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In Short – TOP 3 Fly Boxes & What to Look For
When buying fly boxes, there are some things a fly box must have for me to take out my wallet and buy it.
Here is what I look for:
A clear lid so I can see my flies.
A fly box that floats so I don’t lose it when I drop it.
A waterproof fly box so my hooks don’t get wet and rust.
A fly box that matches the type of flies I want to put in it.
Enough space to store all the flies I have/want to store inside.
A base material that makes storing and removing flies easy.
If you can find a fly box that meets all of these demands then you are onto a winner and should purchase it!
Here are my favorites from the article that I would recommend. You can find a more detailed review of each in the section below too!
Best For Small Flies
The SF Super Slim Fly Fishing Fly Box is my favorite for small flies. It is super lightweight and very thin so you can carry it in any pocket you like. The clear lid makes it easy to select all your flies and the foam ensures they stay organized and are easy to put in/take out.
To top it all off, it floats, is waterproof, and it’s very affordable. It’s the perfect box for your waders as you can fill it up with 156 small nymphs and dry flies.
What is so special about this fly box is that it breathes and actively pulls moisture out of your dry flies. Dry flies have to float to be effective, and if they are wet, they sink! This box solves all these issues.
You can fit 100 dry flies in here, the silicone matt ensures they won’t rust and stay organized, plus it is both waterproof and floats!
Best All-Around Fly Box
I like to have one go-to fly box with a mixture of everything in it, so I only have to open one to find the fly I need, most of the time. The Dr.Fish Fly Fishing Box in its large size does just that.
The fly box is double sided so you can separate flies into categories. I always do nymphs and dries on one side, and wet and streamers on the other. Plus it is large enough to fit large streamers in too.
The lids are clear so you can spot the fly you want without opening the box. It is also waterproof, floats, and is durable too.
Best Fly Boxes for Small Flies
Small flies don’t take up a lot of space, but they can be difficult to see and organize. Ideally, you want a fly box that makes them easy to pick out.
Even if you’ve taken the time to invest in a fly fishing pack, it’s still worth remembering that fly fishing is about traveling light. Space is at a premium in your vest or waders, and bulky fly boxes are not the way to go.
This is a great solution.
Provided you like fishing with smaller patterns, this ultra-slim fly fishing box has the lowest profile of any that I have seen. You don’t have to worry about the length either. It also comes as a dual two-part set of smaller boxes.
One thing that I find particularly great is the clear cover. You can see the flies inside without having to open the box, which is much better for keeping them dry.
And that’s not all.
Due to its lining and construction, the box floats and is waterproof too! So if you happen to drop it, you won’t lose all of your flies and can collect it down stream.
Waterproof and it floats.
Clear lid for finding flies.
Excellent matt that holds flies well.
Space for 150+ flies.
Not for larger or bushy flies as they get crushed.
Trout fishing usually means small nymphs and dries, and we fly anglers trout fish more than anything else. This slim, light fly box is perfect for carrying your favorite nymphs and dries. It is waterproof, floats, holds flies well, is easy to organize plus it is both durable and affordable.
If you have any experience with making your own flies, you’ll already know what I’m going to tell you about C&F design.
If not, here’s the deal.
They produce premium fishing products, and they have clever features.
Well, aside from 5 tiered sections that are perfect for getting super organized when it comes to your flies, you’ll also find a little extra.
Included with the box are 5 custom-made threaders. These make tying your flies onto the line really easy. Even those tiny midges!
To make this even easier, the fly box is backed with a white high visibility layer that provides a miniature sight board, helping you see the flies more easily.
Space for 100+ flies.
White face facilitates seeing.
Floats and is waterproof.
Good foam matt.
While the threaders are great, they are easily lost.
No clear lid.
C&F produces very high-quality gear. It’s very refined and advanced. If you fish ultralight with tiny flies, this is one of the best fly boxes for midges, especially with the included threaders and sight board.
Best Fly Boxes for Dry Flies
The clue is in the name. To make sure they float, you will want to keep your flies as dry as possible.
Here are a few boxes that will achieve this. Some even dry your flies after use!
Have you ever tried to push something square into your pocket?
How did it work out?
I bet you ended up doing it two-handed? Well, this versatile fly box is deliberately tapered to help guide it into an open vest or pack pocket. Anything that cuts down my workload when fishing is a good thing.
This fly box is available in a range of sizes, so whether you want to take midges, streamers, or a mix of both, you should be covered. The boxes are double-sided, so get organized and have a side for wet flies and a side for dry flies.
You’ll be able to hold 80 flies per side. That’s a whopping 160 flies in total. That should be more than enough to allow you to match the hatch.
The clear lid makes it easy to select flies plus it is waterproof so your flies don’t get wet and rust, and it floats too!
I love the unique shape, it’s easy to put them in a pocket one-handed.
The attached clip also allows you to stow the fly box outside your fishing vest or jacket.
Clear lid for quick selection.
Waterproof to protect your flies.
Floats if you drop it.
Holds up to 160 flies.
Not for bigger flies.
With great capacity and a unique shape, this fly box could be the answer if you have a vest with smaller or tighter pockets.
Best Fly Boxes for Wet Flies and Streamers
Wet flies and streamers tend to be a little bigger, so you are going to need a larger box.
And preferably one that you can see into without having to thumb through piles of feathers.
If you are struggling to catch, it might make sense to throw on something big and juicy. For that, you’ll need a big fly… Which will mean you should look for a bigger box.
As the name suggests, this is ideally suited for those big bugs. And by big bugs, I mean streamers and poppers.
Big flies take up a lot of room, so you aren’t going to fit hundreds of flies in here. As a lure box goes, it is purpose-built. The foam lining has bigger slits to pinch larger gauges of the hooks.
One great feature that you’ll see in many of my suggestions is a clear lid. I don’t like a box full of water, and this allows you to see your flies without having to open the box, especially in bad weather.
Good capacity for bigger flies.
Easy to view flies through the clear lid.
It might take up a lot of room for not many flies.
Will sink if left to float for a while.
There are times when you need a lot of big flies. If you ever take your fly rod to the sea, for instance. This would definitely be a good saltwater fly box for sure, but don’t drop it as it is not waterproof.
I hope you said ‘a lot’! And if that is the case, you are going to want something that lasts.
This is one of the most durable fly boxes on my list. Its standout feature is the durable and stretchy silicone grip. Once you’ve hooked your flies in, they aren’t going anywhere!
Considering how many flies you can take (especially if you opt for the double-sided box), it actually has a really slim profile.
It would make a great choice to throw in an over-the-shoulder sling pack. If you haven’t seen how much you can fit in these bags, it might be time to take a look. You can see my sling pack guide here!
Sure, the standout thing for me is the magnetic lid-locking system. To open the box is effortless, especially with cold hands. The magnet is strong enough to keep the lid completely sealed while it is in your pocket.
Amazing capacity based on the profile.
Packed with clever features to make it easier to use.
Convenient magnetic closure.
Clear lid for fly identification.
Water-resistant and floats for a while.
A little long.
Not waterproof and will sink eventually.
Okay, so it isn’t the shortest fly box ever. But that’s okay. For bigger patterns, it would be ideal. If you want the best fly box for streamers, then it’s a good shout!
Great All Round Fly Boxes
Maybe you don’t want to commit a single box to one type of fly, or you just like carrying one.
These budget boxes offer great performance and excellent value. For the money, they share a lot of features with some of my more premium fly boxes.
This budget fly box is waterproof. The perimeter is sealed, and the box locks tight with an ABS plastic clip. Once it’s shut, it stays shut, so no sharp hooks wandering around in your pockets.
One feature I really like is the bubble plastic lid. There’s plenty of room above the foam interior mounting tray, so even your bushy winged patterns won’t be crushed.
The size of the box is just perfect for slipping into my vest too. If you haven’t seen what size pockets fly fishing vests have, it might be worth checking out some cool fly fishing vests here. Then you can get a better idea of the fly box to suit you.
Great value and plenty of capacity.
A roomy fly box with a clear lid, great for all patterns.
Waterproof and floats.
Durable and affordable.
Easy to organize and holds flies well.
The plastic can get brittle in cold weather.
For anyone on a budget or looking for a great all-around box, these boxes are amazing. They are pretty tough, and you can fit a large number of flies within, plus they have a clear lid, are waterproof, and float. What more could you want?
Orvis are purveyors of some of the finest fishing gear, and this box is proof.
If you are looking for high quality, you’ve found it.
This fly fishing box is actually 4 boxes in 1. It features a middle attached ‘tray’ insert that allows you to sandwich your choice of flies between the two sides of the casing.
For its size, it is colossal in its capacity. Want to know how much you’ll fit?
The small box alone will hold 278 flies. That’s crazy! If you are just starting out, then one of these boxes will keep you going for a while.
This is another box that floats, and is waterproof so you needn’t worry about losing all 278 in one go… Do it one by one like me!
Very high-quality fly box.
Massive amount of storage for such a small box.
Fits hook sizes 2 – 20 covering most patterns.
Floats and is waterproof.
Bushy patterns may get crushed.
No clear lid for easy viewing.
Doesn’t accommodate dry flies opposite each other.
I really like Orvis tackle. They always seem to do a good job. This fly box is no exception. It will be ideal if you are a minimalist angler who wants one box for all your flies. Provided you are conservative, it could be the only fly box you’ll need.
Now and again, I like to treat myself to something really special. When I think of fly fishing, I think of nature, wood cabins, and flowing streams. This box feels like a part of that.
You have to see it, it’s beautiful.
Think of a fly box handcrafted from a mix of US-grown woods. Within this frame, you’ll find cherry, black walnut, tiger maple, and brass. It’s like something from a bygone age. There is even the option to personalize it.
While you could, you won’t want to pack this with flies. It is more like a frame for your best patterns. That said, fly boxes are meant to be used, and you’ll be the envy of the river with this in your pocket
It won’t win any prizes for functionality, but this is truly the best-looking fly box that I have seen.
Absolutely stunning in the looks department.
I’ll be honest, it’s not the cheapest fly box.
Sometimes it is nice to have something that feels like it’s meant to last a lifetime. This fly box is so beautiful; you’ll want to hand it down to your grandkids… Seriously.
A Quick Guide to Fly Boxes
So you’ve got good enough that you know your nymphs from your gnats and your muddlers from your midges… You are getting quite the collection of flies and are looking for some storage solutions.
Let me offer you a few pointers on what to look for when buying a fly box.
What Size Fly Box Do You Need?
Let me say it when it comes to fly boxes…
Two things are going to dictate the size of the fly box you need. The first is the size and number of flies that you have.
The second is where you intend to store the fly box when you are actually fishing. There are some huge boat-style fly boxes out there, but they are super impractical for stowing in a vest or pack.
If a fly box doesn’t fit into your pocket, you will not get the benefit. Take a look at your vest, waders, or pack and measure how much space you have for a fly box or two.
It will save you the hassle of either having to buy another fly box or wrestling something slightly too big in and out of your pockets every time you want to change the fly.
If you want to know how to arrange a vest, here’s a handy video.
What is the Best Type of Fly Box?
Now don’t get me wrong.
I think the A.L. Swanson River Series Fly Boxes are absolutely beautiful. Are they the best type for me?
I have far too many patterns to truly appreciate something so artisanal.
For me, I like something that I can bash around, drop in the water, fill with sopping wet flies, and know that it will be in the same condition in a year as it is now.
The best type of fly box differs for each angler. If you want a perfect fly box for midges, go for something small that allows you to clearly see each tiny fly. If you have streamers or wet flies, go for something long and with depth.
If you are fishing dry flies, be sure to pick a box that focuses on keeping them dry and not crushed.
Try and match your fly box to the type of flies you will be using most often. Provided you’ve got enough room, you can create a ‘secondary’ section for those ‘when all else fails’ flies.
Here’s the truth.
Hooks get wet, and hooks get rusty.
Pick the wrong material in your fly box, and you’ll end up with a rusty brown mess that looks old very quickly. When it comes to the material, you want something that does absorb water and is durable.
This is for two reasons.
First, you want your fly box material to grip your flies tightly. Loose flies are not a good thing, especially when it’s windy. You open your box, and you’ve just lost that $2 nymph that you were hoping to try.
Second, when you push and pull hooks out of sub-standard material, you end up with two things… Chips and rips plus a load of rust. Low-quality fly boxes don’t stay looking new for long.
While we are talking materials, consider the outer casing too.
I tie some pretty wild patterns. Sometimes it takes me hours. The last thing I need is to have my hard work ruined or lost if I drop the box on a rock and it breaks. For this reason, I tend to look at boxes with flexible plastic covers. They are more durable in cold weather too.
Waterproof Floating Fly Boxes
Here’s a feature that the guides won’t tell you about.
Here’s my gift to you… I learned this the hard way.
Pick a fly box that floats and is waterproof.
Half of the fun of fly fishing is wading. Half of the fun of fly fishing is not watching your fly box with 200+ flies slip from your grasp and disappear into the current, never to be seen again.
A waterproof floating fly box will save you a lot of money in the long run.
A Fly Box with Extra Features
So, you’ve got something that’s the right size, fits all of your flies in, is tough, durable, waterproof, and floats.
So what’s left?
Now is the time when you can start refining your choice with little extras that make a good fly box great.
I personally love a magnetic locking system on my fly boxes. They are so convenient when you have cold and wet hands. They are easy to open and close one-handed.
You’ll have seen from the above list that clear lids are a nice addition to any fly box. By being able to peer in without opening my box, I can keep my flies nice and dry, even if it is raining.
And when it isn’t raining?
I have a lot of flies. And at least three fly boxes. Working out which fly box holds which flies without going through the hassle of undoing the catch and opening the box is worth its weight in gold.
Thank you very much for reading my article on the best fly boxes. I hope you enjoyed it, have learned a little about fly boxes, and have found the perfect one, two, or three for your needs!
Remember, it should be waterproof, float, have a clear lid, and fit the size of flies you want to store in it perfectly!
So what do you think? There’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to the best fly boxes isn’t there.