Do you ever purge your #flybox after #flytying?

This weekend I read a blog post originally posted two years ago, over on the Fly Fish Food blog entitled “5 Steps to Fly Box Organization Zen”. This reminded me that it’s been a few years since I have gone through and purged my fly boxes and thought it was high time to do so again.

As it is, many years ago, I limited myself to a total of three at any one given time. Frankly, I don’t really need more than that. Over the years I have used a variety of different fly boxes and they have made the rotations (or been lost), often based on what I like or find convenient at the time. While I haven’t actually counted, with the three boxes I’m currently using I can carry between 600-800 flies at a time. Even when western FF, I wasn’t one to change my fly often and even on a bad day I don’t lose that many flies. Last year on one very windy day and the day I was only carrying 7x tippet, I lost 5 flies in a couple of hours and decided to end the day early.

My current boxes are a Tacky Day Box, a Tacky/Orvis collab box, and a generic, dual sided, multi-compartment box by Plano. The Plano box I have had for longer than I can remember and has served me well; although it quickly becomes disorganized. It’s light weight, easy to shove in a pocket and holds a lot of flies. Over the years I have looked for it again (although not in the past 5-6 years admittedly) and again and never found it.

The Tacky Day Box was purchased when the company first got started a couple of years ago and over time I quickly came to like it. It’s small, light weight, easy to see the flies, and easy to organize. It’s just a little on the more expensive side of things (albeit not as much as a Wheatley - which I’ve also had in the past), especially when compared to the Plano. It also carries enough flies for a full day on the water.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased the Tacky/Orvis collab box. Admittedly, the three primary reasons that I purchased it were: 1. I liked the color; 2. I really like my other Tacky box; and 3. I had already been thinking about better organizing myself this year. Maybe not the best reasons to buy something, but I’ve wasted $35 on many more useless items in the past.

With that, I proceeded to do my purge. For me, it was helpful to not think about what to get rid of, rather I thought about what worked last year and I wanted to keep. As I went through the process it also helped me focus on what other things I want to tie and try this year. At the moment I haven’t been tying a lot because I’m almost out of hooks. I’ve almost used all of the eyeless keiryu hooks I bought last year. Some of them I really liked and some I did not.

The main reason I haven’t purchased any more hooks is that earlier this winter, I decided to participate in helping Joe at Firehole Outdoors by purchasing his hooks at the pre-launch event and help (along with many others) get his project running. So, I decided to not purchase any other hooks and wait for those to arrive; which I am eagerly awaiting.

I digress. Getting back to the purge. I easily pulled out 150 hooks. Do you purge your fly boxes? If so, what do you do with the flies? Do you throw them away? Do you cut off the old material and re-use them? In the past, I’ve thrown out any rusty hooks, but with the improved quality of hooks these days that is now a rarity for me. I’ve occasionally given some to friends, but at the moment I have very few friends who fly fish. More often than not, I’ll spend an evening (or two or three) and cut off the old material and organize the hooks as best I can and eventually reuse them.

Yesterday, I put similar questions out on social media and got a very strong response. Donate them. In particular, donate them to Project Healing Waters. I thought that was a brilliant idea. That way the flies go to a great cause, they aren’t discarded and wasted (which I wasn’t going to do anyway), and I don’t have to spend hours cutting off old material. It’s a great idea! Here’s the final result of what I purged (by the way, the Tacky/Orvis collab picture above is some of what I kept - though not all).


That’s awesome. I was bout to say GIVE THEM TO ME, but I’m happier with them going to PHW.

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I saw that post you made on IG and I’m going to do the same.
I have so many flies I’ve acquired over the years or that have just fallen out of favor with me that I just don’t ever fish, it’s a no-brainer.

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Even though I am only approaching the begining of my third season, I find I am already purging. Both commercial flies and ones I have tied. I think I am finally moving out of my initial experimental stage.

I really wish I had more of a filter when it comes to trying stuff. I guess that comes with some level of experience or shift in philosophy. Part of me enjoys experimentation and innovation. Its fun to refine. Its fun to change…but their really isnt a ton of economy in it. The fish most of the time really are not responding to the nuances of our preference. Their response is a lot more primary than we credit them.

Presentation depth, Size, Shape, Motion, visibility…sometimes it can just be one aspect that is important. Some guys will get latched onto color. I think color is only a factor as it relates to visibility and water clarity.

I give away my legacy flies. My 7 year old daughter uses them or i give them to friends starting in the sport.

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Brilliant idea Peder. I’ve collected flies since the early 1980"s and I
have tons of them to donate. Thank you for the suggestion.

I’ve contacted the guy on IG who is doing the organizing for PHW. I hope he’ll reach out and share where we can send the flies, but without his permission I don’t want to share his info. My hope is he’ll post something here or send me the info and give me permission to share it.

Stephen -

I think you touch on some very important points here. Very well said.

Obviously even though you only have a few years of tenkara fishing experience, your many years of surf fishing have provided you with an enormous knowledge base upon which to base your tenkara fishing.

Interesting idea re the flies. i must look into that when I am at the fly overload state. At the moment I am virtually starting from scratch as I got rid of all my fly tackle, inc most flies, a few years ago when I gave up fly fishing but since Tenkara has re-ignited the fly tying and fishing again I am tying with a vengeance.
I am almost too embarrassed to say how many Tacky fly boxes I have! I actually have 4 of the Original boxes and 2 of the Day boxes. The trouble is a I keep tying. As you have probably gathered I do not subscribe to the ‘one fly’ policy. I do hope the Japanese Masters forgive me? :grinning:

Thanks Peder.

I am sort of have been imposing my other experience onto trout fishing. Seems like it is working. The other day I had a 30 fish day. It was bonkers. One of our group was fishing a flyrod and getting frustrated. My buddy Matt and I were fishing tenkara/fixed line and putting on a clinic. Drys, wets, beadheads…fish were all over it.

One thing about tenkara that struck a cord with me was the kebari pattern. Imitates nothing specific, but represents everything.

Bucktailing for striped bass is the same way. The surfcasters bucktail is the one pattern. Three colors white, lime, and black…size and profile vary for presentation depth and water speed…otherwise its the same form. It is the bread and butter of the surf. I am told, it is the pattern that the put in military survival kits.

David -
I do not do that either. I don’t think you need to be forgiven; I believe we can all fish tenkara how we want (hence the name of the forum) if that’s what makes us happy and get outside and enjoy nature. If you want an interesting perspective on this idea, I would highly recommend the purchased content from Discover Tenkara (I am in no way affiliated with DT nor do I benefit from making this recommendation. I have however, recently purchased some of their products on my own and was very impressed by their material and I hope to write about it soon.)

Stephen -
I agree with you 110% on this one; exactly the same for me. The guy who taught me to fly fish back in the early 80’s walked to the beat of a different drummer. He was not a match the hatch kind of guy and he also thought that dry-fly purists were just full of themselves. All he ever fished were soft hackle wet flies and nymphs and I’ve done the same too.

On and off over the years I’ve tied very specific patterns to the detail, but never had as much luck with them as I have with the patterns I first learned to tie. So, I always went back to them. Tenkara flies/kebari very much remind me of that (in fact, many are nearly identical).

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Tying flies is an enjoyable facet of tenkara. Something you can do when it’s not possible to go fish. Unless I’ve recently had a run of fishing small brushy streams where I lose several to tree branches, or to a fish that either manages to cut the tippet or get wedged beneath stones, the fly box gets full.

Generally when I have a new idea for a new pattern or color I ties three. One to fish with, one as a back up to the first one, and one to keep as guide to tie new ones of the same type should the first two be lost. But sometimes I don’t lose any of the three, and I end up with more flies with enough flies to last for years into the future. I’ve gotten over my reluctance to take the knife to them and tie something new on hooks that have never been fished.

Let us know about the PHW. I’ve made four or so attempts to volunteer to assist local PHW, with no luck. Maybe they reject tenkara (even though I’ve pointed out to them that tenkara has worked very well for out of state PHW groups) or there is some other reason. But if you find your contact has an interest in taking tenkara flies, and they aren’t rejecting them just because they aren’t “match the hatch” flies, maybe I would find more interest from outside the local PHW group. They can always cut them and tie something different on the hooks.

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Jason Sparks is organizing this over at the Facebook Appalachian Tenkara Anglers page

Inserting the photo with the details for those in the forum that don’t “Facebook.”

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Mike -

You beat me to it! Jason sent the same info to me last night with permission to post it here. Thanks for doing so!

Jason Sparks (referenced below) said he’s more than happy to accept tenkara flies. I completely agree, I think for some disabled vets that tenkara may be easier than western FF. Although, I’m not a disabled vet, so I don’t frankly know.

A few kebari I tied to send to JS. New ties not fly box purge. Some are ones that have worked well before, some are new ideas to try. I might add a few more before mailing them.

Thank you for the interesting information

I am interested in volunteer activities and have qualified for Forest Medical trainer(Forest therapist)
It is a wonderful thing that kebari helps mental health care

Is that Forest Therapy - Shinrin’yoku ( 森林浴) ?
Sometimes called Forest Bathing.
Last time I did research about it I found that it is being done in more places outside of Japan, but only the Japanese, and the Germans appeared to have done any research about the effects.

Its birthplace is Germany, and it is being studied as a means of forest utilization even in Japan.
Doing Mental health care is carried out in cooperation with medical experts
At the same time we are also improving the mountain promenade

Forest bathing is also important

There are many differences of opinion
There are also many problems and improvements

we are mainly of walking but I am impressed that go fishing that takes more time and effort

Returning the topic

I have a lot of kebari and I can not use it all

Still it continues to increase because I like kebari tying

Thank you for telling me how to use