Tackle organization with Bernie Schultz

Part of being prepared is being organized. Can you find that special bait at a moment's notice?

Tackle organization (Bernie Schultz)
Bernie Schultz
A place for everything and everything in its place says Elite Series pro Bernie Schultz.

Sometimes the simplest things create challenges. Take tackle for instance. You'd think keeping fishing lures organized would be a simple task. Actually, it's not — especially if you travel all over the place, fishing on all types of water.

Some anglers are better at keeping their tackle squared away, and those that are usually have a system to minimize the amount of tackle they require. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those anglers.

My tendency is to carry too much, probably out of fear — fear of not having what I need when a certain situation calls for it. Keeping a lot of tackle onboard adds to my confidence. I fish better knowing I've got what I need.

Whatever approach you choose, the important thing is being able to put your hands on exactly what you need, when you need it. That's where organization pays off.

Degrees of Separation

The first thing I do is separate my lures into two main categories — hard baits and soft baits. From there I break them down even further.

In the case of soft plastics, I have two basic subgroups; those fished above bottom and those fished on bottom. That's a broad stroke, I know, but at least it gets things headed in the right direction.

In the above-bottom group, I include flukes, frogs, floating worms, and other soft-plastics rigged weightless, or at least with minimal weight. The rest fall into the bottom-probing group, which includes craws, lizards, tubes, worms, etc.

Defining hard baits is a bit more tedious. My approach is to separate them into various types, like topwaters, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and so on. I classify crankbaits according to depth and profile. For instance, a Rapala DT-4 or DT-6 fits the small-profile, mid-diver group. A DT-14 or DT-16 on the other hand, belongs in the large-profile, deep-diver group. I do mix color variations, but depth and profile remain consistent.

Another category is jerkbaits. If you do a lot of jerkbait fishing like I do, you probably have way more than will fit into a single utility box. I group mine according to depth, and action. For instance, shallow erratic baits go in one group; deeper suspending models in another.

Granted, not everyone needs a pile of jerkbaits. A small selection may work fine for the water you fish. But for anyone planning to fish a variety of water bodies, I highly recommend a broad selection of these lures. Fish love them!

Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and jigs are other categories to consider. Like jerkbaits, I carry a lot of styles and sizes, and we'll get to those. But first, let's work on plugs and soft plastics.