Gear Review: Orvis / Tacky Collaboration Deluxe Fly Box

Fly boxes are mysterious things. I always feel like the perfect one exists out there somewhere. That there’s some system of perfect storage that at some point I’ll tap into and my time on the water will elevate to that upper echelon of managed bliss, I am the same way with packs. I look at the fly boxes I have and they’ve grown old and stale to me, even the relatively new ones start to look so used and abused. I find myself falling victim to the crestfallen emotion inducing effect of perforated polystyrene foam.

I’ve livened up the most boring boxes I’ve had with little illustrations. I decided to draw a carp on one. I colored it like a rainbow trout. Then I dreamed of launching a T-shirt company based solely on the merit of this graphic. I was so pleased with my creativity. After a tiny bit of research I realized another company had put the brown trout colorations on a carp and the magic was over. So I had to keep being a systems engineer until I could come up with another great t-shirt idea or maybe some other great fly fishing invention.

Fly box

There’s this thing I wish I had invented that I wanted to actually review in this string of words I’m calling a gear review. It’s the “Orvis Tacky Collab Deluxe Fly Box”. As far as “Tacky” fly boxes are concerned, I did zero research on them when they were initially coming out. I thought it was some type of putty, like a thin layer of “Gak” but maybe a teensy bit more firm. You may recall that “Gak” was tremendously malleable. I really thought that the “Tacky” fly boxes had some type of chemically engineered equivalent to abc gum. I was thinking that these Tacky fly boxes contained this great putty stuff that you stick your fly in and then when you pull it out the residue of chemical goo stays neatly in the box. I expected that you could maybe just press it back down and there wouldn’t be a hole for the hook anymore. It sounded cool, but it also sounded like fly storage chaos. I promise you I absolutely thought this until the moment that I opened the “Orvis Tacky Collab Deluxe Fly Box”.

Fly box full of flies

When I actually opened the box there were green silicon mats inside with little tear drop shapes molded into the silicon. The color of the mats is vivid, which makes for a great contrasting backdrop for the earthy looking colors of flies you’ll cover the mat with. Listen, I literally reached down to touch the silicon mat with prosimian-like speed and curiosity. I felt so stupid when I touched it. It lightly gave but remained completely intact because “Why would they fill their fly boxes with Gak???”… I wish I wasn’t telling you this but it’s true and I am embarrassed at my stupidity.

Here is what I can say about this box, It looks basic on the outside. Like basic basic. A polycarbonate rectangular box with the words “Tacky” embossed on one side and “Orvis” embossed on the other side. It’s molecular structure is most likely “C16 H18 O5 ”. If pressed, I would say that among the 49 shades of grey that I am personally familiar with, this box is probably porpoise grey. There is no plastic window to give you a peep at what’s inside either and I think that’s sorta classy in a fun and mysterious way. Here is an exterior of profound simplicity and perhaps prolonged durability with a radiant yet practically functional interior. Think of an Audi TTS Roadster interior with the exterior of a Jeep Wrangler.

Fish sticker on fly box

I put one of those Casey Underwood stickers (Which you can buy from Fishwest) on the box and it’s delightful. I did the America Trout one. I like it. Currently there are also a whole host of super-girl stickers on it now too. My daughter got me DC comic stickers for my birthday and she insisted on placing a Batgirl, SuperGirl, and Wonder Woman sticker on the box as well and I didn’t really protest until she tried to put a Green Lantern one on there because I’m just not about that at all.

Super hero stickers on fly box

So listen, this fly box holds 336 flies. I know there are smaller boxes manufactured that hold more flies, but this is the actual beauty of this fly box. THEY PUT SPACES BETWEEN THE FLIES! Like, realistic spacing between flies. So you can, with your very own fingers, reach down and actually pick up a fly even if your dexterity just isn’t what it used to be. I can use every slot in this fly box. I don’t have to create a sequential offset so the nose of one fly doesn’t go right up the tail of some other fly. There is no impropriety in my box. Each row is staggered and there is space! I’m sorry I keep yelling about this, but really, it’s nice and I appreciate it.

It also has a magnetic closure instead of some clasp or snap or something like that which means it’s really easy to access but also secure enough that it’s not going to open on it’s own. I also shook it around pretty aggressively. Not because that’s part of something I would usually do, I did this for you, beloved reader, and it was fine. I opened the box, turned it upside down, and all that fluttered out were a few little strands of hair from a Stimmy or maybe an Elk Hair Caddis. I can’t be sure.

Fly box in bag

The box fits into my varied packs quite nicely, it’s slim. I think the biggest thing in this box are some size 12 Copper Johns, but the manufacturer’s website says it fits size 10 to 18. I disagree with the 18 because I have 20’s in there and they are fine. You may recall the stringent standard of shake testing I had previously applied to this product. This particular box measures 7” and not an exaggerated 7” that ends up feeling more like 5” or 6” when it’s shipped and unpackaged and resting in the palm of your hand. It’s a sturdy and dependable 7”. It’s also 3¾” in width. It is exactly 1” in height or depth if you want to call it depth, but I almost wonder if calling it depth takes it a little too far so I’ll continue calling it height. After some light research I found that a mathematical rendering of the specs of this box reveal that it is the Fly Box equivalent to Davinci’s Vitruvian Man. I wouldn’t expect anything less than divine ratios from Orvis and I’ve done the research for you so there’s not need to validate it.

You should really buy this fly box. It is exactly what you’ll want out of a fly box. It’s not waterproof though, but seriously every waterproof fly box I’ve ever had is really not all that waterproof. I like this flybox so much that I stayed up late into the night tying more midges to fill it’s delicate silicone crevices with. Enough said.


Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and may be out of date.