Bass-ic Instinct: Smart Tackle Storage Solutions for Cheap People

Bass-ic Instinct: Smart Tackle Storage Solutions for Cheap People

In 2016, Bentley’s custom shop offered a luxury fly fishing SUV called the Bentayga Fly Fishing by Mulliner. It’s not as big as my Suburban, not as powerful as the diesel truck I hope to buy in the future, and therefore its “Burr walnut veneered master tackle unit” doesn’t really fit my needs. Oh, it also costs more than my house and is worth more (even slightly used) than my rapidly dwindling 401k. But if I were somehow to have the money to buy one, and decided that I wanted it, I’d still probably decline the refreshment case with its China tableware and metal flasks, along with the optional cabinet designed to hold tea. A promo giveaway soft cooler would hold my beef jerky, Clif Bars, and Diet Dr. Peppers just fine.

Of course, the Bentayga turns the normal bass fishing paradigm on its ass. I cannot begin to count how many times I’ve been driving through Alabama or Texas or South Carolina and seen a truck held together by rust and Bondo pulling a boat that costs upwards of $80,000. Even better is when you see that combo parked outside of a mobile home that costs less than the boat.

Priorities, man, priorities.

Look, I spend a ridiculous portion of my available income on fishing tackle and related wares, including a couple pretty high-priced storage solutions. But I’m also the king of Ziploc bags, rubber bands, and plastic shoe boxes. A trick that some of our industry’s manufacturers like to play is taking widely available products such as these, rebranding them as fishing-specific, and jacking up the price. Homie don’t play that.

The key is knowing when to spend and when to save. As longtime friend and FLW pro Clark Reehm told me, “You usually get what you pay for.” He invests in some pricey Bass Mafia tackle boxes for some of his prized gear. You can run over them with a truck and do no damage. That means that no rough boat ride across Sam Rayburn or Lake Erie is going to mess them up. He also likes the company’s Money Bags, super heavy-duty resealable waterproof bags in varying sizes. As far as he’s concerned, it’s not extravagance, it’s common sense. You can buy a $400 rain suit or a $100 rain suit, but when the latter craps out and you get drenched, you’ll eventually buy the good one for your next storm of biblical proportions. Sometimes spending more up front means spending less in the long term.

Then again, Reehm was also the one who told me to buy girls’ hair bands—a couple of bucks for a hundred of them—to hold the trebles together tightly against the body of your crankbaits. Now, because your lures won’t latch onto each other as easily, you can store up to twice as many in a single box. More importantly, you can extract them easily without having to spend precious minutes untangling 12 unrelated baits.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chad Morgenthaler is always tinkering with storage systems. One thing he’s noticed is that after arranging the tackle trays in the main compartment of his boat, there is typically leftover space on the side. So, he heads to the kitchen department at Wal-Mart to fill it. “There are usually some 6×10-inch spaces or 6×12-inch spaces, and I get some Tupperware containers that fit them perfectly,” he said. “I don’t need the lids, just the trays.” Inside, he stores loose bags of soft plastics as well as lures that come in clamshell packaging. If you take the lures out of the clamshell, they may get bent or otherwise deformed, but they’re awkward to store elsewhere. This way he can just stand them up next to each other.

Morgenthaler also heads to the dollar store to get small jewelry zip-closure bags for little terminal tackle items. If you store them loose in boxes, you’ll often end up losing quite a few and that shrinkage is an added cost that isn’t normally calculated in storage needs. He keeps his hooks in the packages they come in, within a storage box, which means they’ll never rust.

Like Reehm, Morgenthaler is also a big fan of using rubber bands, but he’s picky about them. His favorites are effectively free, as they come lashed around vegetables. “We eat a lot of broccoli and asparagus, and I take the thick rubber bands that come with them and put them around service spools of line,” Morgenthaler said. “They last a long time. I also use them to hold my dropshot weights on the handles of my spinning reels.”

As for me, I try to lay low around the girls’ hair supplies, and my wife buys our veggies, but you might catch me tackle shopping at Staples or Office Depot. I use desk organizers and accessories much the way Morgenthaler uses Tupperware, and rather than investing in a hyper-specific tackle utility tray holder, I find that an office file separator works just as well.

Every dollar you save with these solutions can go toward some sexier tackle items, and to the extent that you make yourself more efficient in the boat, that saves the most valuable thing of all—time on the water.

Featured image by Pete Robbins

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