Fly Fishing Traditions

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Monday, November 23, 2009

My Fly Boxes & My Box #1


I decided to organize my fly boxes this weekend. This is something I have to do from time to time. With as many flies that I seem to accumulate it just becomes an unorganized mess and when you really need a fly that you have in mind, it sort of goes like, "Where the heck is that Hogan's S&M?" This is also what you do when you should have gone fishing but can't.

For my fall and winter fishing I mostly use flies from 6 boxes. They are 80% nymphs and eggs. My main "Go To" fly boxes are 3 small C&F Boxes, that have the "flip page" in the middle. These boxes are small enough that you can put them in a shirt pocket, wader pocket or stash them easily in a pack like the "Fishpond Guide Pack". These boxes are "NOT" waterproof so you need to open them up and dry them out after fishing.

Box # 4 is another, "Go To" box, and is also a C&F box that has compartments on one side that I put Eggs, San Juan Worms, things that just don't store well in a slotted sleeve. The other side of this box has slotted sleeves where I keep larger prince, bird's nests, PT's etc. nymphs.

Box number 5 is a back up box with additional larger nymphs and rubberlegs. This is a water proof C&F box that has two leafs. This is my larger nymph and steelhead nymph box. I keep it around and available but I won't usually carry it around much. It stays in my boat bag most of the time, but it's always there and ready if I need it.

Box #6 is a small Orvis M4, compartment box. I will use this small box for my "Troutbeads". This is a new thing for me. I just put this box together this weekend. I have a larger box for beads that I keep in my boat bag, but this small one will be nice if I'm out and wading. These "Troutbeads" are mainly 6mm and 8mm glass beads in an assortment of colors. The trout beads can be the ticket when the egg bite is on and the egg bite gets a little fussy. I will carry an assortment of different colors and sizes of troutbeads along with hooks and toothpicks. The bead is threaded on the tippet and the hook is then tied on with a clinch knot. The bead is then slid to within about 3/4" +/- of the egg and a toothpick is inserted in the hole of the bead. Cut the toothpick off a little long and use your foreceps to seat the toothpick flush. Good to go. Almost every guide in Northern California. Oregon, Washington, BC and Alaska that fishes the egg bite uses "Troutbeads".

My Box #1

I'll give you an insight on the flies I carry in my C&F Four Leaf Box #1. I have this first small box labeled "Eggs/Fox Pupas/Nymphs" on the outside. This was the 1st of these boxes that I purchased and it has remained pretty much organized as it was when I first loaded it up. Sure, things get shifted around a bit but it hasn't really changed much. As I added more flies, different patterns and sizes, I would add another box.

Leaf #1 - Eggs

On the first leaf, I've got an assortment of eggs in different shades. The eggs that get used the most though are the "Pettis Eggs". I usually have 4 colors in this pattern. The nice thing about leaving your boxes laid out pretty much the same way is that when you find a pattern you really like and use a bunch of them, there's a big hole in your box. You can then tie or buy the flies to replace your favorites. In other words, this reinforces which flies are your "go to" flies, the ones you have the most confidence in, they're the ones that are always missing or hopefully eaten by trout. I've got some sucker spawn in here and I see I've only got the pink ones left. I use the yellow ones called "Oregon Cheese" the most and I don't have one left. So I'd better make a note of this. I've got about 80 eggs on this leaf.

Leaf #2 - Micro Mayflies

On the opposite leaf I've got pretty much all micro nymphs from size 20 down to a few 16's, but the flies here are mostly 18's and 20's. This started out being a Lower Sacramento River box so most of these flies had become favorites while fishing there. This leaf is entirely micro mayflies. I've got about 120 micro mayflies on this leaf. Some of the flies on this leaf are;

  • Mercer's Micro Mays in brown and olive

  • Mercer's Glass Bead micro may in brown and olive

  • Mercer's poxy back baetis

  • Mercer's poxy back pmd

  • Burks HBI's (for PMD's)

  • Hogan's Military Mays in Brown and Olive

  • Hogan's S&M Nymphs in Brown, Olive and Black

  • Skip's Nymph (for PMD's)

  • Pheasant tails nymphs 18's & 20's

  • Drifting Flashback PT

Flip Leaf #1 - Caddis Pupas

On the one side of the flip page I have mostly Fox's Poopahs. I usually carry the Fox Poopahs in different sizes and colors. This side has about 80 caddis poopahs. I love fishing the summer caddis on the Lower Sacramento with the flies from this leaf.

  • Fox Poopah's tan, olive and insect green

  • Beadhead Fox Poopah's in tan and olive

  • Fox's Spring Time Poopah in insect green (to match the Mother's Day Caddis)

  • Lightning Bugs - pearl and silver

Flip Leaf #2 - Emergers & Soft hackles

On the opposite flip side I've got an assortment of emergers and soft hackles. There are about 70 flies on this leaf. Some of my "go to" emerger and soft hackle patterns on this leaf are;

  • March Brown soft hackles

  • March Brown flymphs

  • Mother Day Caddis soft hackles

  • Lafontaine caddis pupas, tan and olive

  • A sort of Fox's Pupa emerger, heck if I know what it's called, in Olive

  • Morrish's Dirty Bird, hares ear

So let's see, in this one little ol' flybox which is about 3 1/2" wide, 5 inches tall and 1 1/4" thick I've got about 350 flies. That's about $525 worth of flies in a $40 dollar fly box. So that's about a $565 investment. I'll have to start asking my buddies for spare change when I'm taking them down the river.

This box is my oldest working box in progress. Not to mention a lot of good times accumulating experiences and the flies. I'll make a note to keep good track of this one, I'd hate to lose it.

Also, I've got to fill up that spot that's missing the micro spawn.

I'll check out the other boxes and let you have a peak in them later.

Go see Tony at Nevada City Anglers, he can show you the C&F boxes and he's got bins full of flies.

Make a Tradition.


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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.