What's In Your Box?

By Capt. Steve Chaconas

The "must have" stuff that should be in every angler's toolbox.

Photo of Steve Chaconas' fishing toolbox

Be Prepared

Oh shoot! If I only had ... (fill in the blank)! Boaters everywhere are always trying to fix something on the water ... with the wrong tools. Granted there's just only so much space for things you might not need except once in a blue moon or when there's a broken whatchamacallit. A good boater needs to be a Boy Scout, prepared for anything!

There are several levels of must have stuff. Wire ties and duct tape can repair just about anything. A broken hose? Duct tape. Broken hose clamp? Wire tie. Loose wires? Try both. Over the years I have needed something while on my boat. As I needed it, I put it on my boat and everything in it has a story behind why it is now included ... over the past 15 years, here is my collection.

A small baggie for storage of loose screws ... if I find them in the boat or bilge area they must go to something eventually, so I keep them. I also have hose clamps, two sizes. Two sizes of adjustable crescent wrenches. A prop wrench and some prop cotter pins. A small piece of DUCT tape. A bunch of wire ties in various sizes.

Trolling motor shear pins and an extra prop nut (I carry an extra prop elsewhere in the boat) Trolling motor rope with an extra handle. Reel Magic spray, (meant for use on fishing line, but is a great lubricant too),you never know when something will get stuck!

Five screwdrivers ... 3 different Phillips heads, small, regular and a medium. The short one gets into tight places. The longer two are for tightening anything that might come loose. Two flat head screwdrivers, one regular and one very small.

Some reel oil, a reel wrench. This all-in-one tool will fit most reel screws and the wrench will remove the handle, allowing access to important parts, mostly for lubrication or for removing line that might have become entangled.

An assorted box of fuses. Scissors to cut wires or anything else like fishing line. Electrical tape. A small file for cleaning connections or whatever.

A spark plug socket, also fits lug nuts. Two Allen wrenches that fit specific places, including hubcaps on trailer wheels. Some small bungee cords can come through in a pinch to hold something together to lip back to port.

Also a pair of heavy-duty cutters. A treble hook became impaled into my hand one day and I could not get the other hook out of the fish. When it was finally off, I could not cut the hook off the lure to begin the hook removal process. I nearly had to mangle the split ring to get the hook off the bait to begin the hook extraction. Now I can snip any hook and remove it instantly from a fish or a lure to get to the hook removal process. But I still carry split ring pliers just in case!


Take the first step. Consolidate all of the tools in your boat. Check out what other boating buddies carry in their boats. Find a small box to store them. Remove the "stuff" that you don't know why you have it. Many commercially available "all-in-one" kits have some needed tools and odds and ends, but with limited space, most of these kits are overkill! The rescue box is a work in progress and will grow as needs arise. If you need it and don't have it on board, make a note and add it! This is not the time or place for "leftover" tools. Get the good stuff! These tools will be put through demanding situations and counted upon to multi task. These tools might save your life!

This box has saved me on the water. A small tackle box or, better yet one of the Plano tackle storage boxes will hold most items and allow for some organization. Some of their boxes are waterproof too. I like the strong, crushproof polycarbonate Plano Guide Series Waterproof Field Box, 1470 waterproof case. Plano's Dri-Loc seal enables this case to be tough and airtight. It measures 14"L x 9"W x 5"H (interior measures 12"L x 7"W x 4.625"H).

Safety Items

I do carry a lot of stuff, first aid, extra food and water, and of course my PFD's and throwables. I also carry toilet paper, plastic bags and rope — it's the small things you need in an emergency. I carry needle nose pliers in my fishing compartment. Extra line clippers, just in case mine break or go overboard. I always have a small pocketknife for small cut jobs.

So, make a list, check your buddy's list, find lists on the internet, and start filling your go-to emergency box!