LAID FLAT, worm boxes are fine, but...

Hey, some of you have heard this rant before, but the people who design tackle systems need to go back to school. Way back to school.

Remember as a kid in the first grade when the teacher had you stack the blocks to see how the shapes relate? Remember how the classroom had sets of blocks that would fit inside each other so they wouldn’t take up so much space in the toy closet?

We remember.  How come Plano or Flambeau or whomever else on the planet could be so hazy on this spacial concept?

Take the the standard “big utility box” (3700 in the parlance)–the one that is roughly 14 by 9 by 2 inches–and see what they try to sell you. Whether in a box or a bag, everybody does the same thing. They stack four horizontal boxes on top of each other and call it a system.

Follow me here.

I take out a tape measure and I see I can put seven of the same sized utility boxes in the same floor space as fourYeah. All I need to do is stack seven boxes on end, and they still only occupy an area only 9 inches wide by 14 inches long!

But the companies won’t tailor a soft box. That’s because, rather than sell each bass fisherman in the Western U.S. three more boxes and give us what we need, they stubbornly stick to selling the same old lengthwise tray layout that they have for decades. You know, the layout that won’t let you end stack three (or 30) boxes for soft baits.

THIS IS what we get now and we shouldn't have to...

When I see this, I wonder, doesn’t anybody else in America fish plastic worms? A 9-inch box on end would let us stow up to seven, 2-inch wide trays of full 8- or 9-inch worms, not eight trays of only 6 or 7 inch worms as currently available. By the same token, where we want finesse baits, splitting the 9-inch “on end” trays would give us 14 4 1/4 inch trays–not 12.

Rather than give us a tray product that truly is new to the fishing industry–not some spin-off on a TV dinner package–they refuse every appeal.  Yes, I know it doesn’t matter with hard baits.

But what ticks me off even more is now I have Nitro Z7 with built in utility box racks–and you know what? They’re designed to hold these boxes on end.  I can’t even carry plastic worm boxes in my own boat!

It’s baffling to me because this on-end stowage concept is absolutely elementary. Oh yeah– that’s when I first heard about it.


10 Responses to “Utility box makers missed ‘elementary’ school”

Welcome to my world. The best I can manage is to get the thinner boxes with five rows. I think they are the 3701.

by Jojo Norwood.

…must be a Western thing. I keep worms in the bag they come in. Now I know why Robo Worms don’t have a better bag. Y’all take them out. I got a gallon Zip-Lock bag w/ my Robos in it, I’m carefull to “roll-up” the itty bitty bags and stack them in the gallon one so they don’t dump out or get crooked. Them Gallon bags go in a compartment in the boat. Each bag has a different type of bait. Seems somebody could make a box like y’all need. Good Luck

by George Kramer

It IS a western thing, Jojo. And if you were a manufacturer who could stimulate the market and sell a trainload of new product, wouldn’t that be good for everybody? Yikes! 🙂

Rip out the utility box racks and put your worms in soft sided binders with zip bag pages.

by George Kramer

Got to disagree with you on that one, Rich. Soft bags are inefficient (a nylon zipper outside AND a Ziploc inside) and unless stowed flat each time they are subject to the contents (plastic worms) sliding to one end and curling up, just like the utility box shown. I’ve never fished with a tour pro who uses the binders for worms–they’re a time-waster.

I think the pros use the boxes so that they can carry a big stack into the motel room for security. Sponsor product limitations to their arsenal would be a contributing factor to limiting the need for enhanced storage capacity. Soft bags will conform to irregular compartment configurations, this expands capacity. Some designs are better engineered than others. I prefer the box cornered bags over the flap type. I like the Plano boxes for hard baits. Efficiency might require some handling adaptation. I bought into the concept of “Powerhand Fishing” and bought Left handed bait casters, but in actual field experience I was not losing any time with Right handed bait casters.

This whole issue of tackle organization is a hot one with me. I just wrote an article for the “Bass Angler Magazine” title: “Junk in the Trunk?” The focus that George introduces is a good one… I simply stack my worms tight to capacity in the trays and that way they do not have room to move around. 3700 boxes are the most popular and offer easy transport and protection – perhaps the geometry is a bit off with worm sizes – so I am forced to find something smaller to stow away on the side compartment or again pack them and spread the worms out so that they do not move around and become all bent out of shape. When the worms are packed tight you can stow them away any way and the worms will maintain integrity… Love the worms in the pics. George – nice variety!

Do you keep your stinky worms (Bonzi, Berkley, etc.) sealed in bags?

Not normally. Only if they are particularly slippery like some batches of Bonzai worms I’ll put them in a sandwich bag that fits the box tray.


I understand and appreciate your recent criticisms about utility boxes. Your points are well taken.

Several years ago several of us Midwest finesse anglers stopped using utility boxes to store our soft-plastic baits.

Nowadays, we keep our soft-plastic lures in their original packages and store them in Rubbermaid or similar containers. In our eyes, the standard utility box proved to be an inefficient device.

Our tackle repertoire is relatively small. It consists of the following baits:

(1) Gene Larew’s 3” Baby Hoodaddy and 3.5” Long John Minnow;

(2) YUM’s 3” Dingers, 4” Muy Grubs, and 2” Wooly Beavertails;

(3) Strike King’s 5” Zero (which we cut in half) and 4” Finesse Worm;

(4) Z-Man’s 6” ZinkerZ (which we cut in half), 3” Rain MinnowZ, 4” Finesse Worm and 4” ShadZworm (which is a prototype and not on the market).

Except for a jerkbait when the water is ice cold, these are the only baits that we use for the entire calendar year, and this winter we are hoping to replace the jerkbait with the ShadZworm affixed to a 1/32-ounce Gopher Mushroom Jig Head.

The Z-Man and Strike King baits are made out of ElaZtech, and they can’t be mixed with other soft-plastics. Therefore, we found that it is best to keep them in the Strike King and Z-Man baits separated from the Larew and YUM baits by reusing the original packages of each bait manufacturer and storing them in a Rubbermaid container for each bait.

We also spray Gulp nightcrawler scent into each package, and then reseal the package. When a utility box is tipped on its side, the scent often leaks out of the box, creating a mess. Besides being leak proof, the Rubbermaid containers are waterproof.

What’s more, the Rubbemaid containers are easy to store in our small boats.

Across the years, we have noticed that our ElaZtech worms, Zeros and ZinkerZs are a touch more alluring to the bass when they have become twisted and kinked in storage. And we have found that these twists and kinks are easier for us to create when we store them in the original packages and in a Rubbermaid container.

Thanks for your many insights.

As ever,