Thursday, March 28, 2013

DIY Ultralight Fishing Rod Case

Some time ago I noticed that Backpacking Light was selling an ultralight fishing rod case on their website. For some time now, I have been trying to come up with a lightweight, full size fishing kit. Unfortunately my fishing rod had come with a good, but very heavy case. Naturally, I got excited about the ultralight case offered by Backpacking Light. Unfortunately, they were out of stock, and continue to be so as of the date of this post. So, I set out trying to make my own. This was the result:


Next to the fishing rod case, you can see my lightweight reel and tackle. Together they make for a fishing kit of under 1 lb total weight, but that is for another post.

I made the fishing rod case from a fluorescent light tube protector. They are available in hardware stores, and come 4 or 8 ft lengths together with the caps you see above. The use of these tubes, as the name designates seems to be to place the fluorescent light bulb inside it for protection.

The tube I used is a bit over 1.5 inches in diameter. It is designed for fluorescent lights that are 1.5 inches in diameter, so that is how they refer to it in the hardware store. More specifically, it is the protector tube for T12 fluorescent lights. There are also tubes in 2.25 inch diameters, for the T17 fluorescent lights, but I was not able to find one.

The 1.5 inch diameter tube weighs 0.7 oz per foot of length. I used about a foot and a half for the above container, which came out to 1.0 oz. Additionally, each of the caps weighs 0.1 oz, for a total weight of the above fishing rod protector of 1.2 oz. Of course, the exact weight will depend on how much of the tube you use. I used a pair of scissors to cut the tube, which wasn’t a problem.

There are however some issues with the protector; some general, and some specific to my set up.

The general issue is that the protector is not terribly strong. While it has worked very well to protect my fishing rod so far, it is not as strong as the protectors you can get from your fishing equipment supplier. The tube is strong enough so that it will not bend in half without very large force being applied, and it will protect very well against branches and other things that may hit your pack while you are raveling in the woods. However, the tube can compress when pressure is applied, so it will not protect your rod is you do something like step on it.


The second issue is the one specific to my set up, and that is that the butt guide on the rod was too large (sticks too far out from the rod) to fit in the 1.5 inch tube. I’m sure that would not be an issue with some other rod models, but it was with mine (St. Croix 6 foot Travel Spinning Rod). Unfortunately, since I was not able to find a larger tube, I had to figure out a way to make it work. The solution was to use the flexibility of the tube to my advantage.

The solution was to cut out a small slot, just large enough for the guide to pop out from it when that section of the rod was inserted in the protector. To insert the rod, I pinch the tube so that elongates, and slide the section of the rod until the butt guide reaches the cutout. After that section is in, the other sections are inserted easily.


The result was a very lightweight and compact fishing rod case, certainly much lighter than the one that came with the rod. I was also able to find some sources on the internet that sell similar tubes in different diameters. You can see one of them here. I have not ordered from them, so I’m not sure how they match up.


Why bother with any of this? Well, it was important for me because just like with most other things I do in the woods, I want to be able to do it while backpacking through the woods over relatively long distances. I could easily end up bringing my fishing gear on a trip, and not using it because the opportunity did not present itself. Because of that, I need fishing gear that is as light as possible so that it is easily portable in that context.

I’ve also noticed while doing research, that many people who do the same thing, and reduce the weight of their fishing gear, switch over to Tenkara fishing. I wanted to stick to spin fishing since my knowledge is limited and I want to master the basics before switching styles. On a similar note, I decided to carry a full fishing kit (rod, reel, and tackle) instead of the hobo fishing kit that I have previously used on trips because I wanted to get better as a fisherman and practice different techniques.

And finally, I know very little about fishing when compared to most other people, so when I give any advise, please ignore it.


  1. Hey
    Just started reading your blog. Great stuff I really enjoy it. Have you tried 1 or 2 inch PVC pipe or do you think it is to heavy?


    1. Thanks. I thought the PVC pipe would be too heavy, although I have not tried it.