A-loo-min-um or owl-you-min-ee-um?
However you say it—the American way, or the wrong way—an aluminium fly box is cooler than your fave hipster hog-tied and refrigerated to keep the flavour in.
Wheatley is the queen of cool fly boxes and they have been doing these things since Liz was dropping campers in her Pampers. (around 1910 for my Republican friends) They are the first, last and ‘Wait! Just one more thing!’ word in aluminium fly boxes.
The entire range is too vast for one blog post so I’ll start with the 2 models I’ve been happily using for the last 20 or more years.
The 1609, the big gun of the range, is a 6 inch, 32-compartment dry fly box with clear spring-loaded lids. Being handmade in England the fit and finish is a little tighter than a late 70’s English car, but you won’t care if you have one because it’s that cool. Besides, I’ve had mine forever and it’s worked perfectly save for one of the clear windows inexplicably turning a bit yellow.
These days this box is how I carry all my spare dry flies and some of the patterns I swap in and out of my main box depending on water or season.
I used to keep some nymphs in there as well, but they don’t go as well as dries and eventually can become tangled from rolling around, making the 1609 very much a dry fly proposition.
For that job, it has no equal. You only fish nymphs? Keep looking.
In terms of weight, the 1609 is actually very light even though it’s in no way modern, however it needs to be said that something like a C&F would fare better if you dropped it on the rocks or threw it at a fussy trout in anger. If you’re not a klutz or a cranky-pants, well healed and want a fly box for life, this is probably the one.
Got short arms and small, low pockets? The smaller 4 inch model with compartments on one side and foam on the other is also a great box and a little more pocket and wallet friendly than the 1609. I modify mine with cut-to-size slotted C&F foam inserts glued in to replace the original flat foam. The inserts can be had in a high range of sizes. This makes it very easy to swap around fly selections and the slot foam wont dull hook like piercing flat foam.
These are the pick for keep it simple and are great for both dries and nymphs up to around size 10.
Got nothing to prove ? There’s some pocket size 3 inch models with 6 compartments for the ultra-light types as well.
Yes, for sure, this is old school and fairly expensive stuff and there’s a lot out there that costs less and somehow still manages to somehow hold flies, but the Wheatley compartment boxes are more… errrr, regal and one of those fly fishing things you might just keep for life and maybe that’s worth something extra.
Wheatley mention Rolls Royce when they talk about the 32 compartment box so I assume that, like the car, if you need to ask the price, sir can’t afford it.
(Unless Sir has 99 quid.)