01/09/14 – Ahhhh……………the search continues for the World’s Best Fly Box. Something I’m convinced doesn’t exist. There are lots of them out there. Yep, all kinds – thick ones, thin ones – metal ones, plastic ones – and all of them are the “Best” when I buy them but it isn’t long before I find some shortcomings.
Like many my first “fly box” (that I remember) was a tin of some sort. Small enough so that I could stick it in my pocket and it had a cover that fit tight so it wouldn’t come open and spill all my flies if I dropped it. I didn’t see why anyone needed anything more than that.
Until one day while applying great pressure trying to get that tight cover off it suddenly released and the resulting jerking motion I made with my hands tossed every fly out of the box onto the water. After that I started looking for a “tin” that opened easier.
What I found was the ubiquitous 35mm film can. Something that’s not so common today. I had plenty of those and some of them were clear, well you could sort of see through them anyway, and you could at least pick out a colorful fly like a Royal Wulff that had been stuffed in there. Yep – stuffed – space was becoming a problem. Dry flies didn’t float so well back in the day of “Agricultural Fair” selected rooster hackle and crushing that poor hackle didn’t help flotation.
Then I found Perrine Fly Boxes and my search was over. They were themselves practically indestructible and they were thick enough so hackle didn’t get crushed. And they had springs and clips – all sorts of good features. They were the answer until I opened up a box one day and found the ventilation holes didn’t really allow your flies to dry and rusted hooks became one of my ever since reoccurring nightmares.
So not liking the water retention features of springs and clips I moved to foam fly boxes. Ripple Foam – yes sir – now there was the answer. At least until I realized that barbless flies don’t stay in foam very well. I was tying my own flies by then and I didn’t pinch the barb until I tied the fly onto the leader. Mainly because if I pinched the barb on a fly when I tied the fly it wouldn’t stay in place in the ripple foam. I could always tell which flies I had pinched the barbs on – they were the loose ones that fell out when I opened the fly box. I was right back to the problem I had with the Altoids Tin.
But then someone came up with the idea of cutting slits in foam and trapping the hook in a slit instead of shoving the point of the hook into the foam. They simply let the foam “grip” the hook bend. Good idea. And that’s what most of my fly boxes are now. Some are thick, some are thin but most all of them have foam with cutouts for hackle space and slits to grab the hook bend.
The slim box shown here doesn’t take a hackled fly very well (no cutout in the foam in front of the slot to prevent crushing hackle) but it sure does a good job on nymphs and parachutes (small parachutes or you crush the post). It also holds a LOT of flies in a very small space. That’s a good thing because the larger boxes are just that – large.
For a larger box I go to the C&F waterproof boxes (you know the ones that are really only water resistant not waterproof) or another brand of box with similar design. I really like the clear top ones Orvis offers now but only for streamers and nymphs. You can’t put big dries like Drake imitations in them because there isn’t any cutout in the foam to prevent crushing hackle. But the clear tops are nice.
So my search for the “World’s Best Fly Box” continues and I think the answer might come in my lifetime. If we could only get Orvis to put C&F foam in their big clear top fly box we’d be a lot closer.
But then maybe I don’t have to wait – if I get out my X-acto knife and do a little careful carving…….how hard could it be…………………