I’ve known about Lakewood Products tackle boxes for a long time, originally seeing them online when I was young being used by surf anglers along the Atlantic coast. They were using the larger muskie tackle boxes to protect their surf plugs, often pricy and handmade fishing lures. The vertical storage system was popular for protecting the plugs while at the same time being easy to pick out lures quickly. Once I stopped reading into surf fishing so much and started bass fishing they slipped my mind for a long time. So for a long time, I was just bouncing between big bulky plastic tackle boxes and 3700 tackle trays and shopping bags of plastic baits. But for the last 6 months, I’ve been using a new tackle box from Lakewood, the Lakewood Mini Sidekick Tackle Box.
The 3700 trays worked ok, I mean everyone knows them. Flat plastic trays with adjustable storage slots for stacking lures. The biggest problem with them is you just stack all your lures on top of each other in them and end up having to shake loose 6 treble hooks most of the time when a lure snags the others. Or just that because the lures are laying horizontally and often have space left in the slots if they solo they get a bit more beat up in travel. Sure the trays work and are cheap but there are better options out there, so let’s see if the Lakewood Mini Sidekick Tackle Box is that better option.
The Lakewood Mini Sidekick Tackle Box is a different style of tackle box than most anglers are used to, having a vertical storage system instead of a tray system that traditional tackle boxes use. As the “Mini” in the name implies it is a newer and smaller version of the original Lakewood’s Sidekick Tackle. Both have a similar hard ABS frame covered in a durable soft fabric exterior construction. The tackle box has three main storage areas, the main compartment, two padded side pouches, and a front tool pocket. The main compartment has a large slot that can store two 3600 tackle trays on the left, and the right side is all the vertical lure storage. The storage dividers in this part are also removable if you do have bulkier lures that need more space. The hook slots on the dividers are Lakewood’s Lure Saver design that helps keeps your lures in place. Even when I knocked the box over the cut of the slots kept the hooks in place.
Lakewood Mini Sidekick Tackle Box Key Features
- Lure Saver™ hook slots (Patent Pending) to protect lures from loss or damage
- Removable/adjustable dividers for hanging lures/baits
- Additional hanging storage for spinnerbaits, etc…
- Additional storage for two 3600 type containers (not included)
- Perfect all-around tackle storage solution for boat, shore, kayak, and more!
- Zippered side pockets
- Front tool pockets
- Heavy duty webbing handles
- Floats when loaded! (when fully zipped)
- Outside Case Dimensions: 11.5” L x 11.5” W X 7” H (not including pockets)
- Two Colors – Gray, Black
- MSRP – $149.99
It surprised me when I first moved over all the lures I use most often from a couple of 3700 trays into the Mini Sidekick. I thought I was carrying around a lot of lures until I saw how much storage space was still left in the new box. So I just kept adding in more lures until the box was somewhat full. I had at least 4 trays worth of hard baits in the box and still had a few slots left. The best part was everything was neat and tidy, with no snagging, and no overlapping trebles. All of them are easily visible from the top. Even my large glide baits and swimbaits fit into the box without much issue.
The side pouches are a good size, tall enough to fit clamshell-packaged soft plastic baits like keitechs and big swimbaits like 7″ Scottsboro Tackle Co. Swimbaits. The front tool pouch obviously is a good spot to stuff a pair of cutters or pliers, I also store packs of sabiki rigs in it. I set up my Mini Sidekick with a tray of terminal tackle, a tray of jigs, and spoons in the tray section. All my hard baits and then in one of the side pouches packs of soft plastics and the other pouch got spools of leader material, paracord, and a stringer.
Now just stuffing a tackle box full of lures and gear is great and all, but it’s time to use it out on the water. I ran this thing through the largemouth bass prespawn, spawn, and post-spawn at the local lake near my old house, both from shore and from a boat. More recently I’ve been using the box as a rigging station for chasing stripers on the Coosa River. The padded lid of the Mini Sidekick has been a godsend for me not having an absolute mess. The abs panel core and padding work together to press into the top of the lure compartment keeping everything snug. So even after landing upside down off my truck tailgate, everything stayed in place. After using the Mini Sidekick for six months I don’t think I’ll ever go back to traditional-style tackle boxes. It’s just so much faster and neater than the flat trays. The tackleboxes also float for a bit as long as they’re zipped up. While not waterproof the fabric and stitching do keep water out alright for at least a short amount of time.
Even with everything I like about the Mini Sidekick, there are a couple of things I’m not a fan of. But one is really a non-issue in the long run. The first thing is I don’t like the pleather handle wrap for the webbing handles. I understand it’s used to close up the webbing handles, but the material choice is an issue for me. I feel like it’s too soft and gets in the way more often than not when trying to move the tackle box around quickly. I feel like more rigid material would work a little better, but honestly, I would rather not have it there, to begin with. The second thing I don’t like is the open-cell foam used as padding for the side pouches. The foam is out in the open and could potentially break down over time.
The Lakewood guys at ICAST told me not to worry about the foam though. If it were to break down over time, it would be covered by the lifetime warranty. Like all Lakewood products, the Mini Sidekick has a lifetime warranty so if something breaks down over time they’ll fix it for you no matter how many years down the line it happens. Which makes the price tag of $149.99 a lot more palatable for me. Honestly, if you think about it the contents of your tackle box cost a lot more than that. So a good tackle box that protects all its contents well is worth it to me. This might just be the last general-purpose tackle box I ever own for freshwater use.