So, I’d like to share the contents of my fly boxes. Many anglers will not, but I already have written about the patterns that work for me. I’ve kept my promise to be transparent; there are no secret flies that I’ve kept from you.
When I go to a river, I try to:
- Pack light
- Have a variety of flies for all conditions and species
- Simplify as much as possible. A handful of patterns catches nearly all of my fish
I try to prioritize my fly boxes and think of them as “Starters,” “Back Ups” and “In Reserve.”
My most frequently used fly box is actually a small patch, the C&F Chest Patch.
As I’ve blogged before here, it holds many flies, and I can place used flies on magnets to let them air-dry. The sides of the patch are open, making for quick drying.
I pin it on my chest pack. When I want a fly, it flips open. I don’t have to reach into my chest pack at all.
Here, I’ve placed the flies that I think I’m going to use most often that day. It really doesn’t change much from river to river, unless I’m going to focus on throwing small dries at flat water all day.
For the remaining 90% of time, I’ll have anchor flies, dropper flies, and dries. You’ll see various anchors of various weights. For Euro-nymphing, that is the key. You want to be where the fish are. I think that fly selection is important, but far more critical are reading water, predicting where trout will be, and getting your flies down to the right level of the water column.
In most situations, I want my anchor nymph to be about 1′ above the bottom and not dragging on it. That usually calls for tungsten-bead nymphs. But, if trout are higher in the water column during a hatch, the anchors could be weighted with brass beads, glass beads or have no weight at all.
I like to keep this chest patch light, and so, there are only one or two of each fly that I’m thinking of using.
I store them in two fly boxes in my chest pack.
On one side, I have extra anchor nymphs, dries and streamers. To keep weight down, I don’t have too many of each kind. Those tungsten beads really add up!
On the other side, I store dropper flies of all sorts. The key dividing line is that all flies in this box are size 18 or bigger.
Some of these flies are proven winners. Others have yet to work, but I keep hoping they will. In the winter, I periodically weed out this box and get rid of the duds. It’s a good winter evening when it is snowing out, the Bourbon is poured, jazz is on, and I’m stripping dud flies down to bare metal to re-use the hooks.
For small flies that are size 20 and smaller, I store those in a special fly box with magnetized panels. Before I got this, too many small flies disappeared in a gust of wind!
Magnetized fly boxes are cheap. Here’s one from Amazon for $8.99.
In this fly box, I have dries, emergers and nymphs down to size 30. When I hit tailwaters, this is a key fly box for me. I dip into it and place flies on the C&F’s magnets.
So, I try not to bring too much with me to the river. The three fly boxes in aggregate weigh very little, but I have enough with me to target multiple freshwater species during all types of conditions. I want my focus to be on reading water and presentation.
This is an old fly box that I keep in the car. In it, I store extra flies in case I run out of certain ones. I organize the flies by hook size. During day trips, I almost never go into it. During sleepover trips, I periodically replenish my inventory from it.
So, that’s what I bring to the river and how I organize my fly boxes. How do you store your flies?
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