These items should be part of any angler's essentials list.
By Trent Jonas
When you’re getting ready for the fishing season, it’s never a bad idea to take inventory of your tackle box and make sure you’ll have everything you’ll need when you’re out on the water (or the bank, shore, or pier). In addition to your favorite hooks, sinkers, and lures, here is some other must-have gear for fishing season.
A disorganized tackle box can be something of a nightmare, so it’s always good to have an extra box or two for your lures, jigs, leaders, hooks, etc. They’re especially great to have around when the amount of fishing gear you own outgrows the capacity of the tacklebox you want to carry with you. Cabela’s basic utility boxes are sturdy, come in packs of four, and won’t dent your wallet.
Every angler knows you have to keep extra line in your tackle box—it’s really kind of a no-brainer. But, before you head out, make sure there’s enough line to use on the spools in your tackle box. You may have used some last season. Berkley’s FireLine is a good all-around line for a go-to in your tackle box.
A good multi-tool spares you the need to carry a needle nose pliers, line cutter, and knife at all times. A tool like the Leatherman Wave+ is a sturdy stainless steel, so it won’t rust easily in wet conditions, and it comes with 18 different tools, ranging from a scissors and needle nose pliers to a serrated knife blade and bottle opener.
Even if you’re an avid believer in lures or a live-bait-only type of angler, keeping a pack of artificial baits close at hand is a great way to change up your pattern if the fish aren’t hitting what you’re throwing, or in case you run out of live bait. Berkley Gulp! Alive Minnows are a great all-around bait that will appeal to a wide variety of species. And if you keep the pouch zipped tight, it should last all season in your tacklebox.
If you’re out on the water in the daytime, you need eye protection—even if it’s overcast. Polarized lenses help protect your eyes from direct and reflected sunlight, as well as glare. They also help you see beyond the surface reflections and into the water, which is especially useful if you’re sight casting or as you bring in a fish. Costa Fantail sunglasses were designed with anglers in mind.
A lot of catch-and-keep anglers’ favorite species—from trout and walleye to snook and redfish—have keeper length restrictions. In some cases, they need to fall into a “slot” between two certain lengths, for example 24 to 28 inches, before you can keep them. Anything outside the slot or that otherwise doesn’t meet length regulations must be thrown back. So, a tape measure is an essential tool in any tacklebox. The handy Black Nickel Carabiner Tape Measure from Orvis clips to a fishing vest or belt loop—and also acts as a zinger, so you can attach a hook remover or other gadget to the clip to keep it handy while ensuring you don’t lose it to the water.
Sometimes when you’re fishing, it rains. Or the wind kicks up. Or both. Keep a reusable emergency poncho in your tacklebox—and make sure it’s there at the beginning of each season—to prevent foul weather from fouling up your fishing adventures. The Sea to Summit Tarp Poncho packs down to the size of a sausage, and its sturdy nylon fabric won’t tear or wear out as quickly as cheaper ponchos, so you can use it season after season.
Cuts and scrapes and blisters and hooks in thumbs happen. There’s no reason not to be prepared for any of the little medical emergencies that can crop up on the water. The Scout kit from SOL, is a compact first aid kit that comes in its own waterproof, resealable pouch. It contains just enough gear to patch you up and get you home. Replace items as you use them or add to the pouch to customize your kit.