Today we’re going to take a short look back at tackle box evolution. Ask any pro on tour where they rate tackle organization in their daily fishing success and I guarantee each and every one of them will say it’s paramount to their success. Well organized tackle allows the angler to quickly find needed gear, it permits the angler know when they need to restock baits and it also makes it easy on the angler to sort seasonal gear and place it either in the boat or store for future use.
Look in any top pro or weekend angler’s boat or garage and you’ll find large numbers of single sided boxes filled with every genre of baits. In fact, the single sided boxes we’ve been using since the early 80s actually act as filing systems much like any warehouse or hardware store uses bins for storage. It’s a system that’s hard to improve upon and probably why it hasn’t changed much in over 50 years.
Prior to this era, though, tackle box construction didn’t really consider the need for efficiency we have today. In fact, most anglers carried only a small fraction of the gear found in boats today.
The typical tackle arrangement you’d find back then was maybe a hip-roof box loaded with an assortment of hardbaits, hooks, sinkers, some cards of worms in the bottom and maybe a couple extra spools of line and a spare reel. Even if they were available, not many anglers found the need to have 40 different colors and styles of worms, or 100s of crankbaits that could be fished from the surface to the depths.
But in the mid-70s tournament anglers started realizing that in order to be competitive, they needed to carry gear for all occasions and that gear needed to be available at their beck and call. This new need caught the attention of tackle box manufacturers to build more efficient storage for tackle.
One of those companies was PRADCO.
In 1976 PRADCO came out with their Rebel Fish’N Box, a semi-single-sided modular box that had crankbait and spinnerbait racks along with compartments to store other gear as the angler saw the need. It was a compact box that didn’t need a tabletop to get into, let alone open, and if two or three were employed, the angler could cater each box to seasonal patterns or baits.
By 1978 companies like UMCO, Plano and Flambeau all started manufacturing small bait-specific boxes that allowed the angler to efficiently store tackle. It was the dawn of a new age of tackle organization that continues to live on today.