It's In the Box

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Published on: May. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

use hammered copper in low light and clear water, hammered nickel or pure white in bright light and clear water, and the fluorescent colors in murky water," he says.

Carry extra skirts and trailer hooks.

Spoons are a minor category, but Winkelman uses them in heavy cover, especially weedless ones. He advises a wide crankbait color selection. "Have a couple of crawfish colors. I'd want baits in various styles that reach different depths with different actions. Have a few short, fat plugs, some that are longer and skinnier and some even longer and slimmer. Carry minnow lures with both deep and shallow-running lips."

Winkelman uses marking pens, usually orange and yellow, to doctor the colors of crankbaits. His topwater lures include floating crankbaits, plus larger and noisier lures, such as chuggers. Jigs include a rubber weedless type for jig-and-pig fishing (a jig with a pork trailer). He uses a grub-type jig, tipped with a leech or piece of night crawler for fishing on a cold-front day.

His live rubber jigs are from 1/4- to 3/8-ounce in black, purple and brown. The grubs are chartreuse, orange/brown, orange/chartreuse, blue/white and black in 1/8- and 3/8-ounce sizes.

"And I'd have rigs for night crawlers and leeches, plus spinner-type rigs and weedless hooks for frogs, along with a selection of sinker sizes and types," he says.

His accessories include a tool kit with hook file, pliers, clippers, a no-scent soap, possibly fish attractant, a small flashlight (with batteries stored in a plastic bag) polarized sunglasses, a scale and a small camera. "I'd take extra line, about two dozen extra rods and reels and about four more tackle boxes, but I guess I'm a bit of a fanatic," he says.

Herb Allen thinks small. Allen is in the Fishing Hall of Fame and writes for several fishing magazines. He believes in going light. "When I'm on the road, I keep a big tackle box in the van and work out of it the same way I work out of a chest of drawers and storage shelves at home.

"Too often anglers carry everything but the kitchen sink on a one-day outing. Anything that doesn't fit in my tiny box just doesn't go and never is missed.

"The box probably includes three surface plugs, three diving plugs and a small selection of 1/4-, 3/8-, 5/8- and 1-ounce jig heads, plus plastic grub tails in a variety of colors (or plastic worms for bass). With these basics, I've found that I can catch just about anything that swims."

Finally, Jerry McKinnis, veteran of nearly 30 years as a television angler, also is an advocate of going light. "My tackle box would be smaller than most," he says. "I'm not into loads of baits. I think every angler should concentrate on basic lures and a minimum of proven colors. I would have six- or seven-inch plastic worms in blue, black and red with hooks and weights for a slip-sinker rig."

McKinnis would add about eight different crankbaits, six spinnerbaits (mostly white), three topwater lures, jigs and pork rinds and two minnow-type lures.

"Throw in a small pliers and screwdriver, a pocketknife and a spare spool of monofilament," he says.

There are the opinions of some of the country's best anglers on tackle boxes and what to put in them. There are differences, but the lure types are remarkably constant.

And, considering that each of these anglers has caught more fish than any dozen average anglers, it's wise to resist the hype of fishing product advertising and listen instead to their voices of experience.

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