How to Setup Your Tackle Box for Bass Fishing

The key to catching big bass is to be prepared. Having the right equipment for bass in your tackle box setup is for the first step to take!

Last updated: April 8, 2024

By: Brandon Sanders

Have you ever hit the water with your fishing gear, and opened your tackle box only to find that your lucky lure is nowhere to be found?

It’s the quickest way to ruin your day of fishing!

Having a properly organized tackle box can make a world of difference in your fishing. If you were to examine the amount of time you get to spend on the water, it would be evident that it is in short supply.

Therefore, being as efficient as possible while fishing is incredibly important. No one wants to launch a boat only to spend half the day digging through an unorganized toolbox. Having your tacklebox neatly organized using a method that allows you to maximize time with your lure in the water is the first step to becoming a more effective fisherman.

Let’s dive into tips and tricks that you can use to have the right equipment in your tackle box - and spend more time fishing! 👇

What to Include a Tackle Box for Bass ✅

If you’re fishing for bass, there are some go-to lures and equipment that are a must have for all fishermen. Let’s discuss these so you can make sure you have all the gear you need.

Lures and Bait 🎣

Having a variety of choices in your tackle box to match the prey that bass eat at different times of the year is crucial. This can include topwater baits, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs, and soft plastics.

While many fishermen use a multi tackle box approach to get the most robust pallet of lures to present to ever-fickle bass, it is not at all necessary. A more sensible approach is to organize your tackle box in terms of season and water conditions.

In the cold days of winter, you will not be using buzz baits. So why have them with you? Instead, it would make sense to have trays in your tackle box that are optimized for that particular time of year.

Bait, in terms of store-bought jars or resealable bags, are acceptable to be placed in your tackle box. It is advisable to double bag them in gallon size sandwich bags to prevent spillage. This is incredibly important if you are using a cloth tackle box as bait will become a permanent fixture if it gets into it.

Classic plastic tackle boxes are much easier to clean and more resistant to such messes. However, if you are dealing with bait such as crickets, minnows, or worms, you simply will not be able to place them in your tackle box.

Multi-tool and Knife 🛠

In terms of tools that you want to have in your toolbox, a multi-tool is likely all you will ever need. A quality multi-tool will provide the equipment you need to get through many difficult situations.

While it is not robust enough to do serious engine maintenance or fix your fishing reel, it will be more than enough to get you safely back to shore in the event the unthinkable were to happen. Complete with saws, different types of screwdrivers, and empowered by your imagination and ingenuity, a multi-tool is a fantastic device to have on hand while fishing.

A knife is an essential tool for proper handling, skinning, and processing of fish. Depending on the type of fish you intend to catch, multiple knives of different types and sizes may be called for.

However, a medium-length filet knife should be more than acceptable for most fish. This should be placed on the outside of your tackle box in some sort of retention system to keep it in place. This way it is accessible in an emergency situation and it keeps your tackle box from smelling like last week's catch!

Extra Reels and Fishing Line 🧵

Reels have their place in your tackle box as well. However, unlike fly fishing, bass fishing has many varying requirements on reels. Large jig poles that are tailored to presenting heavy jigs in dense cover require a certain gear ratio that is not appropriate for throwing search baits.

Therefore, any backup reel that is placed in your tackle box must be versatile enough to be used in any situation and on any setup. This means that your reel will not be ideal, but will be enough to get you through the day.

Fishing line is a staple in any tackle box. Having spools of braided, fluorocarbon, and monofilament fishing line of various weights is needed for emergency re-spools as well as for building leaders.

Though excess line will surely be cut off and discarded in a day of fishing, it is important not to throw excess line into the water. Recycling monofilament line not only is the right thing to do, it also keeps our fishing waters at top notch.

Weights 🏋️‍♀️

When it comes to trying to catch largemouth bass, it goes without saying that a wide array of lures are required. Those lures all have different ways they contend with weight. Some baits, like crankbaits, have no weight at all and rely on their buoyancy to be effective. Others such as soft plastic worms, can use weights to penetrate cover and reach the depths that bass may be suspended at.

Texas-rigged worms use bullet weights with and without stoppers to hop across the bottom. Carolina rigged worms use egg sinkers to anchor the line while the lure floats to a predetermined depth. Therefore, having an array of weights available for use allows the fisherman to be more versatile.

Bullet weights are almost exclusively used on Texas rigged soft plastics. Generally speaking, they are tied just above the eye of the hook and sit on top of the soft plastic bait anchoring its head. Some place toothpicks or other small tension-causing devices in the weight to pinch the line and keep the weight in a fixed position. Others capitalize on the weight sliding up and down the line for extra action creating a faux Carolina rigged worm. No matter the situation, bullet weights should be a staple in your tackle box.

Casting sinkers are not commonly used in bass fishing, but given the right circumstance, they are essential. Formed as a teardrop with a wire loop at the top, casting sinkers are often tied to the end of a drop shot setup. This allows for the lure to be suspended off the bottom at a predetermined depth by the fisherman. Unlike a Carolina rig, the weight is fixed since it is tied directly onto the end of the line.

Egg sinkers have a myriad of uses, but in terms of bass fishing, they are most commonly used on Carolina rigs. Though bullet sinkers can also be used here, egg sinkers are often more effective, cheaper, and more versatile. They are tied above the swivel and often separated by a bead to prevent metal-on-metal contact that degrades the life of the rig. Given their usefulness, every tackle box should have a handful of egg sinkers available for use.

Split shots are small bits of lead weight that are cut down the middle to allow fishing line to be placed in between them. They are then crushed onto the line making them a permanent fixture wherever they are placed. Split Shot is an excellent way to add weight in a way that only minimally impacts the action of the bait. By weighing the line down, baits that are normally not able to achieve certain depths are no longer limited by their light weight. They come in a wide variety of weights and sizes and an assortment should be in every tackle box.

Pliers, Gloves, and a Rag 🧤

Pliers are a bass fishing must have. Many times when you catch a fish, especially if you are using treble hooks, extracting the hook can be quite the challenge. Having a pair of pliers on hand to surgically remove your lure from the most inconvenient corners of a fish’s mouth can be extremely helpful.

While your pliers should be stored in an outer pocket for quick access, it is advisable to use the tackle box for long-term storage only. Your fishing pliers are of much better use out of the toolbox and within arms reach while you are fishing.

Gloves are a very useful item to have in your tackle box as they protect both you and the fish. They are also a barrier from being finned by the fish as well as preventing disease from being transmitted one way or the other.

Rubberized gloves are excellent for cleaning and handling fish as they prevent slips of the hand that can result in a fish going overboard before you get a picture taken. Have your fishing gloves stored in an outer pocket so that you can quickly access them.

Another must have item is a rag. Having a rag that is easy to get to can allow you to wipe off fish slime and water before handling the rest of your equipment. In any vessel, from a smaller kayak to a larger bass fishing boat, it is incredibly important to be neat, clean, and organized. Having a rag on the outside of your tacklebox allows you to prevent transferring excess water and fish slime from your hands to the rest of your equipment.

Snacks, Bug Spray, and Sun Screen ☀️

Having extra snacks in your tackle box is an advisable issue. However, if you find yourself using a kayak to fish a river, you will surely need them. Highly glycemic, but not sugary snacks help prevent your energy levels from bottoming out and allow you to continue fishing.

The key is to keep them in a pocket that will not get wet, but also not get in the way of the purpose of the tackle box. Which is, of course, to store tackle, not your lunch.

One of the most essential tips for bass fishing from a kayak—or fishing in general for that matter—is to have ample sunscreen. Fishing is an amazing experience even when it is less than productive. Yet having your skin blister and burn can quickly suck the fun right out landing a wall hanger bass. Having spare sunscreen stored in your tackle box prevents sunscreen from being forgotten on the kitchen counter because it is right there with the rest of your essentials.

Bug spray is not a requirement for a tackle box, but depending on the area you find yourself fishing in, it can be a must have. Bass inhabit areas that are conducive to fostering a robust bug population. Flies of varying sorts are the basis of the food chain that bass live atop.

While finding an area with a healthy population of bugs is crucial to finding big bass, you want the bugs to stay on the stumps and lily pads and off of you. One of the key items required to keep the bugs where they belong is bug spray. Having an extra bottle in your tackle box is a favor to your future self.

Fishing License and Boating Registration 📜

Buying a fishing license and having it on you is a crucial piece of kit for every fisherman. While not only is it required by the authorities, it also contributes to a system of conservation that helps ensure that the fish population will be healthy for years to come. By placing your fishing license in your tackle box, you can rest assured that you have your fishing license every time you go out.

Depending on your boat, you may have a requirement to display and have your registration on hand. Kayak’s are largely free from this requirement, but if you have attached motors of any kind, you may be required to register them as well.

Having your important documents like your registration and fishing license double sandwich bagged is crucial to having a relaxing time on the water. Next time you see the game warden’s boat heading your way you won’t have to worry, all your papers will be in order in your tackle box.

First Aid Equipment 🩹

Having first aid equipment readily available is crucial to having a professional tackle box setup.

Tourniquets should be easily had on the outside. In the event that you need it, you will only have seconds to get it applied. All other first aid equipment can be stored in a part of your tackle box that sees very little use as you are likely not to need it.

In your first aid bag try to focus on medicine more than trauma equipment. Far more common are upset stomachs and migraines than lacerated arteries.

A first aid kit will see far more use as a medicine cabinet rather than an EMT’s bag. That is not to say that you shouldn’t have trauma-focused accouterments, but just that your first aid kit shouldn’t be overwhelmingly focused on it.

Tips to Stay Organized 🗂

One of the best approaches to having a properly organized tackle box is to start with the outside and work inward. On the outside of your tackle box should be things that don’t change with the species or the season.

Rags, sunscreen, first aid kit, extra line, pliers, and the like should be permanent residents in the outer parts of your tackle box. This will build the shell that you operate out of. If you are using multiple tackle boxes then it may be advisable to have this as a set pattern in all your boxes.

The next step is to utilize a tray system that can be customized depending on your needs at the time. Have some trays that are utilitarian in nature and don’t change. This is where you store hooks, sinkers, swivels, and beads. This provides a baseline of usefulness for what is in your tackle box so that you are never without the essentials when you are on the water.

Additional trays should be season-focused on species that you are pursuing at the time. Fishing for summer bass? Have summer bass trays. Fishing for bream or catfish? Have trays that are tailored to those species.

Store lures in the smallest amount of packaging possible. It is a bad habit to simply place lures that are still in their store packaging right into your tackle box. All this accomplishes is wasted space in your tackle box and extra trash on the water where there is no trash can.

The only type of lure this doesn’t apply to is soft plastics as their packaging prevents them from drying out. However, there are some that can be stored directly in your tackle box trays and they should be given preference when purchasing lures.

Take the time of year into account when arranging the trays in your tackle box. Various seasons, such as the time of year when bass spawn should be a consideration, as this will affect the depth and type of cover you will find yourself fishing.

You are limited on space in any sort of waterborne vessel and especially so on a kayak. Therefore, having the exact tackle you will need and no extra is crucial to maximizing what space you do have.

Wrapping Up: Tackle Box Organization 💡

In conclusion, your tackle box should have everything you need, but nothing extra. It should be well organized, clean, neat, and highly functional. Prioritize the things you will need in a split second or in an inconvenient minute to be kept on the outside.

Keep the things that are modular and can be swapped out as the seasons progress in a tray system on the inside. Think through each placement and every action concerning your toolbox. If a craftsman is only as good as his tools, then a fisherman is only as good as his tackle box. Bear that in mind the next time you place it in your boat.

It could be the difference between landing a lunker or going home empty-handed. 🎣

What Should Be In My Bass Tackle Box: FAQs

What should be in a tackle box for bass?

Bass jigs should be a staple in a tackle box for bass. Depending on the time of year consider a robust amount of crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and an assortment of topwater baits. Lures are tools and you don’t want to be out without the one that the fish want.

How should a tackle box be set up for bass?

A tackle box should be set up with soft plastics as well as crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwater with ease. Throughout the day, bass will shift in their preferences of what type of lure they are willing to react to. Having a system in place that allows for quick changes will help maximize your fishing time.

How do you organize bass fishing tackle?

You organize bass fishing tackle by taking several things into account. Seasons of the year should be one of them. Winter bass fishing will differ wildly from fishing the spawn. Water color, temperature, and your own abilities and preferences should be other factors taken into account. After you have your priorities in line then create a tray system with labels indicating what is in them. Use this modular system to keep your tackle box organized throughout the year.

What are the benefits of a tackle box backpack?

The benefits of a tackle box backpack are best seen when managing fishing equipment in a small vessel such as a kayak. Being able to carry multiple things at one time across portages or while you are launching your kayak is extremely useful when fishing alone. Additionally, its small footprint allows for less space to be taken up in a small vessel. Consider a backpack tackle box if you are an avid kayak fisherman.

About the author: Brandon Sanders, who goes by BBSanders, is a freelance outdoors writer that enjoys hunting and fishing across the world. He is a combat veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other smaller deployments. He lives in East Texas in a small cabin with his wife and two dogs. You can learn more about him on his own website, here.