What Should I Have In My Tackle Box: Essentials Guide

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Your tackle box needs to have the right things inside of it. You want to be well prepared for various situations that might arise while fishing. Therefore, here are the 10 most important things to have in your tackle box.

So what should I have in my tackle box? We would say these are the 10 essentials;

  1. Extra hooks.
  2. Bobbers & sinkers.
  3. Spare line.
  4. Lures & baits.
  5. Needle nose pliers (and don’t forget scissors too).
  6. A line cutter & knife.
  7. Hat, sunscreen, & water.
  8. Basic first aid kit.
  9. Whistle & mirror.
  10. Snacks.


10 Essentials To Have In Your Tackle Box

This can obviously vary depending on the type of fishing you are doing and whether you are freshwater or saltwater fishing but it’s a good general guide;

If you haven’t been fishing in a while or just getting started then it’s a good idea to go with someone else, you can share gear and get some help from them if needed.

1. Extra Hooks

Perhaps one of the most important things to have in your tackle box is a bunch of extra fishing hooks. Fishing hooks often go missing. Maybe a fish broke the line and swam off with the hook in its mouth, maybe the knot you tied wasn’t tight enough and let the hook go, or maybe the hook flew off the line mid-cast.

No matter which way you put it, having a couple dozen extra hooks with you is always a good idea. At the same time, you do also want to have a variety of hooks with you.

Simply put, you are not going to use the same hook to fish for a 20 pound fish as a 200 pound fish. Having smaller and larger hooks in your tackle box will ensure that you are ready no matter what fish you are going for.

2. Bobbers & Sinkers

One item, or actually two items that will always come in handy when fishing are bobbers and sinkers. Bobbers are useful because it is super easy to tell when you get a fish strike. Just watch the bobber, and if it disappears under the surface, you have hooked a fish.

Normal bobbers are fine if you are fishing near the surface or just under the surface, as they can just be clipped onto the line. Now, if you want to fish deeper waters, a sliding bobber is useful because you can choose where on the line to place it. Bobbers are known to detach or go missing, so having a few spares on hand is a good idea.

On that same note, or on the opposite note, depending on how you look at it, sinkers also come in very handy. Simple worms and hooks, and even some lures just are not heavy enough to sink on their own, or at least, they will not sink as fast and deep as you would like.

Having sinkers therefore comes in handy if you want a quick sinking hook and want to fish in fairly deep waters. Once again, these can go missing, so have a few extra sinkers in your tackle box is never a bad idea.

3. Fishing Line

Yes, you probably already have fishing line in your reel, but you never know when you will need more fishing line. Sometimes fish pull on the line so hard that it comes right off the spool. Sometimes line ends up being way too loose and twisty to continue using. Sometimes too much line can snap off and leave you with too little to continue fishing.

Whatever the case may be, you always want to have extra fishing line on hand. Moreover, if you plan on switching locations mid trip, or want to fish for a different species, having various types and line weights in your tackle box can indeed come in quite handy.

small fishing tackle box
Small tackle boxes coming in handy too, for things like hooks, scissors, weights and other smalls bits of tackle.

4. Lures, Plastics, & Bait

What you never want to go fishing without is an assortment of lures, plastic baits, and real baits. Now, the live baits are one thing, as it does depend on what you are fishing for. Generally speaking, hooks and worms work pretty darn well for most kinds of fish. However, you might not always want to deal with live bait, or keep buying new live baits.

In this case, you can always choose to go with some soft plastic baits that are designed to mimic worms and grubs. It is a good idea to bring a variety of plastic baits, in terms of size, color, and the type of bait animal they are meant to resemble.

The same can be said for lures too. Having a few different crank baits, spinners, spoons, and jigs always comes in handy. If one does not work well, you can always change it up and test the waters, so to speak.

5. Needle Nose Pliers

Another thing that will definitely come in handy when fishing is a pair of good old needle nose pliers. Needle nose pliers come in all kinds of sizes, but for fishing, smaller ones are best.

They are easy to use and highly portable, and should fit in any tackle box without issue. Needle nose pliers come in very handy for fishing because you will need them to remove a hook from a fish. You definitely do not want to use your fingers to remove a hook from a fish.

If you do use your fingers, you might end up having to use those very same needle nose pliers to remove the hook from your fingers. Yes, this does happen, and people do often get a hook stuck in their fingers, which is another place where needle nose pliers come in handy.

Furthermore, tying hooks to fishing line can be a bit cumbersome, especially with certain types of line. Needle nose pliers can help you get a good grip on the fishing line so you can tie tight knots, thus securing your hooks to the line very effectively.

6. A Line Cutter & Knife

Something you definitely want to have with you in your tackle box is a line cutter of sorts. Sometimes fishing line gets tangled up, knotted, wrapped around something, or whatever else.

The point here is that sometimes there is just no other option than to cut the fishing line. They do make special fishing line cutters, and while they do work, they tend to be fairly pricey for what they are.

Did you know that simple finger nail clippers can be used to cut line? They are cheap and they get the job done. If you want, you can also bring a knife, which is definitely something that will cut fishing line.

The bonus about having a knife with you, especially a knife made for fishing, is that if need be, you can then also use the knife to gut and cut fish. A knife has a whole lot of uses that will come in handy for fishing.

7. Hat, Sunscreen, & Water

No, this is not fishing tackle, but it is still essential to have with you. There is nothing more fun than fishing on a beautiful summer day. However, the sun is a strong thing and the rays it puts out can be very dangerous indeed.

Sunburns from a long day of fishing can be really bad, painful, and even send some people to the hospital. The same can be said for heat stroke and dehydration, both of which occur more frequently on fishing trips than we would like to think.

Bringing a hat to protect your head, water to stay hydrated, and sunscreen to protect exposed skin from the sun are all things you should have in your tackle box.

8. A First Aid Kit

Something that you should absolutely have in your fishing tackle box is a first aid kit. This is very important because accidents to happen while fishing. You never know when you are going to pierce yourself with a hook, cut yourself on a knife, or bang your head on the boat trying to reel in that big catch.

A first aid kit with some bandages, gauze, disinfectants, and other such basic first aid necessities is highly recommended. As long as it can cover fishing related injuries, you should be just fine.

9. Whistle & Mirror

Now, for some people this might be a bit of a stretch, or just a bit unnecessary, but a whistle and mirror are both good things to have in your tackle box. This really does only apply if you are out fishing on a boat. You never know when the engine of your boat is going to die.

Somebody might fall overboard, or you might have to signal for help for whatever reason. The point here is that a whistle and mirror will both allow you to signal for help when all else fails. Yes, a cellphone, satellite phone, and a flare gun all help too, but when all else fails, a whistle and mirror might just save a life.

10. Some Snacks

Once again, no, this is not tackle, but it certainly helps when fishing. If you plan on taking a long fishing trip, such as a full day, you definitely want to bring some snacks along.

No, not all people will put these in the tackle box, but if there is room to spare, a few granola bars, PB&J sandwiches, and some chips will keep you from trying to eat your catch right there on the spot!


There you have it folks. If you have all of these items in your tackle box, you should be more than adequately prepared to handle whatever comes your way!

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.