Among all the fly fishing equipment and gadgets, are there any categories that you can NEVER find the best or the most suitable?? Have you thought about it? For example, let's say a rod. A 5wt or 6wt will suffice for the most freshwater fishing conditions. The company or the brand is totally up to the user. Perhaps a favorite company, been with them for a long time, or budgets. The same goes with the waders and reels. Vest or packs, this is another choice. I use both based on the conditions and styles of fishing for the day. All the nippers and foreceps do the same chores but prices vary by the makers and qualities. Do I need knot tools? A pair of polarize sunglasses from the department store or the well-known specialty company? The list goes on.
Over two decades of fly-fishing, a dozen years as a professional guide, I have found my favorite makers and suitable items and sorted out what works for me. And I'm open and willing to try new products. However, there's one particular gadget that has no particular favorite or answer. That is FLY BOXES. Actually the choice of makers and styles could be easy if one's fishing style is fixed or limited. Let's say: I only fish small streams during summer months with dry-flies and occasional dropper nymphs. Or match the hatch for rising trout at spring creeks or tailwaters. Or streamers and big nymphs targeting large trout while floating the large river. Well, even before I became a guide, I like and have done all of these. Then as my guide career progressed and fly tying enthusiasm keeps growing, no particular fly box style or dimension from one particular manufacturer will ever suffice.
Here are some confusing factors. Capacity varies from minimal to as many as possible. Foam or compartment. Individual slit. Magnet here and there. How about classic wooden boxes with cork inserts? It is still a choice but there's no perfect style or product that accommodates all kinds of flies. If I just need to store in my boat bag or in my garage, compartment boxes for lure and sinkers are more than wonderful. I actually have two good friends who make and sell very functional boxes and I have them and like them but you understand that's a different story.
Midway through my guiding years, I settled with the compartment style, varying in sizes. I labeled them. My main bags, one big bag for the river float and the other for the spring creek, have been well organized rather than miscellaneous boxes scattering around. A few disadvantages have been: that they tend to be bulky, sometimes hard to find small flies, and the reason for that is I sometimes put too many flies in one compartment. For the past few years, I've been using contemporary slim cases that I acquired from the estate. Those do carry fair numbers of flies. Ones with individual slits make the inventory assessment easy. In other words, one, like myself, can't pile up flies. But then how many flies do I actually use during the course of one day guide trip? Slim cases do carry more than sufficient numbers of flies. So, starting this spring, I decided to transit to slim cases.
As mentioned above, one of the reasons I stuck with compartment boxes is that I can "hoard flies". But the slim boxes, slits or compartments, can hold the same amount of flies without the bulk of boxes themselves. It's not that I've been close-minded but it's just hard to change what had been functioning even with a few disadvantages. This is primarily for my spring creek flies, majority of which are smaller than generic flies. I'm transitioning one category at a time. PMD patterns were the first to complete. I'm working on midges and baetis little at a time as I purchase slim boxes. Making a decision to move on was a bit daunting but once I'm getting into it, I'm enjoying the progress.
With that, my guide season has begun. Newly revised PMD boxes are carried along the spring creeks. I organized the lake fly boxes and bag as well.
What a Brookie!! Those we, a group of fishermen and guides, caught lots of trout, this one stands out in my personal note!
See you at the water!