Practical, efficient and modular — all describe the key features you'll find in new tackle storage systems being offered to bass anglers.
Manufacturers continue to blend the benefits of traditional hard boxes with soft side systems, enabling anglers to stuff only what they need for the day into a box or bag.
As noted last season, tackle systems have become more user-friendly and space conscious. New utility boxes are designed to keep lures separate and better organized while latches ensure the contents don't get scattered over the floor of a boat.
Appearance counts, too. Today's containers are not only designed to withstand harsh conditions, but many are more attractive than their forerunners.
Here is some of the cool stuff we found:
1. ALBACKORE (www.albackore.com; 818-704-5731) — The Lure 'N Leader Binder organizes pre-packaged soft plastic lures, hook packs, pre-rigged leaders and other terminal tackle accessories. It utilizes a zip-tie binding system that eliminates corrosion.
2. FALCON (www.falconrods.com; 918-251-0020) — The spinnerbait wallet is the first cousin to the buzzbait wallet introduced last year, offering a protective EVA shell with a zippered closure. The interior's patented clip design holds 15 spinnerbaits separately for easy access and organization, maximizing the use of space. Blade configurations and lure colors are visible to expedite lure selection.
3. FLAMBEAU (www.flambeau.com; 800-457-5252) — A new, smaller version of the 9000 Tuff 'Tainer Satchels that were introduced in 2005 has the same features but takes up less space. The 8001 model has eight fixed compartments with Zerust Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor molded dividers, while the 8000 model offers open storage for bigger items. Both boxes have handles, recessed latches, and are made of translucent plastic.
The 1499 Zerust Marine Box for storing tools and marine accessories has the corrosion inhibitor built into the plastic. It has a flip-top lid, lift-out tray and open storage for bulk items.
Streamside Fly Boxes come in the same size as Flambeau's original fly boxes but offer double capacity because of the foam built into the lid and base.
4. PLANO (www.plano molding.com; 630-552-3111) — If you're looking for something completely different this year, check out the FlipSider, a cross between a hard-sided tacklebox and soft-side bag system. The outside has the look of a bag but the feel of EVA foam while the innards are more like a hard-sided box — but not just any hard-sided box. The molded section houses three vertical rows of FlipSider compartments behind a drop-down, see-through front door while three 3700 Pro-Latch utility boxes are stashed in the top-loading center compartment. The 14 FlipSider compartments keep lures untangled in individually stored sections and accommodate baits from 2 1/2 to 4 inches long. The exterior includes a hard bottom, three Neoprene expanding pockets and self-sealing waterproof zippers.
The FlipSider concept, which began last year with a single utility box, now has two additions. With FlipSider, anglers are able to store lures in separate bins that lie sideways during storage but can be flipped up to easily access individual lures. Also in 2006, two larger FlipSider utility boxes join the lineup, including the 3744 with 20 compartments that hold baits up to 7 inches, and the 3734 for 20 baits up to 4 1/2 inches long.
The new 1363 and 1362 rack systems offer big-bait anglers a pair of hard boxes that incorporate large utilities and an abundant top storage area. The 1363 includes a pair of deep 2-3630 Pro-Latch boxes and one standard 3600 StowAway behind a "cattle guard" front door. The 1362 is slightly smaller and holds two 3600 series StowAway boxes.
The 2-3630 StowAway is a new utility box with 2 3/4-inch deep compartments for large items. It also is sold separately. They offer four to nine adjustable compartments and feature the Pro-Latch locking system.
If you're looking for twin storage in a utility, new double-sided StowAway utility boxes may fill the bill. The 3500-22 is the largest, with 9 1/4- by 5- by 2 1/2-inch dimensions. It has seven to 23 adjustable compartments providing room for plastics, small spools of line and more. The 3450-22 is slightly smaller while the 3500-22 is the smallest of the three. All boxes are clear, have rounded corners and secure latches.
For kids, the 5000 "takemefishing" box with a lift tray has plenty of room for kid-like tackle and a bulk storage bottom for larger items. A portion of the proceeds Plano receives from sales of these boxes will be donated to the Future Fisherman Foundation.
5. SHIMANO (www.shimano.com; 877-577-0600) — Tackle storage goes upscale in appearance and performance with the Broadway Modular Tackle Storage System. Each bag is made of posh-looking, gun metal colored heavy-duty (yet soft) tarpaulin material that is waterproof and extensively padded. The Broadway System consists of a main bag that has a foam padded shoulder strap, two removable inner partitions, front tool compartment and a 3-inch deep, soft bottom. Modular accessories include a worm binder; a reel storage bag with adjustable dividers; "day bag" that has two utility boxes and six worm binder pages; and a lure storage bag with plastic inserts for hanging big baits vertically.
Balanca rolling duffle bags have pulling handles on both ends, are water resistant and have zippered, interior mesh pockets. They come in three sizes with the largest measuring 29 by 13 by 16 1/2 inches.
The Blackmoon fishing backpack has a molded ergonomic back with sternum and waist straps, detachable bottom tackle bag with three utility boxes, drop-open main compartment with three dividers and two pockets, cell phone pocket, bungee cord for securing additional items and mesh rod holders on both sides. It's made of heavy-duty fabric and has a zip-out rain fly.
A "monster" size worm binder measures 13 by 12 by 4 1/2 inches and has four mesh zippered pockets for additional storage.
6. SNAG PROOF (www.snag proof.com; 800-762-4773) — Best known for its rubber frogs, the Ohio company has ventured into the tackle storage market with a broad lineup of Pro Series bag systems and hard boxes.
The Tournament Bag comes with four, 9- by 14-inch utility boxes in its belly and a 7- by 11-inch box in each side pouch. The bag has a waterproof map pouch in the lid, a sunglasses holder, GPS pocket and tool holder. A bulk storage system in the top could hold a pair of large spinnerbait boxes while cinch straps on the back retain a rainsuit. Additional 9 by 14 and 7 by 11 utility boxes can be purchased separately. The Grab-&-Go Tackle Bag comes with four 7 by 11 utility boxes inside, an exterior pouch and side pouches.
Other offerings include three-tray and two-tray hip roof hard boxes, a soft-sided reel pouch that holds 8 to 10 freshwater reels, and a soft side cooler.