Tackle Box Spring Cleaning

April 20, 2013 1:44 pm0 commentsViews: 701

Tackle Box Cleaning Time

Cripes, it snowed another 8 inches Thursday.  Last year the ice was out and we could have been chasing pre-spawn crappies. Not this year.

So let’s do some spring cleaning.

Odds are that if you did any fishing last year, your tackle box is a bit disorganized. If you haven’t cleaned it out in several years, it is probably a mess.  Since we can’t go fishing, lets take some time and get it cleaned and organized.

While we are at it, let’s take an inventory so we know what we have and what we need.

Plano Large 6-Tray Tackle Box

Plano Large 6-Tray Tackle Box

If we do this right, we can justify a trip to our local fishing supplier or online to Amazon to get some new stuff in time for the coming season (if the ice ever melts, that is.)

More importantly, if we take our time and check out gear, we can greatly improve our chances of catching fish and landing those fish we do catch.

In addition to cleaning our tackle box, we should also be checking our rods and reels and the line on those reels.  We will cover those tasks in a separate post as there is plenty of work to do in our tackle boxes to keep us busy for a while. I suspect.

Tackle box sizes

Now I have three tackle boxes, a large one, a small one and a vest pocket sized one.   The “papa” box is my warehouse, and it goes with me on any extended trip.  The “mama” box is my boat box, it has a versatile assortment of essentials, and I move things in and out of it to the “papa” for each fishing expedition with an eye to what we will be fishing for.

Basically, the big box can be too big in a crowded boat, and for me anyway, the discipline of pre-planning what I will need for any given trip helps be focus better.  Now I always run the risk of not having what I need, for what is biting, but that turns out not to be a real problem very often.

I also have a small “baby box” or vest pocket box with four lure compartments and 4 half sized compartments that I use for ice fishing, when I am shore fishing, or on the move or traveling.

Cleaning those tackle boxes

But back to cleaning those tackle boxes.

We are actually going to clean the boxes. So I recommend you wait till the wife is shopping and the kids are out of the house. Cause you are going to use the kitchen sink and a lot of cupboard and/or table space.

You want the kids out of there, cause you will be exposing a lot of attractive lures with sharp hooks, and you want your wife out of there because you are going to use her collander and counter tops. You are using the kitchen sink because you want to use the spray hose.

Step one is simply removing everything from the box and untangling the snaggles, and sorting stuff on the cupboards or table.

Find a box or other container in which to discard broken hooks, dead rusty lures, and any other accumulated debris, dead minnows, fish scales or whatever managed to hide in your tackle box over the winter.

Your garbage man will appreciate your attention to detail in keeping hooks confined where they won’t stick out and snag them when they handle your trash.

Now fill the sink with water and dishsoap and wash the tackle box (es).

Be sure to rinse well and set to dry. Use paper towels and/or let them air dry. You want your tackle boxes to be dry before you start restocking. But you have a bit of work ahead of you so you probably have more than enough time.

If you haven’t already sorted the contents by type when you unloaded your box, do it now.

Take an Inventory

Grab a notebook and start making an inventory of what you actually have on hand.  Make notes to add anything below that you need, but do not have.


Fishing Line:   Test  &  Length and notes

Bobbers:    Types   sizes   numbers and notes

Swivels:  numbers and notes



Hooks:  Types   Sizes   notes

Needle nose pliers




Flashlight (extra batteries)

First Aid Kit (esp for puncture wound)

Insect Repellent






Everybody’s tackle box will vary. When you get down to the lures, jigs, etc it is time to inspect and refresh as necessary. Broken treble hooks can be replaced, bent hooks can be rebent. Now is the time to do it.

One that task is done the biggest remaining task is the fingernail test.

The Fingernail Test

The most important part of this exercise, beyond getting a good list of what you have and thus an idea of what you may need, is a chance to systematically sharpen your hooks.

A sharp hook catches more fish.  And the way to tell if your hook is sharp or not is to run the point of it across your finger nail. If it catches, it is sharp. If it slides along, the odds are that you will lose more fish than you would think.

See the video at if you do not know how to sharpen a fish hook or lure. The time you take now to systematically sharpen your arsenal will pay off in more catches and more fish in your boat.

As you sharpen each lure, put it in its place in your tackle box. There is no magic way to organize your box. If you have too many lures, and no place to put them, you probably need a larger tackle box, or a supplemental one.

When You're Done, Close The Box

When You’re Done, Close The Box

If you have ideas, questions or suggestions about tackle box management, please post a comment.





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