Who knows which is best? Hard vs. soft tackle boxes has been an ongoing debate for years.
It’s a subject that anglers have been arguing over for ages: are hard plastic tackle boxes the best way to go, or can you get more for your money from using soft tackle bags?
Honestly, both types of tackle storage have their benefits, and which you will like more depends entirely on what kind of angler you are. If you need help choosing between hard and soft, we’ve compiled five reasons to battle for either side of the argument.
View the slideshow to see the positive reasons for each, and share any comments you may have below.
1. Hard Cases have years of proven performance
As far as longevity is concerned, soft tackle bags simply can’t hold a candle to hard cases. Anglers have been using hard, tough tackle boxes for generations now, whether in metal or hard plastic designs.
In comparison, soft tackle bags are a relatively new innovation in the fishing world, and while some would argue that innovation means improvement, there’s certainly something to be said for the tackle box style that anglers have been using (and finding success with) for countless years now. If you’ve been fishing since you were a kid, you probably have nostalgic allegiance to hard cases.
Take a hint from the Plano 1150 Tackle Box, and you’ll realize that the clear plastic lid and multiple storage compartments are ideal.
2. Hard Cases are extremely durable
In addition to sheer timeline longevity, most anglers will tell you that hard cases are also simply more durable than their soft-sided counterparts. We’ve all heard exaggerated stories of hard tackle boxes being jostled in the back of pick-up trucks or subject to other forms of abuse, and the lesson in such stories is that these boxes always come out on the other end no worse for wear.
Over time, manufacturers have been able to improve the technology of hard plastic tackle boxes, reinforcing the plastic with resin to ensure maximum durability and tackle protection. A good hard tackle box should be able to last a lifetime, and for some anglers, that’s the end of the argument.
If you’re in the market for a new hard case, try the Plano Magnum HipRoof Tray Tackle Box and you’ll be glad you did. It boasts 20% more bulk storage space for things like pliers, snips and other tools.
3. Hard Cases have worm proof trays that protect lures
It’s common knowledge – even outside of the fishing world – that hard plastic tackle boxes have fold out trays providing a range of different compartments for different lures, baits, and other tackle essentials.
Less known is the existence of “worm proof” trays, a technology standard on most tackle boxes that helps your lures and baits retain their crispness and good condition. Without worm proof trays, plastic baits would become sticky and begin to melt or fuse together.
With the Flambeau Multi-Loader T4 Pro Tackle Box you’ll have room for everything you need, and not have to worry about your plastic baits meeting their demise.
4. Hard cases have a waterproof design
One of the big benefits of buying hard plastic boxes instead of soft tackle bags is that they are better, almost across the board, for keeping your tackle and tools dry.
The sturdy plastic of these tackle boxes, combined with strong and heavy-duty latches and hinges, does a lot of work to keep moisture away from your tackle. While most soft tackle bags are designed with durable materials that work to keep tackle dry, you’ll still have to dry them out if they fall in the ocean, sit in the rain, or end up in a puddle of water on your boat floor. Hard tackle boxes, simply by being made of durable plastic, won’t give you as many worries in water.
If you were to try something like the Flambeau 2059 7-Tray Hip Roof Box with ZeRust, you’d see right away that the corrosion protecting-elements of tackle boxes are worth while.
5. Top-loading compartments in hard cases provide additional storage
For a long time, hard tackle boxes were all about the trays and paid little attention to additional storage. Most anglers would still tell you that soft tackle bags are still superior when it comes to extra room, but that’s not for a lack of effort from plastic tackle box manufacturers.
On the contrary, most modern cases come with top-loading sections, allowing you to store and carry items that you would never be able to fit into small tray compartments – including tools, reels, spools of fishing line, etc. These top-loading compartments have added huge convenience to plastic tackle boxes, saving time and frustration by giving anglers instant access to certain components of their arsenal.
With the Plano® 1350 Magnum Satchel Tackle Storage you’ll get maximum storage versatility with great organization ability.
1. Soft cases use a lightweight design
As you can tell from the previous points, hard tackle boxes cover almost all of the bases when it comes to fishing storage. Their one big drawback, however, is in the area where soft tackle bags really excel, and that’s weight.
Hard plastic tackle boxes are already pretty heavy at purchase, and only grow more so once you jam more baits, lures, tools, and other tackle into their compartments. Soft tackle bags replace the hard plastic shell with a softer fabric exterior more like what you’d find on a backpack or duffel bag.
Needless to say, they weigh significantly less than hard plastic tackle boxes – a fact you’ll notice if and when you have to lug your tackle box around for an entire day.
Cabela’s Pro Guide Tackle Bags take the lightweight feature and run with it, and are built for season after season of toughness.
2. Soft cases are flexible and easy to store
The fabric design of soft tackle boxes does more than simply cut down on weight. Another benefit of the soft tackle box design is that they are inherently more flexible than their hard plastic counterparts.
This means a few different things: first of all, if you find yourself needing to cram a few extra things in your tackle box, a soft bag will afford you more wiggle room than a hard plastic box; secondly, if you have multiple tackle boxes and need to put a few into storage, the flexibility of a soft bag – once you remove the trays inside it, of course – will afford you a bit of extra space. The rigidity of hard tackle boxes makes them cumbersome and unwieldy when storage time comes.
The Bass Pro Shops XPS Stalker Backpack Tackle Bag has all kinds of bells and whistles, and will make things easier on you with its backpack-style straps. Storage for the XPS Stalker is a breeze, anywhere you can put a backpack, you can but this tackle bag.
3. Soft cases have extra storage pockets
Speaking of storage, tackle bags simply have a bit more of it than hard tackle boxes. The extra room is provided by the wealth of exterior pockets and compartments available on soft tackle bags. Whether you need to fit additional tools and reels, or just require a place to carry a water bottle or to pack an extra pair of socks, the exterior pockets on soft tackle bags provide extra storage real estate that you won’t find on hard tackle boxes.
If extra storage pockets are what you’re after, consider the XPS Stalker Tackle Bag, the shoulder strap version of the XPS Stalker backpack.
4. Soft cases have convenient switch-out options
Instead of using trays that are affixed to the tackle box as drawers or fold-out compartments, soft tackle bags simply utilize tackle utility boxes, which can easily be removed, switched out, or mixed and matched so that you are only carrying the tackle you really need on any given fishing trip.
The number of utility boxes you will be able to fit in your tackle bag will depend on the size, but the convenience here is that you can have a dozen different utility boxes in your collection and can switch them out of your tackle bag throughout the year as different fishing seasons come and go.
The Wild River Recon Lighted Pack even has a convenient LED lighting system, for when the fishing trips keep you out until after dusk.
5. Soft cases are easy and comfortable to carry
No more lugging around your tackle box with a stiff plastic handle. Tackle bags improve the mobility of your fishing gear by providing a padded shoulder strap for maximum comfort, or even a backpack style to evenly distribute weight across both shoulders.
This may sound like a small benefit, but you’ll be happy to have it when you are lugging all of your fishing gear from your boat to your car.
If you’re looking for a good soft tackle box, the SHIMANO Bristol Bay Waterproof Tackle Bags is one of the easiest to lug around, and will carry everything you need with a nondescript style.