Over the years I have come up with a system that makes finding the type of bait you want very quick and easy. The last thing you want to do it is have to hunt through your whole tackle box looking for a lure when you should be spending that time fishing. I’m going to show you guys how I keep my tackle organized. It makes a huge difference in the amount of time it takes to find the right baits.
First off, the best way to store bass tackle is in the clear plastic 3700 boxes that are stored in a soft side box or in your boat’s lockers. I also have separate boxes that I keep all my pike and musky gear in. I use a system for storing my tackle: first off, I put a hook guards on all my baits to control the hooks and keep them from tangling. I don’t put more than 2 or 3 baits per slot max, and fit the slot to the size of the bait as best I can. The smaller the slot is, the less the bait moves around and gets scratched or marred. I try to keep crankbaits and jerkbaits in the box it came in if they aren’t too much of a pain, as that keeps them in better shape and with fewer scratches.
Also, put a rust inhibitor in every box to keep your hooks from rusting and staining the baits. I first let my baits air dry on the rim of a cut off 5 gallon bucket with a hole in the middle that I put under my pedestal seat before I put them away. Plus, it makes a handy place to keep the baits you are using for the day if you switch up a lot like I do. Just cut the hole in the bottom of the bucket big enough to get the pedestal through.
Last, and most important, is how I label my boxes. I number each box from top to bottom, starting with topwater baits at 1, and deep diving cranks at the end. I number my boxes from 1 to 15, as that’s how many boxes I need for all my hard baits. This makes it much easier to keep them in order. I put all my hard topwater baits in one box, like Whopper Ploppers and Spooks, and work my way deeper in the water column with the different diving depth of the baits. So, the next box is all floater-diver Rapala minnow baits, then shallow running crankbaits, suspending jerkbaits, and so on, till you get to the deep diving cranks and baits that work on the bottom, like jigs and such.
I group like baits together and write on the lid of the box as much info as I can. If I know the name of the bait, I put that on the lid where the slot for that bait is at. The last info I put is what depth the lure should run at, and if it has a built-in rattle or not. I also write some info on the lures as well as on the lid where the lure is at in the box. If it is a floater diver, I write an “F” on the bottom of the bait just behind the lip with a black Sharpie. For suspending baits, I write an “S”, and for sinking baits, I put “SK”.
The more info you have about the bait, the better and the easier it will be for you to pick out baits and find the particular bait you are looking for. I do the same basic thing with all my soft baits, as well in a different soft-sided tackle box. I also group my soft bait into categories, like soft swimbaits in one box, ned rig baits in another, sinking worms all in a box together, and so on. If at all possible, it is best to keep your soft plastics in the bags they came in, as some plastic don’t get along well with others and will turn into a gooey mess.
Hope this will increase the time you spend actually fishing, and cut down on the time you are searching for a lure.