Building a better box

Giving anglers the right tools with a range of innovative tackle boxes

Plano Synergy

  • Client
    Plano Synergy
  • Industry
  • Services
    Customer Research, Industrial Design, Design Engineering

Tackle management is everything to an angler. Losing time looking for the right lure or detangling hooks can mean missing out on a catch—and for competition anglers, a prize worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Plano, the leading brand in tackle boxes, asked Smart Design to solve for these challenges in a way that would honor their legacy of innovation. The result was the Plano EDGE series, a revolutionary box architecture designed to bring unprecedented speed, security, and efficiency to the tournament and recreational fisher alike.

Honoree Fast Company 2020 Innovation Awards, Sports and Recreation category.

Getting a line on the problem

We started our research by reaching out to Plano’s community of anglers and asking for photos of their tackle boxes. We learned that these anglers each had many, many tackle boxes, and they all had systems for identifying which box contained what they need.

After using the boxes ourselves, working with Plano and conducting secondary research, we learned about more problems specific to different types of tackle – loose hooks getting caught under dividers in boxes, hand painted finishes becoming damaged in transit and the problem of rusting tackle. The question was how to address these issues? The answer, a lot of brainstorming and hacking together quick prototypes which we then brought to a fishing tournament in Texas and a group of avid anglers in Minnesota for feedback.

Testing the waters

After revising the prototypes with the anglers’ feedback, and working on the look and feel or the products, it was time to present them to some of the biggest names in tournament fishing at ICAST, the world’s largest sport fishing expo. There, the pros got hands-on with the prototypes to help us refine them further and make sure were building a box that no angler could live without.

Thinking outside (and inside) the box

The result was Plano EDGE, a system of 10 premium boxes for both general purpose tackle and specific lures.

Every box employs three types of rust prevention, with innovative sealing and moisture absorption features. Each box also has a crystal-clear lid with an oversized latch for one-handed opening. Not only does this make it much easier to quickly locate the right lure in a critical moment, it also creates a distinct look that makes the Plano EDGE stand out from the crowd as a premium offering.

The general-purpose tackle box is the first of its kind to solve for hooks getting caught between dividers, by putting recesses where the dividers go. And the premium, lure-specific boxes employ a variety of solutions, like padded boxes to keep expensive tungsten weights protected and separated in transit; silicone fingers to securely hold all sizes and shapes of crank bait in place; and a spinnerbait box with a central rail for hanging baits so that they dry naturally.

An angler’s new best friend

By deeply engaging Plano’s customers—from the casual to the most demanding user—we could innovate a premium product in an already-robust category. And getting their input early in the design process resulted in a successful marketing campaign at launch, with the biggest names in fishing pitching a product that they played a key role in developing.

Launched at ICAST the following year, the Plano EDGE system has won Best in Category award in 2019 and 2020. In the first 10 months of sales, oversold the original forecast by 50%, with specialty boxes overselling forecasted numbers in excess of 100%. We look forward to seeing where the system goes from here.

Honoree Fast Company 2020 Innovation Awards, Sports and Recreation category.

2019 iCast Plano Edge Series Tackle Storage System – Launch Video

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