Master Series: Tackle - Aaron Martens (Lesson 2: Learn to cull)

I think one of the biggest mistakes most anglers make is that they carry too much tackle with them in the boat. They'd be a lot better off if they culled most of it and fished with less stuff. This is especially true with lures.

You don't need 40 deep diving crankbaits from six or seven manufacturers to catch bass. Three or four from one manufacturer will be plenty for most anglers. When you carry too many, you confuse yourself and make decisions more difficult. That wastes valuable fishing time and reduces your catch.

Let me say right up front that some of what this article is about doesn't apply to Elite Series pros. Because of the way we have to fish we sometimes carry a lot of tackle in our boats. We have to be ready for anything, especially when you consider who we're fishing against.

Regardless, we cull tackle. As I'm writing this I'm going through my stuff and removing most of it — 80 or 90 percent — from my boat. I have too much and it messes up my mind when I'm on the water in competition.

Here's the way I'm doing it:

First, everything in my boat is stored in Plano 3700 boxes. I have one for everything — deep crankbaits, medium crankbaits, shallow crankbaits, plastic worms, creature baits, buzzbaits, topwater plugs, drop shot stuff, Carolina rigs. You get the idea.

I store the 3700 boxes in my boat with the baits I'm most likely to use on top, or somewhere I can get to them quick. If I expect to use a certain type of worm, in a certain color, I'll put a bunch of them in a box and carry them with me. On any given day I might go through 30 or 40 worms, so I'll carry a lot, but only in the size and color I need.

What I won't do is carry another dozen colors and sizes that clutter up my boat and that keep me from fishing efficiently. I'll store those colors in Plano 3730 boxes — they're deeper than the 3700 series so they'll hold more lures — and keep them back in my room or in my truck.

If I do need a different color, or more of what I have been using, I can get them that evening after the weigh-in. All I have to do is grab my 3730 box and restock the 3700. It's basically like going to the store.

This system will handle any lure you own, regardless of style, color or manufacturer. Everything's in order. You know what you need and exactly where to get it. It's very efficient.

You can expect to spend a little money on a system like this. You'll have to buy quite a few boxes. In the long-run, however, it'll save you. You won't waste money on things you already have, or don't need. We all carry stuff we haven't used in years. It's ridiculous.

If you want to use another system, that's fine with me. Use whatever works for you. Do not, however, keep your plastic lures in bags or your hard baits in their store packaging. It's almost impossible to find things that way, and it creates a lot of trash in your boat that you don't need.

It also adds weight to your boat. Some bags of worms weigh 4 or 5 pounds. That may not sound like much, but it'll slow your boat down and cause you to use more fuel. That's a waste of time and money, something none of us have enough of when it comes to fishing.

I've only talked about lures in this article. My system isn't that limited, however. It'll work on whatever you carry in your boat, or in your tackle bag if you fish from shore. Rods, reels, line, terminal tackle and everything else we carry needs to be culled.

Spend some of your time this winter organizing and culling tackle. It'll increase your fishing time next year.

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