I had started writing this topic a few months ago and never finished, and after I posted my last article, The Top 10 Old School Trout Streamers, I thought it was great timing to finish it. A common question for those just getting into hardcore streamer fishing- how do you store them? While most of the old school streamers are quite small, the new school stuff is big and getting bigger. Streamers are also changing hardware, with the addition of shank flies, tube flies, and flies using extended tails like the Pacchiarini pike tails.
I've been pretty obsessed with streamers for 4-5 years now, and once you go down that rabbit hole it's obvious that the usual fare isn't going to work. The very first dedicated box I purchased was an Allen Fly Fishing Plastic Boat Box. It's a plastic briefcase style box with some slit foam inside. It was inexpensive and performed.....until it didn't. The foam was also inexpensive and would chunk out pieces, the tabs to open it would slide off etc. For $19.99 it was well worth it.
Fast forward and I've tried a dozen different solutions since then as my streamer arsenal grew from 1 box to 7 boxes. Here is what I learned in that time, don't cheap out. You're likely buying a box to hold several hundred dollars or more worth of flies, all which take a lot of time to tie. I know guys on the forums like to hit up Hobby Lobby and make their own boxes, and I like arts and crafts too, but you aren't doing yourself any favors.
In the end, here are my 5 favorite streamer fly boxes, and why you might choose one over another, along with the 2 fly boxes I will never buy again.
The MFC Boat Box is MOST EXPENSIVE streamer fly box available now, and for good reason. I just have to start here, because after trying numerous other options, this is where I've ended up and I could not be happier.
Why I like it- It is durable. Unlike some other boat boxes which you may or may not see below, this is a higher quality ABS plastic with upgraded latches. Gone are the friction style latches on cheap boxes, replaced with 4 snapping latches. I have one of these with trout streamers, one with saltwater streamers, and one with pike streamers. The foam is a higher quality slit foam, and it's roomy. For trout flies, you can hold 6-7-8 dozen articulated streamers inside. Another reason I like these is because of the swing leaf insert system. Unlike Cliff Outdoors, another popular boat box, this multiple swing leaf inserts based on the size of flies. You can add a midge leaf, a nymph leaf, or another streamer leaf. Additionally, the leaf attaches more securely on the MFC boat box. Unlike the Cliff which just frictions in, the MFC box has 3 different connection points making it much easier and smoother to actually flip the leaf insert over. I also like that they sell a foam fly patch for the front of these boxes where you can pre load flies, or to store fished flies so they can properly dry.
It doesn't get better for streamer storage. If you're looking for the best, I currently have a great deal that gives you a FREE swing leaf. Link in title.
I've owned 3 of these boxes in different sizes and I've been happy with them. They are basically HALF the price of the MFC boxes, so for new streamer junkies it's really a no brainer. One of the biggest advantages these boxes have over many others is they are very lightweight. Compared to the MFC boat boxes which weigh almost 2.5 POUNDS, these are just over 1 pound. That may not be a deal breaker if you fish from a boat, but I'm a wade angler almost exclusively. For that reason, I don't bring my MFC boat boxes while wading, I'll use them as home storage and select flies for the day from them often throwing them in one of the Cliff Outdoors Bugger Beast Jr. which fits nicely into my sling pack. If you're fishing pack has a backpack option like my Fishpond Wildhorse Tech Vest, the Jr. size will fit comfortably.
I would not recommend getting the swing leaf insert, it just doesn't work well. It still has plenty of room for small, medium, and large size streamers. Right now I'm using one for my overflow pike streamers with flies ranging from 6"-10". The patented blue foam isn't all that great imo, but it gets the job done.
Plan D are relatively new in this industry (2014), but they have developed some innovative solutions. This fly box is designed to hold both tube flies and articulated flies effectively, something I've never seen before. It will hold 20 tube flies and 20 articulated flies (maybe 40 single hook flies depending on size) which is definitely more than you need on a single outing. If you don't need the tube fly storage, I really like their Articulated Max Standard. That will hold 40 articulated flies, and probably 75-80 single hook streamers.
4. The Generic Double Sided Slit Foam Fly Box $13.95
If you go on any good fly shop website or on Amazon and type of "streamer fly box" you'll see it. It's unassuming, not very sexy- and is basically a better C&F Micro Slit 6 Row fly Box at 1/3rd of the price. This box is THE BEST for single hook streamers. Muddlers, Buggers, Slumps- it holds them all and unlike the C&F box- it is far more durable. I've tried the more expensive version only to have 2 of their products break under almost zero stress. You could throw these around the parking lot at tailgates if you wanted to - they don't break. It has a rubber gasket to make it water tight, although you'd be foolish to think it's waterproof.
I was so anti-sushi roll when it was released and it took me longer than it should have to find it's merits, and like many things- first impressions can be wrong and can change, especially with use and experience. If you are fishing from a boat, this probably NOT your best option. You still may want to use in your boat because it makes a great staging area for streamers to save time that you would spend digging into your boxes, it also makes a great drying rack for fished flies.
That said, this is the ultimate wading anglers streamer box. It is extremely lightweight, and that is this "box's" best attribute. Whether you are hiking to a mountain lake, or just covering a lot of ground which you tend to do while streamer fishing, the lack of weight is a big relief. The large size weighs only 7oz by itself.
Also, because it rolls up you have more options in how to store this fly box. Instead of keeping this inside my pack like a traditional fly box, I like to keep these attached to the outside for easy access like you would a bed roll for camping. You can also slip it inside of the fly rod tube storage compartment on the outside of most packs. The other big benefit of the Sushi Roll is that you can easily open it up either at camp, or in the car back from the river so the flies can properly dry out. I can't tell how many flies I've throw away because I stuff the wet flies back into a boat box and forgot about them.
When I was researching this topic I came across a fly box that looked really good, but I could not include officially because I simply haven't used it yet. I'm definitely ordering one shortly and I'll report back after I've had time to test it out. I really like what the people at Yakoda are doing as far as innovative quality products. This is another soft side streamer option, with a bit of a throw back feel. It weighs only 2.5 oz, and is small enough to keep in your wader pouch. This would be a perfect compliment to any wading angler, or a traveling angler for that matter. It uses premium sheerling fleece to hold the flies. It is also American Made, which is a rarity anymore across the fishing industry as a whole.
2 Fly Boxes I'll Never Buy Again
I wanted to mention these two because after using them, I wouldn't want anyone else to waste their money. There are better options for the money, or even for less.
1. The C&F Micro Slit 6 Row Fly Box $35
I know, I know- C&F makes quality gear. I'm a huge fan of their fly tying tools, and in general you get what you pay for. I just don't like THIS fly box. The plastic feels cheap and I actually broke one under very little stress when I dropped it from hip height. For the money you can get 3 of the generic 6 row fly boxes which are more durable. That said, and I may do one of these in the future- I love the C&F Grandslam for a salt fly box.
2. Cliff Outdoors Bugger Barn $27.99
I've used these for years, and I've crushed too many flies to use them anymore. You might be able to use them for very small single hook streamers, but if you try to put articulated flies in here you will ruin- deerhair work, wool heads, deceiver tails, etc etc. It's just too compressed to be any good for big flies.
There you have it- I hope you enjoy. If you have any questions about these streamer fly boxes or fishing in general, or if you have an idea for articles or videos you would like to see in the future, please comment below. I really like the interaction, and if you suggest something there is a high chance you'll see it done.
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