Every time I walk into a fly shop I am magically attracted by the shelves of flies. How to store them I’ll show you in this fly box guide.
I have amassed hundreds of patterns over the years. Still I find myself going through the boxes of flies again and again picking a few here and there. Back at home I take out the new patterns and start to reshuffle my boxes of dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, emergers, streamers, terrestrials. It’s a never ending process, a fun process however, at least for me.
The next question that always arises is which fly box to choose for which situation. My general preference is to reduce my gear and go out to the water with the least amount of things in my pockets. Sure, there are situations when you need a certain range of different types of flies. Still, I then try to choose a few from each category (dries, wet flies, emergers, terrestrials, etc.) and put them all in one or two boxes. I simply don’t like cramped pockets of my jacket, vest or waders. It feels bulky and hinders my casting.
What are the best fly boxes on the market?
Of course the size of the box increases with the size of the flies. A streamer for pike or hucho fishing definitely takes more space than tiny dry flies. Over the next few paragraphs I want to give you an overview of the fly cases I use, show you for which situation or species I use what type and work out the advantages and disadvantages of different models.
I group my fly cases mostly according to three features: size, shape and material. Naturally the smaller the flies, the smaller you can go in terms of size. On some summer days when I fish a small alpine stream, all I bring is a tiny fly case with a few dry fly patterns and a few nymphs. The size of the box is similar to a box of matches.
For dry flies and terrestrials I prefer transparent boxes with small compartments. This way of storing keeps the flies nice and loose and doesn’t damage delicate wings for example. If the box is transparent it makes it easier to preselect a fly without even opening the box (which can come in handy on windy days).
If you are a traditionalist a great option especially for dry flies are aluminum boxes such as the ones originally introduced by Richard Wheatley of England. They have a neat mechanism with mechanical springs that pop open the different compartments. Here again the transparency helps with the preselection of your next pattern. A nice modern interpretation of such a dry fly box is the Aventik Aluminum Dry Fly Box.
The newest addition to my collection of fly cases is the Tacky Big Bug Box. It features the same slit silicone system as the smaller fly cases I use for wet flies and nymphs. The Tacky can hold large streamers of 4 to 5” with its silhouette remaining slim. It is a great choice for streamers to target big predators such as hucho hucho or pike.
Like other Tacky models it features magnetic closures to securely hold the box shut. The slit silicone system makes sure even big and heavy streamers stay in place.
A similarly slim box with a more modern touch to it is the Tacky Slit Silicone Insert. The American made fly cases have made a name for themselves in recent years and rightly so. Even before opening the box you feel they are well made and will last a long time.
The magnetic closure at the corners of the fly cases is a really effective and convenient feature. On top their patented slit silicone feature secures the flies and makes sure they stay where they are. Even after removing flies dozens of times I could not detect any deterioration of the silicone slits.
A modern, slim alternative to the Tacky Slit Silicone fly case is the foam model from C&F Design. It has a very nice build quality as well and gives you a bit more freedom in terms of organizing your patterns.
Yet, if I had to choose I would opt for the Tacky Fly Fishing Box as their slit silicone system is the most precise and repeatable way of fixing your flies inside the box.
If you want to go light and know that what flies you will need to imitate at the water the SF Super Slim Fly Fishing Box is a great choice. It is perfect for storing small midges and dry flies.
Larger flies and streamer would be matted down in this smaller sized box. Since it is so slim its weight is very low. This means it’s easy to carry along even in your waders’ pocket, ideal for the ultra minimal set up.
Best Pre-Filled Fly Boxes
Often it is easier to buy a fly box that is pre-filled already. If you’re not yet an expert on fly fishing flies this makes sure you buy flies that catch fish. There are a number of good pre-filled fly boxes out there. Here are our Top 3.
The Barnsley Fly Box + 100 Assorted Flies is a combination of an Aluminum Fly Box with Slotted Foam inserts. With it come 50 dry & parachute flies, as well as an assortment of 50 nymphs, beadhead nymphs, wet flies, scuds, streamers and worm flies.
The box is made from sturdy aluminum and fully packed with flies. With bigger hands it can get a bit tedious to take them out and put them back in.
The 24/36/48 Assorted Trout Fly Fishing Flies Kit is a great choice for beginners. It comes loaded with great flies that catch fish. You can choose between 24, 36 or 48 flies.
The set includes a range of hopper flies, nymphs and dry flies. The box also features foam slits to tightly arrange your flies. Hook sizes range from #8 to #18 giving you a range of options for every fishing situation.
The Ventures Fly Co. | 40 Premium Hand Tied Fly Fishing Flies includes 40 premium flies to cover almost any situation you might encounter on the water. The Ventures Fly Set contains 15 different patterns including dry flies, nymphs, terrestrials, and streamers. Hook sizes range from #8 to #18.
The fly box is waterproof and comes with foam slits to safely store your flies no matter the conditions. As the other pre-filled fly boxes, this one also makes for a great gift for any fly fisherman or woman.
What Makes the Best Fly Fishing Boxes?
When selecting your fly fishing box you should pay attention to a number of factors. What’s the material the box is made of? Is it waterproof? How many flies can it hold?
Here is a number of characteristics you should think about. They will help you to choose the best fly fishing box for your needs.
Like in any good product a more durable fly box will last you longer and might hence be less expensive on the long run. Most of the modern fly cases are made of plastic, often ABS plastics that are known to be very durable.
The other material often used is aluminum. It has a timeless and more classic look and is always a great choice for traditionalists. Like leather it only gets more beautiful over time with small scratches and nicks.
The inside of a fly box is another important factor in terms of durability. High quality foam or silicone will ensure you can take out your flies and put them back in many times without the material deteriorating.
In terms of capacity it really comes down to the way you like to fish. If you prefer to keep it light and simple you should choose slim fly boxes. Bigger ones can get bulky if you don’t want to wear a vest.
If you plan on fishing big streamers you will need a bigger box. So it really matters to think about what you need before getting your fly fishing box. It will make the selection easier.
A waterproof fly box can be great but is not necessary in. If you pay a little attention the box should not get wet. If it does you can still open it up in your living room and let it dry properly.
Many fly boxes are waterproof anyways, especially the ones made from plastic. If they are not you should pay attention to keeping them dry to prevent corrosion.
Types of Flies your Fly Box can Hold
The most important question you should ask yourself before getting a new fly fishing box is: what purpose should it serve? Where will I be fishing and what species will I be targeting?
What size will my flies need to be? Will I be fishing in saltwater or freshwater? How many flies do I need? If you can answer these questions beforehand you will have an easier time picking the right product.
If you are unsure you can always reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to help!
Special thanks to:
Popular Fly Boxes Questions
What is a Fly Box?
A Fly Box is a box made of plastic, wood or aluminum in which you can store your flies when fly fishing. Fly boxes, also called fly cases, come in various shapes and sizes and can hold dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, streamers and terrestrials.
How do you Put Flies in a Tacky Box?
The Tacky Box has become very popular among fly fishers. It is equipped with silicone slits that make it very easy to put the flies inside. Simply slide the hook of the fly into the silicone slit. That’s it – a great streamer fly box as well.
How do you Store Dry Flies?
Dry flies are ideally stored dry and loosely. Ideally you use a dry fly case with small compartments that make it easy to organize the dry flies.
Note: If you end up purchasing a product through the links we provide we earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. It helps to support our business. Thank you!