Illawarra Flyfishers Club


Storing Saltwater Flies

Carrying saltwater flies around is traditionally done like most other flies - in a foam lined box, with the hooks pressed into the foam. The biggest problem I have found with this is that when you carry them around for a long time, or subject the box to a lot of tumbling around (like in a suitcase), the flies can easily come out and end up in a tangled mess. Weighted flies or clousers with heavy eyes are the main culprits.

The other annoying problem with traditional storage methods is that flies can get bent if the tail or body of the fly is pushed up against something for a period of time while being pinned in the foam. 

On that subject, bucktail flies which have a kink in the tail can be straightened by holding the fly in some steam over some boiling water. Synthetic materials can be straightened somewhat by combing the material with a medium grade comb while gently heating the fly with a hair dryer. 

Here's a different approach to carrying baitfish type flies. It won't really apply to flies with protrusions like legs or hackles, which will be bent or flattened in these boxes. Flashy profiles, surf candies, clousers and decievers are all reasonably flat and won't really be affected by being lightly compressed between two sheets of foam. Flies stored in this manner will retain their shape and you won't end up with a tangled mess, no matter how much the box gets tossed around. I have found that large flies in particular (like dual hook flashy profiles) are best stored in these sorts of boxes.

The idea is based on using not one, but two sheets of foam in the box. The thickness of the foam depends on how many flies you want to carry in the box. Soft, open cell foam (one that will probably absorb water) is used instead of the normal closed cell foam usually used in fly boxes. The soft foam holds the flies more securely and won't damage the flies or affect their surface finish. You don't really have to use a sheet of foam inside the lid, that's up to you.

Of course the double layer of foam means that you won't be able to see the flies inside the box when the box is closed, but the advantage of this is that sunlight won't be able to enter and degrade the epoxy finish on the flies.

The method for making the boxes is pretty basic, just find a suitable box like a video case or craft box without compartments and use double sided tape to stick the foam onto inside of the box. The best place to find the foam is Clark Rubber, who stock a wide variety of thicknesses and colours.