In My Fly Vest: The Fly Boxes

These are the boxes from my vest

These are the boxes from my vest (click to enlarge)


So after I emptied the pockets, sorted out the trash and ate the last of the energy bars, I looked through the remaining treasures. The first thing to catch my attention was the variety of fly boxes. Now I wasn’t surprised. Of course I knew each one was there and what they held. But when you lay things out, you see all the flies inside those boxes.

It really is mind blowing that I had nine fly boxes! (well, eight boxes and a Mustad hook carton) There are days that I only use four or five flies all day. But there I am packing over 1200 flies. What in the world am I thinking?

But I know you understand my affliction because you suffer from it too. The “I have to have the right fly” syndrome. It is a disease without a cure. The unattainable desire to never be without the correct fly to solve every imaginable fishing situation. Of course the unimaginable solution would be to develop the one perfect fly that would always catch fish in every circumstance. If I ever managed to create such a fly, I might quit fishing. It is the quest that drives the passion of fly fishing.

It is the wonder that we feel every time we are able to tempt a trout to rise to our dry fly or sip our soft hackle that takes us back to the tying bench and onto the stream. It is the circle of observation of nature, crafting of the fly, pursuit of the holding area, casting the line, setting the hook and releasing the fish that provides the momentum to keep us excited by an act we have repeated thousands of  times.

Yes, I carry over a thousand flies in my vest. I admit it and celebrate it. Because I am not restricted or bound by my flies. I have a memory of each one tied on my vise for a specific reason. Perhaps just because the picture of that fly caught this fisherman. Or maybe because I wondered what would happen if I tied an Adams with a shuck instead of a hackle tail. Or the memory of a swirling eddy on the Clark Fork River in the fall when fly after fly failed to take the slurping cutthroat as I spun idle circles in my pontoon boat. I tried bigger flies. I tried smaller flies. I tried brighter then darker flies. Then I remembered an olive biot nymph pattern a friend said he used whenever he was getting skunked. On that day, at that time, in that place…it worked for me, too.

It isn’t just the fly. But sometimes, sometimes it is.





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