Let's face it; the longer we fish, the more gear we accumulate. When I was 10 years old, my modestly-sized tackle box worked great. I continued to upsize, finally arriving at a box so large I started eying the Jumbo Deluxe TackleMaster 4000 with four wheel drive (or whatever the 1966 version of that was). And, yet, it still wouldn't contain everything.
Designate one vest or chestpack for each style of fishing you do, and you'll be well on your way to efficient tackle organization.
There is a similar progression in our fly fishing vests. More pockets to hold more stuff, until we are staggering around under a dangerously massive load.
A friend of mine lost his footing and went down in a riffle. This sort of thing happens, and normally wouldn't be a big deal. Thing was, he couldn't get up.
After I fished him out, Jeff started laying out his gear to dry. Halfway through my second sandwich he's still pulling all kinds of stuff out of his magical bottomless vest, making comments like, "I haven't seen this in years...", or "I don't even remember what this thing does..."
I told you about Jeff because we all arrive at this juncture at some point. The military calls it "logistics." What do you really need for this day, or this week of fishing, and how do you get it there and still be able to find it?
The next time we fished, Jeff had a small chest pack equipped with only the items he needed for that river. This would be another extreme, but there is a nice median in there somewhere.
The key is to start grouping your stuff according to what you use and where you use it.
I have a modest chestpack that contains everything I'll need for bass or pike, and sunfish. This is, thankfully, a limited palate. My streamer fishing tackle is also a single pack; whether I'm chucking streamers from a drift boat in a river, or a float tube on a lake, that arsenal of sinking lines and heavy tippet is similar enough to be in a single pack.
My other trout systems are another matter, and continue to evolve. In so far as insects are seasonal, this can be managed with a few sub-packs you can toss into a medium-sized gear bag. The days are long gone when I would haul every line and extra spool and ALL my flies around at one time, "just in case."
These days I evaluate what's going on that particular day, and then make a decision to fish a particular way. The upside here is that I'm able to focus on one angle of attack.
I have a couple large roller bags for travel, several smaller bags that fit inside these "mother ships," three vests, and half a dozen small chest/shoulder/waist packs. No more all-night tackle searches. I get up in the morning, grab a couple of my small bags or a vest, and I'm gone.
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