Hackney: How I organize my tackle

Organizing your tackle is as much art as it is science, but it’s important. No matter if you’re a pro angler or a recreational angler your time on the water is precious. There’s absolutely no reason to waste it rooting through your boat looking for something. It’s impossible to catch a fish while you’re doing that.

I use a pretty simple system. I keep most of my baits in boxes in my truck or in my building at home. When I go fishing I transfer what I think I’ll need from those boxes to other boxes that I keep in my boat. That way I have what I need and I know where it’s at. And, at the same time, my boat isn’t overcrowded with things I don’t need.

As a professional angler I usually have about a half-dozen colors of every bait I carry. But, I don’t need all six colors every time I go out. Why carry a perch colored crankbait when you’re fishing in Texas, or a rainbow trout pattern when you’re fishing for bass that have never seen one?

The way I do it helps in several ways. To begin with, I can find what I want quickly. When I open my storage compartment, I’m in a hurry. Every cast I don’t make is a lost opportunity. I’m not into wasting time. Another thing is that it holds the weight down in my boat. I want maximum performance from my rig. Getting to a spot a couple of minutes sooner means a few extra casts.

It also keeps me from ordering baits I already have and not ordering the ones I’m out of. That’s inefficient, hurts your catch rate and is needlessly expensive.

If you’re going to do this right, you’ll need quality storage containers. You can’t keep anything safe, dry and organized with junk. There are several acceptable types on the market. I use Bass Mafia products. They have two basic types.

The first is their Coffin series. They’re red. They are high-quality, waterproof boxes that’ll stand up to almost any abuse, including being run over by a pickup truck. They aren’t cheap, however. I think they’re worth the cost for certain lures.

As you might expect, I have a huge number of wooden crankbaits, old topwater plugs and more than one original Wiggle Wart. Those baits are in Coffin boxes. They can’t be replaced. I want to know that they’re protected at all costs and at all times.

My other lures — mostly plastic crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs and other stuff that can be easily replaced — as well as my terminal tackle are stored in boxes from their clear plastic Casket series. These are really good boxes. They’re waterproof and will stand up to a reasonable amount of abuse. I can’t say they’re as tough and secure as the Coffins but they’re pretty darn good, and they’re much less expensive.

All of the boxes in my boat are clear except for one that I keep sinkers in. I don’t mark my boat boxes by content. I can see inside them at a glance.

Hey, I want to mention this before I forget it. You can get a lot more hardbaits in a box if you take the hooks off. And, you’ll need fewer boxes, too.

Plastics are handled the same way. I keep the bulk bags in my truck or at home and transfer what I need to clear plastic bags that I keep in my boat.

If you’re looking to become more efficient, I suggest you think about tackle storage. What I do might not work for you but it’ll at least give you a place to start.