Over the past couple of years, between moves, storage and use, my fishing tackle has become disorganized. So I decided that while I am getting it back in order, I’d write a brief post about it. Through years of trial and error, I’ve found a method of keeping my fishing tackle organized in a convenient and efficient manner. I’m certainly not stating that this is the only method or the right way to do it. As a matter of fact, I’d love to hear how you keep your tackle organized. I’ve just found that this works well for me and may for you as well.
As a younger man, I most often carried a tackle box. I saw quite a few older anglers doing so and assumed that it was the best possible way to keep your gear organized when on fishing trips. For years, my “go-to” was a bright orange “Flambeau” box. Gradually, my fishing tackle grew to the point that I needed a new and bigger box. The new one accompanied me through many years of fishing adventure. My only real complaint was that I was forced to dedicate a hand to carrying it and that I couldn’t pack it in a backpack (I tried several methods of doing so – only to end up with a big mess of fishing hooks tangled together with all of my lures and line.) Most of the time, this wasn’t a huge concern, but as I found myself deeper and deeper in the wild and with more and more children, I realized that I couldn’t afford to have one of my hands completely dedicated to a single tackle box and pole.
Over the years, my tackle and associated paraphernalia has grown to more than what I need. I’ve found some items always useful while some of it does little more than occupy a space in my tackle box. I’ve replaced an assortment of screwdrivers and pliers with a multi-tool. And I’ve developed a system of how to keep organized for each individual fishing trip.
First off, I still keep my tackle boxes. The largest is full of my lures, jigs, rubber critters, bobbers, sinkers, poppers and such. The other tackle box holds my extra string, line and equipment. It also holds an old container of bug juice. I can’t read a brand or who manufactured it. But it was always in my grandfather’s tackle box and he wore it nearly every night that we spent on the banks of the New River. Every time I open the box, it still smells of him and those past trips.
In addition to the tackle boxes, I keep a couple of small plastic boxes (about the size of an ammo can) at the ready. I typically use these for catfishing adventures where I need the extra room for carrying cord for throw lines, bigger hooks, bigger sinkers, and larger gear for handling the weight of deep river currents and big channel and mud cats.
For smaller gamefish, bass and trout, I keep a few small fishing tackle containers ready to go. If I am going bass fishing, I take the lures and tackle that I need from my tackle box and put it in a smaller container. This makes for convenient carrying options. I typically fill one with all of my lures and hooks and a smaller one for my sinkers and other necessities.
More often than not, I tend to wear a fishing vest for fishing (and camping.) Maybe I look silly since these are most associated with fly-fishing. But I’ve never worried too much about how fish think I look. Vests are the most convenient method I’ve found for carrying my fishing tackle as well as an assortment of necessary items (550 cord, lighter and matches, pipe and tobacco, first aid kit, multitool, pain killer, fixed-blade knife, etc.) My vest was purchased at Cabela’s years ago and it seems to suit me fine. I can’t compare it to any other vests as it’s the only one I’ve owned. Other than the holes in the back where the mice have chewed through it and the assortment of flies that are stuck in its nylon, it functions well, is comfortable and convenient.
If I don’t feel like using a vest, I’ll either opt for a small backpack or Camelbak or a small pack that goes on my belt or over my shoulder.
With the system that I’ve developed, I’ve found that I always have enough and the appropriate gear available. I can’t see why I’d need to carry a tackle box full of pounds of catfishing equipment when I’m on a backwoods adventure along a trout stream. And since I don’t carry a tackle box, my hands are free to carry my walking stick, smoke a pipe, climb over rocks, or hold my wife’s hand – all of which I enjoy better than lugging around pounds of unnecessary tackle.
If you’ve either purchased or developed a system of your own that works well, I’d love to hear about it. I have no difficulties stating that I’m no expert and am always experimenting with new and better ways to do things.
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