Over the years, every angler ends up accumulating a massive collection of tackle.
By tackle we mean: sinkers, hooks, leader lines, swivels, artificial lures, bait additives and then other tools such as pliers, a scale, a hunting knife and so on.
This amount of gear isnt cheap and a good angler knows that he needs only the best tackle bag or box to store all of his tackle.
A tackle bag or box helps you to stay organised and can transform what would have been a wasted day of confusion into a streamlined process dedicated to the catching of fish.
There are many type of tackle storage option so to help you navigate the field of options we have put together this article detailing the best tackle bags and boxes.
The Basics of Tackle Boxes and Bags
Soft Tackle Bags vs Hard Tackle Boxes
So lets first of all address the elephant in the room. The difference between tackle bags and tackle boxes. It is basically an argument that anglers have been pondering for ages now. Are hard plastic tackle boxes better than soft tackle bags?
The short answer is that both have their benefits. Your preference is going to be highly dependent on the type of angler you are and the type of fishing you do most often. That being said, it is probably helpfu to go into a bit more detail as to why you might choose either.
Why Get a Hard Tackle Box?
#1 – Last a long time – Hard tackle boxes have a long history of use dating back many decades and as such have a proven track record of performance of many years.
#2 – Can take a battering – A hard tackle box is made of durable and long lasting materials. They can be battered by the elements and come through fine.
#3 – Water proof design – They are designed to keep all of your tackle as dry as possible putting to good use the heavy duty compartments and seals.
Why Get a Soft Tackle Bag?
#1 – Lightweight – The hard shell of the box is replaced by a soft fabric so consequently they are much lighter. You can be more mobile in your fishing habits and you will notice the difference if you often move around during a day of fishing.
#2 – Storage pockets – The tackle bags often have numerous storage pockets dotted around the bag so you can put your more regularly needed items inside these for quick access.
#3 – Removeable trays – As you carry less with a tackle bag you may wish to switch out the tackle more regulary. This is made easy by most tackle bags. This versatility helps if you are often changing fish species on different fishing days.
How to Choose the Best Tackle Bag and Box
#1 – Size – The options for your bag or box are endless and you can incorporate alsorts of trays, racks, draws, pullouts and zippers. The beginner isnt going to need half of the options available so bare that in mind if you are just starting out.
Also, think about all the added extras you need to bring along when out in the wilderness. You may need to store these extra too.
#2 – Quality – There is a whole range of products from a variety of manufacturers. You really need to be thinking about the build quality of the gear your pick up. Take careful notice of things like hardy plastic, durable fabric, stitching strength, and large, thick zips, hinges and clasps.
#3 – Organizing Infrastructure – There are so many organisational system available catering to each and every angler’s preference. Difference sized drawers, multi purpose trays and ingenious side pockets. You need something that caters to your style of fishing, be it highly organised and lightweight to adaptive and prepared for all eventuallities. With time, you’ll begin to work out what works for you.
The Market for Tackle Boxes and Bags
As with most pieces of technical fishing equipment there are a number of brands jousting for space in the market. Each has their own history and are known for specialising in one or more the above types of reel.
In truth there are too many brands to mention, but in our opinion it is worth looking into the following.
Piscifun – Founded in the USA in 2013 by two close friends with heaps of experience producing fishing gear – http://www.abugarcia.com/
Spiderwire – A Californian company producing high end equipment for the hardcore group of anglers – http://www.spiderwire.com/
Plano – One of the undisputed kings of tackle boxes this company has a history dating back to 1952 – https://www.planomolding.com/
Flambeau – A specialist plastics company who have been around for an age product high end products – https://www.flambeauoutdoors.com/
There are many, many more tackle bags and box brands worth looking at and by no means should you limit yourself to the above list. That being said, if you are new to fishing then you have to start somewhere and this list is as good a place to start as any.
This website is mainy tailored to begeinner and intermediate anglers and so we we have decided to limit our recommendations to the following boxes and bags.
The Best Hard Tackle Box
Best of the Best – Plano Guide Series 7771
Pros – This mid sized hard tackle box has everything you would need. A number of removable racks, space for big items up top and a useful transparent cover for ease of viewing.
Plano have been in the business for a long long time and have cemented their reputation for durability and versatility.
Cons: The latches feel a little weak and they may not last the decades you hope. There is a great warranty though.
Best Band for your Buck – Plano Three Tray
The Best Soft Tackle Bag
Best of the Best – SpiderWire Wolf Tackle Bag
Pros – This bag has more compartments and pockets for all the tools and tackle you are hoping to carry. The build quality is very strong and can tackle a hammering. There are four interchangable plastic trays and their ease of use is fantastic
Cons: You need to really dry out the bag after use as it takes a long time. This is common for many tackle bags so just bare this in mind. The plastic trays included are not as durable as we might hope.
Best Bang for your Buck – Cast King Tackle Bag
Tackle Bag and Box Tips
10 Things That Need to Be There
#1 – Multitool
This is probably one of the most important items to carry around when you are on a fishing trip. The versatility of a good quality multi-tool has stood me in good stead in more than one awkward situation through the years.
Those included crisis situations such as fixing a malfunctioning fishing reel next to the water’s edge as well as removing an embedded trout fly from a fishing’s partner’s upper lip!
#2 – Artificial Lures
Whether you are fishing in fresh- or saltwater, being in possession of a few trusted artificial lures will always put you two steps ahead of a fellow angler who went fishing without them. Too many times I have been in situations where schooling fish in a feeding frenzy ignored natural baits in their haste to get stuck into an artificial.
In a freshwater environment I would suggest you stock up on some spinner baits, crank baits, soft plastics and poppers, especially if your quarry is bass or any other freshwater predatory species.
Moving over to the rock and surf scene, various kinds of metal spoons in different sizes and weights is the way to go to ensure you are prepared for any situation involving predation by a target species on a school of baitfish.
#3 – Leader Line and Swivels
Extra spools of leader line with different breaking strains are very important, because getting stuck in underwater structure or being smashed up by strong fish are hazards inherent to fishing. These can include both monofilament and/or fluorocarbon lines depending on the angler’s personal choice.
The main purpose of swivels is to prevent tangling and twisting of fishing line that is an inevitable consequence of constantly casting and reeling in. Whenever you attach a lure or separate your sinker line from your hook line, use a swivel as the connection.
#4 – Floats/Bobbers
Floats are very versatile items of fishing equipment, because when you fish with them you can adjust the depth at which you want to fish which can be of crucial importance when targeting certain species feeding in a specific zone.
As with most other fishing accessories, floats also come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and choosing them is a matter of personal preference. As long as they float properly and are highly visible to the angler they will serve their purpose more than adequate.
#5 – Sinkers
When you engage in bait fishing on the bottom you will need some extra weight to take your bait down to the desired depth. For rock and surf heavier sinkers in order to cast the line a considerable distance are essential. These can vary in weight from two ounces to about eight ounces, depending on your target species as well as the rest of your tackle setup.
For freshwater fishing you normally don’t need sinkers more than one or two ounces in weight. It is also important to carry around small split shot especially when fishing with a float and bulky bait. These small weights can be quickly added to your leader line depending on the speed
#6 – Extra Reel
One of the worst things that can happen to any angler is to be confronted by a reel that, for whatever reason, suddenly and unexpectedly, gives up the ghost just when the fishing is really good!
I have been in this situation more than once and I can assure you, to abandon a fishing trip that had been planned and anticipated long before because of malfunctioning equipment is the absolute pits!
Therefore, and in order to avoid extreme disappointment, always make sure you have a back-up reel at your disposal.
#7 – Measuring Tape
Whether you are a strictly catch-and –release type of angler or one who occasionally take something home for the frying pan, a measuring device of some sorts is also an item you should not leave home without.
Nowadays you can find various pocket size ones which sometimes have a fishing scale attached to it as well.
#8 – Hooks
It goes without saying that you need to have an ample supply of hooks in your tackle box. A very important aspect to keep in mind regarding non-stainless hooks is to make sure, once you are back home, that there are no moisture in their containers and to keep them dry at all times.
The moment one hook accumulates rust it will spread like wildfire amongst the rest of them.
#9 – Knife
A knife is one essential item that absolutely cannot be left behind if one is going on a fishing trip. Whether to cut line, gut fish or perform a myriad of other essential tasks, make sure you have a sturdy knife that is in easy reach.
It is definitely not necessary to carry around a big, unwieldy Bowie, but make sure your choice is stainless and sturdy.
#10 – First Aid Kit
Due to inherent risks involved in fishing I consider it prudent to, at least, have a tube of antiseptic cream and a few band aids (sticky plasters) in your tackle box.
While cutting bait or gutting a fish you may accidently cut yourself and it is best to have these basic items at your disposal in order to avoid bacterial infections.
Tackle Bag and Box FAQs
Whats the Key Difference Between a Tackle Box and a Tackle Bag?
A tackle bag is made of materials like cotton canvas, nylon or Cordura and designed to be carried on your body whereas a tackle bag is a a bit more sturdy container made of plastics/polymers which is carried in your hand.
Can I Store a Caught Fish in a Tackle Bag?
I would advise against it, purely because the tackle bag is primarily there to keep your equipment safely and, most of the time, dry. Even a freshly caught fish will leave some smell which can become worse as time goes by. Rather invest in a special bag for your catch.
Does the Tackle Bag Vary for the Type of Fishing I Am Doing?
Definitely. If you go for a weekend hike into the mountains to fish some remote lake or stream, you will need something similar to a backpack to carry all your equipment. Then again, if you just intend to do a bit of leisure walking around a pond or small lake, a hand held tackle box containing a variety of equipment is ideal. On the other hand, if you decide to try some extreme rock and surf fishing, you will need a much smaller tackle bag containing just the bare essentials. These are normally worn around your waist like a belt.
Should I Keep Different Parts of the Tackle Bag for Different Equipment?
Yes, it prevents confusion and an endless rummaging through the same stuff every time you are looking for a specific item. Especially if time is of the essence (eg. losing your terminal tackle during a feeding frenzy). From personal experience I promise you the frustration levels can reach epic levels! If you use a tackle bag it is also prudent to keep your different equipment in separate plastic containers to prevent them from getting wet or lost.
Does a Tackle Bag Need to Be Water Proof?
Again, it depends on the type of fishing you intend to do. If you intend to stay on dry land and occasionally venture into the water I would say, yes. This is where a bag made of Cordura is definitely the way to go. However, if you are going to be semi-submerged and frequently drenched when fishing (for instance extreme rock and surf angling) you need a smaller bag that is of simple design and has good drainage.
Can I Share a Tackle Bag with Another Angler?
You can, but personally I would advise against it. Tackle bags are, in my opinion, similar to girlfriends and rifles. Rather stick to your personal one otherwise conflict may ensue. Again, if you are a very sharing person and don’t mind other people rummaging through your stuff, who am I to argue?
How Long Should a Tackle Bag Last Before I Need a New One?
That depends entirely on you. Some anglers look after their equipment very well and it keeps in good stead for many years, while others are a bit more cavalier in their approach to these items. If you buy a good quality product (and you look after it!) there is no reason why it shouldn’t endure for at least five years or more.
Why Should I Even Bother with a Tackle Bag, Wont a Backpack Do the Job Just Fine?
Firstly, it depends on what type of fishing you intend to do. If it involves being constantly on the move and needing quick access to various equipment at various times, a standard back pack can be cumbersome and unpractical.
As pointed out already, tackle bags are tailor made for keeping different types of equipment in their own special pouches or containers. This is even more the case when flyfishing for trout on a river or hunting marine species over shallow reefs.
So there you have it guys. Those are our two recommendations. I hope the information was useful and if you have any thought to add then please let us know in the comments.