Ever since the new checked bag fees went into effect, people have been trying to carry on more and more luggage to avoid paying extra. Since airlines in North America don't bother to enforce their own carry-on limits, it's led to a total shit show every time you board a plane now. I've started intentionally booking seats near the back of the plane just so I can board earlier and have a place for my carry-on bag. If you show up with a 2-piece rod tube, be prepared to gate check it.
you can always hold onto your tube in your seat. I once carried a guitar case on board and hugged it for a 7 hour flight. not the most comfortable situation but i'd rather not let someone else handle my guitar.
I tried to carry on two 4-piece rods and a messenger bag earlier this year. I figured they were way smaller than a piece of carry-on luggage. The gate agent told me I could not carry three "bags" on the flight, so I ended up checking my messenger bag. But the good news is that they didn't charge me for it. I'm not sure, but I don't think they have the capability to add a charge fee at the gate.
Maybe that makes me "that" guy - I've always hated "that" guy.
Looks like I picked a bad week to quit sniffing glue.
Carry it to the gate if they let you. Worst case, the gate agent or ramp lead will hand carry it down to the ramp and put it in the bin. At least you'll reduce your odds of a baggage handler putting it on the wrong plane, running it over with a belt loader, or having it jam up in a conveyor belt and getting destroyed by 50%.
There is no correct answer to this subject; you may be allowed to proceed to the gate, it is there where you will learn whether or not you may take the rod aboard. If not, my experience is they will tag it and have you leave it near the cabin entrance at boarding. Sometimes I'll find my rod upon exit from the plane, other times in baggage pick up (Also, the rods will appear in the special items pick up station). Have never been billed for this process; beats checking as an extra bag.
The three times I've flown with a 2 piece 8'6" rod I've checked it at the gate. Southwestern and United it was extremely easy - the Frontier agent, however, nearly blew a gasket. Tried to make me leave it (with who????) and kept saying I should have called the airline and asked.
I have taken my 9'6" two piece to Florida and Spain with no problems. I just lay under my seat. Nobody in front or behind me complained. You can put in the closet where you enter the plane also. This is where people with large business suit bags hang them. There is plenty of room to toss a rod in there.