NEAT, DRY AND ACCESSIBLE
You never know what opportunities a day on the water will present, so I’m always ready for a variety of fishing situations. I hate limiting myself to lures and terminal tackle for only one target species or fishing location. If you are like me, you probably lug around a giant tackle box or bag. Unfortunately, not every boat has a compartment large enough to fit a big piece of luggage overstuffed with artificials, hooks, swivels, leaders and such. If yours does, you still have to pull out that tackle carryall every time you need access to items inside. And if limited storage forces you to leave it on deck, it becomes an obstacle to hurdle every time you or a crew member fights a fish or moves around the boat. Keeping my lures in tackle trays categorized by type and size enables me to quickly assemble an arsenal tailored to any situation. But rather than a tackle bag, I’ve opted for a plastic storage container to carry the tackle trays with all the items I want to bring along.
MEASURE, ASSEMBLE AND LABEL
I first measured the compartment I designated for tackle storage in my boat. Then I went to a hardware store to look for a container that would accommodate the most 3700-series tackle trays and still fit in the intended compartment. The one I chose holds seven trays vertically, is transparent and has molded handles at both ends. I drilled holes on the bottom so any water — from splash or rain —drains out before it can collect and seep into the tackle trays. To keep the trays organized and readily accessible, I wrote the contents of each one with a permanent marker at one end and did away with the container’s lid. The system works like an index-card box, and allows me to instantly locate and pull out only the specific tray containing the lure or piece of terminal tackle I want.
A zippered pouch, made of synthetic mesh that dries quickly and won’t hold water, from an office-supply store keeps a wide selection of hooks, swivels and crimping sleeves — all in their original packaging for easy ID — along with split-ring pliers, a crimping tool and an EZE-Lap hook sharpener. The filled pouch is small enough to fit right behind the tackle trays in my storage compartment. A deeper tackle tray contains bulkier items, like popping corks, spools of extra line and leader materials, reel lube, braid scissors, spare pliers and a screwdriver, and completes my ensemble. It too fits in the designated compartment, behind the big plastic container. When I get back from fishing, I just lay it on top of the other tackle trays and pull everything out of the boat at once.
The portability of the container system is a big plus. When I travel and keep the boat on the water or parked on the trailer overnight, it’s a cinch to transfer my tackle to and from my hotel room. And once I get home, it all goes into my storage room after a quick inspection and minor wiping to remove any salt from the tackle trays or the big container.