Many years ago, anglers had to be careful about putting soft-plastic lures directly into their tackle box trays. It didn’t take long for the lures and trays to melt and create a big, gooey mess. It was tackle-box companies that fixed the problem, developing “worm-proof” trays that prevented melting, a big relief to anglers.

Fast forward to today. Lure companies make soft plastics that can last through many fishing trips, and catch dozens of fish with little sign of wear. The materials used are nothing short of amazing, defying even curious anglers’ attempts to tear them by stretching the lures as far as they can.

But for all their positives, anglers need to revert to the old mindset of keeping certain things separate. Placing them in plastic trays is no longer the problem. A major downfall to this is that some of these lure materials don’t play well with others. Mixing brands of soft-plastic lures can result in messes far worse than the tackle boxes of old ever dreamed of.

Many anglers still blame their tackle boxes when they find a melted mess, but these days, they are not likely to be the culprit. Some made of high-tech plastics carry warnings on their labels, telling anglers not to mix them with other materials.

While you can still mix certain brands of soft plastics, it’s not a good idea with others. Z-Man and Vudu are companies that warn anglers against mixing their lures with other brands. Their proprietary plastics don’t get along well with each other, and they don’t get along with other brands either. Eliminating them from your arsenal is not a good option, however. They are some of the best soft-plastic lures available, and you can’t beat either for durability. You do, however, have to keep them separated. 

One way to avoid this problem is to put your used lures back into the original packages. This can be difficult, time-consuming and sometimes bulky, since many of today’s soft-plastic lures come in clamshell packages. They simply aren’t convenient, and they take up a lot of space. Two shrimp in such a package can take up more room than a whole bag of soft-plastic worms or swimbaits. 

An easier way to handle this is to have a separate tackle box for each lure brand. And an easy way to keep them apart is to either write or place a decal with each lure company’s logo on the inside and outside of the tackle box. Then, never mix any brands. This may seem a drastic solution, but since most anglers use tackle bags with smaller tackle boxes inside, it’s just a matter of keeping the brands separate — most of us try to do that anyway.

Another option is to use tackle binders that resemble large wallets. They have a zipper and two rings, similar to notebook binders. Some brands come with the holes already punched, and that material is stuck to the original bags the lures come in, allowing the bags to stay in the binder.

Z-Man makes this option an easy one. It offers its own binder, complete with logo, and their lure bags are already pre-punched to fit in the binder. Even the company’s Trout Eye and other jighead packs can be threaded onto one of the binder rings. 

Some anglers like to have one empty bag or a small tackle box at the beginning of each trip. When they change lures, they place the used lure in the empty container, and at the end of the trip, they take all the used lures out, rinse them with fresh water, allow them to dry, then place them back in their original packaging. This helps prevent rust from spreading to other lures, but this is where some anglers falter, mixing lures that shouldn’t be mixed, resulting in that big gooey mess we’re trying to avoid.

As stated earlier, some lure brands can still be mixed without negative consequences, but who knows when one company will experiment with a new material that can change that. It’s best to get in the habit of keeping them all apart from each other now.