My storage system for tackle is not complex, but it works really well. Being the editor for a fishing magazine means you fish a lot in “someone else’s boat.” That translates to me constantly being the “co-angler” and lugging tackle to and from different boats. Rods, reels, tackle, tools, and more have to get from my garage to some remote destination. And over the course of 25 years, I’ve collected what my wife terms a stupid amount of gear. I’m probably the worst about going to a tackle shop and buying something I already have because “I might run out.”
That leads to a lot more tackle than a person (or boat for that matter) can physically carry. So how does one keep it all organized yet have it readily accessible when heading out the door? Well obviously having some method to all this madness helps. Sure I’ve got unopened packages hanging on pegboard, and tubs full of plastics still in their bags. But that’s not very efficient to organize on the fly.
The key is being modular and organized from box to box. If you only have 20 crankbaits, put them all in a Plano StowAway® box labeled crankbaits. However, if you have 300 crankbaits, you might need to be a little more organized. I store all my crankbaits two different ways. I store them by brand (so I can easily grab all my Rapalas or all my Lucky Crafts if I want). But I also store them by running depths. I’ll have a Rapala box, a Bomber box and a Norman box. But I’ll also have a shallow box, a medium box, and a deep diver box. I even have a custom painted box.
I do the same for other lures like topwaters, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits and more.
The labeling can be something as simple as masking tape and black marker, or you can use a label maker to make them all easily legible. Certain boxes store baits better than others. I keep most of my big crankbaits in the staple Plano StowAway® ProLatchTM 2-3600 or a 2-3700. But recently the 2-3701 and 2-3601 have been even better for storing baits. They are the thin versions of the old standbys and neatly store baits in a low profile container. Of course you’ll need more but it saves having a tangled mess every time I reach for a shallow running crankbait.
I also really like the XL ProLatchTM StowAway®. It’s one big box perfect for storing tools, fishing line and bags of soft baits in bulk. I keep several under my work bench. One holds jumbo spools of line, one holds filler spools of line, one holds tools for making jigheads and skirts and others hold plastics in bulk. I can easily grab one and throw it in my truck when I head out the door.
But the key to the system is storing everything on shelves where they are easily seen. Plano’s Storage Shelving works perfectly in our tackle room at the office and took less than 10 minutes to put together. We use two of them as well as some standard shelves to store everything. One shelf holds six of the XL StowAways or a pile of the 3601 and 3701 StowAways.
Keep about six to eight empty StowAways on hand always. When we have a field assignment or just a fun trip where we want to put some new products through the paces, we load a few baits from several different boxes into the empty boxes and hit the road. Sometimes, however, like when we know there is a hot crankbait bite, we just grab whole boxes and go.
This system works the same for me at home. When I get ready to go, I generally do my research and know what I should take depending on season and fishery. So I load up what is needed and only end up most of the time needing one or two boxes and some plastics in my bag.
This is a modular system that has worked for me fishing all over the country and even locally. When it’s winter, I know the fish won’t be hitting my Spro Bronzeyes or Zoom Horny Toads. When I’m fishing muddy water I know I won’t need my Optimum swimbaits. So I travel with only what I need for the trip. That saves me from lugging whole boxes just because one or two baits from that box are needed.
Obviously it takes some time to build up to this system, but if you’re like me, asking me to throw out a pack of plastics is like asking me to throw out a tool I don’t use often. If there’s a chance that it may be the perfect tool for a certain situation, then I’m going to hang on to it.