Time to tidy up tackle

My youngest son and his wife inspired me to declutter my life, and I’m glad they did.

Descending from a long line of hoarders, I needed to purge my belongings. At their ­recommendation, I read the book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing, and it was transforming. 

The idea is to discard every article you own that is not regularly useful or truly meaningful. As author Marie Kondo explains, if a thing does not “spark joy,” get rid of it.

Of course the book didn’t apply to my fishing gear — or so I thought. Every crankbait, every bag of soft plastics and every rod and reel “spark joy” for me. Still, decluttering the rest of our home was so freeing and rewarding that I decided to tidy up the corner of the ­garage where my fishing stuff lives.

(Read the book and you’ll see why I used the term “lives” in regard to fishing gear. Kondo suggests that inanimate objects possess a mystical energy and even exhibit emotions. I don’t ascribe to that philosophy, but it might explain why a lure works one day and not the next. Maybe it gets in a bad mood sometimes.)

Kondo also promises that when you put your belongings in order, your life will change dramatically. “You’ll feel your whole world brighten,” she says. “This is what I call the magic of tidying. And the effects are stupendous. Not only will you never be messy again, but you’ll also get a new start on life.”

I could envision stupendous effects on my fishing, so I followed her regimen to the letter. 

The first rule is to discard what you don’t want or need. Buying new tackle trays to store the things you don’t use very often won’t solve your clutter problems. 

First, I gathered up all my lures according to category. Starting with topwaters, I placed every plug I owned on a table. I picked up each lure, one by one, looked at it and asked myself, “Does this spark joy?” If not, I placed it in the discard pile. It wasn’t easy.

Like most bass fishermen, I love lures. I can imagine every one of them catching a Lunker Club entry. But for life-changing magic, you have to be brutally honest. If you’ve never used a bait, or haven’t in years, why keep it? Load your tacklebox with “confidence lures,” the pros advise, and you’ll catch more fish.

Besides, you owe it to your belongings to ­either play them or trade them.

“Everything you own wants to be of use to you,” Kondo advises. “Even if you throw it away or burn it, it will only leave behind the energy of wanting to be of service. Freed from its physical form, it will move about your world as energy, letting other things know that you are a special person and come back to you as the thing that will be of most use to who you are now, the thing that will bring you the most happiness.”

Taking her advice to heart, I got rid of my old Dancin’ Eels, hoping they would come back as Whopper Ploppers.

Working my way through category after category of lures and gear, I examined each item and decided whether to keep it or dispose of it. I separated the useful from the unused, the proven producers from those with potential. I even got rid of some great lures — ­swimbaits, for example — because I don’t particularly enjoy fishing them. 

I thanked them for their service and for whatever rewards I gained from owning them. Then I put them aside. 

The process wasn’t painless, but at the end of it, I discovered that I have all I need to enjoy a day of fishing. I can carry my tackle bag without wrenching my back, and I can find things quickly when I need them.

Even more rewarding was the act of giving my things away. Some went to a high school bass fishing team in my community, and the kids were ecstatic to receive them. 

I also invited a friend’s grandson to ­rifle through my discards and take whatever he wanted. The youngster is fanatical about bass fishing and was overwhelmed by the chance to fill his tacklebox with my cast-off lures. He couldn’t thank me enough, and he couldn’t wait to phone his grandfather and tell him all about his new treasures. 

Seeing how much the gifts meant to those young anglers was truly gratifying. That’s what really sparked joy for me.

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