I grew up the only serious fisherman in a family of water skiers, and I learned quickly that the surest way to be considered the angling “black sheep” is to leave loose fishing gear in a boat that wasn’t designed specifically for fishing. But you’d be surprised how efficiently I could turn a ski boat into a bass boat. All I needed was a tackle box and three medium-sized Rubbermaid containers I “borrowed” from the kitchen.
The tackle box was for hooks and lures. Let’s face it: Hooks and lures do not mix well with boat decks where people walk in bare feet. The angler has to take the hook or lure directly from the box to the line, and when the fishing is over, take the hooks and lures off the line (don’t leave rigged rods on a pleasure boat), and put them back in the box. I don’t like to mix tools and lines in with lures in the tackle box, because I like to keep the lure box closed as much as possible.
And the three containers (any type of sealed Tupperware will do) each had its own purpose: One was for lines and leaders, the second was for tools (a knife, pliers, etc.), and the third was for swivels, weights and the like. Each container had its own colored lid. If you need to mark your containers, a permanent Sharpie pen will do.
Now that I’ve graduated to a dedicated fishing boat, I still stick with the three container system. A little organization goes a long way. After all, you don’t want to be looking at the business end of a northern pike and wondering where your needle-nose pliers are.
Perhaps more importantly, I have found that keeping my lines and tools dry in a sealed container dramatically enhances their lifespan and performance.
A few bucks invested in some simple containers can save you hundreds of dollars in gear down the road.
Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Angling Trade. He is the co-author of four books, most recently the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing.