Umpqua UPG Fly Box Review

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Umpqua UPG Midge Box. Photo by Louis Cahill

Umpqua really raised the bar when they introduced their UPG line of fly boxes. In fact, they won multiple awards at trade shows, which were voted on by professionals in the industry. Their goal in mind when designing the UPG fly boxes was to tailor them for the professional guides. Point being, Umpqua knew if they could design and build a series of fly boxes that would hold up to the daily use and be loved by professional guides, the end result would be a product line that would in turn be popular among the majority of recreational fly fisherman. There’s no doubt they met their goal, and it’s no surprise, that today the Umpqua UPG fly boxes are now currently found in many of our own packs and vests.

I think a lot of fly anglers undervalue the importance of a quality fly box. Think about it for a second. As fly fisherman, we fit into one of two categories. We either spend hours upon hours at the vise, tying up our fly imitations or we spend hundreds of dollars buying individual fly patterns to fill up our fly boxes. Whatever category you fall into, it’s pretty apparent that there’s a substantial investment involved when it comes to what we carry around in our fly boxes, and it makes sense for us to protect that investment with a quality fly box.

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Good friend and guide Justin PIckett exclusively uses UPG fly boxes.

The first thing you notice when you pick up a UPG fly box is how solid it feels. It’s not one of those flimsy light weight jobs that you find in many of the knock off fly boxes on the market. With solidness, comes a little bit of extra weight, and although some fly anglers would look down on this, you have to understand that extra weight translates into quality and durability on the water. The next thing you’ll notice about the fly boxes are the extraordinary amount of fly capacity in all of the fly box models. Some of the models, designed for storing smaller nymphs and midges, even have off set foam slits, which is intended to allow the fly angler to store twice as many flies per row of foam. Furthermore, most models incorporate two magnet areas that can be used for you to place your stand by flies waiting to be tied on and fished, or for secure storage for the smaller flies that are cumbersome to put into the foam slits. The benefit of the well designed layout of all of the UPG fly boxes translates into significantly increased fly capacity that’s well organized, and that means you’ll find it much easier to carry less fly boxes with you on the water without you having to sacrifice leaving any flies at the truck.

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Umpqua incorporates Zerust tabs to help eliminate moisture build up. Photo Louis Cahill

Another innovative feature that I like on the UPG fly boxes, are the Zerust tabs located on the inside panels. The purpose of these is to help eliminated moisture build up, which can cause fly hooks to rust overtime in fly boxes. If you feel the need to add more moisture eliminator adhesive tabs to your fly boxes, you can purchase similar versions extremely cheap online at Amazon.com. One pet peeve I have, are fly boxes that don’t have see through lids for easy viewing of the contents inside. It’s clear Umpqua understood the importance and functionality of this feature, and they made a point to make both sides of their UPG fly boxes see through. As an additional measure for organization and efficiency on the water, Umpqua also made each UPG fly box model a different color. Although the fly boxes aren’t waterproof, they do close extremely tight and provide impressive weather protection from the outdoor elements. If you drop one in the water accidentally or have it laying out in your drift boat in the rain, you shouldn’t have a problem with water finding its way into the fly box. That being said, if you purposely submerge it, water will eventually reach the inside. If you want my opinion on that, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because I don’t make a habit of regularly dunking my fly boxes. Furthermore, an air-tight fly box will retain moisture if it gets inside (thereby increasing your chances for rusty hooks), and quite honestly, most of the waterproof gaskets on fly boxes I’ve used in the past, ended up cracking, shrinking or failing over time anyway. That being said, I believe Umpqua made the right call by designing a tight fitting, solid fly box, that’s weatherproof for most situations on the water.

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Above are 3 of the 8 UPG fly boxes models available to the fly angler.

In conclusion, everything on the Umpqua UPG fly boxes is well designed, with quality and durability in mind. I’ve put my UPG fly boxes to the test for a good while now, and they not only still look brand new, they’ve been a complete pleasure to use. If you’re currently in the need to replace your old worn out fly boxes, I highly recommend picking up some of these. I’ve got many hardcore fly fishing buddies that exclusively use UPG fly boxes, and they’ve all been really happy that they made the investment. Let’s just say, we won’t be needing to replace our UPG fly boxes for a very long time. You can find the Umpqua UPG fly boxes online and in most fly shops currently. They come in three different sizes and in 8 different layout models, and they retail from $24.99-42.95 (Prices vary on retail location)

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Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
 
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19 thoughts on “Umpqua UPG Fly Box Review

  1. LOVE the UPG WEEKENDER & MAGNUM MIDGE BOX>>>
    Rugged and Durable, well built boxes. So far, they have resisted the curling of slotted foam that occurs on many cheaper less of lower quality. Nothing is more frustrating than opening your well organized box of #18-24 bwo’s and triocs to find them all huddled in the corner because the foam unglued during a ‘warm’ day. We spend too much time and money organizing and collecting or intrinsic fly assortments to waste that investment on a poorly made box. Highly recommend protecting your investment with the proper housing.
    Tight Lines,
    Koz

  2. Solid oftens means heavy.
    I still prefer the light DeWitt compartment box for my dries and small Myran box for my nymphs.

    • That was what I also wanted to state. In slitfoam, the C&F boxes are the original. I do like the idea of drying pads, though. I never use waterproof boxes for salt because the wet flies kill the other ones.
      I don’t like the coloured lids, as you cannot see the colour of your flies properly and this puts me off, as you have to open it to double check.
      About the weight; that’s a choice. For deep wading and foul weather, it is great to have a box like this. But for box-in-shirt purposes I would use a full foam box. All these choices make it fun too!

  3. Kent, I second that bud! I have been so impressed with Umpqua’s products. Most of my boxes are now UPG boxes for all the reasons above. When I am looking for gear, what ever brand it may be, I am looking for function, durability, reliability. Umpqua products exceeds all these things I look for in gear. I first started with the mag midge box and like you said, it not only holds a ton, but also protects very well. The only problem I have had so far was on the latch, a tab broke on the inside making it where it would not spring back close. I use a little McGuyver enginuity and used a paper clip to act as a spring to make a quick fix that has lasted so far without flaw. Besides that, awesome boxes! I was like you as well as far as vest are concerned in the fact that I didn’t like them. I loved and used the Overlook 500 chest pack for a while and was great!. I have recently switched to the Swiftwater Tech Vest and what a vest it is! All the features you need and none you don’t! Very well thought out and innovative designs. other companies have some catch-up work to do in my opinion.

    • JSA,

      Thanks for the comment today about your UPG boxes and other Umpqua gear. I haven’t had any latch issues with my boxes but will give you a shout to have you walk me through your DIY paper-clip fix if that changes. I agree that Umpqua has really come out with exceptional gear lately. There no longer just a fly pattern, leader and fly tying company. Cheers

      Kent

  4. Love my UPG boxes for all the same reasons. They’re definitely well built and have plenty of room for tons of flies. I love the see-thru lids and the different colors for each model. I know exactly what box I have without having to open it. I also like the offset slit foam. I can pack twice the amount of flies in the same box as many competitors’ boxes, which equals less stuff I have to carry. And I don’t mind the extra weight of these boxes. What are we talking about anyways…..an extra ounce or two? I can manage that. I’d much rather have quality and durability any day. You also make a great point about them not being 100% waterproof. I had a rust problem with my waterproof c&f boxes. Even after leaving them open overnight to dry, I would still find rusty hooks days later. Talk about maddening. I replaced all of my boxes with UPG boxes probably about 9-10 months ago and have yet to find a rusty hook. Umpqua did a great job with these boxes by paying attention to the small things that make a big difference. I plan on owning mine for quite some time.

    • Justin,

      I have two C&F fly boxes right now that if you opened you would find a bunch of flies with rusted hooks. I’ve also had problems with the waterproof gaskets crapping out on me.

      Thanks for the thorough comment and taking the time to give everyone your own review about the UPG boxes by Umpqua that you own. Well said and 100% accurate.

      Kent

      Kent

    • Eric,

      They are very similar but they aren’t the same box. I’ve owned both brands and I personally feel the UPG fly boxes are of higher quality and functionality.

      Kent

      • No problem Kent. I do like umpqua stuff though.
        I’m strictly a river guy in MT ID UT CO WY WA and a minimalist unless I’m floating so less is better for me

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