My Current Solution to a Bulky Fly Box
Other than actual fishing tackle, do you own a piece of gear that you just simply can't part with? Whether that's a trusty old vest or a handy gear bag, not matter how old, tattered, or ugly it is, you just can't let it go.
For me, that's my Fishpond waist pack. I acquired it back in 2014 and just can't find one I like better overall. For someone that turns over their gear pretty frequently, the fact that I'm still using the thing says a lot. I have been tempted a few times to try a new waist pack, but mine just has all the features I need in a simple layout that I'm used to.
This brings me to the pack's available room — one area where it's lacking a bit and really the biggest reason I've ever toyed with replacing the pack. The compartments are a little tight to begin with, and once I load the pack up with a couple tippet spools, a fly box, and a few other odds and ends, it gets mighty crowded mighty fast. While everything I need does fit, on most days manipulating some items in and out of the pack while attached to me is usually not as easy as I'd like it to be.
For my fly box, I've typically brought either a small hard-sided Plano or Umpqua box with me which swallows up a lot of compartment space and is tougher to work with since they are rigid. I was thinking how something thin and flexible would be ideal for transporting a small selection of streamers, but the fly wallets I've seen and the single one that I've tried weren't thin enough to make a difference.
That's when I had an idea!
A few weeks back, I remembered I had a couple of lure wraps that I bought for conventional fishing. Made with smooth, tough inner shells, these wraps simply go around a rigged or unrigged lure and are made to help shield you from hook points while also keeping hooks from tangling/fouling during storage and transport. I decided to try them out!
So far I find these wraps make a great alternative way to transport flies, especially fishing locally since on most days I usually just need a handful of small streamers. Extremely thin and flexible, these wraps are a cinch to get in and out of my waist pack and free up a ton of room so I can even bring a few extra items along if I want. I typically bring two wraps with me — one for my unused flies and another for storing my used flies that are all wet.
There are some downsides. Since there is no thick inner material to stick the hooks into, the flies are stored loosely. Opening the velcro abruptly might cause the flies to explode all over the place, and if it's windy I shield the wrap while opening so the flies won't blow out. Also, at least with my wraps, the material is tough but not totally hook-proof so there isn't the same level of safety or rigidity as with a hard-sided box. But, for my usage of keeping inside a sling or waist pack, I don't see how this will ever be an issue.
There are a lot of lure/bait wraps available...big, small, clear, solid, etc. Mine may not be the best choice of them all, but so far they are proving to be super handy and even help keep my pack slightly lighter as well. In fact, I haven't even used any of my fly boxes since I started using these wraps. There are probably other similar types of products out there that would easily double as viable fly storage solutions, but these work well for me and might be worth a look for you, too.
Sometimes you have to think outside the box...in this case, the fly box!