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Soft-Sided vs Plastic Tackle Boxes

Tackle boxes have changed significantly over the years while every material imaginable has been used to create newer and better designs. Tackle boxes have been made from such materials as wicker, wood, tin, aluminum, and brass. In today's world of space aged materials there seems to be two main players left, molded plastic and soft nylon. But which is better? That is what we're here to discuss!

Molded Plastic:
Molded plastic tackle boxes have been extremely popular for many years. And there is good reason for this. These boxes are extremely strong, can be brought into the woods and take a good beating, and they will rarely break. They are also relatively cheap to produce. I have owned several of these in my lifetime and have found only two flaws in the actual durability of these specific boxes.

The two most common parts to break are the handle, or the hinges on the back. Now I am not saying that these are going to break on you but in my circumstances they seem to be the most vulnerable. When buying a plastic tackle box look at all the hinges and decide which ones seem weak, and which ones seem strong. Look at such characteristics as the size of the hinges and how many there are. The more area being distributed throughout the back of the box the stronger they will be.

It is common for the handles on these boxes to be of poor design. Look at how the handle is attached to the box. It is quite easy to tell the difference between a quality handle and a cheap one.

There are many different types of plastic boxes available to fishermen, but they can generically be broken into three groups:

  1. Racked Boxes

  2. Tray Boxes

  3. Satchel Style

Racked Boxes:

Racked boxes are great for storing lots of lures in an organized matter. They come with sto-away/tray style miniature tackle boxes to keep your lures organized. These are great for people who have a lot of different lures. You can keep one small box for plastics, one for crankbaits, one for terminal tackle etc. This way when you need something you can just pull out the tray. Racked boxes are good to keep in the boat when you don't have to carry them far. If you do plan on fishing a lot of the backwoods these are very cumbersome to move around.

Satchel Style:

Satchel style tackle boxes are briefcase style boxes. They are small and lightweight to carry around. They are strong to withstand impacts. And they are the cheapest of all tackle boxes to buy. These are good for beginner anglers but quickly become inadequate if your tackle selection exceeds what you can carry in the box.

Tray Boxes:

Tray boxes are simply plastic tackle boxes with integrated tiered trays that expand out the top of the tackle box. These carry minimal amounts of actual lures but usually have a nice deep bottom for miscellaneous tools and such. These tackle boxes are a nice compromise between a Satchel style box and a Racked box.

Soft Sided Bag:

Nylon tackle bags are becoming more and more popular. They are extremely lightweight, durable, and are versatile. You can easily sling these over your shoulder and hike into that often forgotten bass hole in the woods. I personally bring my tackle bag with me every time I go fishing. They usually are a simple design allowing for a couple pouches for odds and ends and a large interior where you can arrange your sto-aways/trays of lures. A big plus to these is that the trays they come with should be easily bought separate at a baitshop. I have several extra trays of lures that I just replace depending on what I am fishing for. If I go out for trout I just fill it up with four related trays of fishing tackle. And If I feel like bass I can replace them with four bass related trays. Now I just need to strap it over my shoulder and hike to the spot no one else goes.

Soft sided bags are surprisingly durable but only when you buy quality. Keep to brand names like Plano or Shimano. I have had one Plano tackle bag for nearly five years and it shows no signs of any tears or seams coming undone. And this is in spite of the tremendous abuse I've given it.

The cost of tackle boxes varies but here are the approximate costs for good quality tackle boxes:
plastic "satchel" box will cost you about 10-20 dollars
plastic "tray box" will cost 20-40 dollars
plastic "racked box" will cost 25-50 dollars
nylon bag will cost you 35-50 dollars

Closing Statement:
As you can see, each box has its own niche in which it is best. Most serious fishermen have several boxes to meet the situation they are fishing. However, a soft sided bag with extra sto-away compartments should be able to suit almost any fisherman.


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