8 Top Soft-Sided Tackle Bags and Backpacks

Soft-sided tackle bags and backpacks are great for transporting lots of tackle and gear. Here are eight options we like.
Soft-sided tackle bags and backpacks: Angler carrying AFTCO soft-sided bag
Soft-sided bags and backpacks offer massive ­tackle-storage potential, but are easy to transport. Courtesy AFTCO

Quicklook: 8 Top Soft-Sided Fishing Tackle Bags and Backpacks

Tackle Boxes Over the Years

My grandfather’s ­tackle box sits in a place of honor on a shelf in my basement, still filled with a handful of terminal tackle ­organized neatly in the trays. Sometimes I daydream about the fish he caught; those were the days when the bays were paved with winter flounder, and weakfish attacked lures on every other cast. I’m not sure of its exact vintage, but based on when he passed, I must assume the box was made no later than the mid- to late 1970s.

For the time, it was an engineering marvel. The molded plastic wouldn’t rust when exposed to the rigors of salt water, and the cantilevered trays let you access all of the box’s contents without emptying it. The bottom of the box was deep enough to hold the jars of pork rinds he used to sweeten his bucktails. And there was still room for a pair of pliers and enough lead to serve as an anchor if needed—a place for everything, and everything in its place.

Those boxes were so well-designed that they stood the test of time. A quick search of the Plano catalog reveals a model remarkably similar to the one that now serves as a shrine over my workbench. While a box like this still does the trick, there are a variety of different models on the market that work even better.

These new offerings often utilize the now-ubiquitous utility boxes. These ­boxes come in a variety of sizes and feature removable dividers that allow you to customize their interiors. Some are molded with a vapor-­corrosion inhibitor built in, such as Plano’s Rustrictor series, which helps prevent rust by slowly releasing an odorless, colorless compound into the compartments.

Perhaps the biggest trend is soft-sided tackle bags and backpacks. These bags offer massive ­tackle-storage potential, but are easy to transport thanks to their comfortable suspension systems, and offer plenty of organization through the aforementioned utility boxes. You can swap these out as needed, taking only what you need each trip.

Plano Atlas Tackle Bag
Plano’s Atlas Tackle Bag has a large central compartment flanked by fold-down pockets. Courtesy Plano

Plano Atlas Tackle Backpack and Shoulder Bags

Plano’s Atlas tackle backpack and shoulder bags are built with a waterproof HDPE base and durable, water-­resistant EVA panels. In addition to the large interior compartment that easily swallows 3750-size utility boxes, the Atlas series also features Plano’s patented magnetic Dropzone, which keeps tools at the ready. Other notable features include molded side pockets, zippered mesh pockets, water-resistant cellphone storage, and a bungee-cord rod holder.

Daiwa D-Vec Tactical Backpack
Daiwa’s D-Vec Tactical Backpack keeps your items organized and ready while storing a handful of boxes. Courtesy Daiwa

Daiwa D-Vec Tactical Backpack

Daiwa’s D-Vec Tactical Backpack is easy to load, thanks to its rigid frame. Inside, you can stack the three included utility boxes. A protective, fitted sunglasses case provides fast access to what is probably your most used accessory on the water. A pliers holder and an elastic strip ­allow for easy tool management, keeping often-­used items at the ready. The built-in leader wheel is a nice touch, with two spools of line ready to go. Zippered pouches on the front and sides provide organization, as does the zippered cellphone holder. Everything is covered in a water-resistant fabric complete with saltwater-­resistant Delrin zippers.

Bass Pro Shops Advanced Angler Pro Backpack
Bass Pro Shops’ Advanced Angler Pro Backpack carries an unbelievable amount of tackle, neat and ready. Courtesy Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shop Advanced Angler Pro Backpack

Bass Pro Shops just might take the crown for capacity, stashing up to 11 3600-size utility boxes into its Advanced Angler Pro Backpack ­tackle system—it even has the option of removing the center divider to hold five 3700-size boxes. Beyond the impressive volume, the backpack has a host of convenient features, such as line-spool pockets, built-in rod-tube straps, a pliers sheath, and even a rain fly to keep everything dry in a downpour. The pack is built with rugged 600-denier ripstop polyester wrapping a ­rigid frame, with comfortable shoulder straps that can handle the weight of 11 fully ­loaded boxes.

Columbia PFG Terminal Tackle Backpack
Columbia’s PFG Terminal Tackle Backpack totes a day’s worth of fishing gear with a comfortable suspension system. Courtesy Columbia

Columbia PFG Terminal Tackle 28-Liter Backpack

There is also the classic backpack, which typically is a little easier on the wallet than some of the more tactical designs. Columbia’s PFG Terminal Tackle 28-liter backpack has a familiar form and comfortable suspension system with a breathable back panel and straps to handle heavy loads. The outside features a rod-carrier strap, an external zippered pocket, and a pair of water-bottle ­holders that double as stuff pockets for easy access. The interior has two main pockets, a laptop sleeve, a key clip, and a fleece-lined sunglasses pocket.

Grundens Rumrunner Backpack
Grundens’ Rumrunner Backpack keeps 30 liters of tackle, camera gear and other items dry. Courtesy Grundéns

Grunden Rumrunner

If you prefer backpack-­style tackle bags but need a little more protection, consider a model such as Grunden’s Rumrunner. This pack is built from 500-denier, PVC-coated tarpaulin material with RF-welded seams and features a roll-top closure, which makes it completely waterproof. Inside, you can store your camera and other sensitive items without worrying that they will get wet, and the outside offers a variety of stash pockets that keep oft-used items at hand.  

Shimano Tonno Offshore Tackle Bag
Shimano’s Tonno Offshore Tackle Bag easily organizes all of your trolling lures, poppers, jigs and other offshore essentials. Courtesy Shimano

Shimano Tonno Offshore Tackle Bags

Shimano’s Tonno offshore tackle bags take a different tack, designed specifically for the offshore angler who likes to play fast and loose. Available in two sizes, each is designed for offshore anglers who want to transport and organize jigs and popping lures. The large size is equipped with hard plastic tubes for lures and has dedicated jig-storage slots in addition to space for tools, terminal tackle and leader material. The extra-large model has large plastic tubes for lures, jig slots, and a custom 3600-size utility box secured on the inside flap with Velcro for quick access. A water-­resistant outer pocket provides storage for personal belongings, and PVC mesh construction allows anglers to give everything a rinse at the end of the day.

Read Next: How to Choose the Right Dry Bag for Fishing

Pelagic Heavy Duty Duffel
Pelagic’s Heavy Duty Duffel holds 50 liters of your most important gear so you can be ready for whatever the day throws at you. Courtesy Pelagic

Pelagic Heavy Duty Duffel

It’s pretty hard to beat duffel-style tackle bags for transporting a lot of stuff, tackle included. I used a high-capacity bag like Pelagic’s Heavy Duty duffel for years, stashing my rain gear, lunch, and all the tackle I needed for a day on the water. Pelagic’s 50L duffel is constructed out of a PVC-coated material, so it is water-­resistant, shrugging off rain, salt spray, and even the occasional wave. The reinforced, padded bottom protects gear and boat decks alike, and the full-width zipper makes it easy to find everything. 

There’s a bag for you, however you fish. Consider your style, and grab whichever one of these works best. 


What should I stock my tackle box with?

A well-stocked tackle box should include a variety of lures (crankbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits, etc.), hooks, sinkers, bobbers, line, pliers, scissors, and other essential fishing accessories. The contents will vary based on which type of fishing you do, and the species you target.

How do you organize a fishing tackle bag?

To organize a fishing tackle bag, use separate pockets or compartments for different types of tackle (e.g., one for hooks, one for lures, etc.). Label each section clearly and arrange items by size or color for easy identification. Use the pockets and dividers to keep everything accessible and prevent tangling.

Why is it called a tackle box?

It’s called a tackle box because the term “tackle” refers to the equipment and gear used for fishing, including rods, reels, lures, hooks, and various accessories. The box is designed to hold and store these items, hence the name “tackle box.” The term has been used since the early days of recreational fishing.