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Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking
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Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking on 02/28/2008 21:18:20 MST Print View

In the past I’ve used fluorescent lamp guards like THIS which I cut to the length of my fly rod and used the provided caps. While not as nice as the BPL ultralight fishing ROD CASE both options are insufficient for younger (read - less careful) fly fishers (e.g. my son) or for significant bushwhacking. In my opinion their wall thickness is a bit too thin. Therefore, I’ve been searching for the right material which provides a better balance between strength and weight. I wanted to share with you my results and conclusions. I was able to acquire sample material from Home Depot (lamp guards), SMALL PARTS (clear polycarbonate tubing) and PETRO PACKAGING (clear cellulose acetate butyrate tubing). The following are some dimensions and weights for the materials I sourced. I’m leaning on using option 2 for my on trail hiking, and option 4 for my son’s rod and when I plan to go off trail or need to fly via plane to reach the hiking destination.

Abbreviations used:
OD=outside dimension, ID=inside dimension, WT= wall thickness

Option 1) Fluorescent lamp guard (appears to be similar in weight and thickness to the BPL rod case)
- OD 1-23/32, ID ~1-11/16 ID, WT ~1/32
- 0.076 ounces/inch
- 2.05 ounces for a 27 inch tube
- great for on trail hiking and saves nearly 4 ounces from more durable options

Option 2) Cellulose acetate butyrate (nearly identical to above lamp guards)
- OD 1-3/4, ID ~1-23/32 ID, WT ~1/32
- 0.121 ounces/inch
- 3.28 ounces for a 27 inch tube
- slightly more durable than the lamp guard (but not by much)

Option 3) Polycarbonate
- OD 1-3/4, ID ~1-21/32 ID, WT ~3/32 (sold as 1/16 inch WT)
- 0.300 ounces/inch
- 8.10 ounces for a 27 inch tube
- The strongest of all four options but is also considerably heavier than option 4 (perhaps its more impact resistant, but I’m not playing stick ball with the tube!)

Option 4) Cellulose acetate butyrate
- OD 1-3/4, ID ~1-11/16 ID, WT ~1/16
- 0.225 ounces/inch
- 6.00 ounces for a 27 inch tube
- perfect balance of strength and weight for situations where option 2 would not provide enough protection

While polycarbonate is known for its impact resistance, I’m not all that familiar with the impact resistance of cellulose acetate butyrate. Using the samples provided, they seem capable of resisting any impact they would experience while bushwhacking.

Comments or questions are more than welcomed!

Edited by brianjbarnes on 02/28/2008 22:26:16 MST.

Carol Corbridge
(ccorbridge) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
fishing rod tubes on 02/29/2008 08:57:58 MST Print View

Thanks so much! Great research.

Seth Ayotte
(sethayot) - F

Locale: Western Oregon
Fly Rod Tube Question on 03/05/2008 14:53:08 MST Print View


How would you compare the durability of options 3 and 4 with the standard fabric covered pvc tubes that come with pack fly rods? I am looking or something that is close to as strong as the pvc type case; I have used one of the BPL fly rod tubes and it was definitely not strong enough for me.

Thanks for your research and input,

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
RE: "Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking" on 03/05/2008 22:07:58 MST Print View

I’d say option 3 is really close in terms of the strength of the schedule 40ish Cordura covered PVC tubes. In my opinion I think it overkill. Perhaps you couldn’t drive a car over it but it certainly could be slammed in a car door (hard). When I squeeze the tube on one end I can just barely get the tube to flex (moves ~1/16 of an inch). I also worry about the ID of this tube. A 4pc fly rod in a sock may not fit since the WT is ~3/32 of an inch.

I suggest saving the 2-3 ounces (depending on your fly rod length) and go with option 4 (rather than option 3) if you wanted a bomber but lighter weight tube. I can’t foresee any scenario that could occur in the backcountry or even to and from the location being able to break the rod while in this tube. Aside from running it over with your car/truck, it should withstand most everything else. FYIW, when I squeeze this tube on one end I can get the tube to flex about 1/4 of an inch. I’d go as far to assume you could also shut this tube in a car door without breaking your fly rod.

One last piece of information, my Cordura covered Scott fly rod tube weighs nearly 23 ounces! Dropping this weight to even just 6 ounces saves more than one pound.

Edited by brianjbarnes on 03/08/2008 08:36:57 MST.

Seth Ayotte
(sethayot) - F

Locale: Western Oregon
Thanks for the info on 03/06/2008 16:57:02 MST Print View


Thanks for the info, its something Ive been looking for for a while.

Jeff Cadorin
(JeffCadorin) - F

Locale: paper beats rock
option 4 on 03/07/2008 21:28:45 MST Print View

never mind....thanks for the research. Much Appreciated

Edited by JeffCadorin on 03/07/2008 21:30:41 MST.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking on 04/01/2008 12:07:21 MDT Print View

I have also used fluorescent lamp guards.

$1.99 @ Home Depot. Trim and add a couple of pieces of duct tape and mine comes in at 1.2 oz.


Edited by pappekak on 04/01/2008 12:56:24 MDT.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
I bought mine from these folks on 05/08/2008 15:44:57 MDT Print View

I have a number of these tubes for carrying fly rods.

I have purchased all of mine from these folks:

They don't have a surcharge for small quantity orders and their shipping charges are reasonable. They sell the endcaps as well.

Shane Stewart
(anacrime) - F
Cutting? on 05/27/2008 12:15:34 MDT Print View

How do you guys cut the tubes to size?

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
RE: "Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking" on 05/27/2008 21:06:15 MDT Print View

A hacksaw works well:

John Mowery
(Mow) - F

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking on 05/30/2008 08:11:10 MDT Print View

I realize something more durable is necessary for younger people, but I've never carried a rod tube. I use a Gossamer Gear ThinLight Insulation Pad and wrap it around my rod. I then use two pieces of velcro tape to secure it closed and place it in the side pocket of my Jam2. It provides a great deal of protection and has a double use as sleeping insulation.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Fly rod tube on 05/30/2008 09:37:05 MDT Print View

Thats a great idea- I am going try that one for sure. No Brainer!!

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: "Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking" on 05/30/2008 14:57:29 MDT Print View

These tubes look interesting and affordable. I take it that you are satisfied with their durability.

If you can weigh yours, I'm sure everyone would appreciate the report.

Shane Stewart
(anacrime) - F
Weights on 05/30/2008 17:34:10 MDT Print View

Bought one piece of 4' tubing and made two rod tubes. They didn't have extra caps so I put a piece of duct tape over one of the ends on each. One weighs 1.65oz and the other weighs 1.5oz.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
RE: "Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking" on 06/02/2008 19:19:03 MDT Print View

Kai, I picked up two separate tubes from the source you recommended. Nice find! The end caps weighed 0.15 ounces each (for a 1.75 inch OD tube). I ordered two separate tubes. In keeping with this thread’s numeric ordering, I’ll refer to them as:

Option 5) Cellulose acetate butyrate (seems slightly heavier than the options 1 and 2)
- OD 1-3/4, ID, 1-11/16 ID, WT 1/16
- 0.121 ounces/inch
- 3.26 ounces for a 27 inch tube
- somewhat more durable than the lamp guard and option 2 (actually, I’d consider this a perfect ratio of strength and weight for adult backpackers if you expect normal bumps, etc)

Option 6) Cellulose acetate butyrate
- OD 1-3/4, ID, 1-5/8 ID, WT 1/8
- 0.223 ounces/inch
- 6.00 ounces for a 27 inch tube
- The perfect lighter-weight tube to resist serious insult (e.g. kids, scouts, etc) but is likely overkill for careful adults.

I paid $12.18 for 6 feet of option 5, $6.30 for 6 feet of option 6, and $1.44 for 6 end caps. The order shipped for $8.57. I’ve decided to have both available depending upon whose going and how much abuse the rods tubes are expected to be subjected to.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: "Durable but light fly rod tube for backpacking" on 06/19/2008 00:52:45 MDT Print View

Mine is 8.9 ounces for a tube of about 4 feet in length (for a 2 piece rod.) That includes two end caps, and a little piece of soft foam I put at the bottom to cushion the rod when it's in the tube.

Most folks will use a rod with more sections, so the tube will be shorter.

I've had no issues with durability (and I'm a bushwhacker.)

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
great info! on 09/11/2009 17:49:05 MDT Print View

glad I bumped into this thread as I've ordered a new pack rod (sorry it's a spinning rod :)) and wanting to keep the weight down on the tube.

my current aluminum tube is rather bullet proof, but weighs ~ 8 oz- this is for only a 18" tube mind you

by using the 1/16" WT tube mentioned above I'll be under 2.5 oz (including caps) :D

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
weights may be off a little on 09/27/2009 15:10:53 MDT Print View

I also ordered some tube from american plastic (had to go slightly larger 2" od for the spinning rod)

I went w/ the 1/16" wall and I agree it's just about right from a protection standpoint, you might get by w/ the 1/32" and save some weight

I think Brian's post above inadvertently has the 1/16" and 1/32" weights listed and not the 1/8" and 1/16" as my tube (same material and wall thickness- just a hair bigger od) shows it to weigh 5.8 oz at 20", which comes to ~ 0.29 oz/foot which is consistent w/ Brian's first post- 0.225 oz/foot for 1/16" wall and 1.75" od, but not the last post

I tried a florescent tube holder, but the id was a hair too small for the spinning rod- it very noticeably flexed a lot more as well

still cuts the weight in about half from my aluminum rod case :)

quinton bryant
(quinton) - F
fly rod case on 05/20/2012 09:15:23 MDT Print View

were can i find option 4 or 6,and what the part numbers if i order,thanks

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: fly rod case on 05/20/2012 09:48:43 MDT Print View

ahhh, Quinton....

That first post is 4 1/2 years old.

I think you are on your own.

Edited by greg23 on 05/20/2012 09:51:40 MDT.