So why is it that someone cannot, or more particularly, will not, build a decent rod case for the general fishing public that will safely carry one piece rods over six feet in length?
There are sturdy aluminum rod cases available for multi piece fly, travel and spinning rods, but if you need something that will take a long, one-piece rod, it's a crapshoot at best.
If you trust your rods to the commercial airlines, they will at times subjected to extreme trauma, and because my rods usually travel over 30,000 km. each year – much of it through the air - I need a case that provides serious protection.
Many years ago Bass Pro Shops carried a 4" diameter, adjustable aluminum case (pictured on the right) that could handle one-piece rods up to six feet in length. Notwithstanding its size limitations, this was without a doubt the best commercially available case I had ever come across. As to why they stopped carrying them, your guess is as good as mine.
That case really told the tale, because all manner of dents and scratches were clearly visible across its entire surface, thereby providing me with ample visual evidence of what it had been through.
Unfortunately, the ones made out of the thin plastic used in the manufacture of many of today's rod cases, do not show much visual evidence of the abuse they have taken, but trust me, they are getting slammed around.
I once had a plastic, adjustable case that was subjected to so much pressure during the airline baggage handling process, it completely collapsed, driving the tip of one rod right through the cap, and not surprisingly, shattered the rod in the process.
I am a very careful shopper when it comes to outdoors equipment. Before buying I do my research, and in particular look for reviews and comments from people who have actually used the product in the field, and are not being paid an endorsement fee to sing it's praises.
Needless to say, when the time came to find a replacement, I was very sceptical about plastic rod cases given my previous experience, but most of the reviews I read regarding the Plano Deluxe Hard Rod Case were positive, so much to my regret I decided to roll the dice and bought one.
Overall this case leaves much to be desired from a design and construction standpoint, but the design feature that is likely to cause you the most grief, is the snap lock mechanism that is supposed to hold everything in place once you have adjusted the length to suit the rods you will be transporting.
There are a series of holes at various intervals along the length of the upper section of the case that you line up with, and then insert a locking pin into the appropriate hole once you have determined the desired length. The locking pin is attached to a clasp, which you then latch into place using a rather flimsy moulded plastic latch.
The locking pin, which is made out of moulded plastic, with what appears to be an aluminum core, is subject to catastrophic failure if any significant pressure is placed on the top of case. In addition, if the sides, particularly on the upper section of the case, are compressed, the pin will likely pop out of the hole – as it did on mine - causing the case to collapse.
This locking mechanism is so badly designed, that despite securing it in place with several wraps of duct tape, and placing a small padlock through the pre-drilled holes, even a slight amount of pressure on the top or side, caused it to collapse.
Another poorly designed feature is the top cap closing mechanism. There are small plastic protrusions, or "nubs" on the tube that fit into a plastic groove on the cap that once twisted, ostensibly locks the cap into place.
This "closing/locking" mechanism can easily become worn; therefore if you don't want the top to pop off, there are pre-drilled holes on the cap that you can thread something like a twist tie, or small travel lock through to secure the cap in place. A screw top would be far more safe and effective.
On the oft chance that this particular case was just a one off, when I returned it to the store for a refund, I checked out the others that were in stock, and every one was just as bad.
If you insist on buying an adjustable plastic rod case, at the very least buy some ¾ inch wooden doweling, and cut it to fit the length of your tube once you have adjusted the height and locked it into place. This way if some baggage handler decides to use it as a battering ram – which may explain what happened to mine – the dowel may prevent it from collapsing and shattering your rods.
In the event you plan to take your rods on a road trip, particularly via commercial aircraft, I would highly recommend that you take the time and build your own rod case(s), preferably out of Schedule 40, PVC pipe - because if properly made, it will be virtually indestructible.
While not adjustable, you can make a couple of them in various lengths, for about the same, or less money than you will pay for the case being reviewed here, and if properly packed, you will have no difficulty safely transporting rods of varying lengths in a non-adjustable case.
If you are interested in making your own rod case, and some tips on how to safely pack them for transport, please click on the following link:
In my opinion the Plano Deluxe Hard Rod Case falls well short of any reasonable standard of functionality or quality, and for upwards of $75.00, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect it to do the job that it was supposedly designed for.
Note: Plano has redesigned the locking mechanism on their Guide Series rod cases. While I have not personally tested one, it would appear to be a better design than the model reviewed here. Having said that, the plastic material making up the case itself does not appear to have changed, meaing that if subjected to any substantial pressure, it may very well pop the locking pin, causing the case to collapse.
- Deluxe Hard Rod Case
- Tackle Type:
- Rod Case
- Overall rating:
- Don't Waste Your Money!