I still remember the smell of my first tackle box. Upon opening it, the stacked trays would unfold exposing the shiny spoons, painted lures, red and white bobbers and jelly worms of my childhood. The soft segmented worms scented with anise or motor oil in colors like chartreuse, grape purple and ruddy brown. Today, tufts of feathers and thread wrapped on minuscule barbless hooks replace the brightly colored saltwater rapalas and a slim, pocket sized box replaces the handled suitcase-like tackle box of my youth, but the emotions are the same.
So which fly box is the best?
The Tacky fly box with it's silicone pad holds so many types of flies securely and seems indestructible. I think I have 6 of them; from the half size Daypack, to the now unavailable Orvis colab Dry Dropper box. There is almost always a Tacky box in my pack.
I also really love the Fulling Mill Tactical Box. It's currently my favorite box. It holds 520 flies!! I have used it pretty exclusively for nymphs and my favorite trash flies (remember my love for those worms) for over a year now and it has no failures.
I use an Orvis Super Slim Pocket Box for midges. It has a somewhat magnetic base. I can't complain about it too much but I do wonder how many midges I have lost just in the act of opening it.
I have always wanted a classic Richard Wheatly box, with it's iconic aluminum outside and it's delicate spring loaded windows. For my use, it just doesn't seem practical on the rivers of New Mexico. I'm pretty clumsy and my Fulling Mill box has been dropped on the rocks of the Rio Grande and along the banks of the Chama River innumerable times. I can also tell you it floats.
Back to the point of this story; whether it has drawers or slits, is made of metal or recycled plastic nets, it's what is inside that makes it the perfect fly box. The feeling of opening the box to reveal a myriad of fly choices carefully tied just for this very moment in time, that's what is important. The box houses endless opportunities and hours of what we love as anglers.