The 10 Best Tackle Boxes
Hard or Soft? Tackle Box or Tackle Bag?
In here you might hide an extra pair of socks, water bottle, or first-aid kit.
It isn't a question of preference, it's a question of utility, of what kind of fishing you do, of the where and the when.
The question of hard versus soft tackle boxes can't be compared to much anything else. It isn't a question of preference, it's a question of utility, of what kind of fishing you do, of the where and the when. It verges on being a philosophical question, and that's what makes it so interesting and what makes the debate that surrounds it unwinnable.
For every bulky tackle box that opens like an old-school lunchbox, there's a soft tackle bag that doubles as a backpack or a shoulder bag with a plethora of pockets. In here you might hide an extra pair of socks, water bottle, or first-aid kit. Tackle bags with shoulder straps or that double as backpacks are great for hiking to remote areas. Single-handle tackle boxes are not.
Likewise, for every flimsy tackle bag, there's a hard tackle box that protects your hooks, lines, and sinkers in the rare event you accidentally drop the box along your journey. More importantly, you can open the box in a single motion to display all of the trays simultaneously without having to pull out each tray individually and scatter them around on the ground, making cleanup at the end of the day much less tedious. Not only are tackle boxes waterproof, but you can set them down on a rock or a log and they won't tip over in the breeze the way a backpack might. As with most things, there are pros and there are cons. It all depends on what kind of fishing you like to do.
Deciding on the Perfect Size for You
Whether you hike and climb your way to your favorite fishing spot and therefore require a backpack, or you park your car ten feet from a riverbank and have no need for anything other than a plastic handle, the next step in your selection is determining how big or small your box or bag should be. The answer to the question of size lies in which type of fish you like to catch.
The answer to the question of size lies in which type of fish you like to catch.
Squid fishing, for example, does not require much in the way of tackle. A handful of lures of varying shapes and two or three lines ranging from six- to twenty-pound test are the essentials, leaving even medium-sized tackle boxes with a lot of empty space. In fact, if you already know ahead of time what size squid to expect, you might even reduce the amount of tackle you bring down to a single tray.
For freshwater fishing that includes multiple species of fish, a larger box or bag is necessary. While different species of fish are attracted to different types of lures, they also vary dramatically in size and weight, demanding two, three, or even four types of line. Multiple species means multiple trays, one for each species of fish or one for each type of bobber. And if you find yourself doing a lot of wading, you're going to want a tackle box large enough to hold a smaller tackle box that you can clip to your fly fishing vest or your waders. That way, you don't have to return to shore every time you lose a hook or need a new lure.
Regardless of what size tackle box or bag you choose, remember to leave room for your collection of gear to grow. The more you fish, the more you learn new tricks, and the more you learn about the art of fishing, the more you find yourself returning to the shops to pick out a new lure or two for those special situations. Indeed, the last thing you want is to find yourself choosing between your two favorite lures so you can make room for your new favorite lure.
What to Include in Your Tackle Box or Bag
Before taking your new tackle box out for a field test, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need. The only thing worse than forgetting essential tackle is admitting to your fishing buddies that you forgot and asking them for a loaner.
In keeping with the old idiom, your hook, line, and sinker are three most important things apart from the fishing pole itself.
In keeping with the old idiom, your hook, line, and sinker are three most important things apart from the fishing pole itself. Even if you do forget your pole, you can still wrap your line around an empty water bottle and hope to real your catch in that way. But without those three essentials, you might as well toss your live bait in the water just to feed the fish.
Apart from the basics–your bobbers, lures, leaders, and swivels–there's also a list of some obvious and some not-so-obvious tools and accessories you'll want to bring along, including a multi-tool with pliers, such as a Leatherman, some models of which already include nail clippers and a hook file.
Always bring a flashlight and bug spray in case you find yourself fishing after the sun goes down and the mosquitoes come out. And in the event you like to fish in some of the stricter national parks, it's also best to bring along a scale and mini tape measure to ensure you don't get fined for catching a skinny fish a half inch too short.