I didn't mean to make light of your quandry. I just couldn't think of a better way. I have carried on rods with out the tube (4pc 9' and 4 pc 12' and an Atlantis 11'). It seemed sketchy at first, but I just took a little more care. I used a sock, but I don't see how it would be different wrapping them with some velcro. They don't seem to count the low profile rods as an carry on item. They probably would if they were in an abel case. God forbid they make me gate check them with out hard shell.
small commuters seem ok. I can't even get my camera bag on those.
Lately I have been checking rolling lugage that can hold 3 and 4 pc rods undernieth (sage and william joseph). Some fat pvc irrigation tube or pvc fence post and it is pretty much bomb proof. The WJ roller (3pc rods) is freaking huge. Everyone hates you when they seee it. No breaks from anyone. No way to keep it unde max weight, so now i just count on payng the 20 bucks extra.
Having said that, I always seem to be carrying a rod or five on board too. I suppose there are worse problems to have.