To help bring order to your ever-growing fly collection, this article outlines a simple, effective strategy for fly box organization that can easily be applied to fit your fishing habits and personal preferences.
Organize Your Fly Boxes by Fly Type
Let’s assume you’ve acquired enough flies that they won’t all fit in a single fly box. While there are many ways to organize multiple fly boxes by target species, by season, by water type, etc. we feel that organizing based on fly type is by far the easiest.
This means that you’ll have a specific box for dry flies, a box for nymphs, one for streamers, and maybe a box for terrestrials or bass poppers.
Guide Tip: I’ve tried most fly box organization techniques. Recently I’ve given in to having a couple HUGE suitcase style boxes and then 4 working fly boxes. These three are organized by; Dry, Nymph and Streamers. My last fly box is a foundation box with a proven mix of flies that just catch fish.
Of course, if you have large quantities of each fly type, you’ll end up with multiple boxes for each.
What’s nice about this system is that you can often use smaller fly boxes that fit neatly into your pack or distributed throughout your vest.
Alternatively, if you haven’t racked up high fly numbers yet, you can do a scaled-down version and combine two or more fly types into a single box ? dry flies and nymphs in one, streamers and terrestrials in another.
What if you want to use only one fly box?
You minimalist, you. In that case, you can do an even more scaled down version by organizing the rows of your fly box based on fly type e.g. top left rows hold dry flies, bottom left rows to hold nymphs, top right rows hold streamers, etc.
Tips for Internal Fly Box Organization
Now that we’ve covered the macro-level fly box organization, let’s talk about the best ways to arrange your flies inside the fly box itself.
- Keep specific fly patterns grouped together. Go simple and keep like flies with like flies. For example, in your dry fly box, keep all your Adams flies next to each other in one row or compartment and your PMD’s in another.
- Choose a consistent sizing scheme. Within your rows of fly pattern groups, decide on an order in which your flies increase in size i.e. flies increase in size from left to right or vice versa. This makes it easier to quickly choose the proper fly size.
- Use the proper fly box design for your flies. Different types of flies fit better in different styles of fly box. Using the right fly box for the job makes fly box organization so much easier. For more insight about fly boxes currently available, check out our article on the benefits of different fly boxes.
Guide Tip: Start thinking about a “system” for organizing your flies and how you’ll carry them on the water. I’ve talked a bunch about the Summit Sling Pack, but everything needs to work together. Read about what I think is the “Ultimate” starter kit HERE
Consider Using a “Working” Fly Box
With your arsenal of flies carefully arranged in several different fly boxes, all you have to do is grab the boxes you need for the day and head out. To make things even easier on the river or lake, try using a “working” fly box to hold your go-to flies you plan on using that day. This keeps your most frequently used flies readily available for speedy fly changes. Then, if you need a fly that isn’t in your “working” box, simply reach for the specific box in your pack.
If your thinking about Streamers check out this article I wrote on the BEST STREAM FLY BOXES (links to article) This explains everything you should consider and recommends so great fly boxes.
Organizing your fly boxes might seem like a pain, but if you put in the effort up front, you’ll spend less time digging around for the right fly and more time focused on fishing.
What about the flies?
Organizing flies is one thing, but carrying the right flies is even more important. Heck, I think I have 20 articles about great flies for different fish.
Where do I recommend you start? Pheasant Tails, Adams, Elk Hair and Hare’s Ear Nymphs – I suggest you read my article on the best flies for the beginning fly fisher. Check out the article – READ HERE
Are you looking for some great How To Fly Fish Articles? Checkout this list:
- How to Fly Fish for Bluegills – These amazing fish are all over the USA. I like to call them the “Gateway Drug to Fly Fishing”
- How to Fly Fish for Brook Trout – Find the cleanest, coldest, most beautiful streams and I’ll bet Brookes are present.
- How to Nymph Fish – Step by Step details for setting up, presenting and catching trout with nymphs.
- How to Fly Fish for Salmon – Image hooking into a +25 pound King Salmon in a river and your Fly Rod breaks! Seriously this happened to me on my first trip.