Look down in your rod box and chances are you see . . . a mess.
Not only that, but the fishing rod you really need, RIGHT NOW, is the one on the bottom of the mess! How to avoid this headache? Here are a few tips, gleaned from years of tangles:
1. First, use a good rod sleeve such as the Bass Pro Shops XTS Rod Sock to keep your line under wraps. These sleeves not only reduce tangles, they also protect rod guides and tips as you slide a stick in and out of the box. Use a different color wrap for each application — maybe red for your deep crankers, yellow for swimbait rods, blue for topwaters and so on — this makes it much easier to know which rod you're getting a hold of.
2. Make use of lure guards such as the Bass Pro Shops Lure Wraps to keep treble hook lures from tangling with everything in your box. These 440-denier nylon wraps close around both the rod shaft and the lure with hook-and-loop strips — very handy, very neat. They come in three sizes to fit everything from a small lipless crankbait up to a big swimbait. (They also help keep the smell of scented lures from permeating your rod box!)
3. With single-hook rigs, just hang the hook on the rod keeper. If there's no keeper, slip the hook point into the crevice between the reel seat and the locking cap, then tighten up the line — it will stay put, tangle-free.
4. If your boat does not have built-in rod organizers, it's worth the investment to get an aftermarket organizer like those from T-H Marine and others. These can be installed in most bass boat rod boxes simply by using a couple of stainless steel screws.
5. When you put your rods in the box, it's a good idea to put spinning rigs on the bottom — because of the reel shape, spinning rigs are more prone to tangling than baitcasters, so putting them on the bottom avoids potential hassles. (Unless you're going to spend the day finesse fishing, of course, in which case you may want the spinners on top.)
6. Make it a habit to put all baitcaster into the box "right-side up." They're less prone to tangling if all the reel handles are pointed one way.
7. Carolina-type rigs with long leaders cause more hassle than they're worth inside the rod box. So it’s best to detach them and store in separate zip-closing plastic bags before you stow the rod in the box.
Last but not least, at the end of every day on the water, take a few minutes to go through the rod box and reorganize — you'll be glad you did next time you head to the water.