If you are like me and seem to catch more flies than you do fish, you will need somewhere to store them all.
For that, you’ll need to get your hands on the best fly box you can!
I’ve tried a fair few out and will help you out by showing you what I’ve learned. You’ll find a whole variety below, and a few have some really amazing features.
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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.
While the threaders are great, they are easily lost, and then you have a standard fly box.
C&F produces very high-quality gear. It’s very refined and advanced. If you fish ultralight, this could be one of the best fly boxes for midges, especially with the included threaders and sight board.
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, 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 too! So if you happen to drop it, you won’t lose all of your flies.
Because it is so slim, you can’t fit bushy patterns inside. They are easily crushed.
Sometimes you can’t have it both ways, you can have slim or roomy… It’s simple physics. If you are looking for a slim box that you can stash almost anywhere, this should fit the bill quite nicely.
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.
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.
Okay, so you are robbed of a little capacity with the shape, but it’s worth it for me.
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 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.
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 the best saltwater fly box for sure.
I hope you said ‘a 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.
It would have been perfect if it was just slightly shorter.
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 perfect!
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 some cool fly fishing vests out 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.
The plastic can get a little brittle in cold weather if it breaks its game over.
For the beginner, these boxes would be amazing. They are pretty tough, and you can fit a large number of flies within. What more do you want?
Orvis are purveyors 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, 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.
If you have bushy fly patterns, you might find that they start to encroach and crush the flies on the other side of the box.
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. 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 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 to Guide 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 choose. The first is the 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 or pack and arrange it. Then 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 vest pocket every time you want to change the fly.
If you want to know how to arrange a vest, here’s a handy video.
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 with 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.
If you are fishing dry flies, be sure to pick a box that focuses on keeping them dry.
Try and match your fly box to the type of fishing that you will be doing most often. Provided you’ve got enough room, you can create a ‘secondary’ section for those ‘when all else fails’ flies.
Organizing your fly box is a nice way to spend an evening before a trip. Want some tips on how to do it?
I’ve got you.
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 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. Low-quality fly boxes don’t stay looking new for long.
While we are talking materials, consider the outer casing too.
Listen, 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.
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.
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 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 and durable, 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.
So what do you think? There’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to the best fly boxes.