Fishing tackle organization might be one of the most frustrating parts of angling. No matter what you do to try to keep things organized, somehow it always ends up a mess. Honestly, that’s because of anglers, not the tackle. We can do a better job. We have the tools.
There’s no better time than right now to get things sorted out. Fishing sales are kicking off, and before long the icy grip of winter will have slipped away.
Of course, I’m talking to my Yankee brethren, not those spoiled anglers in the south who can fish all year.
For us in the north, as the last bits of ice give way, now is the time to attack the tackle, and make spring fishing less of a pain.
The Problem with Tackle Organization
Why does our fishing tackle organization always seem to be a point of frustration? I think a few things factor in. Chief among them, we are always adding to it. There’s always another bait, another size, another color. Our tackle storage becomes like the Winchester Mystery House. A cobbled mess of tacked-on additions, mis-matched parts, haphazardly tucked into any crevice or compartment.
Every so often we may pull it all out and try to sort it out, but in the end it still ends up in one of 12 different containers of varying size or shape, just to make it work.
Nobody starts fishing with all of the gear they want. Nobody is ever DONE accumulating tackle and baits. So the challenge of creating and maintaining a tackle organization plan is significant.
Is there anything “wrong” with having a grab bag of tackle in the boat? No. But it makes finding what you’re after quite a bit more difficult.
No more. I’ve had enough. It’s time for real change. I’m tired of this random collection of tackles boxes and storage containers that have been accumulated over 20 years and forcing them to work. I’m tired of that mess and frustration. Time for a change.
How am I starting?
The first thing I had to decide was what system I wanted to use to organize my baits and tackle. I settled on the Flambeau Zerust MAX Tuff Tainer series. I want things to match, but I needed some variance in size and configuration to fit the different baits and lures. The 4007 and 5003 Tuff Tainers gave me the configuration and size options I was looking for with my primary baits that I want to be able to access quickly.
For the items I like to keep in the boat, but don’t go to nearly as often, I went with the Crank Bank. The design is pretty slick. There are 24 cups designed to hold crankbaits specifically and keeps them from getting tangled. The cups also allow for drainage. Some of my smaller crankbaits I was able to double up and haven’t seen much issue with tangling. Even if they do, it’s only two, not three or five or seven.
The locking-box style is perfect for those cranks I just don’t use as often.
That style box is also available for the Blade Krate. Storing buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and the like is always a challenge. The vertical storage orientation and plastic dividers make it easier to view, sort, and retrieve the lure you are after.
The Crank Bank and the Blade Krate are the same footprint, so organizing them amidst everything else is much easier if they match.
All of the Zerust MAX Tuff Tainer series is translucent smoke color, so you can see through or label what is in the boxes and infused with Zerust VCI vapor technology. Corrosion is a major issue for fishing gear. If your tackle organization plan can keep things sorted, and extend their usable life, that is killing two birds with one stone.
How to Organize Fishing Tackle
Is there a right way? I don’t think so. I’ve spent time with some incredible anglers in their boats, as well as a number of anglers that I just flat out respect. No two of them organized their boat or their tackle exactly the same way. I think it’s because no two of them fished a lake exactly the same way. That’s a big part of what makes fishing so fun. There are literally thousands of ways to skin a cat(fish).
I’ll run through how I do it, not because it’s right, but just so you can pick, choose, or ignore any of it.
About 80% of my fishing tackle lives in my boat. I try to keep extra on hand of my priority lures, but I don’t need all of them with me in the boat. The other 20% of my fishing tackle is backstock, used to keep the boat loaded. Hooks, weights, line, a few favorite crankbaits, jigs, and plastic worms are kept in bulk rubbermaid containers in the garage that I can dip into when the boat needs replenished.
First, I organize the trays by lure type. Two trays each for topwater, and cranks, then one each for in-line blades, jerkbaits, jigs, and swimbaits. I have a tray for bass terminal tackle, panfish terminal tackle, and then AOF, all other fish.
Then I have the Blade Krate for bladed baits the Crank Bank for my lesser-used cranks.
I organize the trays by where I fish them in the water column. Closer to the front of the boat is for higher, aft is closer to bottom.
I’ve tried to keep things organized like this in the past, but it had just become too much of a cobbled mess with pieces and parts that didn’t match, didn’t line up, and didn’t make for keeping things sorted out.
Start Organizing Now
I know fishing season has started for most of us, but we aren’t so far into the year that things are totally out of control. Pull the boat into the garage, tear things apart, and see what you really need to get your tackle organized in a way that makes your life easier.
When you decide how you want to do it, make sure you buy extra.
I’m already out of Tuff Tainers…