The trout are rising, a choice has to be made. From a pocket in your vest you pull out a small box. Be they commonplace plastic or expensive artisan, the simple fly box is often one of the more personal items the fly fisher takes to the water. Populated either with shop-purchased flies or those tied over many hours during long winter evenings. As anglers, we tend to find other angler’s fly boxes just as fascinating as our own, an insight into how they like to fish and perhaps even a glimpse of their personality.
Of course, we could get by with storing our flies in almost anything that comes to hand from a cheap plastic fly box, a tobacco tin (if you smoke that is), to Chinese knock-offs of expensive Japanese fly boxes. All perfectly good, and inexpensive ways of storing and carrying our flies. However, we often choose to opt for something that bit more special. For the most part, that’s simply because a better fly box will let you organise your flies, often offering better protection from the elements. However, for some, a fly box that entails a certain amount of craftsmanship in their making holds a special appeal.
Around £30 – £40 gets you an aluminium fly box steeped in the history of fly fishing. Richard Wheatley and Son began as a leather work and fishing tackle company in 1860. They started making fly boxes around 1890, originally from tin plate, using aluminium from 1908 . The long history of Richard Wheatley almost came to an end when original company went into liquidation in 2013, until Alan Gnann of R.E.C. Components, Wheatley’s US agents, and Clive Edwards, owner of the Richard Wheatley reference collection purchased the assets of the old company and formed Richard Wheatley Partners. Today, the Great British Fly Box Company builds and supplies Wheatley Boxes from their Somerset workshops. Of course, aluminium fly boxes have two other advantages: they’re not made of plastic and boy do they last. My oldest Wheatley fly box is 50 years old this year.
- Clive Edwards ‘Richard Wheatley Museum’ flyboxfan.moonfruit.com (Accessed February 2nd 2019)