I remember three things about my first
fly box. It was stuffed full of flies,
smelled like cigars (which had been it's
original purpose) and it came from a man
who owned Jiggs, a big bristly Airedale dog.
I kept that box of flies for several years,
sadly I have no idea what ever became of it.
That's all in the past now, all gone; Jiggs,
the flies, the original owner. Well, no, darn
it, they're not all gone, I have my memories.
I still remember him and the flies and some
other things I got from him. I remember Jiggs
too, the first one of those dogs I ever got to
know. Call me foolish if you like, but it is my
choice. If I can remember things they are not
quite all gone. I like old things and stuff. I
try to hang on to what I can.
There was another box I got at the same time,
you probably remember them, small, round tin
with felt pads to keep your gut leaders moist.
That got away from me too, but I still remember
it. When I was a kid I used pipe tobacco cans
for darn near everything. Cheap and seemed to
be everywhere. In reality, they were a very poor
fly box. I had to dump out the flies to see what
was in there. Time and circumstance brought me
more boxes over the years, many more boxes in
fact. I have way too many now and have reached
the point of complete confusion.
I think I have owned and used darn near every
type and style of box ever created. If there
ever was a 'flybox' junkie, it was me. It got
real bad in Michigan when I developed a
relationship with Scientific Anglers. They had
fly lines, sure, but rods, reels, and fly boxes
too. Now I could get my flyboxes at a greatly
reduced price (wink-wink). I have, however
learned a few things about flyboxes and will
try to pass along a few tid-bits; gems, pearls
of wisdom, if you will.
Oh, but first, I still smile when I remember
at a big sporting show not too far back, (Salt
Lake or Denver) some lovely big eyed honey was
standing behind a table hawking a new fly box.
She purred at me and I drifted over. My eyes
passed from her fluttering lashes slowly down
to the table where she had a display of modern,
space age, streamlined, jelly-bean colored,
clam-shell style fly boxes. Well dressed lips
started to form words to encourage me to accept
one of the items as a gift. I resisted the
temptation to spend a day or two at the booth
doing R&D but the LF was by my side and I decided
to inform the hottie of the following:
I summoned up a few scraps of wisdom from my
great depths and, handing it back to her,
explained that certainly her box was very
well shaped, nicely rounded corners, a
comfortable shape and size, slim, sleek,
smooth as a baby-butt, certainly lovely
to look at and probably water tight. I told
her I had been in the business for years and
seen a lot, big ones, small ones, some you
could see into, some you could not. Some from
overseas that would pop right open with the
flick of a finger. And some others that it
took a real man to make any progress with.
It was with great reluctance I informed her
I would have to decline her most generous
offer. Startled, she huffed up a little and
dropped some of her charm and grace. I could
see that my time was running short (LF again)
and tried to make it quick. If I had one of
those it would be gone way too soon. That
silky-smooth surface and sleek design would
virtually slip away from this old man as soon
as I turned my head. No pocket I had could
hold one, way too streamlined. No thanks. I
want a box that will not slide out of a pocket,
maybe even a little rough around the edges.
Imagine a warm day, wading wet, fly box in a
shirt pocket, reach to land a fish... gone
in a flash. And besides... they float!
Then again there are some other things about
fly boxes to consider. Your milage may vary
on this but, I try to keep it in mind. On a
lake or non-moving deep water use a box that
floats. On a stream or other moving stuff use
a box that sinks. Should be obvious but if not,
here. If I drop it in a stream and it sinks I
just might have a shot at it. If it floats,
bye-bye-boxie. The opposite in a lake. I want
it to float there.
So anyhow, back to boxes. We all try to organize
the things. And sometimes get it done to some
degree. And then any number of terrible things
can happen. You tie a fly, you find a fly, you
buy a fly, someone gives you a fly. You get a
new box, find one, buy one. It's Father's Day.
You are invited to go fishing.
That alone will do it. Now utter confusion reigns.
Should you take every fly you own, or just a few
thousand well selected ones? You may by this time
have organized your flies into a few boxes. Like,
one for dries, for nymphs, for streamers, for bait.
Or you may have moved on to one box for all one
kind of dry fly, Hendrickson for instance, in
three sizes. It's nymph in another, the spinner
in another, also the emerger. All in assorted
sizes of course. Sounds like a great idea and
holds up for a while.
Eventually you will condense your flies into
exact stream locations. Like when you fish the
pool under the covered bridge. You take only
the boxes you have filled just for that place.
You know it by heart, you know every hatch and
spinner fall. Probably. To be sure, you throw
in a few of the other boxes. Can't be too careful.
So there you have about half a century of
foggy-bottom observation on fly boxes. To
sum it up. Cheap is good, fancy impresses
mostly yourself, size does matter, shape
is probably of some importance but I'm not
sure, color (colour for you guys up there
and down there) is nice. Get them in ones
you like and can see. Put your name in them
and I am sure a nice fellow will mail it back
to you if you (make that, when) lose it.
Especially if he is a fly fisherman, not
a worm drowner. You never have enough,
except when you have too many; then you
still don't have enough.
A fly box always makes a great Fathers
Day gift. (To yourself or someone else.)
PS. Did mention fly wallets? ~ JC