Controlling Rust in your Tackle Box

Year after year, countless scores of anglers dust off their tackle boxes just before their favorite fishing season and crack the lids to find a mess of rusty neglected tackle.  Has this happened to you?  Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone.  Many anglers just don’t have the time to meticulously maintain their tackle.  Thankfully you don’t have to spend hours pouring over your gear to get rust free baits as there are many low-cost, easy to implement ways to control rust issues in your tackle box.

Common rust is more specifically, iron oxide, which forms after the redox reaction between iron, oxygen and water or moisture.  Seeing as how fishing tackle inherently comes into contact with both air and water, rust can seem almost inevitable.

So how do you control the degradation of your favourite tackle?  The following are popular methods used to slow down or inhibit the development of rust.  These tips are ranked from worst to best (based on my own personal opinion of course).

7. Use a rust inhibiting agent.  Coating your lures in a light oil can prevent air from getting to your gear.  This is a popular method to prevent rust in general, however I wouldn’t recommend this approach as it can leave you with a greasy tackle box and most importantly can have negative environmental impacts on the water body your casting into.

6. Buy hardware for your baits that is made from an iron substitute.  This is the more expensive option and gear for this solution can be hard to find for freshwater purposes.  Furthermore hooks that rust are designed to break down very quickly if a fish breaks you off.  This in turn, likely reduces mortality.

5.Store baits in individual resealable bags.  This makes sense for terminal tackle, however can be impossible for larger crank baits with hard to manage treble hooks.

4.Owner has developed sacrificial anodes that can be cut and attached to your lures using a provided adhesive.  These anodes will preferentially corrode, leaving your hooks rust free.  This may be a good option however treating each hook can be costly and time-consuming.  Take a look at the product for yourself and decide if it works for you:

3.Use rust inhibitor pads.  These pads are popular with pro bass fisherman, and with folks who have water tight compartments in their boats.  The concept of these pads is to act as a giant desiccant for each storage compartment in your boat.  These may not be ideal for boats with non-sealed storage compartments or for those who don’t store their tackle in their boat.  Bull frog makes a great unit if this method is for you:

2. Dry tackle before putting it away.  This can be as simple as leaving it out on the deck of your boat for a day or two or you could get proactive and use a blow dryer.  However you do it, do not put wet tackle back in your box.  This is recipe for disaster as the moisture from one lure can evaporate and cause rust on nearby lures.

1.My personal favourite, and the winner of this ranking, is to add desiccating packs (silica gel packs) to each tray of my tackle box.  These little guys are inexpensive and can be found almost anywhere.  I recently purchased a large bundle of these packs from amazon and have stocked each of my trays with several.  Heck I even put a few in my gun cabinet.  They may take up some space, but the longevity gained by your tackle makes up for the loss of real-estate.  Here are a couple examples:


As good as any of these methods may be on their own, the ultimate solution is likely a combination of options 1 and 2 and in some cases 3.  Each of these three methods are quick, easy and inexpensive to implement.  Try them out and enjoy a few more years out of your favourite baits.

Cheers from the tackle box,