Tackle Boxes and Tools

Now that you’ve got your rod, reel, and a collection of hooks and lures, you’ll need somewhere to store the parts you aren’t using so you can find them quickly and easily.

A tackle box or bag is a great way to start. And we’ll also talk about a few more items you might want handy.

Tackle Boxes and Bags: Tackle boxes have lots of different compartments for sorting all your hooks, lures, bobbers, swivels, snaps, jig heads and so on. Modular boxes that allow you to set the size of each compartment are very popular, as are tackle bags, which hold several of such boxes, plus have room for fishing pliers, fillet knives, and other fishing gear.

Fishing Pliers and Scissors: A good pair of pliers incorporates several tools to do everything from cut wire to tighten knots and remove hooks. Also, a good pair of fishing scissors is another indispensable tool for cutting line and bait. All fishing pliers combine jaws for gripping and blades for cutting.

Hook Remover: Hook-removal tools make the job quick and safe and should be in your tackle box. With toothy fish, removing the hook with your hands or even a pair of pliers can be dangerous. When releasing a fish, it is best to remove the hook without even taking the fish out of the water.

Landing Nets: The size of the landing net should match the size of the fish that you are aiming to land. Look for a fishing net with a wide hoop, double-walled aluminum handle, and deep net. Fishing nets with rubber mesh help protect the fish's slime coat and scales if it will be released after landing.

Gaffs: If you're planning on keeping a fish, nothing puts it in the box faster than a gaff. Fishing gaffs come in various hook sizes and handle lengths; the best fishing gaffs have a tapered aluminum handle, non-slip grips and a triangular point. A short gaff is effective for handling big fish close to the boat, while longer gaffs are good for reaching out and grabbing a smaller fish. A gaff should only be used when you plan to keep a fish.

Lip Grippers: While lip grippers aren't the best tool for landing a fish, they work well for holding and releasing the fish without putting your fingers in its gills or mouth. Look for a lip gripper that is constructed out of non-corrosive aluminum or stainless steel. Many lip grippers also have a fish scale incorporated into the handle.

Livewells, Baitwells, and Aerators: You can use a bucket, but there are also dedicated portable livewells and baitwells on the market that can help keep your bait or catch fresher. Add an aerator for maximum zip to your baits.

Waders and Vests: Waders let you get closer to the fish. Insulated waders are a must if you fish in cold lakes or streams. A fishing vest can help keep you organized and everything within reach if you don’t have the luxury of keeping your tackle bag or the rest of your fishing gear handy.

Fish Finder: Fish finders are sonar devices that help you locate fish. Usually mounted on your boat, these screens range from a few inches across, up to the size of a small computer monitor. These show the water column vertically, giving you a picture of the bottom, and marking fish within the column, so you know what depth at which to fish.

Visit our section How to Fish to learn more about fishing techniques, where to fish, when to fish and more.