Storage, Cases & Creels
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Get organized and catch more fish.
When opportunity knocks, it pays to be prepared. For anglers, this means not being caught in the middle of a day dream when the big one they were stalking suddenly strikes. It also means that when the bite suddenly heats up you don't want to be rushing around like the Keystone Cops tearing through your gear looking for whatever jig, lure, or bait is the hot ticket of the day. Yes, it pays to be organized and prepared, so that when the bite turns on, you can gear up stat.
Depending on how much tackle you have and the type of fishing you enjoy, getting organized can consist of carefully stocking a single utility or tackle box with the tackle you really need, or it can be something more sophisticated, such as one or more soft tackle bags—part of a modular system based on plastic “tackle trays”, each stocked with lures and terminal tackle for specific fishing situations. West Marine offers hard tackle boxes, soft tackle bags and valises for jigs by Calcutta, Flambeau, Organized Fishing, Plano, Shakespeare, Shimano and more.
Traditional Trunk/Tray Tackle Boxes
Most of us are familiar with trunk/tray tackle boxes, which have a hinged lid that when opened reveals one or more slotted shelves (catilever trays) that accordion up and out. Baits, swivels, hooks, sinkers, and other tackle are organized and stored in the shelves while other items, such as fishing reels, spools of line and tools are kept in a larger space underneath. For many anglers, this might be the only storage solution they will ever need, but for others, those who grow and diversify in their fishing pursuits, there is a better way.
More on Traditional Tackle Boxes
Traditional tackle boxes work fine when fishing from a stationary location, such as a pier, beach or riverbank, but they have a tendency to slip around, pose a trip hazard and when open, inconveniently spill their contents on a heaving deck. Another problem with traditional tackle boxes is that you end up carting around a lot of stuff that you normally don’t need. Sure, that umbrella rig works great when trolling for striped bass, but do you really need it when fishing for surfperch—where a Carolina rig is the order of the day?
And what about anglers that live in coastal areas who might be pitching baits for largemouth bass one weekend and casting for redfish the next? Of course, you can opt for two tackle boxes, which is what some do—but will either box satisfy all your fishing needs? The answer for many is no, especially those of us who fish for a wide variety of species, each with specific tackle requirements. This is why modern, modular systems comprised of one or more soft tackle bags loaded with tackle trays that contain the gear you really need make sense.
Soft Tackle Bags and Trays
The beauty of soft tackle bags that regardless of the amount of tackle that you have or the type of fishing you do, a modular storage solution exists. For example, inshore/offshore saltwater anglers can load separate tackle cases or trays with inshore and offshore gear. If desired, offshore tackle can be further divided into trays for specific species of fish, and you can do the same thing with your inshore gear. When shopping for a soft tackle box, make sure it has a shoulder strap for easy transport to your boat. For land-based anglers, transporting tackle in a fishing backpack beats the hassle of lugging a tackle box.
In the case of offshore tackle, you can also create trays for deep-water tackle and trays for surface fishing. These are general examples. How you actually organize your tackle is up to you—but the goal should always be immediate access to the tackle you need. “Tempus fugit” when the bite is on, and wasting time can mean the loss of a fish! Apart from housing tackle trays, most soft tackle bags also include plenty of storage pockets for reels, tools, spools of line and other gear.
Tackle Towers and Rolling Rod Racks
When you are not fishing, tackle trays can be stored at home where you can refine your tackle assortment. Rather than stacking your tackle trays, consider organizing them in a wall-mountable Modular Wire Rack, or even a Tackle Cabinet or a Rolling Rod Rack which, in addition to showcasing your fishing rods, offer convenient slide-out access to stored tackle trays, which is a nice feature, especially when you are moving from one tray to another as you fine tune your tackle assortment to meet the needs of an upcoming trip.
On the Boat
On your boat, you can work directly out of your tackle bag; however many offshore and inshore boats are now equipped with flush-mount cabinets that accept tackle trays, which keeps them out of the way, but within immediate reach. If you are planning on installing one of these cabinets on your boat, look before you leap, as tackle tray dimensions vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. The goal should be a seamless system, where the trays that you store at home will also fit in your bag, and if your boat is so equipped, also fit into the cabinet on deck.
Jigs and lures used for billfish and other big offshore game are frequently too large to store in tackle trays. The alternative is to store these lures in a lure wrap or valise—one specifically designed for this purpose. This method of storage gives you the opportunity to organize your offshore lures by size and target species, pre-rigged and ready to go. A bit of advice: When you are done using a jig or lure, wash it and dry it and never put it away wet!