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No matter how dialed in you are on your home river, there will always be days when you struggle. Maybe you need a bigger streamer than you packed. Maybe you just don’t have the right bug to match a hatch. Now, imagine that hidden close by is a communal fly box only certain anglers know about. Inside is a stash of patterns left by other fishermen. There’s even a notebook with entries about why a fly was added, and perhaps how or where to use it. You grab a fresh bug or two, leave a few of your own for the next guy in need, and just maybe your day turns around thanks to a favorite tie from a fellow angler.
If Aaron Przybylski, the creator of Scavenger Fly, has his way, such boxes will exist on every river in the country. And since finding one plays into the modern angler’s addiction to Instagram, his plan might just work. Part treasure hunt, part community driver, and part angling advantage, Scavenger Fly may be the smartest merger of fishing and social media yet.
Out of the Bag
Przybylski, a Minnesota native and devout fly angler, and his family have dabbled in geocaching for years. For those unfamiliar with the activity, participants use GPS to locate hidden trinkets planted throughout the country. It was Przybylski’s wife, Charlotte, who first wondered if it would make sense to marry geocaching with flyfishing. So in May 2016, Przybylski grabbed a zip-seal bag and decided to find out.
“I dropped a few good flies, a pencil, and a cheap notebook in the bag and hid it along the Kinnickinnic River in Wisconsin,” Przybylski says. “Then I sent a few pictures of clues to its location to a couple buddies and sort of forgot about it. Within a few weeks, I started getting more and more pictures of new flies in the bag and fish people caught on flies from the bag.”
Thanks to the success of Przybylski’s experiment, Scavenger Fly was born in late 2016, starting with an upgrade from a plastic bag to watertight fly boxes. Each box comes with six starter flies, a notebook, a pencil, and instructions, which specify that if you take a fly without leaving one, you should pick up five pieces of trash. Przybylski encourages anglers who purchase a box to add a few of their own flies, and then plant it in a location that’s not impossible to figure out but would take local knowledge to find with a few location clues posted on Instagram with the hashtag #scavengerfly. Anyone who finds the box is asked to take a photo of it and post it with the same tag. Tagged photos of fish caught on flies from the box are also welcomed. The goal, Przybylski says, is for the boxes to become genuinely useful sources of local patterns.
Hidden for Good
As of this writing, only 12 Scavenger Fly boxes are hidden away—several in Wisconsin and Minnesota, a few in Iowa and Colorado. This spring will be the company’s first big push to the public. Przybylski says Scavenger Fly is already creating a buzz. He’ll be charging $25 for a box preloaded with six patterns. Scavenger Fly will also donate $5 of each sale to a fishermen-friendly cause, starting with the NRDC’s Clean Water Act efforts.
“I’m hoping that the donations to the organizations that matter to anglers will boost participation,” Przybylski says. “I know some of these boxes will go missing. There will always be those dinguses that will steal them, but I really believe that flyfishermen are good-natured. They want to help each other out and share what they know.”
For anyone who lives in New Jersey, you can follow the #scavengerfly hashtag to the box I planted on the South Branch of the Raritan River at Lockwood Gorge. It’s tucked away at one of my favorite little spots, often overlooked by many anglers. Congratulations if you find it. I’ve pulled many 20-plus-inch trout from that hole.
Gear Tip: Rack Them Up
Doing some spring cleaning in the garage? Need more rod storage? Cobra Garage Door Storage Racks are the answer ($35). Available in two lengths, these racks easily mount to the back of your garage door panels—a previously unused storage space—and securely hold up to six rod-and-reel combos. The racks are designed to move with the door, lifting your outfits safely overhead and out of the way upon opening, and keeping them within easy reach when closed. —J.C.
We tested 60 new fly patterns to find the top 20 that belong in your box this season.