Dry Fly Boxes & Organization

20 January 2006 By Dan Bachman • Flies • Comments (1)

Over the course of the last year my selection of flies increased from 2 boxes to 5. With my attention focused on determining what trout were eating I found that I wanted a larger variety of flies to choose from. Along with nymphs, duns and spinners I also began to experiment more with transitional stage flies as well. Cripple and emerger patterns were particularly successful for me as I exerimented with, and learned the proper presentation and how and when to use them.

My growing collection of flies during the season created a couple unexpected problems however. The first was the fishing vest that I have used for over 5 seasons didn’t have enough pockets for my growing inventory. The purchase of a new vest fixed this problem right quick.

The second was organizing all the flies in a way that made sense. After each visit to the fly shop to pick up 6 or 8 new flies I would spend time moving flies from box to box. Each trip to the water would reveal something new that either worked or didn’t about which boxes had which flies.

I experimented at one point with putting all emergers in one box and thorax patterns in another. But I found it easier to have most life stages together in one box for a particular fly. For example I have all my Blue Wing Olives together on 5 different rows in the box shown below including emergers, spinners & duns with a couple different patterns of each.

I still keep all my nymphs together however and with seperate boxes for terrestrials, streamers, stones and a couple dry fly boxes I have a system that works for me. At least until I buy a dozen of the new ‘hot fly’ come spring.

Here are some pictures of my ‘primary’ dry fly box. It contains midges, tricos, callibaetis, rusty spinners, humpies, royal Wulffs, renegades, PMDs, BWOs, drakes and caddis flies. The box is a C&F waterproof box with the optional insert.

Left Side (292 kb file size)

Insert & Right Side (592 kb file size)

So my question is—What is it that works for you? How do you organize your flies across multiple boxes?


  1. 21 January 2006 Craig

    Well I am still very infant like when it comes to my collection of flies and my experiance using them. I currently have one small box that has flip up lids that I am phasing out I also have one that isn’t a box but is a pin on foam and all I did here was organize it so that each fly of the same type are next to each other. I haven’t gone out in a while though since I don’t do well with cold. I just got a vest for Christmas so I have yet to outfit it with all my needs I plan on stopping by River Keeper or Anglers to pick up the magnet net holder deal and a new box and several flies. I also have been trying to learn to tie so I am starting to amass materials. Tying has become a great way for me to widdle away the winter months without going outside and freezing my butt off… although if the sun peaks out you can bet I am on the water if I don’t have to work that night.

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