What exactly is a telescopic fishing rod? Well, there are two possible answers. Literally ‘telescopic’ means “having or consisting of concentric tubular sections designed to slide into one another”. This means that a truly telescopic rod should fit together like a telescope. But the term is sometimes also used when referring more loosely to rods that pack away very small – perhaps for fitting into a backpack or suitcase. Such rods include traditional, multi-piece fishing rods that simply pull apart into six, seven or eight different sections. These are more correctly grouped together as ‘travel rods’. In this section, therefore, we review the best, and best value telescopic rods. We also look at some alternative travel rod options, to try to provide a balanced view.
- 1 Travel vs telescopic rods – which are better?
- 2 What are the best telescopic rods?
- 3 What are the best travel rods?
- 4 What are the best travel fly rods?
Travel vs telescopic rods – which are better?
There’s no right answer to this question, as ‘better’ is very subjective. There are a couple of rules of thumb, however, that are worth bearing in mind. When it comes to convenience, a telescopic rod is probably preferable over a 6- or 7-piece rod. It’s quicker to assemble and, when not in use or while travelling between fishing spots, it’s easy to retract without necessarily having to wind up line or remove the hook.
When using my own telescopic rod, I’ve often left the rod made up. In other words, I’ve left the reel fitted, the line threaded and the lure and trace already in place. Such preparation can be all-important for making the most of short evening fishing spells after work.
Of course, it’s also possible to break down a multi-piece rod, but it’s definitely not as straightforward or practical. But convenience must be tempered by rod action. You will very rarely find a truly telescopic fly rod, because telescopic rod design has a rather negative effect on a rod’s casting action. While this isn’t a big issue for traditional casting or spinning rods, in a fly rod, where rod action can have a dramatic bearing on the fisherman’s ability to put a good line out, it can be crucial. Typically then, you may want to keep telescopic rods for casting and spinning. For fly fishing, on the other hand, I’d recommend using a rod that breaks down into multiple sections. The fewer sections, the better; but be aware that a 4-piece rod may not fit into your suitcase. Contrarily, a 6- or 7-piece rod probably will.
What are the best telescopic rods?
If you’re in the market for a travel rod, the following options may provide a useful starting point. They all conform to criteria that we think makes them good purchases: they’re made by reputable rod brands; they’re mid-range and therefore capable of landing fish up to 30lbs; and they’re widely regarded as being high quality and good value.
Sougayilang Graphite Telescopic Rods
Considering the price, we were all amazed how well these rods were made. A sturdy carbonfiber blank is fitted with a machined aluminium reel seat and sturdy stainless steel rings, which all fits together surprisingly well. A nice, solid-feeling rod. Lots of size options – from just under 6 feet to nearly 12 feet. Definitely capable of landing fish of around 20lbs, as long as you don’t try dragging them right onto the beach!
Eau Claire Fishing T-Carbon Elite Telescopic
Our pick of the numerous telescopic spinning rods on the market today has to be the 7-foot T-Carbon Elite from Eau Claire Fishing. Todd and his team have gone back to the drawing board, putting hard-won customer feedback to good use. In doing so they’ve created a rod that’s lightweight and compact, yet durable, well-made and long-lasting. Our chief tester, Mike Green, caught pike of 10 and 8lbs on his first test outing, and had nothing but positive things to say: “Nicely made, easy to use and handled the fish perfectly.”.
What’s even better, is that Eau Claire Fishing donate 10% of all profits towards getting more young people fishing, working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. You can read more here.
THKFISH Telescopic Rods
We’d never heard of this brand before, but if you can live with the fact that it’s made in China, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. It seems pretty well made, with what looks to be a carbon blank and aluminium fittings. There are three size options – just under 6 feet, 7 feet and 11 feet – all of which come with a neat, extendable handle, which means you can adjust the rod butt for comfort. Overall customers seem to be pretty satisfied and you can’t deny it’s a great-looking rod.
Enjoydeal Portable Fishing Rod
It’s amazing what you can get for your money these days. People often regard products made in China as being inferior, but it’s hard to argue at telescopic rods like this – made from carbon fibre and finished with a nice-looking, solid reel fitting. All of these rod’s exceeded our expectations. This one comes in four options – around 6, 7, 8 and 10 feet respectively.
What are the best travel rods?
Moving away from telescopic rods, in this section we’re going to look at spinning rods and fly rods that pack away into 3 or more pieces and that can therefore be transported fairly easily without compromising on casting ability and action.
Best Travel Spinning Rod Option 1: Okuma Inshore 3-Piece
If you’re in the market for a travel rod, but don’t want to compromise rod action for the convenience of using a telescopic rod, we might have the very thing. The Okuma Inshore 3-Piece Travel Rod is about as good as it gets. It’s perfect for spinning, can be used for bait casting and, at less than 3-feet long when packed away, is convenient for travel. OK, it may not fit into smaller suitcases and travel bags, but it’s definitely short enough to take on a plane.
Best Travel Spinning Rod Option 2: Fenwick Methods 3-Piece
There’s no doubt that Fenwick make great rods, and the patriots among you may be interested to know that they believe in manufacturing their rods in the USA. At 6 feet 8inches, this is a neat travel rod that packs away into its own sturdy, padded travel case. Suitable for most species of fish, up to around 20-30lbs in weight. Better still, the rod comes with two alternative set-ups – one heavier and one lighter, meaning this is effectively two rods for the price of one!
What are the best travel fly rods?
If you want to travel with a fly rod and you want something that can pack away small but still cast well, forget telescopic rods. I’ve yet to see a telescopic fly rod with anything like a decent action, and nearly all the decent fly rod makers focus on multi-section rods. As for length and number of sections, it’s a pay-off between travel convenience and action. The more sections you have, the smaller the rod will pack away and the easier it will be to transport. The few sections you have, by and large, the better the rod will be to cast, and the less time you’ll have to spend checking that the joins aren’t working loose.
I wouldn’t necessarily compromise on length. As with regular fly rods, you’ll probably want a rod of between 7 and 10 feet for most single-handed fly fishing – I’d go for something around 9 feet if you want middle-of-the-road.
Transporting your fly rods
I have a number of travel fly rods, including the 7-piece rod I mentioned above. That 7-piece was perfect for my round-the-world trip, as I could fit it inside my backpack, in its case, meaning I was never worried about losing it or leaving it somewhere. It also made it more difficult for someone to steal it.
These days, on the other hand, I don’t do much backpacking, or if I do it’s only on a dedicated fishing adventure. In those instances, I don’t mind carrying my rods in my hand. So I’m not too worried about how small the rods pack away, as long as they’re short enough for me to get on a plane.
Although I don’t travel as much as I’d like to, I do make the odd trip in pursuit of cold water species like salmon and trout, and the even-more-occasional trip for bonefish, tarpon, permit etc. For these circumstances I have a number of travel fly rods, which all pack down into protective tubes. The single-handed rods are all between 8.5 feet and 10-feet long, range from 6-weights to 12-weights and pack away into tubes of almost exactly 2.5 feet in length. If I want to, I can send these as checked baggage.
Transporting longer rods
My salmon rods are slightly different. While you can buy 5-piece rods, personally I don’t like them. I can’t tell you why, but I prefer to use a 4-piece rod and to carry it on as hand baggage. It’s still not what you’d call long and I’ve never had anyone question me about whether or not it should be permitted.
There are so many amazing travel fly rods out there, it’s hard to pick a winner. I’m happy to admit that I’ve blown far too much money on these rods, and I have Scott, Sage, G Loomis and several other expensive brands among my collection. But I also have TFO and Greys rods, which were a lot cheaper and which I love equally as much. For the purposes of this section, I’m going to avoid the super expensive brands and focus on what I believe is a combination of quality and value. If you want to see the rest of the fly rods we’ve compared, check out on standard fly rods page >>
TFO Lefty Kreh 4-Piece Fly Rod
I’m starting with one of my favourites. TFO love to stress their combination of value and quality, and it’s right that they do. What they say in their description of the Lefty Kreh rod describes exactly what happened to me: “Traveling anglers can afford to take them as a backup, but often return with a new favourite.” If you give them a try – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Orvis “Frequent Flyer” 7-Piece Fly Rod
Not only have Orvis been making quality fly rods for more years than I can remember, but they also offer finance and a 25-year guarantee on these rods. This 6-weight is a good rod for trout and possibly smaller saltwater species like bonefish, small jacks and redfish.
Redington Torrent 4-Piece Fly Rod
Make no mistake, Redington make great rods, but they also make an effort to keep their rods under $250. This means they hit both our quality and value targets. It’s a 4-piece rod that comes with a range of butt extension options and its own rod tube. (We’re big fans of an extension – if only for keeping the reel away from the body when fighting a big, fast fish)
Hardy Zenith 4-Piece Travel Fly Rod
Feel like treating yourself to something special? The Hardy Zenith is a rod that helped Hardy win back its reputation. It’s a terrific rod – one of Hardy’s ‘Sintrix’ line of rods, which honestly have to be tried to be fully appreciated. They don’t come cheap, but they are definitely better than most rods you will ever cast. (Or check out the Sage One we reviewed on our fly rods page >>)
We hope this section helps point you in the right direction. Telescopic rods and travel rods can be not just practical but a whole heap of fun. Therefore the whole team here at Drowning Worms would like to wish you some very happy fishing ahead!!
Disclaimer: Please note, we use Amazon affiliate links. This is one way that we make money from this site, but the price to you doesn’t change.
Featured image: Amazon.com