Have you ever seen one of these aboard a fly angler's boat? If you're unfamiliar with what this thing is, I can understand why seeing one might really perplex you. Is it a trash can? A recycling bin? Some type of weird storage container? These answers all have one thing in common—they're incorrect. The above picture shows a portable line management device commonly referred to as a stripping bucket. It may take up a bit of precious deck space, but keeping one on your boat can alleviate a TON of frustration at times!
The function of a stripping bucket is to keep the line organized and clear of any "grabby" objects. From cooler handles, to cleats, to those pliers your buddy left on the deck, some boats have a lot of stuff for a fly line to wrap around. When fishing in a tight space such as on a small boat deck, it can be tough keeping your line clear of such items. Wind also poses another major issue. On a blustery day, your loose line can get blown around making it extremely difficult to control. With line strewn all over the place, it can seriously hamper or even stop a cast altogether. Stripping the loose line into a stripping bucket not only keeps it organized in a confined space, but right next to you.
The type of stripping bucket you keep on a boat is usually relatively tall. There are manufactured ones available to buy, but like the one shown here, many folks also prefer to just make their own. You may think that the line would tangle like crazy since it's being stripped into a bucket where it can pile on top of itself. To help avoid this issue, something like small "spikes" (like the zip ties in the picture above) or cones are usually built into the bottom of the bucket to keep the line from tangling up. The mesh bottom of the bucket shown here is a very smart design idea, too. Without that feature, water would collect in the bottom and not be able to drain out. Some buckets may also have a cutout on one side to make it easier to strip the line into the device.
I'll be totally honest and admit that I like to avoid using a stripping bucket whenever possible. While many anglers don't mind them at all, I'm just not big on having another item out on the deck to get in my way. With that said, sometimes there's days when it's nearly impossible to function without one. You may not love using one, but just bringing a stripping bucket along for those breezy afternoons or super-cluttered boats can save some major headaches. And hey, if you don't actually use it out on the water, it can double as a garbage can!