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Fly Boxes – How To Choose The Right One

Choosing the right fly box can be tricky. There are so many options available from many different vendors. You have to take into account the size of flies you’re storing, and how many you have. You also have to consider the size of your fishing pack – smaller packs don’t hold many fly boxes, so you want them to be slim and small. If you have a larger fishing pack, you can store larger boxes with ease.

This article will cover the best ways to select a fly box. Everyone has their personal preferences when it comes to selecting a fly box. For me personally, there are a couple of brands I have gravitated towards over the years – I will go over these below.

Foam Inserts vs. Silicone Inserts

Foam Inserts

In the past, foam fly boxes were the only option. With these inserts, there are foam slits that allow you to slide your flies in. They hold flies well for awhile, but they can eventually wear out. Foam inserts can get torn up over time, and they will get loose and wear out. With foam inserts, it is important to “back” the fly in to the slot. You don’t want to insert the fly hook point first, as this will eat up the foam.

I don’t mind foam inserts if they are high quality. However, I have come to like silicone inserts more, which we’ll cover below.

Silicone Inserts

Silicone inserts really changed the whole fly box market. With Tacky being one of the first companies to use these, anglers quickly took notice. Silicone inserts are much more durable than foam inserts – Silicone will not break down or degrade over time. Machines cut thin slits in the silicone, and these hold flies super well. I still have some Original Tacky boxes (7+ years old), the silicone is still holding strong.

Although silicone inserts have many advantages, fly anglers will pay a premium for them. They cost more to produce than foam boxes.

Waterproof vs. Non-Waterproof Boxes

Waterproof Fly Boxes

Most waterproof fly boxes have a rubber gasket and a latch. This allows them to be submersible without getting your flies wet. This is really handy for wade fisherman and float fisherman – if your fly box gets submerged, you know that your flies will stay dry.

Waterproof fly boxes tend to cost more, since the rubber gasket and latch add extra components. However, lots of fly anglers are willing to pay a premium for these. Keeping your flies dry is pretty important – if they stay wet for a long time, they will start to rust.

Non-Waterproof Fly Boxes

Most standard fly boxes are non-waterproof. These boxes don’t have a gasket or a latch. If they do get submerged, the flies inside will get wet. This isn’t a huge deal, as long as you dry them out when you get home. When I accidentally submerge a fly box, I just open it up and let it sit once i’m home. The flies will dry out in no time.

The big downside of non-waterproof fly boxes is for saltwater fly fisherman. If your flies get submerged in the saltwater and don’t get washed, they will corrode pretty fast. Bonefish, Permit and Tarpon anglers will usually opt for a waterproof fly box.

Nymph/Dry Fly vs. Streamer Boxes

Nymph/Dry Fly Boxes

Most nymph and dry fly boxes are usually smaller than streamer boxes. The slits are smaller and are meant to hold nymphs or dries, usually from sizes #10-#24. With these boxes, you can pack a lot of nymphs or dries in per row, which is a big advantage. These boxes can often hold hundreds of flies at once. Some have pre-made slits installed, while others just have a foam pad. I prefer the slits, as it keeps me more organized.

Streamer Fly Boxes

Streamer boxes are usually much larger than nymph boxes. They are meant to hold larger flies, from sizes #2-#10. These boxes have larger slits, and they are thicker than nymph boxes. Streamers often have lots of bulk, so these boxes need to be thicker.

Streamers take up a lot of space. Even just 2 dozen streamers can fill up a large fly box. As you can see below, just a handful of streamers almost fills the box entirely.

Some anglers opt for boat boxes, which are the largest streamer boxes available. These are stored on a drift boat or raft, because they’re too large to fit inside of a fishing pack.

My personal streamer box is more on the medium side. It can fit into my waist pack, and it works in the boat as well. It is about half the size of a boat box.

My Favorite Nymph/Dry Fly Box

The Tacky Original is still my favorite nymph and dry fly box. The silicone inserts are very high quality, and the magnet closure makes it easy to use. They are available in single sided and double sided models – which hold 168 flies and 336 flies, respectively. They measure 8″x4″x1″ – which allows them to fit in most fishing packs.

Although they aren’t waterproof, I really enjoy the simplicity of them. They hold a ton of flies, and they’re really slim. I can fit several into my waist pack without a problem. I would say at least half of my boxes are Tacky Originals – I just love them.

My Favorite Streamer Fly Box

My all time favorite streamer box is the Cliff Outdoors Bugger Barn. It is a medium sized streamer box that is super easy to use. The slits run for the length of the box, and you can just slide your streamer hooks right in. They can hold smaller streamers, but they also hold articulated streamers very well.

The dimensions are 8 3/4″ X 4 1/2″ X 1 1/2″. It can fit into most packs with ease, even though it’s a bit on the larger side.

Cliff Outdoors company is one of the leaders in streamer box design. From their Bugger Barn to their Bugger Beasts, they have a size of box for every angler. The blue foam is extremely high quality, and the plastic shell is tough as nails.

These boxes can easily last for a lifetime of angling. They are tough to break, and they can take a beating.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many options when it comes to fly boxes. The main features to consider are:

  • Foam inserts vs Silicone inserts
  • Waterproof vs Non-Waterproof
  • Nymph/dry vs Streamer boxes (small or large)

Many of us end up with several fly boxes for different fly assortments. Having a few nymph, dry fly and streamer boxes will ensure you’re more prepared on the water. However, these can take some time (and money) to start accumulating.