Confession: I’m a long-timer sufferer of separation anxiety.

THE INCITING EVENT usually looks like this: I sit at the edge of the bed, listening to Prairie Home Companion, packing my bag. Every once in a while I raise my head to steal a glance of a topo map.

Despite my best efforts, I hone in on a particular stretch of stream. A little yellow blur catches my eye from the corner of the room. It’s my fly rod again, leaning stiff in the corner, waving line at me like a handkerchief in the fan’s breeze. My waders are there, too, and my techpack.

For a moment I’m lost in a day dream: we all walk together in knee deep sprays of cold, clear water. Shoooough, shoooough, shoooough sounds the gravel under foot between roll casts and smooth hook sets. Then the edges of the vision fade and I am trapped in the middle of the Atlanta airport surrounded by musty travelers frothing like catfish at feeding time.

The luggage zipper sings closed. Sorry, guys, maybe next time.

That’s where the anxiety sets in. And there it stays until I get home. On the other end, I walk the stretch of creek from the topo map, eat a salmon sushi dinner, and call it “close enough.”

The Fishpond Trailhead Rolling Gear Bag has changed that travel story for the better and it has given me more time on the water. It protects and organizes my gear and limits the travel hassle.

The Trailhead opens wide and packs quickly, which is a real plus when you travel several times a month. At 35 x 13 x 13 inches, the Trailhead is well within the dimensions for checked luggage and has plenty of space for everything I need for a short business trip or a long weekend.

Even though the Trailhead is roomy, it would be difficult to pack enough gear to exceed airline weight limits. The main compartment holds waders, boots, a fully-loaded tech pack, a net, an SLR camera, assorted other gear, and attire for both the office and the stream. The molded rod compartment holds up to four rods and can be quickly accessed through an end zipper or through another that separates the top and bottom compartments.

(Note: If you are not traveling with rods, the bottom compartment will hold at least two pairs of cowboy boots and a pair of hiking boots.)

The nine exterior cargo pockets and six interior zippered mesh cargo pockets help organize fly line, fly boxes, toiletries, playing cards, a honing stone, and most anything else.

Once it’s packed, the Trailhead fits across the back seat of a Jeep Wrangler, in the cargo space of a Subaru Forester, or on end in the floorboard of an ’88 Ford pickup — though it is not designed to stand on end otherwise. The large wheels roll easily across asphalt and other flat surfaces and take curbs well on the way to the airport.

Photo by author

Inside the terminal, the narrow wheel base makes it easy to navigate the crush of folks. Because the bag is narrow and tall, it is susceptible to rocking on uneven surfaces and in tight turns.

The Trailhead is made of rip stop and ballistic nylon and has heavy duty zippers, handles, and stitching, so gear is protected from truck beds and the strong-arming, rough-housing, and general shenaniganery of airline baggage handlers competing for crowns in the luggage toss, satchel slide, bag bowl, and the pinnacle event: the hey-boys-watch-this-breaking-stuff freestyle.

The Trailhead Rolling Gearbag is a solid piece of gear for traveling anglers. It’s part of my standard luggage now and I pack my fishing gear even if there’s only a slim chance I’ll get to use it.

Good news and bad news. My separation anxiety is under control. However, my 4-piece rod is lonely now in the molded storage area and begging for playmates.

The Trailhead Rolling Gear Bag is available for $299.95. If you are an angler, or would like to be, please be an ambassador for our sport and a steward to our natural resources.