February 23, 2024

Hardcore Game Fishing

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The Art of Tackle Storage

tackle storage

A pantry has been converted to rod storage on the 68-foot Viking, Whirlwind.

By Dale Wills

Adequate rod and reel tackle storage on a modern sportfishing boat is generally not the highest priority. Naturally, most soon-to-be boat owners look at other attributes such as engines, number of staterooms, salon layout, bridge configuration and cockpit space when deciding if a boat is right for them. But once a boat is delivered and a captain and/or crew is hired then all kinds of stuff begins to get loaded and stowed, including the all-important tackle.

Josh McManus takes custom projects to a new level with his company, Woodencrab Woodworking

There’s also no denying it can be a puzzle to figure out where to put everything. Add to it that a simple quiver of modern tackle takes up much more room than it did ten years ago. A couple electric dredge reels can take up one third of the storage space under a couch. However, as a result, onboard custom rod and reel storage has evolved as a newer niche business. Have you heard of California Closets for homes?

tackle storage

A customized Wooden Crab Viking master stateroom with a felt lined locker holding Talica reels with unibutts.

In a similar capacity some incredibly talented tradesmen whose work borders between art and function are at the forefront of designing tackle storage for boats. As you can see from some of the images, the days of tackle piled all over a mattress in an empty stateroom are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Paul Bright of Ocean Mist Boat Repair explains, “I’ve had to shut down my Facebook page due to the overwhelming amount of response and questions with regard to my custom rod and reel storage projects. The demand is incredible right now, I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in.” Paul also continues to explain he is removing inline washers and dryers almost weekly and retrofitting the space for rod and reel storage. Fishing is a major part of boating and it seems builders are not the best at realizing how much rod and reel storage is really needed. The tackle is used almost every trip and finding space for it can be tricky.

tackle storage

The Viking master stateroom bunk, also customized to hold a large assortment of tackle. Photo: Woodencrab

As you can see from the images, it’s an art when maximizing space for tackle. Josh McManus, aka Wooden Crab, of Jupiter, Florida is another guru who has been designing and fabricating rod storage on boats for 20 years. McManus states, “I can confidently say my work has evolved to every type of fishing platform, from custom rigs such as Rybovich, Garlington and Spencers, to production boats including Viking and Hatteras. With the introduction of more luxury center consoles including HCB, Valhalla, and Freeman, the demand for efficient, innovative storage solutions for fishermen has never been more challenging.”

Paul Bright of Ocean Mist Boat Repairs adding custom rod storage on an 80-foot Viking

Although fishing platforms have increased in size, storage spaces have generally gotten smaller. “I have seen clients’ rod lengths increase. Larger cockpits require longer chair rods to clear transom corners. In many cases the traditional 78-inch length on stand-up rods has increased to 84 inches. Spinner and jigging rods have been a constant 84 inches of length, although more sportfishing teams have added fly rods to their arsenals. And their 10-foot length is problematic for already limited spaces available,” McManus says.

The engine room is used for additional rod storage. Braided line can hold up to the engine room heat.

McManus also recommends any stored items should be held static, with zero slop, regardless of location. Secure, simple to use and maximum space efficiency are always the goal. As you can see from the custom tackle storage configurations, getting creative with interior locations and access for tackle can be a challenge.

The next time you do a walkthrough on a potential new boat, keep in mind where your tackle storage options may be or consider hiring an expert who can figure it out for you. After all is said and done, we have a feeling you’ll enjoy the time spent fishing versus clean laundry if that happens to be the tradeoff.

tackle storage

The reel lockers on a new Duffie Boatworks. The pictured locker has 10 talica 25s and 10 bfc20s in Woodencrab twin cradles and Black King starboard components. Photo: Duffie_Billfisher

Storage Tips

• Try to stow large electric reels as close to the salon door as possible. Under the couch is preferred. They are big and cumbersome and can easily dent and scratch the interior when repeatedly moved in and out.

• Make the most of rod butts, which can be separated from the fishing rod. This will aid in storage space utilization.

• Rigid and secure storage without any movement is preferred. The environment a boat operates in can damage any loose tackle.

• Consider engine room storage as possible overflow for any reels with braid line. Unlike mono, the braid is heat resistant.

Another alternative for storage is utilizing the underside of the seat cushion for rod butts.


Paul Bright
Ocean Mist Boat Repair, Inc
Email: oceanmist61@gmail.com

Joshua McManus
Wooden Crab, Inc
Ph: 1-786-200-4502
Email: woodencrab@gmail.com

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