I bought another fly box today and there was no reason for it. It’s nothing special - Just a plastic CF box, the kind with the push-in foam slots… for some reason I felt I needed it. I don’t.
I love the idea of organization, the thought of having everything where it should be and within easy reach at a moment’s notice. I don’t own a label maker, I have always wanted one but on some level I don’t think it would help much.
I think a perfectly organized, fully stocked fly box is a thing of beauty, but as many beautiful things it can never last because there is always a grey area, always a few flies that have a place in more than one classification, in more than one box for many different situations. There are always gaps, holes, slots left unfilled whether by usage or lack of filler. It feels unacceptable in my mind, but it is an unavoidable fact of my life.
The fly box is the mouth of a fisherman's passion.Have you ever had a fly box that was so perfect that you didn’t want to use it? Just the thought of removing one of the splendidly organized, perfectly placed flies would leave a bead of sweat shaking on the tip of your nose as the pliers moved in for the days selection. I never have, but I think I would like to have a chance at the experience.
In a perfect world, I might have ten of everything arranged in boxes zipped neatly in a bag, organized and labeled by type of fly as well as geographical application. Then again I may find myself held captive, trapped by the possibilities, paralyzed by the thought of having to pick the right one and ending my day sitting on the bank crying and shaking uncontrollably in a chaos of maybes and hopefuls, having not thrown one cast all afternoon. At least when you only have only ten flies with you, one of them has to be the right one.
It seems easy to measure a fly-fisher by their boxes; where they routinely fish and for what, the methods used, and even which in their arsenal have been recently deployed by the remaining clinch knot left secured to the eye to get in the way and be annoying clipped upon second or third deployment.
But can a persons fly box can be a preview of their other, non-fishy life? An unruly dry fly box and a messy kitchen? An overflowing mess of hastily tied buggers and a heap of laundry to wash but no detergent?
Will a precise box of nymphs arranged by color and size live with file cabinets, weekly pill organizers, and post-it notes? A color-coded pantry? A DVD collection in alphabetical order? A salad shooter? ( I wanted one of those when I was a kid... the idea of being able to shoot salad was always appealing) Can a procrastinating, lazy bum have a wonderfully flawless fly collection? Because when one is not fishing, a collection is all it is; an accumulation of animal parts tied to pointy metal that have no practical use when not around water, no matter how meticulously arranged.
And what about those damned empties? If I tied for a month straight and bought the gaps, enough to fill every last one, I would probably just feel organizationally disabled and buy new boxes anyways. It can't be just me, can it?
-Alex who hopes not.