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Pack Your Bag of Tricks

By on July 1, 2016

The Ultimate RoadKing Tacklebox!

One step into my garage would surely tell you I have a ridiculous amount of fishing gear. But, of course, fishing is how I make my living, so I can justify this obscene collection of stuff. The amount of fishing equipment I store in my fishing boat is much the same. Literally, by carrying an entire tackle shop inside the lockers of my watercraft, I have immediate access to whatever I need to pursue virtually any opportunity at any given time.

However, none of that matters when I’m on a road trip that doesn’t involve access to my garage or boat rig. Yet, I still want to have some fishing gear packed in case a potential angling opportunity arises. This is precisely what most truckers who like to fish are faced with as they go about their jobs traveling regionally or across our great country. Traveling light, yet being ready to take advantage of a quick angling opportunity is the name of the game. It now becomes vital to strip it all down to what’s really essential for a few hours of shoreline enjoyment. Simply put, the items you place in your tackle box must be carefully considered, so you can easily carry it to a location, yet be fully ready to effectively search the water for active fish.

Perhaps the easiest way to break down a really good RoadKing tackle selection is to look at your tacklebox more as a toolbox, instead of one stuffed with fishing gear. Now, the choices you make are sure to have special meaning. Fundamentally, you need a complete collection of must-have tools to get the job done, but it all has to fit inside an easy-to-carry/easy-to-store box. Speaking of which, your first order of business is the choice of a tacklebox itself.

Pack Your Tool Bag

My friends at Plano—the tackle storage company that literally has a box, bag or enclosure for nearly everything on the planet—now make what I consider the perfect bag for the RoadKing angler. It’s called the Guide Series Tackle Bag. I use the term bag for a specific reason, since the very best all-encompassing tackle storage system in my opinion is actually a soft bag that contains lots of smaller individual hard boxes. The soft bag concept enables you to carry a vast assortment of various lures for sure, but side pouches provide space and quick access to essential tools and other accessories you are sure to need on any outing.

In fact, let’s talk briefly about essential tools and accessories for your tackle bag. First off, no matter what fish you are likely to catch, you are certainly going to need a tool to unhook ‘em. So, a needle-nose pliers is a must-have. Personally, I like one that’s five to six inches long, so my hands are further away from treble hooks. Nothing is sure to ruin an outing faster than losing your grip on a wiggling, thrashing fish and getting a hook buried in your finger or hand. Been there! Done that! Fishing trip over and replaced by an unwanted visit to a nearby clinic or emergency room.

I recommend at least two additional tools for your gear bag including split ring pliers for changing out bent or damaged hooks, and a hook-sharpening file. All of these tools in some way deal with the hooks on your lures. With that in mind, you might also want to have a small selection of replacement trebles, as well as single hooks in one of those small compartment boxes. A few additional split rings, snaps and sinkers of various styles should also be part of your gear. They won’t take up a lot of space, but will surely be needed at some point. A tape measure is also a good idea in case you happen to luck into a lunker!


Lures for Sure

Now, let’s take a closer look at lures for your travel bag—your essential tools of the trade for catching a wide variety of fish. Let’s assume for the most part you’re going to primarily cast from shore, and the primary target is bound to be bass although walleyes, pike, muskies, and catfish could come into play depending upon the region you happen to be passing through. I like to base nearly everything off of bass fishing, since a lure assortment for them is sure to include plugs likely to work for most other gamefish including saltwater species. You can always consider custom tailoring your tackle bag for different regions and more prevalent species accordingly before venturing out on the road.

With bass and shore fishing as the primary starting point, you simply must have a handful of safety-pin style spinnerbaits in your tackle bag. They enable you to very efficiently fan cast all available open water and surrounding cover without fear of snagging up, since they have a single upriding hook. They are essentially weedless. By the way, spinnerbaits take up virtually no space in one of the side pouches of a soft-style bag. Pack an assortment of extra blades, skirts, colors and even a few snap swivels to repair a productive spinnerbait that is sure to get war torn after catching a number of fish.

Next up is an assortment of crankbaits and topwater lures that will take up the bulk of the space in various smaller hard cases packed in your tackle bag. The crankbait assortment should include both shallow runners and deep divers to accommodate just about any terrain you are likely to encounter. For example, shorelines on most natural lakes with a shallower, flat taper containing weed growth or other forms of cover require a floating, shallow runner that also doubles as a topwater plug. Steeper grades off a riverbank near a dam site with current demand a deep-diving version in order to get closer to where the fish are likely to be hangin’ out.

Finally, make sure you have an ample supply of jigs in various weights along with a zip-lock style bag full of soft plastic grubs in various sizes, colors and styles. If I only had one lure to choose on a trip, this would be it. It catches everything big and small. Tiny versions catch panfish. Larger versions trick trophies. You can fish ‘em shallow, mid ranges and deep depending upon jig weight and the speed you fish.

One last thought worth a mention is to always keep your eyes and ears open for local gossip about the best spots, lures and techniques. A quick stop at a local bait shop or sporting goods store is sure to put you in contact with someone who knows something about where to go and what to fish with. It can give you a leg up before you ever wet a line!

About Joe Bucher:
Joe Bucher is a National Freshwater Fishing Hall Of Fame Legendary Angler and host of the popular TV series Fishing with Joe Bucher. He is also the author of six books, as well as a contributing writer for monthly fishing publications on a variety of subjects and gamefish species all over North America.

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