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DIY Big Fly Box

Mark K

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I made this pretty cool flybox on the cheap on my lunch break at work. It took me about a half hour and I was winging it. It came out so nice, that I wished I had cut the foam a little more neatly. The foam i used was from Hobby Lobby. It's 5mm foam, the thicker stuff and it comes in all kinds of colors. It was under $2 for enough foam to do 1.5 fly boxes this size. Michaels has similar stuff, and while you are in there you might want to peruse the store for different styles of boxes.

I used a Plano 3600 style box that has no dividers that I got at Cabelas for under $7. They have the larger style box for around $10. It's a high quality box with solid latches and not only are they made in the USA but right here in Illinois.

These boxes are also sized so they fit conventional tackle bags perfectly, avoiding the fly fishing up charge. If you had the need to store a lot of flies, I think that might be handy.


Tips for assembling the boxes:


  • The foam has memory, so if you press the box in it will leave an impression; or you can use paper to make a template. Cut the foam small enough that it fits in the box easily. Otherwise, when you press it in the adhesive it will want to pop out.
  • Use a steel straight edge and very sharp utensil, like an exacto-knife or utility knife with a new blade to cut the slits in the foam. I cut mine 1cm apart. Try not to bleed in this step.
  • Plano boxes are made out of polyethylene (PE) or something similar, which is really resistant to solvents and it has a really low surface energy, so solvents in adhesives won't "bite" into it. That's why rubber worms are okay in them. The surface energy also makes it difficult to get stuff to stick. Think of when you wax your car, and water beads off you lower the surface energy, so water, tar, bugs, bird shit and....glue don't stick. So what I did was "rough up the surface" with sand paper, i then "flame treated" the surface.In industry, they do this before they print on PE. Think water bottle with print on it. You "lick" the surface with a blue gas flame. I used a bunsen burner and natural gas, but I think a propane torch, as low as you can get it would work fine. Just pass it over the surface really fast. The idea is that you are not melting anything. The gas flame changes the surface chemistry, and theoretically the glue should stick better. I did not test this though, I just did my box and it may not be necessary. Basically, if you have a propane torch handy, give it a quick lick if not skip this step and just sand the box a bit and wipe it down with alcohol. Try not light your self on fire in this step.
  • I used 5 minute epoxy as adhesive. I mixed up 20 grams and smeared it around with a piece of corrugated cardboard. Then I pressed in the foam. I think I used more epoxy than necessary, but the lid is mighty rigid. Maybe thats not a good thing. However, as of a month this box is rock solid. But there are also contact adhesives to try and some amazing double sided tapes that are ridiculously strong. I think that evaporating solvents should be taken into account. Try not to get brain damage in this step.
  • The outside can be decorated with decals, if that floats your boat. But I was thinking about a drying patch on the outside.


I am not the first to do this. Google for more ideas.



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Good stuff. I've made all my flyboxes this year, I don't see why you would pay $30-40 bucks for something you can make under $10. Pistol cases off amazon, old VHS boxes (especially the double wides) used first aid kits (the ones with a sealed rubber gasket) So many options. I've got a can of heavy duty adhesive spray at home that has worked out for me without all the prep.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice DIY, Mark .


And for those that don't want to bother with creating their own fly boxes, these often go on sale for 50% off and become outstanding deals.




Also, you could buy a Cliff Bugger Beast and a single wooly bugger (to break the $50 mark) and then use a $25 off coupon at your local Orvis shop

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