Shipping a fishing rod

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Shipping a fishing rod

Shipping a fishing rod can be a hazardous proposition. The package is long, awkward, and provokes shipping clerks to violent behavior. However, it is the seller's legal responsibility to ensure the rod reaches the buyer. Safely. To quote eBay's Shipping Problems page; "Remember, the seller is responsible for the item until it is in the buyer's possession. eBay protects buyers if items arrive damaged, and sellers should consider insuring their items to protect themselves against loss."

I have purchased a couple hundred fishing rods by mail. Too many arrive broken due to poor packaging. Often the sellers didn't purchase insurance and claimed no responsibility for shipping losses. To date, eBay's Buyer Protection compensated me >every time for a rod broken during shipping. Then eBay carved their loss from the seller's PayPal balance. In the long run, a buyer doesn't want compensation for loss - they want the fishing rod. This web page advises how to deliver a fishing rod without drama, calamity, or insurance claims.

Don't let this happen to your rod shipment


Four easy steps for successful shipping

Ship the rod in a heavy plastic tube

A selection of plastic plumbing pipe

Schedule 40 plumbing pipe is perfect. That's right, plastic plumbing pipe is our friend. Buy a section of 2" schedule 40 PVC or ABS plumbing pipe about 6" longer than the fishing rod or rod tube. This material makes an almost bombproof shipping tube and it is cheap.

A cardboard box is not sufficient - especially those free, triangular, US Postal boxes. Most broken fishing rods I've received were shipped in a taped up pair of triangular boxes. The buyer pays the shipping charges, including the materials. Don't risk the rod to save a couple of dollars.

Rod tubes ARE NOT rugged enough for shipping, even the metal ones (see the photo at the top of the page). Don't even think about it. In addition, buyers get upset with shipping labels stuck to a vintage rod tube. Negative feedback upset. Pack the rod into the rod tube, then pack the rod tube into the plastic plumbing pipe.


Wrap the rod securely

Put the rod into the rod bag
Wrap the rod completely

The rod should be wrapped such that it is snug in the tube. Place the rod into the rod bag, if there is one. Wrap the rod with paper or bubble wrap. Extend the wrap a couple of inches beyond each end to protect the rod tip. If the fishing rod has a rod tube, place the wrapped rod into the tube. Finally, pack the rod tube into the shipping tube (again, don't ship the rod in a naked rod tube). Sometimes the address label on the shipping tube is damaged or obscured - include a second copy of the recipient's name and address INSIDE the shipping tube.

Plastic end caps are nice - tape them to the tube - don't glue them. In a pinch, just stuff newspaper into the tube ends and wrap several layers of packing tape around the ends.

Finally, attach the shipping label to the tube and cover it with clear packing tape.

Add some packing and tape shut
Place the rod in the tube

Pick the right delivery company

Ship with FedEx Ground or the US Postal Service. Brown breaks 10% of the rods they deliver and they are notorious for not paying insurance claims. Avoid the hassle. Stick with FedEx or the post office. For expensive or rare rods, consider US Postal Express Mail delivery. Express Mail parcels don't enter the main mail stream. They are hand sorted, scanned at every transfer, and they travel in a dedicated Express Mail rolling container. Express Mail requires a signature, so it's delivered to the addressee, not left on the porch. For International shipments, the US Postal Service is the best bet (and don't forget the proper customs forms). FedEx has excellent online package tracking. The US Postal Service system is slow, but sufficient.

Always, always, always buy insurance

Simply put, shipping insurance protects the seller. Even well packaged fishing rods get damaged. If a rod is broken during delivery, eBay compensates the buyer from the sellers account. Savvy sellers insist that the buyers purchase insurance.


What NOT to do

  • Never package the rod in a triangular cardboard box. Do you want to save a couple of bucks? or compensate eBay for a Buyer's Protection claim?
  • Don't place tape or glue directly on the rod or rod tube. Rod paint and cork grips are easily tape damaged. Use 3M blue masking tape if you must. Never use rubber bands to hold the rod sections together - a short period wrapped in a rubber band will warp the rod.
  • Don't toss the receipts SAVE THE INSURANCE RECEIPT UNTIL THE ROD IS SAFELY DELIVERED! No receipt - no compensation for your loss. eBay compensates the buyer - the seller is on their own. If you make an insurance claim, a printout of the eBay transaction suffices as proof of value.