As I wrote here DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE? ALASKA AIRLINES D... [amned Sure Does!], I recently took a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Leaving my home for my Texas airport, I was already drenched in sweat at 5:30 in the morning loading my car for the airport with a couple of bags. The A/C finally got me back to normal about 1/4 of the way to the airport, only to be repeated as a lugged bags hurriedly to catch the parking tram to the terminal.
I had to check a bag, and the curbside folks weren't going yet, so I had to get inside. A very nice American attendant totally walked me through getting my boarding passes and paying for my checked bag, then I got the bag checked in and was off to the gate. My new tennis shoes got selected for a swabbing by the TSA folks, and that's damned OK by me. Search my stuff. Make me spread it all out and taste my toothpaste in front of you. It's for our safety, and sometimes we don't know everything the gub'ment knows about current threats and trends and intell.
So what I do when I approach the screening area is take my fishing stuff out of my carry on (if not in the checked bag) and put it on top of the backpack in large ziploc bags, because they're gonna want to inspect it, because there will be lead or sharp hooks and the like that will go BOING BOING BOING on the xray machine. That's just the way it is.
I didn't get my bags inspected this time, as I think they're supposed to leave a note when they do it. In any event, no biggie. I was able to carry a knife and pliers in my checked bag, along with a variety of lead weights and lures and flies and the like. A steel cable lanyard.
I took my rods, a Fenwick ultralight spinning travel rod from the 1980's, a newish 7' euro casting rod that breaks down to six pieces and a Orvis Frequent Flyer rod in 6 wt. and carried them in the bottom of my carry on small garment bag. I taped a piece of cardboard across the middle of all three cases to keep them from lumping in the bottom of the garment bag. Otherwise, I would have carried them in a carry on bag and/or a backpack [well, peaking out the top of the backpack by 5 inches or so].
In my backpack, along with my laptop and other personal stuff I can't afford to be without, like personal toiletries, meds, my notes for the school, electronic media for the school, etc. and a change of clothes in case the checked bag gets lost or misrouted, I carried a Scientific Angler reel with some new 6wt forward floating line, a Curado and a Shakespeare UL spinning reel.
I carried a White River small fly fishing bag with fly stuff, pliers, hook remover, dry fly liquid, and a Plano box full of small spinners, plugs and various small hooks and weights. I carried a similarly sized box with some hooks, leaders, weights and a few lures for the Curado/Euro Rod combo.