Last week we posted a piece on an early 1980s Flambeau catalog and promised we’d follow that up with a piece on Plano. Well, today’s the day and we have for you Plano Molding Company 1980. This 1980 catalog is sure to bring back memories for those of you who owned and used these tackle boxes back in the day. For those of you who weren’t born, it’ll give you an idea of what us anglers had for tackle storage.
Flambeau and Plano were fierce competitors back in the 70s through the 80s and they continue to try and outdo one-another. At the time, the tackle box industry was going through an evolution due mainly to the bass fishing boom taking place. Tournament bass fishing had elevated tackle box needs to more than a piece of luggage to carry your tackle. Tackle boxes had become part of an organizational method for anglers, an integral part of being efficient on the water.
Earlier this week we posted one of the first organizational boxes of this type, the Rebel Fish’N Box, introduced in 1976. Close to that time, Plano had introduced the 1146 and 1123 Magnums. Shortly thereafter, they introduced the Plano 1234 Super Magnum, a box that could compete with the Rebel Fish’N Box.
Let’s take a look at the catalog and go through some of the innovations that Plano had at the time.
The cover of the catalog features their new for 1980 Plano 767. Turning the page, you’ll see the specifications for the box. This was an amazing box in that it was perfect for storing 4- to 5-inch plastic worms in the doors and jigs and trailer in the center. I owned a couple of these boxes over the years and that was exactly what I used them for. This box boasted 56 compartments and weighed only 5 pounds – empty. Plano had also molded in rain protection slots to keep the box relatively water resistant and from my recollection, it worked pretty well.
Two pages later Plano shows one of their work horses of the time, the 1234 Super magnum. This was another box I utilized during the time and over the course of the era, I had three of them. This box was great for the times when I was fishing in another angler’s boat as it offered a spinnerbait/crankbait rack, space to place four to six jars of pork, and enough space to store jigs, worms and spoons. Between the 767 and a couple 1234s I could fish an entire weekend and not feel as though I was leaving something important at home.
Prior to the advent of the 3700, the next set of boxes were my go-to big worm boxes. The Magnum 1146 and 1123 were perfect to store plastic worms in the six to 12-inch range as one could arrange the dividers to accommodate nearly any size worm and still have space for hooks and lead. They were also great boxes for holding jerkbaits and crankbaits.
Page 6 brings us to some of the most memorable and useful boxes of the time, the Plano drawer-style boxes. On this page you’ll see the 777R, a box designed with five shallow drawers and one deep drawer that came with optional spinnerbait and crankbait racks. It was an all-around box meant to hold everything a bass angler might need for a day on the water. Below the 777R were the 6500 worm and spinnerbait box and their 4901 spinnerbait box.
Pages 7 through 9 got into the meat of the drawer-style boxes, starting off with the 7777. This box was owned by a close friend of mine and to say I had tackle box envy would be an understatement. He had his box filled with everything from hand -poured worms to Balsa Bs – it was a veritable tackle store. If memory serves me right, this box at the time retailed for roughly $50 – and that was $50 more than my saved lunch money budget could afford. If I could find one today for a decent price, I’d buy it just because it was always a dream of mine to own one.
Below the 7777 is the 777S. This box was the same dimensions as the 7777 but had deeper shallow drawers and a deep bottom drawer. This was a better box for storing crankbaits due to the deeper drawers and also allowed for storage of 3400 and 3600-style boxes.
Next in line was the 737 and 737S boxes. The 737S brings back a flood of memories for me as this was my alternative to the 7777 I coveted. My mother bought it for me as a Christmas gift circa 1978 and even sent into Plano to have my name monogramed on a piece of brass that fit on the top of the box. It was the perfect box as it held a lot of plastics, Rapalas, and small crankbaits. The bad thing about it, as it was for all this style box, was they weren’t waterproof. Fishing in the rain meant that when you got home you had to remove all your tackle, remove the drawers, and dry everything out.
After five moves in the last 10 years, I’ve finally started unpacking a bunch of my old gear that’s been packed for years. I still haven’t come across this box along with a half dozen ABU reels I’ve owned since the late 70s and early 80s. That’s starting to worry me.
Anyway, back to the catalog.
The next page has the hybrid drawer boxes known as the 747 and 727. Without a doubt, the 747 is Plano’s best-selling box of all time. But what made it the best selling wasn’t because of fishing. It became the go-to box for EMTs throughout the U.S. and many of them are still in use. A quick look at the Plano website shows the box isn’t made anymore but there is a reasonable replacement for it in the Hybrid Hip Tackle Box.
The next two pages, 10 and 11, show Plano’s Hip Roof tackle boxes. These standard Hip Roofs were much more durable than UMCO’s famous green boxes, but they lacked the sheer storage volume the UMCOs provided. This period in time was the waning years of this style box and although they were offered through the decade, they eventually got sent to the glue house by the early 90s.
The next page of the catalog that offers some historical meaning is the last page. On this page are the utility boxes that have become the bass angler’s mainstay. What’s missing on this page, and in the catalog, is a 3700-sized box. Remember last week when we looked at the Flambeau catalog, I made the statement that Flambeau had originally designed this box in the late 70s and Plano was late in developing their own. Still here in 1980 Plano hadn’t scratched that itch. It wouldn’t be long before they’d introduce the 3700 – a much more durable box than Flammbeau’s.
That’s it for the 1980 Plano catalog. If you have any memories of these boxes that you’d like to share, please leave a comment down below and if you have a 7777 that you wouldn’t mind parting with, I’ll gladly take it off your hands!
In the meantime, I’ve posted the entire catalog below. Click on the first image to scroll through the catalog.