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Best Tackle Boxes

Updated April 2018
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 16 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 121 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Shopping Guide for Best Tackle Boxes

    Last Updated April 2018

    Ah, the joys of a day spent fishing. At peace and away from the usual cares of daily life, the soothing play of sunlight on the water, the age-old struggle of man – or woman – against nature, and the added bonus of the potential for going home with a delicious dinner... It’s no wonder fishing has always been a favorite pastime for ages.

    But whether your day near the water’s edge ends with a brace of tasty trout or your time is spent in coming up with a whopper of a tale about the one that got away, one thing is the same: fishing requires tackle, which is much easier to transport in a box specifically designed to keep it organized.

    Choosing the right tackle box, however, sometimes seems more difficult than reeling in a struggling marlin. There are so many choices, and it’s hard to know what you really need and what’s money better spent elsewhere.

    Most avid anglers would agree with the saying, “The worst day fishing is better than the best day at the office.” A well-stocked, neatly organized tackle box makes that day even better.

    That’s why we’re here. At BestReviews, we do the hard work so you don’t have to!

    We take the knowledge we gain from tests, expert interviews, and consumer research and turn it into helpful, accurate, unbiased product recommendations and buying guides to help you make the right decision.

    So if you just want to get to fishing, go ahead and check out our five recommendations in the matrix above.

    If you’d like to learn more about tackle boxes in general, including choosing, using, and filling them, then read on.


    Every state has its own rules and regulations for legal fishing. Before heading to your favorite public fishing spot, be sure you have your state’s required fishing license.

    What is tackle?

    Fishing tackle is the general term for all of the equipment used to fish. Your rod, reel, and line are the most basic, of course, but there is a huge variety of tackle beyond those three essentials.

    All of the equipment that attaches to the end of your fishing line falls under the umbrella term of “terminal tackle”. Generally, it’s terminal tackle that’s stored in a tackle box.

    Different types of fishing call for slightly different types of terminal tackle, but the basics include:

    • Hooks

    These come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and configurations.

    • Artificial bait and lures

    They are to fool fish into biting the hook. Depending on the type of fishing you do, these might resemble small fish, colorful flying insects, or worms.

    • Fishing line or cord

    You’ll probably have several different types.

    • Sinkers

    These are weights that pull lures down deep under the water.

    • Bobbers

    These float, or bob, on top of the water until a fish bites, pulling them under. Bobbers let you know a fish is on the line.

    • Swivels

    They let your lure move freely without tangling the line.

    • Floats

    These keep your bait on top of the water, which attracts certain fish that feed from the surface.

    • Spinners

    These are a type of bait that creates a flash or sound to attract fish.

    • Soft bait

    They are usually in the form of rubbery plastic worms or similar fish-appealing items.

    • Needle-nose pliers

    These come in handy to remove hooks from freshly caught fish.


    If you plan to spend time trying to catch “the big one,” you will need the proper fishing gear designed for your type of fishing. Saltwater and freshwater fishing have different styles of tackle, and the type of fish you are hoping to catch can also make a difference in equipment.

    Staff  | BestReviews

    Hard or soft tackle box?

    There are two basic types of tackle boxes: hard plastic or soft nylon. Both have strong and weak qualities. Regardless of which type you prefer, all tackle boxes serve the same basic purpose: holding and organizing your many small, sometimes sharp, pieces of tackle.

    Hard tackle boxes

    At one time, metal was the most common material, but these days, plastic is preferred. These are the classic boxes you probably picture when you think of a fisherman heading down to his favorite spot on the pier. Most resemble a toolbox, and have a handle on top along with a couple of clips to keep the box shut and locked when not in use.

    Benefits of hard tackle boxes include:

    • They have lots of compartments for your gear. As you’ll probably accumulate more and more over the years, you’ll appreciate plenty of compartments to hold it all.

    • Most have fold-out trays that make it easy to quickly find what you’re looking for.

    • Worm-proof trays, which keep plastic lures and baits from melting together or getting sticky, are fairly standard.

    • Hard plastic tackle boxes are very durable and usually waterproof. An accidental dunk into the water won’t be the end of your fishing trip.

    • Many have clear lids or fronts so it’s easy to see what’s inside. This saves you time when you need to quickly grab a lure.

    • There are often large compartments on the top of the box for holding bigger items such as reels, spools, and tools.

    Downsides of hard tackle boxes include:

    • They can be heavy and bulky.

    • They take up more room in storage.

    Soft tackle boxes

    Soft tackle boxes or bags are typically made of nylon. They come in a few different configurations, including backpacks, smaller “lunchbox” looking models, and more traditionally styled bags with multiple outer pockets and handles.

    Benefits of soft tackle boxes include:

    • They weigh less than hard boxes.

    • Since they aren’t rigid, they are generally easier to store in a tight closet, camper, or tent.

    • Backpack tackle boxes make it easy to carry your fishing gear on a camping trip or hike.

    • Most have multiple exterior pockets for organizing gear.

    • Many soft tackle boxes hold removable plastic utility boxes, instead of having the fixed trays found in hard tackle boxes. This means you can choose to bring only the utility boxes holding the gear you plan on using for that particular fishing trip, rather than having to lug all of it along every time you fish.

    • Padded shoulder straps and handles are much easier on your hands and shoulders – a big plus if it’s a hike to reach your favorite fishing spot.

    Downsides of soft tackle boxes include:

    • They aren’t always waterproof, so if you accidentally drop your box overboard, your gear will be soaked.

    • While soft tackle boxes come in a wide range of colors, the fabric is opaque, so you can’t see what’s inside the box without opening up the pockets to take a look.

    If you’re just starting to fish, choose a tackle box with enough room to grow as you add to your tackle collection over the years.

    Tackle box features

    Once you’ve decided which you prefer – hard or soft tackle box – there are a few other features to look for.


    Your hard plastic box is going to be opened and closed frequently, so it needs sturdy hinges that won’t crack or break during a fishing trip.


    If you choose a soft box, look for one with heavy-duty zippers, durable fabric, and reinforced seams.


    A full tackle box is heavy, so choose a box with a handle that is comfortable to hold and easy on your hands.

    Care and cleaning

    Your tackle box is likely to get wet, salty, smeared with fish scales or guts, and generally grimy. Whether plastic or nylon, it should be easy to wipe the box clean.


    While you might not have a whole lot of tackle in the beginning, you’re likely to accumulate quite a bit over a lifetime of fishing, so choose a tackle box with room to grow. But stay within reason. A box that is too big will also be too heavy to carry easily, and will require excessive storage space.


    Choosing the right tackle for your targeted fish and location can be challenging, but with the right gear, you are far likelier to go home with bragging rights and an impressive catch.

    How much should you spend on a tackle box?

    Tackle boxes can cost as little as $20 and as much as $100 or more. As a general rule, soft tackle boxes are more expensive than hard plastic boxes, and the larger the box, or the more compartments it contains, the more it costs.


    In the $20 to $25 range, you’ll find small-size hard tackle boxes that are suited for those new to fishing or without much tackle.


    In the mid-price range of $30 to $50, you’ll find a wide selection of large plastic tackle boxes with multiple compartments, and small-to-medium sized backpack or nylon tackle bags. This is the sweet zone for most fishermen.


    Expect to pay $50 to $70 or more for large nylon tackle bags with many compartments or utility boxes.

    By providing organization and keeping your tackle in good condition, the right tackle box adds to the enjoyment of a day spent fishing.


    Q. Should I choose a tackle box that includes all the tackle, or buy it separately?

    A. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. While it is definitely easy and often economical to buy a fully loaded tackle box, you may find that you don’t use all of the equipment it includes, or that you need equipment it doesn’t include.

    Much will depend on the type of fishing you prefer. One good solution: choose a box that includes a small collection of the most basic terminal tackle, and then add on those pieces specific to your favorite type of fishing, whether that be fly, lake, ocean, or pier.

    Q. What are some other items I should include in my tackle box?

    A. Beyond the necessary fishing tackle, it’s a good idea to keep sunscreen, a small first aid kit, disinfectant wipes, a utility knife, and a small towel in your tackle box. Don’t forget to bring a change of shoes and socks, a sun hat, and an ice chest for holding your catch as well.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Amos
      Director of Photography
    • Branson
      Production Assistant
    • Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
    • Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Michelle