Can a simple, inexpensive satchel hold the lures you need and stand up to hard use? We tested four to find out.
Storage Capacity: Quite simply, I packed as much gear in each bag as possible and judged whether I had enough lures and tools for a typical day of fishing.
Functionality: With the bags fully packed, I assessed how easy it was for me to carry and to retrieve baits and equipment.
Durability: I subjected each bag to 10 minutes of equal pressure using a drum sander to see how the material held up.
Bass Pro Shops Freestyle 370 Satchel Bag
BARGAIN RATING: Excellent
SPECS: Size: 18″ x 8″ x 51⁄2″ • Storage Capacity: Excellent • Functionality: Excellent • Durability: Excellent
COMMENTS: For its price, this bag is impossible to beat, and it was the best of the test regardless of cost. Extremely durable, the Freestyle holds three 3700-size tackle trays, which will tote a ton of baits. There’s enough additional storage for tools and a point-and-shoot camera, and everything is readily accessible. It’s big enough for use on a boat, and yet not too big to transport when you’re walking the bank.
Plano SoftSider 3700 Tackle Bag
BARGAIN RATING: Very good
SPECS: Size: 15″ x 81⁄2″ x 93⁄4″ • Storage Capacity: Excellent • Functionality: Excellent • Durability: Good
COMMENTS: The Plano SoftSider 3700 has nearly identical functionality and storage capacity as the Bass Pro bag, for an extra $10. Again, three 3700-size trays offer ample storage for baits, which are easy to get at. I think this is the best-looking bag of the bunch, so if looks are a concern, this is a great buy. It didn’t fare quite as well in the drum-sander test, but the bag is certainly tough enough for normal use.
Berkley PowerBait Medium Tackle Bag
BARGAIN RATING: Good
SPECS: Size: 13″ x 81⁄2″ x 71⁄2″ • Storage Capacity: Good • Functionality: Fair • Durability: Good
COMMENTS: If you can get past the screaming-yellow color and the huge logo, this bag has a lot of solid features for the price. It takes three 3600-size trays, which hold quite a few lures, and I was able to squeeze in a fourth. Unlike the others, this bag opens from the side instead of the top. That makes accessing lures easier if the bag is sitting on the deck of a boat, but harder when it’s on your shoulder.
Flambeau AZ3 Tackle System
BARGAIN RATING: Fair
SPECS: Size: 10″ x 43⁄4″ x 5″ • Storage Capacity: Fair • Functionality: Excellent • Durability: Excellent
COMMENTS: This well-made bag is built to take a beating. But it’s comparatively small. Two of the four side pockets are big enough to hold a camera or pliers; the other two don’t have much space. The three 3003 Tuff ‘Tainer boxes held significantly fewer lures than the other bags. While the AZ3 is probably not what you want for the boat, if bushwhacking and bank fishing is your game, it’s just about ideal.