DIY Magnetic Fly Box

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Awesome and almost free! Photo by Louis Cahill

Awesome and almost free! Photo by Louis Cahill

There is one thing that all fly fishermen have in common. Whether we chase trout or tarpon, musky or bass we all carry too many flies.

For any given day on the water I select fly boxes from a stack in my office and cram as many of them as humanly possible into my pack. Not only do all of these fly boxes take up space, they eat into the budget too. This little DIY box helps with both. It’s cheap and tiny.

I love magnet boxes, especially for small flies. Getting a number 24 midge into and out of foam is almost impossible and dumping them lose into a bin is a disaster. The magnet box holds these tiny flies nice and tight and keeps them from tangling up in a ball. It’s easy to find the fly you’re looking for and retrieve it. The foam strips in the lid are great for dries and a few larger patterns.


To make this box I start with an Altoids box. This is basically free because I’m buying the mints anyway. I used a Yellowstone souvenir box for this one. The next step is to apply the magnetic sheet. This is cheap and easy too. These magnets are peal and stick. They are made for business cards and you can get them at any office supply or the Home Depot. They are the perfect size for an Altiods box. All you have to do is trim off the corners with scissors. Just peel off the backing and stick them down. You don’t have to put one in the lid but I like to.

Next you cut a couple of strips of 1/4 inch thick foam. I get mine from Michael’s craft store. I use it for tying flies so I always have some on hand. I cut the strips so they are about as wide as they are high and use super glue, also from my tying supplies, to glue them down. And there it is! A great little fly box made mostly from stuff I already have on hand. It literally cost me pennies, it’s a pleasure to use and it’s so small it fits anywhere.

You can dedicate these boxes to a type of fly, like midges or BWOs or you can organize them for specific streams for the minimalist approach. There’s no reason you can’t spend a day on a small stream, that you know well, in shirt sleeves instead of a vest with just a mint box in your pocket. I know at least one guy that pulls this off.

The only downside to this box is that it isn’t waterproof but commercially made magnet boxes aren’t either. It will rust if it gets wet, but if it does just throw it away and make a new one. Of course, you’re not limited to mint boxes. You could make a magnet box out of almost anything. In fact, do. Make a fly box out of something crazy and post it on our Facebook page. We’ll send a Gink and Gasoline sticker to the reader who wows us.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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21 thoughts on “DIY Magnetic Fly Box

  1. While the DIY is very cool, I disagree with your thesis statement. I have multiple documented Zombie Apocalypse and/or Vampire Outbreak scenarios that require at least 17 dozen pike flies at a minimum for even an afternoon trip.

  2. Use an old Rio tippet spool keeper rubber band to keep the lid safely closed. Much stronger than a reg rubber band.

  3. I made a few of these for some friends as Christmas presants last year, I tied a few flies for them also. But thanks to you guys they’ll know how much of a cheap a$$ I am… On second thought they already knew. Keep up the good work. Fishermans friend (cough drops / mints) makes a cool little fly box

    • Sorry for outing you Jeff. For me, the gift of a hand toed fly is always welcome. I tie flies for friends from time to time and I always put more care into those flies than my own. That’s a great gift.

  4. Great post fellas. I knocked out a coule day boxes over the weekend. I’ll shoot you an email with some photos. I ended up finding an old tabacoo tin that is curved to fit the chest pocket…it is awsome.

  5. I used a small plastic box I found in the sewing dept at walmart…and a small plano box from the fishing section. The magnetic tape from walmart and they have magnetic sheets too……next is to use a used pipe tobacco tin….
    great info…

  6. Pingback: Best 20 Diy Fly Box - Best DIY Ideas and Craft Collections

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