Tackle Stowage Matters

October 2016 Feature Dan Armitage

While packing for an upcoming fishing trip, I spent an hour or so in my basement going through the various boxes I maintain for containing and organizing fishing lures, line and accessories. I have various sizes of most of the popular—and not so popular—brands of plastic tray-style tackle containers, many of which I have been sent over the years for testing and review. Because they were free and needed, they all see use in my basement even if they didn’t pass muster in the reviews. From faulty latches to leaking seams to odd sizing, all tackle “utility” trays are not created equal. But they don’t have to be to see service as storage containers in the dry, climate-controlled confines of the lowest level of my suburban home. They don’t have to be waterproof or of a certain size or shape to fit my hodgepodge of storage shelves.

However, the storage boxes do need to be mouse proof, following an accidental introduction of several generations of field mice that took place when I towed a jon boat home after several years of storage in a barn. When I parked it next to the house and used a garden hose on the boat to wash it down, dozens of mice that had been living under the false floor of the craft jumped ship and made a beeline for the nearby foundation, eventually making their way into the crawlspace and the adjacent basement. They have thrived there ever since, nesting in waders, raising mouse families fed by Powerbaits and packaged doughballs and leaving signs of their presence strewn about in discreet locations. 

I do require that the various plastic boxes I use for long term tackle storage be “worm proof,” after some sticky situations with boxes made of inferior plastic that melted and absorbed some of my favorite twister-tails and soft plastic worms and creature baits.

This time of year, when we pull the boat for the season, I spend a few hours re-organizing the tackle I keep aboard the pontoon. When it comes to tackle storage during the fishing season aboard the boat, I hold a higher standard for my boxes. After trying them all, like thousands of other anglers, I have come to rely on the venerable plastic utility boxes from Plano. Offering several models in standardized sizes, even boat manufacturers now design their tackle storage lockers to accommodate the popular 3700 series of tackle storage boxes. With dimensions of 14 inches long by 9.13 inches wide by 2 inches high, the boxes come in a variety of layouts and latches and are pretty much the “go to” boxes among anglers. The 3700 line comes in other  designs, sizes and shapes, but with boat manufacturers and even tackle box makers conforming to accept the Plano 3700s, they are all I use aboard the boat or when packing to travel to various fishing destinations.

Actually, aboard the family FloteBote, I could use any size boxes, for I keep my tackle trays not secured in a custom-shaped locker or tote, but loose in the compartment under the flip-up seat, designed by aftermarket pontoon furniture designer Signature as a livewell, where I toss them for safe keeping between fishing trips. When it’s time to wet a line I grab only the ones I need based on their contents, and keep the others out from underfoot—or underhand, as I place the needed tackle box atop a table adjacent to the helm. I have crankbaits for trolling in one, sinkers, hooks and rigs for bottom fishing in another, and bobbers and sinkers and hooks for float fishing in another. One Plano 3700 contains nothing but soft baits, and an extra-deep model 3700 holds various jars and package of Powerbaits, Gulp! and other prepared baits.


I learned the hard way to keep the bench seat pad firmly closed and weighted down with a milk crate containing a spare anchor and line. Several seasons ago a raccoon followed the scent of those prepared baits, boarded the docked boat and got a paw ‘tween the loose-fitting pad and the seat base and gained access to a smorgasbord of fishy treats. Evoking the memory of the multi-sensory bomb the resulting mess created is all the incentive I need to remember to secure that flip-up seat pad each time I step off the boat. 

That’s the theory behind the organized onboard storage system. But by this time of the year, after a season of shifting tactics and grabbing boxes and dodging rainstorms and having a teenager aboard, there’s no telling what tackle I will find in what box. But then that’s the joy of having an “off” season to sort it all out.

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