How to Organize Your Fly Boxes

How to Organize Your Fly Boxes

Being organized is an important aspect of fly fishing and it can be very difficult. Sometimes the best dry fly hatch of the year only lasts for 30 minutes, if you can’t tie on the right pattern and get some casts going within that 30 minutes window you may miss some amazing fishing. If your fly boxes are well organized, you’ll be able to match the hatch in a time-efficient manner. Everyone develops their own ways of organizing their flies and certain strategies that work well for some may not work at all for others. Below are some suggested methods for organizing your fly boxes, remember to experiment and find out the methods that work best for you.

Size and Color

For those who are just getting started with fly fishing, sometimes simple is best. Almost everyone has their fly box organized by size and color; however, more experienced anglers may know the specific species that flys imitate or the specific location that the fly will work best. Most of the time beginners do not have this information, which makes it easiest to just organize everything by size and color. 


Nowadays most fly anglers will swap between fishing with dry flies, nymphs, and streamers. Once you have enough flies it becomes inconvenient to keep every kind of fly in one box. Organizing your flies by the tactic you use to fish them is an excellent choice. Have a streamer box, a dry fly box, and a nymph box, fly boxes are designed for specific sizes of flies so keep that in mind while selecting your box. You can take this concept further by organizing your specific boxes. For example, you could organize your streamers based on how heavy they are or you could organize your nymphs based on how deep you like to fish them. 

Target Species

For a multispecies angler, you should definitely consider organizing your flies based on which species of fish they work for. Fishing for pike? Grab the predator box with all the bucktail flies. Fishing for trout on a headwaters stream? Grab the small trout box with all your midges and small mayfly patterns. This can make preparing for fishing trips a breeze because you’ll never need to mix and match flies from different boxes.


Certain flies work better during specific times of the year, especially if the flies are meant to imitate aquatic insects. Organizing your flies based on when they work best can be very useful. You can simply rotate through your boxes throughout the year and if you’re on a shoulder season just bring two boxes.


Anglers that know their local waters well may want to have specific fly boxes for specific fisheries. This isn’t recommended for those who aren’t familiar with their local waters. This strategy can have its limitations, sometimes insects and fish are unpredictable and the fly that always used to work suddenly falls off the menu. 

Insect Species

Trout anglers often favor organizing their fly boxes based on specific insect hatches. This is effective because you always know exactly what box to look for when a hatch pops off on the water. You’ll also have your emergers, cripples, and duns in one place so it’s easy to swap to something the fish are keyed into. 

These are some of the common ways anglers like to organize their fly boxes, there are sure to be many other strategies. Remember that it’s important to search for a method that fits your individual preferences. It is an excellent idea to mix organizational methods so things are organized in several ways. You’ll never be sorry about spending some extra time perfecting your fly boxes. 

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