Wednesday, 23 March 2011

What makes a good saltwater lure bag?

How difficult can it be to design an effective lure bag for the saltwater lure fisherman?  Let's pause before we begin this review and try and list some requirements for all such bags or boxes.  Given the facts that there isn't a saltwater proof treble hook in existence and all hooks will rust if left covered in salt water, you have to be able to rinse your lures after a fishing session.  Therefore any lure bag must:
  1. provide an easy way to rinse salt off lures;
  2. allow lures to dry effectively.
That's the minimum.  After that, you can start choosing size, weight, number and shape of compartments, portability, etc.. After all, your own requirements are likely to be specific to you and the type and place you fish.

Now you might think with such minimalist requirements, this problem of rinsing and drying lures easily would have been cracked a long time ago.  The fact that it hasn't indicates that a solution may be more difficult than first appears.  Most manufacturers solution is to simply drill holes at the base of the box or bag to let water flow out.  Except what generally happens is that you get a sodden wet bag or box that doesn't really dry, and quite often, small areas of salt remain stubbornly present in corners and crannies.  If you leave salt present anywhere, it draws moisture to it.  So what is apparently dry can mysteriously become damp over time.  This lets the salt go to work rotting whatever it is in contact with.  That means you open your bag and discover to your horror that your lure hooks are covered in rust.  And you thought you had rinsed and dried them!

I've tried several lure boxes and not cracked this problem yet.  My best solution to date had been the Shimano Lure Bag:
The great thing about this bag is that it is small and portable.  It contains what would be enough lure storage for most people for a day's fishing (12 lures), with a maximum length (at a push) for lures around 150mm.  So no Tide Minnow SLD 175s please.  There's also a handy little zip pouch for snaps links and spools of fluorocarbon.

Now when I first realised the tubes could be taken out, and they had a hole in the bottom of them, I thought great, I just take them out and rinse!  Unfortunately the hole in the bottom of the tubes seems to be a magnet for trebles, causing lures to get hooked in the tube, and forcing you to lift the entire tube out of the bag sometimes to get the lure free.  That can be a major pain when the fish are going nuts and you are drifting over them at speed.  Secondly, I have rinsed these tubes under the water many times.  Yes water drains out of them.  No, the water doesn't dry in the tubes in time to prevent rust forming on your trebles.  Time to get a pair of split ring pliers...

So when I saw the Sakura Lure Washer Bag on Bass Lures I was delighted.  A bag specifically designed for rinsing lures after fishing!  Let's have a look:
The bag is big, meant for boat anglers rather than the roving shore angler.  It is very basic.  Just one small mesh zip pouch on the top for your bits:
Inside it is just as basic.  20 clear plastic tubes let you hang your lures vertically, with enough room to hang smaller lures of the same type two to a tube, so in theory you can put a lot of lures in the bag. 
The tubes are very long, almost double the standard 110mm lure length for bass.  So this is a bag that could accommodate the longest Tide Minnows or Max Rap 17s without a problem.  The tubes can be lifted out of the bag as a unit.  However they appear to have been only lightly glued (one of the central tubes on my bag had already separated from its neighbours before ever seeing the sea!) and sellotaped together (yes, you did read that right, sellotape.  You can see it in the second photo below).  No idea how they'll hold together after repeated washing, but for the moment they seem reasonably robust:
The lures you can see above include the longest lure in my collection, the Daiwa Saltiga Minnow 140mm (it's the one that's had the orange belly paint sanded off it!).  You can see there's plenty more length to go.  The smaller sub 100mm minnows, around 70-90mm, seem to waste a lot of space, but bear in mind you can hang more than one to a tube.
One of the things I like about the Shimano bag was that I could drop it down a rock face, get capsized, kick it along the road and the lures are still in their tubes.  This is because they aren't designed to hang.  Hanging lures require gravity to stay where they are, so the first thing I wanted to try out was to see what happened if I dropped the bag:
Oh oh, where'd my Ima Susuke 120s go?  No way my fingers or my pliers will fit down those 25cm long tubes!  And now there's no way to get to them but to lift the whole caboodle out.  Not something you'd want to try while bobbing about in a kayak, so I'd try and remember to check that no lures have slipped down their tubes before you leave the shore.

But how does it perform when you want to rinse your lures?  Well, pretty good.  There's a lot more space for air to get down the tubes, and if you can put the tubes on a wire rack, then they do seem to dry much better than the Shimano Lure Bag ever did. 

So, do I recommend it?  Well, it's a mixed bag, if you'll pardon the pun! Some good features:
  • the ability to rinse and dry the lures easily, but I hope that sellotape isn't meant to do the job of holding the tubes together;
  • the longest lures can be stored without a problem.
Some minus points:
  • very little storage for accessories you need when lure fishing;
  • no options for soft lure storage;
  • if lures drop down the tubes they are difficult to retrieve.
It will replace the Shimano Lure Bag on my kayak just because it's bigger and has a better option to rinse the lures.  If you want similar vertical lure storage with more side pouches, I'd recommend taking a look the Prologic Savage Gear Lure Hanger Bag, although it is double the price of the Sakura and I can't say how well it lets you rinse your lures.

As always, I'll post an update on how the bag holds up at the end of the season.  But I suspect that the ultimate, saltwater lure washer bag or box is still out there waiting to be designed...

Update:


Bad news I'm afraid at the end of season update for this piece of kit.  Two of the zips have corroded inside their plastic sheath and broken off, and all three zips periodically corrode and jam shut, even if rinsed in fresh water.  This lure bag is just not fit for saltwater use.

The netting on top of the bag is ripped and untrustworthy.  The plugs don't really dry that well in the tubes either.  All in all, I'd have to give a thumbs down to this bag.

Looks like I'm still on the hunt for a decent kayak lure box, either that or I'll have to make one myself...  ;-)

6 comments:

  1. Hi you should check out the Plugbelt @bassgodeeper..:)

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  2. Thanks for the plug! Nice for if you're wading, but looks uncomfortable for kayak anglers.

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