Best Fly Boxes For Wading And Float Fishing

A close-up of a filled fly box.

You might not think of a fly box as an important piece of fishing gear. But the truth is, they’re an important part of our sport and something that’s often overlooked by anglers who are getting geared up for the water.

While any old container may due, a fly box that offers maximum storage and organization may mean less bulk for a wade fisherman and quicker selection of flies for run-and-gun boat fisherman.

When you’re getting ready to hit the water, selecting a fly box shouldn’t be an afterthought. With so many options out there, it’s important to understand the benefits when you purchase one.

Fly Boxes for Wading

When you’re wading, you’re faced with all sort or problems. The biggest is you have limited space to carry all your flies. If you want to bring a plethora of dries, nymphs, and streamers with you, here are some tips on how to select a fly box that can make that happen.

  • To maximize the space in your boxes and make your flies easier to find, organize your flies into categories. Some categories to consider are: Dries/Nymphs/Streamers all in separate boxes, Lake or pond specific box, Small stream fly box, Spring Creek flies, Freestone River flies
  • To maximize the number of boxes you can carry, pick slim, low profile, single leaf boxes. These are great for nymphs and wet flies. You can stack these boxes in small pockets and stash them in your vest much easier than thicker boxes.
  • For dry flies, make sure that the lid doesn’t close on parachute posts or hackles. The wrong fly box could crush them and make these flies useless.
  • Choose boxes with slots in the interior so you can snug the flies into place. If a box has foam innards instead of slots, you’ll eventually you chew through the material and be forced to replace the box.
  • Choose silicone- or rubberized-surfaced fly boxes over foam. Newer fly boxes with silicone or rubberized surfaces last forever. With foam fly boxes, you’ll eventually damage the foam and be forced to replace the box.
  • Parse down your fly selections to what you know you’ll use—and just those flies. While it’s great to carry a whole fly shop with you all the time, most of those flies never get used. Be realistic and prepare for what the day demands. If you’re trout fishing in the winter, do you really need to carry your salmon fly patterns?

Fly Boxes for Floating

Unlike wade fisherman, boat anglers have the luxury of bringing more gear along for the day’s fishing. This includes a lot more flies.

  • Rather than fly boxes in the classic sense (small, foam lined boxes), many boat anglers carry plastic, compartment-filled boxes. With these, you can pile flies into the compartments and carry as much as possible.
  • Bigger “boat boxes” are great because you can fit a lot of flies into each interior container. Also, large handles make it easy to grab these boxes. Many of these boxes have rubberized gaskets around the edges and will float if they fall in the water (if you remember to close their latches).
  • Large boat box boxes are too big to fit in some backpacks. While it may be nice as a wade fisherman to use one giant box for all your flies in, make sure you can still carry it in your pack.

Getting Personal

Just like a fly rod or reel, a fly box can be an expression of your nature. For dries, fisherman who like going old school pick expensive aluminum boxes with individual compartments covered with spring-loaded latches. For convenience, other guys like plastic boxes with see-through lids. And for guys who do everything deluxe, there are even custom-made boxes built out of fancy woods.

Whichever you choose, your fly box will say a lot about your style and perspective in life. Some anglers methodically organize their bugs into perfect rows according to size and pattern, like little tin soldiers on a table. Other fishermen just toss a handful of flies into any old container and seem to worry less about the organization.

Whoever you are, make sure the boxes you pick let you confidently hold everything you’re going to need for a day on the water.

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