Organize those tackle boxes

Examine every bait you want to fish with in the coming year, checking hooks, looking for rust and any other imperfections.
Examine every bait you want to fish with in the coming year, checking hooks, looking for rust and any other imperfections.

Get lures in place, ready to tie on

Sometimes, there’s just nothing better to do than roll around in your tackle and dream of the great fishing that’s ahead.

There may be a little drool involved that results from thinking about how nice that new rod is going to be or how that new crankbait is going to run.

Here’s how I approach organizing my tackle for the upcoming fishing season — a great way to spend a February afternoon.

Every angler should have several goals in mind while organizing tackle: eliminate waste and add backups of your favorites to improve efficiency.

The hardest of these to do is eliminate waste and determine what has become junk. It’s really hard to get rid of baits and part with stuff.

We have a limited amount of space in our boats and tackle boxes. I want to make sure every square inch of space my tackle takes up is worthwhile. I want every bait to run right, every hook to be new, and every bait to have a purpose.

Organize your smaller tackle boxes by lure type and by size and color.
Organize your smaller tackle boxes by lure type and by size and color.

I use several sizes and styles of boxes to organize things into categories. It’s a good idea to replace most of your boxes every year or two to avoid rust contamination. From experience, once it starts, you can’t stop it. I use the Z-rust anti-rust tackle boxes from Flambeau as much as I can. They really work wonderfully. I even put the Z-rust dividers into my other box styles to cut down on the rust in those, and I have not had any rust in those boxes.

Get baits ready

When it comes to jigs, I want every bait ready to be tied on. The only thing I wait to do when I’m on the water is trim the skirt. I let the water conditions dictate the thickness and length of the skirt. I eliminate a lot of colors and baits I don’t use and clean out any with even a hunt of rust on them. Any bait that carries a little rust will contaminate the other lures in that box, leading to a big, nasty, rusted-up box. Eliminate a few to save the rest.

Now I’ve got crankbaits, spinnerbaits, soft plastics (about 15 styles I routinely use), topwaters, buzzbaits, swimbaits, spoons and other specialty items to organize. I replace hooks, throw away torn baits, fix any that have gotten dinged up.

Add backups

The easiest and by far most fun of my three goals is to add backups of my favorites. While I’m organizing, I’m also looking to see what I have available. Of baits I use frequently, it’s not uncommon to see five or more duplicates in my tackle box. I once lost eight spinnerbaits on a single day, so I’m quite paranoid about having back-up lures in my boat. With soft plastics, I want enough in the boat of every type to last me at least two days.

Improve efficiency. Once you have restocked and eliminated useless junk that has accumulated, it’s time to think about placement. Everything needs a place.