of a sudden, it becomes astonishing value!

    Best Telescopic Travel Fishing Rod – KastKing BlackHawk II

    Image: KastKing


    • Length: 1.98m t0 2.84m (53.4cm transport length)

    • Weight: 115g to 163g

    • Price: £100 or $49 (USA Only)

    • Type: Spin, Cast

    The Kast King Black Hawk II sells like crazyyy on Amazon, it’s probably the most popular travel rod out there.

    With 14 length options to purchase, this one-piece telescopic rod is one of the best telescopic travel rods on the market. It compresses to just one-third of its total length telescopically. I like the shortest option (6’6″ or 198cm) as I like my travel rods to be as compact as possible.

    I love telescopic rods – they are so quick and easy and I would recommend them to beginners. They are not the most sturdy things though (sometimes). A multiple-piece rod could be a better option for some more keen anglers.

    It’s one of the most affordable travel rods available, so I would recommend it on that alone. KastKing makes some quality stuff, and this rod is a good option for almost anyone.

    There is a useful one-year ‘total peace of mind warranty’ available with this rod too which is great, but it can be tough to redeem.

    Best Lightweight Travel Fishing Rod – Fish Rig 180 by Rigged and Ready

    Image: Rigged and Ready


    • Length: 1.60m t0 1.80m (48cm transport length)

    • Weight: 90g

    • Price: £67 or $84

    • Type: Spin

    This is my personal go-to light rod, I must have caught hundreds of fish on this thing and call it my ‘pocket rocket’. Don’t underestimate its power and capabilities because of its size.

    Whilst I wouldn’t really recommend this rod for all types of fishing, this rod stays in my car… ALWAYS. I can set it up in about one minute thanks to its telescopic system, and it’s the perfect travel rod for opportunists.

    The Fish Rig 180 is a super-lightweight travel rod that comes with two rod tips. It’s my favourite rod for hikes and treks due to its weight.

    The thing weighs just 90 grams! That’s lighter than some lures.

    I wouldn’t recommend the Fish Rig 180 for sea fishing though. It’s light and can handle some decent fish, but something with a bit more backbone is better for sea fishing in my opinion. The Fish Rig 180 is perfect for mountainous lakes, small rivers and maybe some shallow or micro jigging.

    a backpack, tent and fishing rod by a lake
    Taking the Fish Rig 180 by Rigged and Ready for an overnight hike.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    5 More GREAT Travel Fishing Rods

    If you haven’t found what you’re looking for, here are more of the most popular travel rods out there. They are popular for a reason – they’re EPIC!

    man with a fish
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    The World Traveller by Rigged and Ready

    Image: Rigged and Ready


    • Length: 1.90m to 2.15m (43cm transport length)

    • Weight: 146g to 150g

    • Price: £90 or $110

    • Type: Spin, Bait-Cast and Bait.

    The World Traveller is Rigged and Ready’s original travel rod. It is the perfect travel rod for an all-around fisherman who wants to combine efficiency and functionality.

    This rod has been popular for a reason, and as the name suggests, this thing was made for you world travellers. The rod actually comes with a great reel too (RR3000), so it really is the full package.

    The World Traveller comes with two interchangeable rod tips as part of a six-piece rod. The rod tips are a standard lure weight (10-20g) and a heavier short tip for 15-40g lures. I’ve caught pike, perch, chub, carp and a handful of saltwater fish like mackerel and sea bass when using this rod in the UK.

    Abu Garcia Diplomat V2 Travel Rod

    Image: Abu Garcia


    • Length: 2.13m to 3.04m (58cm transport length)

    • Weight: 114g to 213g

    • Price: £89 or $110 (With Reel)

    • Type: Spin

    Abu Garcia is one of my favourite fishing brands. It is world-renowned, and their tackle has NEVER let me down after over 15 years of usage.

    In the words of Abu Garcia themselves, “The famous DIPLOMAT range stands for mobility and travelling.”

    Abu Garcia’s Diplomat V2 travel rod range has four different rod lengths ranging from 2.13m to 3.04m (Light-Heavy). Depending on the length you opt for, this rod can be either a four or five-piece set. It can cast lures as heavily as 55g and as light as 3g.

    Whilst this flexibility does sound great, it lacks the flexibility of interchangeable rod tips offered by competitors such as Rigged and Ready rods – so you’re kind of stuck with what you choose.

    It’s sold as an exclusively freshwater rod, but the heavier variants will work fine in saltwater. The 5-21g version is competitively priced at $110 WITH an Abu Garcia WFS reel which is a marvellous piece of kit.

    Daiwa Travel Combo

    Image: Daiwa US


    • Length: 2.18m (71cm transport length)

    • Weight: 450g (With Reel)

    • Price: £120 or $147

    • Type: Spin

    This Travel Combo by Daiwa is a great option for opportunists. It’s a highly functional telescopic rod that can be set up and packed away in just minutes. It also comes with a Daiwa Crossfire 2500 spinning reel included in the price.

    This is more of a freshwater combo, but it can be used in saltwater too – just don’t expect greatness.

    That being said, this is a great telescopic rod, and one of the best travel rods that exists. It’s great value, Daiwa is a great and reputable brand, and the fact that this set comes with a reel makes it a great full-package option.

    The thing feels great to use and it’s very strong for a telescopic rod. I would recommend it to most anglers who want to opt for a brand they trust.

    My favourite thing about the Daiwa Travel Combo is the carry case. It’s compact, functional and more importantly… it looks the part.

    Shakespeare Ugly Stik Travel

    Image: Shakespeare UK


    • Length: 1.98m (54cm transport length)

    • Weight: 302g

    • Price: £45 or $55

    • Type: Spin

    This four-piece travel rod is a classic. Shakespeare holds a special place in my heart as it is the brand that introduced me to fishing. As a kid, I owned tons of Shakespeare gear and it is ALL really good shit.

    The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Travel is a four-piece travel rod which is perfect for beginners.

    Shakespeare is always a great option for affordable fishing gear without compromising on quality and the Ugly Stik Travel is no exception. At £45 (under $60), this is a steal that fits in your carry-on luggage.

    It’s a little heavier than the other rods out there but is still a great choice for freshwater anglers. The cast weight is 5-15g so it’s a bit optimistic to use this for most types of saltwater fishing.

    Unfortunately, despite a great 7-YEAR guarantee being on offer for this rod, it’s extremely tough to claim – I wouldn’t bank on it. I would recommend this travel rod for beginners, children or as a gift.

    The Predator by Rigged and Ready

    Image: Rigged and Ready


    • Length: 1.85m to 2.20m (65cm transport length)

    • Weight: 144g to 147g

    • Price: £80 or $100

    • Type: Spin, Bait-Cast

    The Predator by Rigged and Ready is a great option for those who fish to hunt for magnificent and marvellous beasts. It is a slightly larger travel rod than other options on this list, but it has the strength and backbone to justify its bulkiness.

    This is the perfect rod for anyone who wants to do some more heavy-duty spinning or lure fishing. It has a unique spin or bait cast microtrigger handle and I have caught some MONSTERS on it. For a travel rod, this thing is strong. 

    Paired with the RR3000 or a bait caster (sold separately), this thing feels so well-balanced and nice to use. I recommend the Predator to any… predator anglers… obviously.

    If you want the strongest of strong travel rods, I’d recommend the S MAX by Rigged and Ready. But the Predator is my pick for the best rod that combines the convenience of travel with the ability to sea fish, cast big heavy lures, or target behemoths.

    How to Travel With Fishing Rods

    Travelling with a fishing rod can be challenging at times. You’re also gonna need some more gear, or as fishermen call it, tackle. 

    Malta Fishing Tackle Shop
    Tackle (fishing) shops are great!

    You’ll need a reel, some line and other basics like some hooks, lures, baits and weights. Buying a durable and compact tackle box to fit all your gear is my advice, but a basic food storage box will do.

    Compact travel rods reduce the inconvenience of travelling with long poles, but you still may run into a few issues. Theft is a minor concern, as some of the gear isn’t cheap.

    Keep your eyes on your tackle and treat it as you would any other valuable belongings.

    Taking rods, hooks and tackle on buses, planes and other transport shouldn’t be an issue. Big rods may have to be checked if they don’t fit in your carry-on bag. I have been stopped at airports for having MASSIVE treble hooks in my box though  – avoid this. 

    When travelling with a travel rod, it still may be slightly too big (depending on what rod you choose) to fit in (or strap onto) your bag. In this case, I would recommend storing it in places such as behind hostel/hotel desks to keep it safe. Overhead lockers, under hostel beds, with bus drivers, and on balconies are all places I’ve stowed my sticks.

    One final recommendation I have for travellers is to CLEAN and pack away any rods and tackle in between sessions. Avoiding fishy smells is a must. I’ve had times where I didn’t decamp my rigs and ended up breaking rod tips, hooking bus seats and snagging line on passing pedestrians. It’s just not worth it.

    collection of travel fishing rods
    If you can’t tell, I love Rigged and Ready travel rods.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    Ethical and Sustainable Travel Fishing

    Fishing ethically and looking after fish (fish care) is non-negotiable. Sport fishing is ethically questionable already, so it’s important to take extra care. Fish are living things and they’re worthy of respect.

    If you are fishing for food, do so sustainably and only ever take what you need. Practice catch-and-release fishing where possible and do not target vulnerable species or fish in conservation/marine protected areas. Always follow laws and bylaws – wherever you’re fishing.

    mahi mahi in mexico
    Just the one mahi mahi for dinner. 🙂
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    Stay prepared with a way to unhook fish quickly or cut line or hooks (plyers/wire cutters). You may also need somewhere to rest or land fish. A net, a mat, a rockpool or some wet grass will do fine.

    Killing fish ethically is important. I usually give ‘em one swift and powerful strike to the back of the head before bleeding them out. Never let fish suffocate. If you are releasing the fish you catch, take your photo and get them back in the water ASAP.

    Sometimes accidents happen, I’ve hooked stingrays, snapping turtles, and even birds all accidentally. In this case, it’s best to release the animal as quickly as possible, sometimes you’re able to do so easily and hassle-free. However, sadly, just cutting the line is sometimes the best option.

    Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Before You Cast Off!

    Fishing can be dangerous and accidents do happen – not to mention the possibility of losing gear! Some good quality travel insurance is never a bad idea – just make sure it covers fishing as a sport/activity.

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    Man fishing in panama
    Yep, I’m on.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    Final Thoughts on Travel Fishing Rods

    Travel fishing rods are simply amazing, they’re the perfect invention to accompany any keen angler abroad. I never travel without them now, and I go carry-on only! 

    It’s important to decide which type of fishing you want to be doing BEFORE you buy a rod. 

    Smaller rods will be good for dropping off piers and sussing out small rivers, lakes, ponds and streams. They are more easily transportable, but won’t be able to cast far or fight big fish.

    I use the Fish Rig 180 by Rigged and Ready for my occasional, opportunistic and quick sessions.

    If you want to do some beach/surf fishing or hop on a boat, I’d recommend a bigger travel rod, with a larger casting weight. The X5 MAX Adventure by Rigged and Ready is my go-to for this. The Predator or S MAX would be good for larger fish too.

    Malta Fishing Rigged and Ready Joe
    The X5 Adventure is my favourite all-round travel rod.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    If you’re not sure what type of fishing you’ll be doing, grabbing a good all-round option would be the safe shout. Something like the Shimano STC would be good. The Infinite Ultimate by Rigged and Ready will be great as it is so versatile and flexible. It just has so many rod tips, making it great for different types of fishing.

    As a final note, I want to say something realistic. It’s called fishing not catching for a reason. It’s important to understand that when fishing in totally new places, (or anywhere really) it’s normal to sometimes not to catch anything (blank).

    Connecting with locals, connecting with yourself and connecting with nature is what it’s really all about.

    Why stop here? Check out more ESSENTIAL backpacker content!
    Man with a fish in mountains
    Tight lines, folks; and never stop fishing.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst