Last updated on March 7th, 2021
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A tackle box is an essential part of any fisherman’s gear. Consider the benefits of being able to carry your gear wherever you go with simplicity. I remember my first tackle box as a kid, it was metal rectangular, and it was stuffed full of tangled tackle that was a pain to undo every time I went fishing.
when considering upgrading to a new one, you must consider the application you are going to use it with. There are many different types of tackle boxes and not all of them are created equal. It is up to you the buyer to determine what is the best tackle box for your fishing style.
In this article, we will look at the different types to help you understand and better decide on your purchase for a new tackle box. It can be hard to determine when a new one is needed for example some people are stubbornly attached to their old tackle boxes. They may have had it since they were a kid, they may believe that it brings good luck – and maybe it does.
When I upgraded mine it was out of necessity. My tackle box had become too stuffed full of lures from fishing in too many different areas. it was time to upgrade.
When you upgrade, consider the things that you liked about the old one and things that you might not have such as tackle getting scattered around when one is knocked over (I can personally relate to this one!).
There are the basic tackle boxes that we all know and love and that we’ve used for our entire lives but there are some odd ones and some very unique, personalized tackle boxes that may benefit your fishing adventures. Upgrading can be difficult sometimes, I loved my childhood Plano tackle box, but the reality is I am incredibly happy with my current box.
Let us look at 5 of the most common and popular types and styles to better understand what makes every one of them unique and useful. When reading this list, do not just consider size and capacity. This is a prerequisite that we immediately jump to when shopping for a tackle box, but be open-minded to all the benefits of the box you are looking at.
Traditional Tray Tackle Box
Obviously, the place to start is the gold standard of tackle boxes because most other kinds are born from their design. The classic “lunch pail” tackle box features a single tray, or even 2-3, on the inside that organizes your gear and keeping them separate.
Typically, these are sturdy and can take a beating because they are made from hard plastic or even metal, though metal boxes can be hard to find these days. The only issue I ever had with this style of tackle box is the tackle tangling with each other.
Many lures are expensive and when they tangle with each other, they take a beating. In a lunch pail tackle box, you can put a single lure in a slot, but this will limit its capacity. If you do not use many lures, then this would make a great box for you.
They are useful for other purposes as well thanks to their durability. Many folks use them to store tools in their garage to store sockets and other assorted tools. I personally use a separate lunch pail tackle box for my fly tying tools and materials. I also like these as a choice for kids because they are relatively durable and cheaper than other types.
Sliding Tray/Stowaway Tackle Box
With the classic type that we discussed, tackle getting tangled and scrambled is easy whenever knocking over the tackle box. This issue is solved with sliding tray types, also called stowaway and rack system tackle boxes. Sliding stowaway boxes enclose each lure in their own compartment.
If you kick your tackle box over, your tackle will not go flying and get tangled. I like to be prepared when fishing and I have leads set up for different situations. I use a closeable tray tackle box with longer compartments to avoid the leads ever tangling. Simply open the box, grab what you need, and fish.
When you buy this type of tackle box, it will come with trays already, and they will have a variety of sized compartments. But one thing I have done is buy my own specific trays from the manufacturer.
Simply have the dimensions of the trays it came with and match them at the store. Many brands sell trays individually and they are all different. I have a tray that is nothing but long compartments, perfect for my leads.
I highly recommend looking for two things in a sliding tray tackle box, and those are good weather resistance and a large loose compartment of some kind. Most tray tackle boxes have good water resistance but when holding it in your hand at the store, give it a quick check and make sure the quality is solid.
A large loose compartment is great for the larger items you may take. I keep my jars of power bait, forceps, bobbers, and large weights in this compartment. As a hint, it is a great place to keep your license as well.
I made one mistake when I was a kid and forgot my license when fishing. The game warden hinted at putting my license in the box I always take. A bit off-topic, but a handy little tip to keep you on the right side of the law.
They are, in my opinion, the most organized and probably the best tackle box for those who change fishing strategies rapidly. Like the traditional lunch pail type, they are also typically on the cheaper side, which is an additional bonus.
Soft Shell Tackle Box
A softshell tackle box is like a duffel bag with rows of trays. I like these tackle boxes for the boat because of their capacity. Softshells are in their own way like the sliding tray tackle boxes we spoke of above, but they usually offer more comfort and capacity.
Another reason I love them is that they are easy to clean. Some of the places I go require ATV access and that always involves mud. Most softshell tackle boxes can be machine washed or just hosed in the yard and hung to dry.
Smaller tackle boxes of any kind usually have a handle but larger ones have straps. I like the softshell because they typically have a more comfortable strap for long treks to your fishing spot. I recommend that you wear the strap a little lower with a wide pad for long treks, however.
Whenever you apply weight, your straps on anything you carry should disperse the weight evenly. It is common for folks to buy a nice bag of any kind and not like it because the straps “cut” into their shoulder. If you are carrying more weight, make it a wide strap and pad or see if a replacement strap can be bought separately.
Another reason to love the softshell tackle box is the side pockets and areas to attach gear. I keep a few different things attached on retractable cables such as line clippers and small forceps. Other tackle boxes may require you to open them to retrieve these tools but that is really a matter of preference with these tackle bags.
Try the softshell for the fishing trips where you have more gear to take with you. For example, I use a large softshell for ice fishing because of all the gear I need; others may find them to be the best tackle boxes for bass fishing because of their versatility and portability. I even keep some other items in the bag that are not for fishing.
Backpack Tackle Box
This type is perfect for the fisherman on the move. I have a few different versions of this type for my hiking adventures. I enjoy the tackle box backpack for many of the same reasons I enjoy the previous styles.
If the bag you buy comes with trays you do not like, a backpack tackle box is quite easy to match with other trays you may like better. Typically, when I backpack anywhere and take this type of tackle box, I try to pack it as light as possible. There are some other factors to consider as well that are important.
Just like the softshell, the straps on this are particularly important if you plan to really adventure out there with it. More weight calls for a wider strap and the wider the strap, the more breathability you should look for.
A backpack with a wide, unbreathable strap is basically like wearing a scarf in July. The best backpack tackle boxes incorporate the technologies found in hiking packs design for extended use such as framed backpacks.
It is also great for those who pack heavy gear to the fishing site and need the extra hands. Often you find yourself carrying ten things in one hand such as a bucket, chairs, etc. A backpack tackle box can make your life a little easier in this way.
Fanny Pack Tackle Box
This may be a distant relative to what you would consider a tackle box, but I can personally tell you that these are a lifesaver when standing in a stream. When I was a child, I remember wading back and forth to change my setup while fly fishing or fumbling with the small pockets of the vest I wore.
Now, the fanny pack may not be a box purse, but it is a gamechanger in my opinion and deserves some recognition. These packs are lightweight and breathable but large enough to hold a surprising amount of tackle and gear.
I use a few small tackle box trays with what I need in them and they are always right there with easy access. I have even seen folks tying flies with a clamp built into one of these packs, so they are quite unique in their own way.
One thing that I have to stress with the fanny pack tackle box is that the trays must be waterproof. A Waterproof tackle box with a rubber seal on the inside of the lip of the tray is best.
Typically, these packs hang a bit in the water making the gear inside wet, so only put something inside that is either waterproof or is allowed to get wet. All that being said, these are very handy little packs that can save you from a little headache on the water.
Is It Time for a New Tackle Box?
Most folks simply outgrow their existing tackle box in terms of capacity. I went from fishing with ten lures to 30 in a matter of 5 years or so and then I simplified again for some reason and fished with less. I think fishing style and technique is a fluid thing and we always change what we like.
If I can give a piece of advice to this question, I would say that you should consider a new one if your existing box is in disrepair, or you find yourself needing more room for your gear. Those are reasons enough to upgrade.
Consider what you need from a new tackle box and what you may need down the road. Our fishing habits and styles change often and, for that reason, do not be afraid to get a size up.
A tackle box compliments our pastime and makes our fishing simpler and more enjoyable. The right gear always makes any activity more enjoyable, so we shouldn’t skimp when it comes to the right tackle box for the job. Until the next time, friends…
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