I don’t know what it is about being organized that can make one the target of ridicule and side-ways looks, but I’m living proof that it happens. For what ever reason; being organized these days, especially if you’re an angler, gets you some odd looks and remarks from fellow lure chunkers. OK, I admit, I may take it to extremes now and then (Sometimes VERY Extreme), but being organized when it comes to my fishing tackle helps me when I get that all-to-precious time on the water.
Some folks’ idea of “being organized” may be a bit different than mine, but I guess it’s all in what works for you. I know one prominent angler (whose name I won’t mention here, but many who know him can guess the identity), would consider himself organized because he can walk into his garage and in a relatively short time of digging through boxes and moving a few things around (lawn mower, bait buckets, landing nets, and more boxes), can find just the lure he is looking for to take on his next fishing trip. Me on the other hand; all I need to do is walk into my “fishing room” and look for the appropriately label box or container to find what I’m looking for. Whose better organized? I suppose it’s all a matter of preference.
Two things are essential to be a more organized angler, time and a good label maker. Time is always the hard one. We all lead such busy lives these days, it’s a wonder we find time to go fishing at all. For this reason, most of my “organizing” takes place over the winter months when I simply have more time for such pursuits. My personal organization is what I refer to as OCD … no, not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but rather Organize, Compartmentalize, and Departmentalize. Being both a multi-species angler and a hopelessly insatiable collector of fishing tackle, I find this system works well for me.
Departmentalization is the process of categorizing my baits and tackle for particular species. I have tackle boxes designated for walleye, pike & muskie, bass, catfish, trout & salmon (stream and Great Lakes separately) and then panfish. Anything that doesn’t fit into those “departments” goes into the “Miscellaneous Tackle” department. For those baits that might be used for more than one species, I try to get duplicates so I don’t have to “cross-departmentalize”, or transfer from one box to another.
Compartmentalizing is taking the various lure categories for each species and organizing the various lures in individual boxes or tackle bags. For instance, I have a large bag designated for walleye crankbaits. In that bag I have several boxes labeled for the type of cranks in each box; Medium Diving Cranks, Deep Divers, Rogues, Hot’N Tots, and so on. Soft plastics, spinners and bait rigging essentials I compartmentalize in binder bags, then those all get put in separate bags.
I use the same basic system when it comes to rod and reels as well as fishing line. Most of my rod and reel combos are stored vertically in my home-made rod rack. I try to keep rods designated for specific species and techniques stored together making it easy to find just the right outfits to load in the boat once I’ve determined what the target will be for that fishing trip. Since the ceiling in my basement fishing room is a bit on the low side, rods longer than 7 and a half feet long are stored horizontally in a rack mounted to the ceiling. Fishing line is hung on pegboard for easy access, with any surplus supply stored in a large plastic bin kept under the workbench.
The Organizing is done primarily during the off season when all the boxes are gone through, inventoried and then stored on shelves (designated by species and lure type) in the “fishing room”. When it comes time to go fishing again, I simply read the labels on the boxes and binders, load up what I need in the right tackle bag, and off I go.
The label maker I use prints out nice white labels with black lettering which are easy to read, don’t smear when wet and stay on through just about anything. I know others use a permanent marker to accomplish the same thing, but in my experience, marker eventually fades, and it’s tougher to “re-label” a box in the event I need to.
I understand that my system is not ideal for all anglers. Most of the dyed-in-the-wool muskie anglers I know get by just fine with a less orderly approach; just put a bunch of favorite lures in a tackle box and head for the water. But if you’re a multi-species angler with a larger-than-average collection of fish-catching trinkets, this is a great way to keep everything organized and easily identified.