My Incredible Shrinking Tackle Box

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By Captain Mel Berman

It all started a couple of years ago on a trip with Frank Sargeant. The Tampa Tribune’s esteemed Outdoors Editor jumped aboard the waiting flats boat with a teeny, tiny box, housing but three or four of his favorite lures. Then I followed, huffing and puffing, heaving aboard my gargantuan container with virtually every lure known to man.. We fished all day long and I must confess that Frank, deploying his very limited selection, wound up catching more fish than anybody.

On a “field research” trip with another colleague, Steve Gibson of the Sarasota Herald Tribune confessed that he can put all the lures he’s going to use in his shirt pocket.

The fact is that most truly productive anglers invariably settle on just a few lure types and stay with them for the duration of the trip. They become confident with the bait, get a feel for how best to work it, and under what conditions. Above all, they believe that frequent lure switching is a sure recipe for a less than successful outing. It takes a bit of patience and perseverance, but this fishing mindset always pays off big time.

Thus inspired by this prevailing wisdom that the discipline of “less lure switching is better,” I decided to try change my fishing lifestyle.

My first goal was to see if I could make it through an entire fishing trip with but one of the insert plastic boxes housed in many of the bigger tackle cases. While still providing generous space for a great variety of goodies, for me this was a stripped down assortment.

At first I felt insecure and almost naked. But Armageddon never arrived. I actually caught just as many fish as on my lure overdose days. It was for me a kind of an emancipation.

Encouraged by the results, I further whittled down the bait supply. Now, before each trip I conduct a mental inventory to determine which species we are targeting, as well as taking into account the likely fishing conditions for that day. With those considerations, I am now able to bring a truly Spartan selection of lures that are pertinent to that specific kind of fishing trip.

This sort of regimen forces one to stay with a lure longer, gain more confidence in its catching ability, and spend more time with a lure in the water.

Am I completely weaned away from my old jam-packed tacklebox from Hell? Not entirely. Though still feeling slight pangs of apprehension that I won’t be ready for whatever the fishing gods have to offer, I must confess that I still catch just as many – maybe even more fish with this stripped-down lure selection. There’s also that added sense of great liberation. No longer do I feel compelled to tote a massive, hernia-producing tackle store in a box. Instead, my lure selection is contained in a compact case, featuring but a few of my mandatory fishing goodies.

Try it yourself. On your next fishing trip, keep track of the lures you actually use. Then, just take only those baits on your next outing. You’ll be surprised and amazed at how much more you’ll be able to concentrate on the enjoyment of reeling in the big ones, without constantly worrying about changing baits. And I genuinely believe that, cutting down on your lure selection will transform you into a better, more constantly successful angler in the process.