Fly Box Frustration and Redemption

What do these 3 fly fishing scenarios have in common?

Scenario 1:

You’ve been on the water for an hour, just blind casting and waiting for something to happen. Praying for the hatch or to see some rises. Suddenly it happens, a couple BWOs start floating off the water and the trout start rising. You reel in, re-rig your leader and pull out your fly box to grab a BWO emerger because you can tell that’s what they’re eating . . .

Scenario 2:

You just bought or tied a bunch of flies. Buying costs a lot of money, tying costs time and materials (and let’s admit it, money too.) You go to load up your fly box with those beauties . . .

Scenario 3:

You’ve just waded through a section of water to get in position for a hog you’ve been watching. It was deeper and more treacherous than you thought. Your vest is wet, you almost got water in your waders and thought you’d have to turn around, but you made it. Now that you’re closer, you see he’s targeting a different insect than what you have on. You reach in your vest for your dry fly box . . .

So, what do they have in common? They all end with some sort of frustration with inferior, overpriced fly boxes.

The fly gets stuck in the foam, or it’s jammed in there too close to its neighbors and you pull out two flies, maybe losing one. You start putting flies in the box and can’t get them to stay in the foam because some of the slots have been used too much or it just plain won’t grip the hook. Or, my favorite, that supposedly waterproof fly box you put your dries in is anything but. You pull the box out and it’s full of water. Now you have to dry the “dry” fly you need and hope that hog keeps rising, patiently waiting for you to get ready.

I have been fly fishing for almost 8 years, I have owned a few different fly box designs, and rejected so many more in fly shops because of one fatal flaw or another.

But now I have discovered the Umpqua UPG HD and Umpqua UPG LT boxes which have REDEEMED fly boxes for me.

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The Umpqua UPG fly boxes have a mixture of features and a range of optional layouts that make them stand out.

First is the option of HD (clasped, waterproof) or LT (standard magnetic closure).

For dries, I definitely want a waterproof box, and I choose to have one for my nymphs as well. For the big bugs, poppers and sliders that take forever to dry I want something that can breathe while I’m on the water or for multi-day trips in cold, damp weather. Some have argued that you want all your boxes to breath, thus Tacky recently came out with a waterproof box with a breathable membrane, but it sounds like something I would destroy. We shall see because Tacky boxes are nice.

Second is the material of the fly box.

In the Umpqua fly box the TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) material is drastically better than foam, and I think it’s better than the silicone competition I have been exposed to. It grips hooks well, even when you don’t seat them as far down as they will go. And it doesn’t require a lot of force to get them in or out, reducing the damage done to the flies through handling. It also has low memory, which means it likes to return to its original shape. So hook holes fill back in!

Thirdly is the range of insert configurations, which I believe you can swap out if you so choose.

I have the Umpqua UPG HD Large Fly Box for my dries and the UPG HD Magnum Midge for my nymphs. I plan on getting the Umpqua UPG LT High Bugger Box for my various, large streamers (great present if my wife is reading this… hint, hint). The variety of configurations are designed for specific fly sizes and types and they are all well thought out. With small and large standard slits for dries and nymphs, magnets for the smallest of nymphs and large, long slits for streamers. They have the Daytripper, Weekender, and a few others that have a mixture of all four types to load a box just for a short excursion.

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Overall, I am extremely happy and haven’t found a reason to complain about these fly boxes. I can’t wait to fill them up the rest of the way with some more flies and report back with how they hold up over the next few years. You can find all the boxes here on Avidmax’s site as well as all the other gear you need for fly fishing and camping.


Written by R. Andrew Springer

Andrew is an avid fly fishermen and outdoorsman from Southeastern PA. He and his wife, Dani, enjoy fishing the upper Delaware and other Pennsylvania lime and freestone creeks as well as hunting for big bass. They are involved with their local church and reconciledFAM (an Addiction Ministry) as well as BSA (Boy Scouts of America).

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