DIY: Ultralight Fly Rod Tube for Backpacking Under $5

ultralight fly fishing rod tube tutorial do it yourself diy outdoor gear

I’ve been on the search recently for a good ultralight backpacking fly rod tube/case that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. I explored the options of aluminum, thin pvc, cordura covered pvc and anything else I could find and nothing seemed light enough or cheap enough for me to buy it. Then I found some info in online forums about how people were making ultralight backpacking fly rod cases out of fluorescent light protectors. What the heck? That sounds like a perfect option, and it sounds like a challenge! After figuring out the details, I decided to post a tutorial so that you too can make this super inexpensive, super lightweight, super quick-to-build fly rod case for your backpacking adventures. Here’s the tutorial for my diy ultralight fly fishing rod tube:

Photos by Joshua Rainey

Step 1:
Go buy yourself a fluorescent light protector at a local hardware store. It costs less than $5 and it’s most of what you need for the project. Make sure you get a 1.5″ thick or it’s not going to work out too well when you go to stick the fly rod into the tube. While you’re at the hardware store, you’re going to need a couple more items if you don’t already have them. I am assuming here that most every household in the U.S. has the remaining items, hence the title above; however, if you don’t then here’s the list. Electricians tape, a razor blade, a tape measure. Easy enough? Purchases made, return home and proceed to step 2.

Step 2:
ultralight fly fishing rod tube
Measure your fly rod when it’s broken down to figure out the length you’re going to need for the tube to fit. The rod shown in this example is a 8′ 4-piece rod and each section measures out to 25.5″. So, I am going to allot a half inch for the rod sleeve making my rod tube 26″ total. Remove both caps and cut your tube to the desired length.

Step 3:
It’s cutting time. I used a carpet cutting razor blade and it worked quite fine. I imagine you could use any sort of razor blade or sharp knife and have the same results. Make sure to cut the tube as flush as possible so that the caps fit back on well keeping it waterproof.

Step 4:
ultralight fly rod tube diy
Now you need to make the caps waterproof. If you haven’t already noticed, the caps have holes in them to protect the ends of the fluorescent bulbs. That might be nice for bulbs but backpacking in the rain with a fly rod is a different story, we need this thing to be waterproof! I used electricians tape on the inside and out of the caps on both ends. It did the job quite nicely. The great thing about this is that the tape sticks to the tape on the inside forming a water-tight seal.

Step 5:
Put the rod in your brand new ultralight fly fishing rod tube. That’s it, you’re done! Really easy, really cheap, and really effective. You can’t ask for much more than that! Now, keep in mind, this isn’t the sturdiest rod tube out there. If you’re planning on using this thing while storing gear in the garage or in the boat, you might want to re-think your plan. However, if you’re wanting a lightweight rod tube to protect your fly rod while backpacking, you’ve got it. Have fun out there!
cheap fly rod tube diy ultralight backpacking


  1. This is BRILLIANT! Exactly what I’ve been looking for. You just saved me a lot of time, trouble, & expense. THANK YOU!

    • No problem, thanks for checking out the post and glad it helped!

  2. Thanks!!! Have a couple of flyrods that I want to stow on my boat full time. this will fill the need easily.

    • Awesome to hear!

  3. Awesome. Thanks for the step by step directions. I have broken my fly rod 3 times hiking. The last time I tripped over barbed wire on the ground. I usually throw the rod to protect it. But this time it happened so fast. I need a better plan. So using this tube is fantastic. How do you strap it onto your pack? Thanks

    • Sorry, this comment went into the spam folder for some reason! You’re very welcome for the tips! I usually put the rod in a drink pocket on the side and then lightly strap the top to the pack with a small additional strap. The tube isn’t extremely tough so you’ll still want to be a bit careful with how hard yous trap it down!


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