Fishing Essentials: Build a Better Tackle Box

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So you’re an eager fisherman putting together a tackle box and you want to know which items to include. Well hold on there, son. Let’s not get our line all tangled up before we’re ready to cast. First things first: Have you considered the actual tackle box? Tackle boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What you want is one that’s specific to the type of fishing you plan to do.

If you’re hiking to some secluded stream way back in the wilderness, then you’re not going to want to lug around something the size of steamer trunk. Something that large might be better for the back of your pickup truck as you fish from the nearby shore. Whatever tackle box you decide upon, make sure it’s durable and has a good manufacture’s guarantee. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it just hast to do its job—hold stuff in an organized and efficient manner.

Now, for the stuff that goes inside. While there are any number of items to choose from, an experienced fisherman knows there’s a short list of gear every proper tackle box must include.

Extra line: Over time your line will twist, get brittle, and eventually break at inopportune moments. If you use a spinning or spin casting tackle, carry several spools with varied weights which you can switch out easily as you adjust to different conditions.

Assorted hooks: Have a good selection for fishing with varied baits for different sized fish. Hooks come in three types: Single (one point), double (two points), and treble (three points). These hooks also come in sizes; the larger the number the smaller the hook.

Sinkers: Sinkers are pieces of lead that add casting weight to light bait. Sinkers come in several forms. Split shot are small round sinkers with an opening that can be crimped onto the line, while bell, or “dipsey,” sinkers have a bell shape and an eye for the line to be tied on. Finally, there’s slip sinkers which can be threaded onto the line and adjusted up or down depending on the depth you desire.

Bobbers: Bobbers may not be your thing, but they’re good to have around if you want to keep your bait afloat. Bobbers come in two basic shapes—elongated and the round beach ball. You may also have slip bobbers which, like slip sinkers, can be slid up or down the line as needed.

Lures and Plastic Worms:  While live bait has its advantages it is always good to have an assortment of artificial bait too. You’ll want to have a selection of jigs, spoons, and spinners as well as plastic worms and crankbaits if you fish for bass, and flies if you fish for trout.

Multi-Tool: Some would say a pair of needle-nose plyers and nail clippers (for cutting line), but a multi-tool means you’re prepared for anything, and it takes up less space. Look for a tool with a knife and a slim needle-nose which will make it easier to reach into a fish’s mouth to remove hooks.

Swivels: Swivels prevent your line from twisting when using certain spoons and crankbaits that wobble when reeling them in. They can also be used as a stop for slip sinkers and slip bobbers. The best swivels use ball bearings and are equipped with snaps at the end which allow them to move more freely.

Leaders: Leaders aren’t always necessary unless you are fly fishing or fishing for species with teeth that can cut monofilament line. Leaders come in various lengths and compositions. For fly fishing they are tied directly to both the fly and fishing line. Other leaders for pike fishing can be made of coated wire and may already have a swivel on one end and a snap on the other.

Stringers: Stringers are used to keep the fish you’ve caught while you continue to fish for more. It can be made of nylon or a small metal chain with a loop at the end and a fastening mechanism for holding the fish in the water.

Fillet Knife/Fish Scaler: These are good to have around if you prefer to clean your fish on the spot. A good sharp knife with a thin blade will allow you to separate meat from the bone and skin and to remove the head while a scaler will come in handy for catfish and carp.

First Aid Kit: Don’t let cuts and scrapes hamper your fun. A few adhesive bandages, an antiseptic salve, some gauze, and a small spool of waterproof medical tape will likely cover most of the damage. You can built the kit on your own or pick one up at any sporting goods store.

Sunscreen: Without this you’re going to feel as broiled as a fish if you spend the entire day casting your line while unprotected from the sun. Don’t go cheap here either. Get sunscreen  that has a high protection rating and doesn’t washout when you sweat.

Bug Repellant: Being that you’re near water it’s probable you’ll become a target of pesky flies and mosquitoes. Avoid such distraction with a good repellant, preferably one with DEET.

And there you have it–a fully functional tackle box to be proud of. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be crammed full of everything, just carry enough to be prepared for the typical situations you may encounter. Remember also to keep your tackle box organized. Have a system for taking items and putting them back. It does no good to have a tackle box that’s a mess. The last thing you want is to be unable to find some important item when you’re the thick of it.