I too have traveled Delta with fishing gear. Mainly to San Diego for long range fishing. I used an Orvis travel vest (2 sizes larger than I wear) and stuffed it with all my camara gear and other gear. I used a carry on bag that held 15 reels (2 80wides, 5 50wides and 8 others all loaded with line) and passed thru checkin without any problem. The bag was so heavy I could barely get it into the overhead compartment for storage. And I'm a strong guy! I still think the pilot had to use extra wing flap on the side I sat on to stabilize the plane. I still smile when I think about this.