Fly Storage Solutions
By: Mark Bachmann
There is nothing that is more inspiring to a fly fisher than a close examination of a well-organized box of expertly tied flies. Each fly box is a story of hope, insight and preparedness (or lack thereof). You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their fly boxes.Every fly box is mirror image of the person that owns it. Some boxes are systematically organized and carefully tended. Others are not.
To experienced anglers, a fly box may be a mixture of used and unused flies. Often there will be flies that show signs of being slimed and altered in their initial composition by the teeth of trout or other game fish. Each of these used flies will be a chapter in the fishing life of the angler who owns the box, like the page of a book, a record of time spent in special places in a watery environment. In most well-tended boxes there will be new replacement flies along side of the used ones in preparation for future encounters with lessons learned while astream.
Fly sizes and shapes define the fly boxes that will hold them for the best access, organization, and preservation. For instance, the perfect box for holding tiny midge pupae flies will be different than one designed for fluffy dry flies, or a box which holds 6-inch long saltwater streamers.Yet, a box that holds large dry flies may also be a great box for summer steelhead wet flies of the same general over-all length. A box that organizes your winter steelhead intruder flies may also be a great box for similar length saltwater streamers or bass bugs.
Perfect Holiday Presents
Fly boxes are the "CAN'T MISS" presents for fly anglers. An angler never has too many fly boxes, and no matter which box you give them, they will find a use for it.
Compartmented Fly Boxes
Compartmented boxes made from clear plastic are in many cases the most adaptable and economical fly box type. Compartmented boxes are far the most popular for dry flies because they don’t crush hackles or wings (unless too many flies are put in a compartment). The only requirement is that the compartments are large enough to store the largest flies you intend to put in them. Many different shapes and sizes of flies will fit into a single compartment, and will be visible from the top, bottom, or sides of the box. Because each compartment will fit many sizes and shapes of flies, it takes an angler with much discipline to keep such boxes organized. This is especially true when fishing. In the heat of changing hatches, it is easy to change flies and put the used fly in the handiest compartment. Also because of the three-dimensional nature of each compartment, it is easy for flies to hide from you even when everything appears to be in plain sight.For that reason, boxes that display flies in one dimension are gaining popularity.
Foam Lined Fly Boxes
Fly boxes containing pads made from foam rubber or foam plastic began to appear in the mid-1970’s. At the time these boxes were considered to be revolutionary. But, because the hook points (and barbs) were stuck into the foam to hold the flies in place, the foam pads wore out quickly. These types of fly boxes remained popular because they provided good organization.
Fly box liners made from resilient high-density foam sheets with slits at consistent intervals provide a great medium for keeping flies well organized. Fly boxes made with slit-foam are very popular for wet flies, nymphs, and flush-floating dry flies. Instead of the point of the fly being stuck in the foam, the fly is backed into a slit in the foam, hook-bend first. That way a fly can be selected, then replaced without tearing the foam apart.
Metal Clip Fly Boxes
Fly boxes with metal clips are primarily used for large wet flies such as streamers, or salmon and steelhead flies. This is because the flies are held flat against the inside of the box in profile position. For this reason flies in the box are only one layer thick, and every fly in the box is easily seen. Metal clip boxes tend to allow flies to dry quickly so hooks rarely rust. Metal clip boxes don't usuall work well for dry flies as they mat hackles and alter the three dimensional aspect of bushy flies. The best metal clip boxes ever built are from Richard Wheatley company. They have been adding stainless steel clips to aluminum boxes since the early 1900's.
Pocket Fly Boxes
Pocket Boxes are any box you would carry in a shirt, jacket, or vest pocket while you are fishing. These are your main working boxes while you are on the water. Being lightweight and streamlined are important factors when selecting this category of boxes, and of course they need to fit the flies contained in them. Pocket boxes may turn into storage boxes when added to your tackle bag.
Storage Fly Boxes
Storage boxes are pocket boxes, when not being contained in your apparel, and in-stead are placed in your storage bag for back-up. Ore they are boxes that are too large to be carried on your person while on the water. Most storage boxes contain flies that are spares, which can be added to your pocket boxes as needed. Most storage boxes are larger compartmented boxes, but larger slit-foam boxes are also becoming popular for this purpose.
Boat Fly Boxes
As the category name implies, Boat Boxes are used when fishing out of a boat. They do not need to be contained in a tackle bag, but are themselves a stand-alone fly container. They come in many sizes, but most are too large to be carried in a vest or chest pack. Some are made specifically for extra large flies. Boat boxes are popular with guides who fish their clients from boats.