Fly Box Organization: It's Overrated

Take a good look...this is the most organized a Deeter fly box ever gets. Spring is to fly fishers what it is for baseball players: a fresh start. Hope springs eternal. Everyone's in the pennant chase today. And my fly box looks like I have my act together. Give it a month, tops.

I always make a point to start the season on the right foot. All those bugs I tied in the winter months find a nice little slot in the spring lineup...the leftovers from last season get some tender loving care...the new patterns from the shop have their special places too.

In April, I even organize my boxes by types of flies. There's a mayfly dry fly box...a streamer box (the implements of doom)...a terrestrial box (which stays pretty organized until July)...a caddis/stonefly dry box...and a nymph box. I don't break out nymphs into midges, mayflies, stones, and caddis...they all live together in this big box, organized in neat little rows.

Problem is, once the fishing starts, my bug organization skills are about as stable as radium. Flies go from the box to the tippet...from there to the patch on my vest...from the patch back into any box that's handy...sometimes without being slotted in the foam...and often times they get stuck to my hats. By August, I have hats that feature better organized collections of patterns than most of my boxes.

Now some might say that makes me a sloppy angler. I say you can be a type-A neatnik if you want. But once the fishing season starts in earnest, I have better things to do than play with little flies in boxes... namely catching fish. I've taken clients out on guide trips, and watched them try to hide the horror in their faces as I pull out my ratty, disorganized fly box in the morning, thumbing through loose globs of fur and feathers to find the right bug. A great guide is supposed to have a well-organized arsenal of boxes, so many that he needs an extra backpack to carry them all, right?

Poppycock. Give me the guy who can guide a full day on a handful of patterns stuffed into an old snuff can. That's the guide who's dialed.

Well, at least that't the guy who can rationalize being a slob. And at least I have a photo to remind me next spring what an organized fly box looks like.