Flies are expensive. If you’ve ever tied a fly (or tried to), it becomes apparent why the prices can get up there. Filling a box can easily cost $250. Nonetheless, the box that houses all these flies is often overlooked. While some anglers have a handful of different fly boxes, most have a few go-to’s that are their daily drivers. Making sure these boxes satisfy your criteria is essential. However, there are so many different fly boxes out there it can be hard to sift through the garbage to find the proverbial diamonds in the rough. Below is a break down some of the important factors to consider when picking out a fly box.
Most fly boxes are made from plastic or polycarbonate. While polycarbonate is stronger, the differences between the two are minimal. A lot of boxes will have a clear portion on the front. This is great as it provides easy differentiation between multiple boxes or sides of boxes. Keep in mind, these clear portions can get scratched over time. There are clear coats available that can help avoid this.
While there are some out there that are wood, these are often pricey and heavy. The one advantage to using a wood box is that they look pretty baller and provide some of that classic old tyme vibe.
Silicone Vs Foam Vs Magnets
Within every fly box there is a liner which holds the flies in place. The two most popular options are silicone and foam. The silicone options seem to be the newest trend given their self-healing nature. This means that throughout the life of the box flies will always be held securely in place. Conversely, foam tends to have memory. This means that as flies get cycled through your box the slits become larger and don’t hold flies as well. Further, foam tends to absorb water if you happen to put a wet fly back in your box. This could cause your hooks to rust more readily.
A third option is magnets. These are great especially if you have a wide variety of sparse flies. They are often thin and serve as great options for nymphs and smaller dry flies.
Waterproof vs Non-Waterproof
Some boxes come with silicone liners around the edges. These are excellent as they keep water out should your box become submerged. When boxes without liners get wet it can mean the end of line for the flies inside if they aren’t dried as the water inside can quickly rust the hooks. Rusted flies are not fishable. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid boxes without liners. There is nothing worse than opening a fly box a few days after a wading session and finding that all the flies inside are rusted.
Clasp vs Magnets
Clasps and magnets are the most common closure methods for fly boxes. They both get the job done. However, for flies with lots of legs and material, magnets can sometimes struggle to keep a full box closed. They are a good option for nymphs and small dries while clasps tend to do a better job at keeping those bigger bugs on lockdown. Further, for winter fishing, boxes with magnets are easier to open as cold hands can sometimes make it tough to pop clasps loose.
Leaflets are great for doubling the space in a box. Keep in mind, only boxes that are set up for leaflets can take them. They will have connection points on the sides that a leaflet can be slid into. Some leaflets offer wrap around options so you can keep a double fly rig like a hopper dropper together.
One of the most important things to consider when buying a box is size. Using a slim box can sometimes crush your flies which isn’t ideal. This is especially true for dry flies. Crushed hackle is no Bueno. Additionally, you don’t need to have a thousand flies when you’re out there. Pick boxes that will hold a decent number of flies but aren’t so big that you want to leave some at home sometimes. Leaving a dry fly box at the house and then seeing rising fish on the banks is a terrible combination of regret and disappointment.