Going fishing? If it’s you’re first time – or if you’re creating a tackle box for a beginning fisherman – here’s the basics of what to put in a fishing tackle box. (And a printable Tackle Box Checklist to take to the store.)
First, you need the fishing tackle box.
Basic tackle box with 3 trays
All you really need for fishing from a boat.
Fishing tackle backpack with 4 trays.
Perfect for hiking to your fishing spot or kayaking.
Here’s What to Put in the Fishing Tackle Box
Fishing license holder
Legally everyone must have their fishing license with them or face fines. (Except children under a certain age in most areas.)
It’s a good idea to have a waterproof fishing license holder* to keep it from from getting wet or covered with any other grime that happens in tackle boxes.
Extra fishing line
Fishing lines break for all skill levels. It gets tangled, fish snap it off, it gets caught on branches under the water (sometimes even above the water 😁) or gets cut by sharp rocks in the water.
You need to know what species of fish are the target. Fishing lines are gauged for the weight of the fish, and the amount of fight in them.
There are different thicknesses of fishing line. Thin lines cast better and are recommended for clear water. Heavier lines are recommended for areas where the line can get cut by rocks.
Using a braided fishing line is generally recommended for newbies.
Again, the fish species determines the lure required. The depth of water required to lure that fish is also important.
John McIntyre from Ask the Fisherman recommends that beginners start with 2 simple lures. They need a reaction lure* for active fish and a finesse lure* when the fish are inactive. They should be in the natural colors required for the local waterways until they gain experience. (See his Tips on Using Lures.)
Too many choices can be overwhelming. Younger fishermen turn it into “playing” with the lures rather than catching or learning how to catch fish.
McIntyre recommends that they practice using a lure rather than just cast and retrieve. They gain the experience they need, and they will still catch fish.
New fishermen “drown a lot of worms”.
Young fishermen love to check their bait often, so even if they have fresh bait from the bait store they can go through it faster than usual.
And even pros sometimes just want to get out their and fish – and sometimes they can lose their bait faster than they wanted to when they’re at their favorite spot – so they appreciate “emergency bait”.
If you’d like to know more about which live bait is best for each species of fish, visit Advnture.
The thing you need to know when purchasing bait is what species of fish they want. There are specific types of commercial bait for specific types of fish*.
Floats & Bobbers
The purpose of a float is to keep the bait suspended at the proper level. Either higher for top feeders or off the bottom of the waterway for bottom feeders.
The recommended type of float is the stick float* because it holds the bait up, but is sensitive enough to react to a nibble and pull under the water with little resistance so inactive fish aren’t scared off.
The classic red and white bobber* is okay for more aggressive fish but stick floats will work well with them too.
Before you purchase sinkers, check the fishing regulations in your area, and for the waterway you will be fishing in. Lead sinkers can be illegal so you will need tungsten.
There are many different types of sinkers*.
The kind of sinker you need depends on the fishing environment such as: from the shore or a boat, rushing or still water, clear or grassy waterway.
The other consideration is where the fish will be: surface, bottom, or mid-water.
For more information see The best fishing weights: how to pick the right sinker at Advnture.
There are days when you’re having problems with using a lure or a rig, and you need a good ole fashioned hook.
But of course there are many different types to choose from besides the common J-hook: circle, treble, barbed or barbless. And there are many sizes, depending of the mouth and weight of the species of fish you want to catch.
Did you know: some local bylaws and fishery rules don’t allow barbed fish hooks.
Fish Hook Remover
It’s not easy to remove a hook from a fish when holding it in one hand, especially for beginners who are wary of the sharp teeth.
Escaventure recommends a pistol grip fish hook remover for beginners because it is safe and easy to use.
Fishing swivels* help your line keep from twisting when you are casting and reeling.
They are the easy way to tie on rigs and leaders, especially for beginners who don’t know all the knots.
When fishing in a boat, use a fish stringer to keep the fish alive while you continue fishing. Then you can easily release them after you get a photo of your catch for the day, or take them home for dinner.
One of the fishing tools you need in your tackle box is a good pair of fishing pliers for hook removal.
The Piscifun Fishing Pliers* also include a line cutter and crimper.
It also includes a Nylon Sheath, Coiled Lanyard and Belt Loop Clasp so you can wear the pliers to keep them close at hand when you’re wrestling with the big one.
Portable Fish Lip Gripper or Grabber
A fish gripper is a safer way to hold a fish so the sharp teeth and the hook doesn’t injure your hand while you’re holding the fish.
It’s the perfect way to control fish of all sizes while you’re trying to get a photo.
Conveniently the Piscifun Fish Lip Gripper is also a scale up to 28 lbs so you can weight it at the same time. The retractable lanyard, the hook and the anti-skid handle prevent your gripper from being lost overboard.
You will need to cut fishing line, cut baits or gut & fillet your catch. You may even need to steak large fish like salmon. A fishing knife is a must.
If you ask most anglers, they carry a small folding knife to do most of the fishing duties. They can keep it handy in their pocket while fishing, and stores easily in their fishing tackle box.
It’s the scent of the bait that the fish go for, so you don’t want it to smell like you! (Especially important for smokers.)
Ensure that the soap is biodegradable and doesn’t harm the environment.
You need a rag or towel to clean your hands before you bait your hook so your scent isn’t on the bait, wipe them after you bait the hook, and after handling the fish.
A microfiber towel dries faster.
This Royl Bait Towel has a belt clip to keep it handy, a measuring tape to measure the fish, and a hand pocket for holding fish.
You should put an extra fishing hat* in your tackle box in case you forget yours, the wind blows yours off, it falls in the water when you’re wrestling with the big one, or there is a serious hat mishap with a hook.
UV rays are relentless and a serious sunburn can spoil the great memories of your fishing trip.
A sun hat provides shade all the way around, saving neck burn.
Of course your favorite ball cap can be swivelled around to protect your neck if the sun is shining from behind you.
Palmyth Fishing Hat* with magnetic bill to hold your fishing lures without ripping your hat. Doesn’t affect the weight of the hat.
Polarized sunglasses* are the best to keep the sun out of your eyes and the glare off the water. Both can cause headaches as well as prevent you from seeing properly.
Sunglasses fall overboard or break while fishing and you don’t want to have to call it a day just because you need them.
Keep an extra pair in your fishing tackle box in a case to keep them from getting scratched or crushed.
A hat may protect your neck and face, but you also need sunscreen to protect your arms – and legs if you’re wearing shorts.
Choose one like Coppertone Sport that protects from 99% of UV rays and stays on when you sweat. It is also heat and water resistant, and lasts for 80 minutes before it needs to be reapplied.
When fresh water fishing, you’ll need to use bug spray that creates a barrier against mosquitoes that may transmit the Zika, West Nile, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses, as well as ticks, gnats, biting flies, chiggers and fleas.
Repel is especially created for sportsmen with 40% DEET.
Children can wear DEET products, but should only be sprayed once per day. (See more information about DEET and children.)
First Aid Kit
Sharp hooks & lures can cause cuts, so it’s a good idea to have a small first aid kit with alcohol wipes and bandages in your fishing tackle kit.
The Coleman First Aid Kit* is small, only 0.88″ L x 2.5″ W x 3.88″ H so it fits easily in your tackle box. It is in a metal tin to keep everything clean and uncrushed. Contains safety pins, sting relief wipes, razor blade, butterfly bandages, spot bandages and knuckle bandages.
Want more? Here’s a printable fishing tackle box checklist to take to the store.
The free Fishing Tackle Box Checklist has no pictures or blurb, it’s just a list.
Want more? See our other fishing articles.
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