Tackle Box Showdown: Plano vs. Flambeau
By far, these two companies are the leaders in manufacturing tackle boxes. Their products can be found in most any store that sells a fishing hook. Both companies offer a massive array of different styles of tackle storage, with virtually every size, shape and configuration available. That said, there must be some differences, right?
Let’s start with the absolute basics. Both companies offer the majority of their smaller storage boxes in clear plastic, with some of the larger boxes having a few color options. Prices are similar, and most boxes are of comparable size for their category.
Both companies’ products have nice, durable latches. A good, strong latch is essential, because without one, rubber bands will be needed to keep the boxes closed after the latch breaks. The durability, based on thickness of the plastic, appears to be similar as well.
One thing that a Flambeau box offers that a Plano box does not is the anti-rust line of boxes known as the “Zerust” series. Zerust is a “patented polymer (that) emits a harmless vapor, forming a protective layer around metal surfaces.” This feature will protect lures or flies from condensation rust. While beneficial, this protective feature will not fully protect a sopping wet streamer placed back in the box, so caution to prevent rust is still required.
There are a few important things to consider when choosing a tackle storage system. First, how well do these systems optimize their internal space? The ideal box allows organization while carrying a large quantity of lures. A box with dividers spaced appropriately for the variety of lures that will be stored should be selected.
Plano’s Stowaway Utility Box products are a good example of boxes with great utilization of space. There are a plethora of different boxes in this line with many different configurations of slots, which allow the consumer to get a box that is perfect for each type of lure, fly, or terminal tackle that needs to be stored. These boxes all maintain a similar outside dimension, which allows them to be stored neatly in a bag or boat compartment.
Flambeau also offers many different options that incorporate waterproof and Zerust features as well. The optimal line that Flambeau offers is the “Tuff Tainer” line. Many of these boxes feature divider slots every 1/16th of an inch, which is absolutely perfect. No more wasting space with oversized dividers!
The one feature that Flambeau lacks is having configurations of different sized slots. For example, if storage was required for a few crankbaits that were 3” tall, and a few that were 2” tall, a box with 3” high slots would be needed, and space would be wasted on the 2” crankbaits, due to the fact there might not be a box with both sized slots. This is not to say that a box with multiple sized slots is not available, but simply an example of what “box configurations” refers to.
While the Flambeau line has extensive choices, as far as tackle storage options go, Plano certainly has more. Depending on the level of organization that is desired, one may not need that many choices in several different boxes. Or perhaps, several of the exact same sized boxes can satisfy the organizational need.
So, the big question is, which one is for you? I’m sure after reading my thoughts you may have a mixed opinion. I’ll try my best to break it down for you.
The small, flip top, divider boxes are the least critical choices. You will likely buy lots of these since they are inexpensive. Try to plan out what you’re going to put in each box, and pick either a Plano or Flambeau with the appropriate dimensions and slot configurations. Plano offers boxes specifically designed for spoons, spinnerbaits, and other styles of lures that work really well, so give those a look. Both companies have similar construction quality in this regard, so I suggest just buying the one that fits best.
If you’re in the market for a satchel, I would suggest going with a Plano model. Plano offers a ton of different choices; there is a perfect one for every type of angler. A cool feature of the Plano satchels, is that many of them are set up to take their smaller 3600 line or similar sized divider boxes. This means you can have all your small boxes organized and ready to go, and just choose which one you want to take with you that particular day.
However, Flambeau does offer some very nice waterproof models, and if this is a key feature for you, check them out. The issue I have with them is that while they are a decent size, the waterproof locking system does take up a fair bit of room, and they are very expensive. Some of these models also integrate the storage of two smaller flip top boxes, as well.
If you’re a minimalist and you want the waterproof feature, the Flambeau might be right for you. But I think for most fishermen, the Plano line of satchels is a good choice.
Flambeau wins the soft storage section, for now. They currently have a ton of offerings in all shapes and sizes and many are very economical. Plano is all set to introduce the “Z Series” in the spring of 2017, which features NO zippers, utilizing Velcro and buckles to secure everything. I know many people including myself find zippers a nightmare after a while, especially when they break. These could be a game changer, but we will have to see when they are released.
I hope this helps more than hurts, as there was a lot discussed. Check out some of the products listed above: