Homemade Rod Tubes Cause Problems for Pilot and Secret Service

Pilot, fly fisherman, homemade rod tubes; airport security, bomb squad, secret service – Got your attention?

As an avid fly fisherman, I have designed several versions of fly rod carriers to fit on the roof of my Explorer. At first, I made one from six-inch PVC fitted with screw end caps. Mounting them to the top of my SUV worked well, but people joked they looked like cannons.

I replied it was a good way to keep slow drivers out of the fast lane.

My second generation was built for a fellow fly fisherman. Since we were building them for the  top of his car, I felt six-inch tubes would be too large. So, I made his out of two ten foot, metal pipes with PVC end caps large enough to accommodate the reels.

They worked well, but people joked they looked like machine guns – see reply above.

Finally, this last winter I came up with a third model, and what I thought  was a vast improvement over the previous attempts. Calling it version 3.0, I made this rod holder with four ten foot aluminum tubes attached to a  metal 50 caliber ammo can. It is sleek, secure and water proof. It worked well. Knowing peoples previous jokes and the fact that the tubes looked like rockets, I figured I would go with it.

I painted the last two feet of the four tubes to resemble rockets. Adding a touch of realism, I attached fins and nose cones from toy model rockets to them. As you will see, I must have made them look too real and found not everyone has the same sense of humor that I and many others do.

As a commercial pilot, I park my SUV at the airport while on trips. One such recent trip had all the elements come together in such a way that it resembled a  skit on Saturday Night Live.

I left my SUV parked in the same spot that I had for years. That’s how the Secret Service found it: an SUV with what looked like rockets mounted to the top of it facing the runway on which a plane carrying First Lady Michelle Obama was due to land later that day.

The Secret Service called the airport police, who called the bomb squad, who brought an explosive-sniffing dog. Worst of all since I wasn’t around, my wife was called several times about my rocket laden SUV. Believe it or not, neither the Secret Service, local police, bomb squad, nor my wife had the reaction that my clever masterpiece was supposed to impart unto them.

Some sense of reason tried to come forward as the head of the airport security, himself a fly fisherman, attempted to explain the the “rockets” were probably not rockets, but tubes to hold fly rods. When asked by a member of the Secret Service to explain his reasoning, he pointed to the large fly fishing decal on my vehicle.


Unfortunately the Secret Service didn’t accept his theory, even though the explosive-sniffing dog did not “hit” on my truck. After several tortuous calls, my wife gave them permission to dismantle the threatening apparatus, and all ended well. As you can imagine, they did not take the same care taking the tubes off my SUV as I spent putting them on.

All this happened while I was in the air and out of contact with my wife. When I landed and checked my messages, I had several panicked voice mails from her. As hesitant as I was to believe such a tale, it was  the tone in her voice that made me realize she was not joking.

After speaking with an airport police officer to confirm what I thought to be a far-fetched scenario, I came to the realization that the Secret Service and local police probably do not have the same sense of  humor that I possess. I do believe, however, after hearing the tone in his voice, that he and his fellow officers had a good laugh at my expense.

Have you ever had a misunderstanding when it comes to  your fishing gear? Let us know in the comments!

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