Use Old Plano Boxes For Bulk Fly Storage

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Plano boxes work great for boat and travel fly storage. Photo Louis Cahill

Of all the thousands of dollars of bass fishing gear that I’ve accumulated over the years there’s very little of it that I can find a use for in my fly fishing today.

Well, I could probably find a way to use some of it, but I’d definitely get bashed for it by my friends. My Plano tackle boxes, however, have proven to be very useful for me in my drift boat and when I’m traveling across the states on my fly fishing trips. I can load up one Plano box for my drift boat and I’m good for the day, and if I’m traveling out west, I often use one to throw all my big dry fly patterns or streamers in, so I don’t have to keep up with several smaller fly boxes during the trip. Every morning I’ll take out what I need and stow them in one or two fly boxes that I can carry easily with me on the water.

Plano boxes are cheap and they seem to last for ever if they’re not the super old models. Latches have been improved and these days you can even find waterproof models for just a few bucks extra. I’m all for using the state-of-the-art fly boxes on the market but I’ll never stop using my Plano boxes for bulk fly storage. I love that you can quickly adjust the compartment sizes to match the size of your flies, and you don’t have to struggle fitting your flies in tiny foam slots. Dig around your garage or in your tackle room next time you have a few minutes to mess around. Chances are, you’ll find at least one old unused Plano box that you can clean out and start using for your boat or travel fly fishing needs right away. And, it’s always a good feeling to recycle fishing gear.

Anyone else out there utilize Plano boxes for they’re fly fishing? Drop us a line.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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19 thoughts on “Use Old Plano Boxes For Bulk Fly Storage

  1. Like you I had several Plano boxes lying around that I’ve re-purposed. I use them to hold big bass bugs, poppers, streamers, and one box holds a bunch of misfit flies that I’ve taken out my fly boxes to (maybe) use another day. I also have a large Plano box that I use to throw fly tying materials, thread and hooks into when I’m going to be away from the house for the weekend. I even use them to store stuff around the house. I love Plano boxes.

  2. I’m all about plano boxes for bass bugs, streamers, and big foam terrestrials. Also, those boxes for storing beads found at craft shops are great for smaller flies because all of the compartment walls are molded to the bottom. -the flies won’t shimmy under the walls and get into the other compartments like the adjustable Plano walls will sometimes do.

    • Wildcat,

      I too use Plano boxes for storing fly tying materials too. I use the larger sizes for tying materials and the smaller ones for my beads and lead eyes.They work great. Thanks for the comment man. I totally overlooked that I have four Plano boxes full of tying materials this moment.


  3. As much as I love the Cliff Bugger Barn, I got tired of weedguards getting messed up. I recently switched to Plano boxes for all my weedless flies.

    • Richard,

      What a great point you bring up here. It’s so true that fly patterns with weed guards get deformed and messed up overtime when you cram them into smaller fly boxes. Thanks for the comment.


  4. I use the plano boxes the same way and have one large one to dump flies in and reorganize after a long trip. Gets me to the cold beer faster.

  5. Just be careful caring them into a boat. Wind can prove to be a little dangerous when opening a box up to pull out that Big Nasty you have a bulk supply of. Has happened and has caused a very bad temper tantrums. They fit perfectly inside a Fishpond, Patagonia, Simms….etc. boat bag.

  6. I’ve also got one for my flies with weedguards. I also use a smaller one for my flies that I’m done with. Prevents rust from my other flies, and I can dry it out at the end of the day just by opening it.

  7. I’m a huge fan of the Plano boxes for larger flies! Matter of fact, I still use all the same ones I had when I was 12 years old! For larger deer hair poppers, the spacious compartments allow the fly adequate space so the shape of the hair and materials doesn’t become distorted. Plus, you cant beat the price and availability! Great write up on an interesting topic!

  8. I’ve been using Meiho boxes for this. There isn’t a gap at the bottom for the smaller flies to get stuck in or pass through. And they come in flatter sizes for nymphs and smaller dries and deeper sizes for your bigger flies and such.

  9. I use the tiniest Plano boxes as dubbing dispensers (with a 1/4″ hole drilled in the bottom), and a few to keep hooks organized for tying. There’s a couple filed with southern saltwater patterns for storage, too, seeing they aren’t getting much use in these parts. Plano boxes are dandy rigs…and affordable, too.

  10. Yeh I found a couple of older ones a year or so back and they now house my overflow streamers and SWFF patterns in one and foam flies in the other. Another old fly box I found recently in the corner of an old cardboard carton full of junk was an old 1980’s vintage Scientific Anglers box with that harder open celled white foam in it. Still just as good as it ever was and now stores a few overflow lake nymphs… Was a nice find.

  11. I’ve been tying some 8-10″ streamers for bass fishing lately and there is no way to stuff them into a normal fly box. The Plano box was the first thing that came to mind. I can put 2 in my pack and still have room for the rest of my junk. The only problem I have had is hooks ending up tangled in craft fur and flashabou. I went to the art supplies store and picked up a large case and some 1/2″ foam. Building my own boat box type fly box. The big boxes made by several companies are sweet but I didn’t want to spend $50-75. $18 and an hour of my time and I’ll have a box that will hold flies up to about 14″ on one side and 9″ on the other

  12. Love the idea, but your comment that “I’ll take out what I need” each day is where I get hung up. I’m one of those anglers that believes I’ll need every fly that I own when I get out on the water. It’s one thing to carry all of your reserve in a boat bag (or Plano box) while floating in the drift boat, but’s another thing when you’re hiking in to one of your special spots, and the possibility of hiking back to the truck is out of the question.

    Just this weekend I got out on the water of one of my favorite small streams and wanted/needed to have a few streamers (since nothing else was working). Of course, they were back at the truck.

    • Ron,

      I do that when the locations I’m going to be fishing have dependable trout menus. For example because the hatches are more consistent out west I have a much better idea of what I’ll be fishing from one day to the next. When I’m on the east coast I often carry everything but the kitchen sink.


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