Saturday, April 10, 2010

the empties

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.


  1. Anonymous5:53 AM

    and here I was thinking this was gonna be a post about dealing with your empty beer bottles and cans.

    a post on fly fishing? who knew?

  2. I know. Who would have thought?

  3. you should have taken a picture of my bugger box. Talk about O.C.D. It has about 180 buggers of varying size and color and anytime there is a gap I rush to my tying kit too fill it.

  4. That was some deep philosophical stuff right there y'all.

  5. Anonymous9:14 PM

    I disagree, My fly boxes are my only posessions that are organized. I will sit there and organize and re-organize my nymphs by size and color while my room is a heap of trash and dirty clothes

  6. It was more a question than a statement. Would you like to have your room more clean and organized? Or do you just not care? Because you obviously care about the systematization of your flies, but maybe you just haven't found enough motivation to clean a larger space.

    It does take a lot more energy to straighten out a bedroom than harmonize a fly box, which can be done while sitting on the couch.

  7. I say you just hammer 'em to the wall of your man cave. That's what I call "decoration."


What sayeth you?