July 13, 2011
By Steve Hoffman
Flip through your favorite fishing catalog and you'll likely see pages of tackle boxes and bags brimming with lures. Racks of spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, utility boxes full of crankbaits, and nylon binders stuffed with soft plastics. Each is a model of efficiency that promises to transform the mound of tackle spilling onto your garage floor into an organized management system that's sure to make you a better fisherman.
Problem is, most of those boxes and bags are designed to hold artificial baits rather than the assortment of hooks, sinkers, floats, and other doodads that catmen carry. Much of that stuff will fit into a standard tackle box or even a modular system consisting of a tackle bag and several small boxes; that's fine. But if you buy hooks by the hundred and sinkers by the pound, your ideal system may be harder to come by.
Pretied rigs are particularly useful for anglers who use a limited range of presentations. Leader wraps like the Tackle Buddy keep knot tying to a minimum. Slide a sinker on your main line, unwrap a rig, and tie one knot instead of three. Pip's Box is about the size of a snuff tin, yet holds dozens of leaders with no swivel or loop. Tackle Logic Wraps hold dipworms and spinner rigs in individual plastic sleeves and are available in several sizes and colors to easily identify contents.
Most tackle and utility boxes are unable to support the weight of a healthy sinker selection. Smaller boxes are fine for the lead shot and small slipsinkers typically used for smaller rivers and reservoirs, but the chunks of lead used for tackling blue cats in heavy current require a different approach. Motion Marine's five- compartment lead trays are a good option, as are BucketBoss Parachute Bags that were designed to hold nails and other hardware.
Plastic utility boxes are available in several sizes and compartment configurations. Select combinations that fit your hook selection. Larger boxes are needed to separate several sizes and styles, while smaller boxes better organize smaller hook selections. Waterproof boxes from Plano and Woodstream feature a rubber gasket to keep out moisture, but also cost more than standard boxes. A VCI Pro Chip, available from Plano, also protects hooks and other components from corrosion.
Gallon-size plastic bags hold plenty of floats, though most floats are constructed of fragile foam or balsa and are easily damaged during transport. Smaller floats fit nicely in small utility boxes, but larger floats require more room. That might sound obvious, but many catmen have bought a box only to learn that the compartments were 1/8 inch too small for their largest floats. Bobber specialists should consider bulk boxes or speciality float tubes.
Bags & Boxes
Tackle bags are available in many configurations to hold various sizes of utility boxes. Doesn't have to be aquamarine, mauve, or one of those frilly trout colors. In fact, most of you probably prefer that it weren't. Give us basic colors and durable fabrics that will stand up to cutbait, crawler bedding, and catfish slime. For those of you who prefer a hard-sided tackle box, the Plano is a durable unit that's worth a look.