For the past month I have been working at the USPS Priority Mail Processing Center as a mail handler. I have had an opportunity to see a tremendous number of rods pass through the system. From this experience (which is, alas, temporary), I would like to make the following observations on packaging.
Do NOT mark any item with handling instructions such as ""Fragile" or "This End Up". This only frustrates the mail handlers who must pack a post-con or air-can in the most efficient manner possible... they MUST ignore your instructions. Even if they could adhere to your wishes, most packages will fall up to seven feet from a moving belt onto the metal floor of a post-con. Understand the stresses to which the package may be subjected and pack accordingly. A package weighing as much as 70 pounds may be dropped from a height of four feet directly onto your precious cargo.
Fiber rod tubes provide insufficient protection for a rod. Imagine your rod suspended at either end and a seventy pound weight dropped in the middle. The triangular tubes are some help, but even they cannot handle these stresses. A heavy weight PVC tube inside a triangular cardboard tube seems like the best one can hope for.
Secure the end caps. I have several times seen rods sliding out of fiber tubes that had lost a white plastic insert cap. At the very least, tape over both end caps with a stout tape (the fiberglass tape is excellent)...let your customer worry about opening it.
Pad the rod from shifting or sliding in its tube. Also pad the tube if used within a larger tube.
Don't advertise your rod shop on the container. The average parcel probably gets handled by twenty people in the USPS and FedEx (the carrier for USPS). You are only tempting otherwise honest people by indicating the contents, save your marketing for those that can afford your wares.
Indicate the destination address with a bold "To:". Be especially clear about the ZIP code. Use smaller type for the return address. (Reed Curry)
Along this same line of thought: I've had a few of the fixture packages "looked into" by someone while enroute. This wasn't damage obtained in transit, per se, but due to someone maliciously opening the boxes, and smashing the end of the PVC cap and tube. Had they looked, the other end was taped, rather than glued. I suspect that either their curiosity, or their felonious intent was aroused due to the shipping label carrying the words "Rod Company". Since I stopped using that terminology, I've had no breakage problems, nor even so much as a destroyed/damaged box. To date, I've had no rods lost nor damaged, either. If you really want to add to your loss protection, send rods and other valuables via Registered Mail. Each person who handles the package must sign for it, in and out, thus it's easy to trace, and only certain people are supposed to handle Registered Mail. Many large post offices have a Registered Mail Clerk for this task. (Martin-Darrell)
I ship in PVC then save an extra $5 by slipping the PVC tube in a fiberboard container. the aluminum is shipped alongside or separately. (Timothy Troester)