Tackle Organization System

 

Robert W. Parkin

 

Organizing Tackle

 

Having properly organized fishing tackle enables you to be first with a variety of baits to the fish species you are targeting. Also, once you know what tackle you have, it is easy to determine what you may need. Traditional tackle-boxes, tackle-bags/binders or multiple utility hard boxes such as the 3600/3700 series allows you to set up, store and reconfigure quickly for a fishing trip, without having to transport everything you have. You can never be too organized when it comes to tackle and having it organized makes you a more efficient angler!

 

Tackle Inventory

 

First, perform a tackle inventory of what you have by bringing it all in one room. Separate your plastic baits, hard baits and terminal tackle. Use an area with good lighting so you can see bait colors properly by holding them up to the light. Make a note of the colors with respect to clarity and opaqueness and consider how the bait will look in contrast to the background color in the lake while being fished.

 

When you begin to sort plastic baits try to keep similar colors together, i.e.: start with light colors in the front and darker colors towards the back. Throw out, sell, archive or give away any old tackle you will not use. Put aside other baits that need repair, cleaning or modifications. Used plastic baits can be used to experiment with rigging techniques, as trailers, melted together etc. Then create an inventory list on a computer that can also be used to print labels. If you do not have a computer, use a hand written list with water-proof magic marker for labeling.

 

Sort by Brand or Type (Soft Plastics)

 

You may prefer to sort your soft plastic baits by brand, Lure/type, species, destination or time of year (season).

 

·         Example by (Brand): All Yamamoto baits in one binder bag.

·         Example by (Type): All “Lizards” from all manufacture brands in one binder bag.

 

Tackle Bags and Binders

 

For soft plastic baits, I mainly sort by type of baits and use tackle binder bags. The advantage of using binder bags are that they can be stored easy, fit well into places and you can easily locate items, see colors and labels of the contents when opened. Zip them closed and they all stay safe and secure.

 

Large amounts of plastic baits can also be stored in large freezer bags and transferred to smaller secondary bags/binders so you don’t have to carry everything around. The smaller tackle bags can be replenished when needed and they will not use as much space or weight in your boat. If baits are not too bulky, you can put them in smaller freezer bags and store them in side pockets of a tackle bag. Label each bag on the handle and the front and try to group by common type; i.e.: Tubes and Grubs. Once the bags are loaded and labeled determine the best placement for storage; this can be in a carry bag, cardboard box, plastic box, boat etc.  If you run out of clear bags that come with the binder, you can use regular freezer bags to add into your soft binder bag, just be sure to get the proper size. You can also use different colors for the binder bags to color coordinate the different baits.

 

If you are like me and have many plastic lures, you can make you own large plastic lure holder from a soft briefcase that zippers all the way around. To build one, wrap a ground wire or rope at the top of the inside so the bags can hang. Then tape two plastic bags together at the bottom of the bags with duct tape and insert them over the hanging wire so they "saddle" the wire. Label the bags and begin stuffing! You will be surprised at how many soft plastic baits can actually fit in a briefcase bag but be careful of the oils in some of the plastics and they can leak out and make everything slippery and possibly cross-contaminate colors.

 

Example List: Organizing Soft Plastic Lures

 

 

Lure/Type

Size/color

Type/Brand/Contents

Location

Plastic Worms

Light Colors, 6”,7”

Culprit, Zoom, Yum

Blue Tackle Bag/rear boat

Plastic Worms

Dark Colors, 6” 7”

Culprit, Zoom, Yum

Blue Tackle Bag/rear boat

Lizards

4”,6”, 7”

Zoom

Black Tackle Bag/rear boat

Grubs

3”, 4” 5”

Kalins

Black Tackle Bag/rear boat

Tubes

scented

MM

Black Tackle Bag/rear boat

Berkeley

Berkeley scented power worms

Berk Tackle Bag/front boat

Culprit Worms

assorted

Assorted Culprit soft baits

Blue Tackle Bag/Front boat

Swim Baits

4” 5”

Hand Poured, Storm

Blue Tackle Bag/front boat

Soft Jerkbaits

Large

Senko, Hand poured

Blue Tackle Bag/loose

Soft Jerkbaits

Small

Senko, Hand poured

Blue Tackle Bag/loose

Finesse worms

4” 5”

Hand poured

Blue Tackle Bag/loose

Yamamoto soft plastics

assorted

Yamamoto, Senko, cut-tail, tubes, grubs

Blue Tackle Bag/loose

Misc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard Utility Tackle Boxes (3600/3700)

 

You may prefer to sort your hard baits by brand, Lure/type, species, destination or time of year (season).

 

For hard baits such as Crankbaits, Jerkbaits, Topwaters, Jigs, Spinnerbaits, Spoons and Terminal Tackle, I prefer to use clear hard utility tackle boxes like the 3600/3700 series. The main advantages are that they store, fit and protect the lures in all type of holders (or by themselves) and the hooks on crankbaits do not get tangled if you keep each lure in a slot. The lures also tend to fully dry better in boxes than bags because of adequate ventilation which will help prevent rusting of hooks and spinner blades.

 

I mostly use 3600's or 3700's boxes, but there are many other choices and sizes. Not all 3600 boxes are the same as far as latches, thickness, type plastics and how the compartments are configured. Some of the newer 3600 and 3700 series can be configured for many different sized compartments. It is important to space the compartments so the baits are laid evenly without bending (you could end up throwing a crooked lure). Use boxes that are clear, have solid easy to open latches and are configured well inside. You pretty much cannot go wrong with any good name brand. In lieu of hard boxes, you can also use binders for spinnerbaits, jigs, and terminal tackle. This would be a personal preference. Do not leave these clear boxes in the sun with the cover closed as the heat may affect the lures and cause cracking.

 

Terminal tackle can be kept in a small six compartment case of even one small case that fits in your pocket. I keep one primary terminal tackle box and some smaller ones for Carolina rigs, weights and one emergency pocket case (tin mint box).

 

 

Example List: Organizing Hard Lures

 

I prefer to organize hard baits by type, depth, size and action. If you store your plastic baits in hard boxes makes sure they are stored in position so that they do not bend the baits and try to keep them flat when stored.

 

 

Lure/Type

Size Box

Contents

Location

 

 

 

 

Topwater/Minnows

3600/3700

Rapalas, Smithwicks, plugs

Left side holder/boat

Suspended/Minnows/CB

3600/3700

Rapalas, Smithwicks

Left side holder/boat

Spoons

3600

Rapalas, Johnson

Blue bag

Small Jigs

3600

1/32, 1/16, 1/8, ¼ oz.

Left side holder/boat

Large Jigs

3600

¼, 3/8, 5/16, 1 oz. Strike King

Blue bag

Medium/Deep Crankbaits

3600/3700

Rapalas, Bomber, Poes

Left side holder/boat

Shallow Crankbaits

3600/3700

Rapalas, Bomber, Poes

Left side holder/boat

Lipless CB

3600/3700

Rattletraps, Yozuri,

Left side holder/boat

Spinnerbaits/Buzzbaits

3703

All spinnerbaits and buzzbaits

Rear hatch/boat

Terminal Tackle

3600

Hooks, Swivels, weights etc

Tackle box/boat

Hair jigs/spinners

3600

Micro Munch jigs, Mepps spinners

Left side holder/boat

Frogs/rats/mice

Small case

 

Tackle box

Pork jars

Small case

Frog, #11 blue, blue eel

Tackle box

Misc

3600

 

Tackle box

 

 

 

 

Traditional Tackle Boxes

 

There are a great variety of traditional tackle boxes from small PlanoÒ boxes to larger boxes that combine trays with 3600/3700 boxes. I have three tackle boxes and have tried re-configuring each one many different times. I now use two for storage of extra items and one “grab and go” box. The bottom line is to configure your tackle for your needs. A bank/dock fisherman has different needs than a tournament fisherman with a boat. They advantage of having one tackle box is for two reasons. The first is convenience; just take it and go. The second is to use one tackle box as a staging box with pre-rigged baits, and everything you feel is needed for the day. Bring your other tackle along as backup to the original plan inside the tackle box. There is still something nice about looking into one tackle box and seeing everything you need inside. Sometimes limiting your choices makes bait selection easier, and the best way to get proficient with a bait is to use it in all types of situations.

 

 

Labels

 

To create a neat appearance, use labels on your 3600/3700 plastic boxes, freezer bags and tackle binder bags. If you have a computer, type label titles in a text file using a big-bold font, print them out and cut them to size. You should be able to use your inventory list if you created one. After the labels are cut out, use clear 2.0" wide packing tape and 'catch' the label and apply it to the box. This will give a neat organized appearance for your hard cases and binder bags. Add another label on the other side of the box (top/bottom or side/side) so it can be stored either way but make sure the box is stored in the proper position without the plastic baits folding.

 

Labels do not stick as well to freezer/binder bags as they do to hard cases, so it is recommended to use more than one method. Labels stick best near the top of freezer bags and a flat surface on the binder bag. These front labels may wear off so also include a secondary label located on the handle of the binder bag along with a separate content tag. This tag can contain the specific contents of the bag.

 

Most of the time the binder bags are stuffed together and you can only see the handle, so include a label on the handle. For handle labels on bags, use white electrical tape and write on it with a black permanent marker. Using the white electrical tape can be easier for tackle bags because it can be wrapped around the handle and is water resistant. 

 

Custom Content/Title Tags

 

Custom content or title tags can also be added to tackle bags and boxes. To create your own tag, print out two labels and tape them together; back to back. Then cut clear 2.0” wide packing tape and carefully cover the labels. Trim the perimeter of the labels and punch a hole in one side and your tag is ready to apply to the bag with a plastic tie wrap or string. These will look like a luggage tag on your tackle bag and allows you to see the contents without opening them and saving time.

If you have a hard box, locate a spot and tape it there.

 

Inventory List Maintenance

 

Many anglers are using computers to log their catches, track fishing patterns and prepare tackle inventory. Try to keep an updated tackle inventory sheet in your software or a separate file that matches what you have and keep up to date. You can then review the sheet to see what you have and order any baits with the colors you need. Keep other information on your baits to review techniques and colors etc.

 

 

Logging Catches

 

It can be time consuming to always log your fish catches. An easy way is to use a small portable whiteboard with attaching marker at the top. When you make a significant catch, grab the board and marker and write down the weight, time, location, depth, bait etc. Then transfer the data to the computer later in the day for tabulation and analysis. I also use a small voice tape recorder to record specific locations and other markers. If you use a digital recorder you can also store these verbal notes on the computer to play back. You can also use a log sheet on a clipboard. I use the FOL2002 software (www.FOL2002.com) which includes a blank log entry sheet and plenty of space to enter custom notes which are all searchable.

 

 

Storing Tackle

 

Once your lures are sorted, packed and labeled you now have to store them. Try to avoid long term storage of lures in areas that are too warm (above 90 degrees) or too cold (below freezing). It is not a good idea to store your baits in the boat during winter. A cool-dry place is best for both baits, especially for long term storage. For your in-use surplus baits, store them in a room or garage ready to be loaded in your boat unless you keep them locked in your boat, vehicle or trailer. If you store them in a garage, label your boxes or use plastic draws. Some vehicles can also be fitted with plastic draws.

 

When storing tackle in a boat, try to keep the weight balanced and bring only what you need for less weight. Have the tackle located in accessible locations in the boat so you know where it is and can get to it without moving too much around. Many boats are large enough to include over a dozen pre-rigged rods which helps eliminate keeping your tackle out (for a while).

 

Once you set up a tackle organization system it will make you aware of the baits you are using and make you a better angler!

                                                  

 

RWP: 6/27/06

bparkin@juno.com

 

Copyright Ó 2006 Robert W. Parkin. All Rights Reserved.