We fish a lot of tube flies at our lodges in Alaska and British Columbia. Tubes offer a number of advantages over flies tied on traditional hooks, but perhaps their biggest disadvantage is their inability to be stored in a traditional fly box.
When it comes to housing a season’s worth of tube flies, most of our guides prefer plain ol’ Plano style ‘fly’ boxes. They’re inexpensive, customizable, and hold a ton of flies, but they’re far from ideal. Not only are they bulky, but they also have a tendency to smash materials flat as flies bounce around unsecured and send dozens of unweighted flies across the river when opened on a windy day. Sound familiar?
For years we’ve been hoping for a solution to securely house a decent selection of tube flies on our person which is why we were super excited when we first got wind that the folks from Plan D would be releasing a line of boxes designed exclusively for tube flies. It’s the most innovative system to housing tubes we’ve seen to date, so today we thought we’d tell you about it.
How it Works
All of Plan D’s tube fly boxes utilize individual stainless steel ‘mandrels’ to anchor flies securely to the inside of the box.
To house a fly, the mandrel is inserted through the back end of the fly until the mandrel ‘clip’ catches the end of the tube (or junction tubing if used).
The length of the mandrel extending out the front of the fly is then measured against the fly box and custom cut to length using a pair of wire cutters.
The mandrel is then easily pressed into the slotted silicone at the top (or bottom) of the box, locking the fly into place. As recommended, we cut the mandrels to extend as far beyond the silicone slot as possible (see photo below). This allows pressure to be applied on each side of the silicone when securing flies, as well as makes for a more versatile length if reused for flies of different sizes.
Each tube fly box comes with enough mandrels to fill the box, however in order to accommodate different fly sizes, lost mandrels, etc, spare mandrel kits are also available in three different diameters to accommodate flies tied on different size tubes.
The center of each box also features a narrow strip of slotted foam (similar to a traditional fly box), designed to house the corresponding stinger hooks to your flies within the same box as well.
Plan D’s tube fly boxes are currently available in four different configurations:
- The Pocket Tube Plus – A single sided box able to hold up to 20 small-medium tube flies.
- The Pocket Max Tube Plus – A double sided box able to hold up to 40 small-medium tube flies.
- The Pack Tube Plus – A single sided box able to hold up to 20 medium-large tube flies.
- The Pack Max Tube Plus – A double sided box able to hold up to 40 medium-large tube flies.
We spent the most time with the Pack Tube Plus model (pictured above). Admittedly, when we first received it, we were hesitant as to whether it would be able to accommodate some of the larger tubes we prefer to fish, but after loading it up our pal Stuart Foxall’s Chinook Tubes, one of the largest tube flies on the market, we have no qualms that its able to house the largest of flies.
What We Like
A while back we told you how much we liked Plan D’s new Articulated Fly Boxes. One of thing we liked most about them, aside from their innovative solution to housing articulated flies, was their incredibly rugged construction. Thus, considering Plan D’s tube system is built within the same outer box design as their line of articulated fly boxes, it comes as no surprise that we found construction of their tube boxes to be extremely impressive as well.
Unlike their line of articulated fly boxes, Plan D’s tube fly boxes are built with hardly any absorbent materials (aside from the small patch of foam designed to house stinger hooks). That not only makes the box easy to clean, but more importantly, it makes it easy to dry out as well. Moisture destroys flies, and a single wet fly can dampen the foam of an entire box. However, with very little absorbent material, Plan D’s tube fly boxes dry out extremely quickly, keeping those expensive or time consuming flies fresh, which we really appreciate.
Lastly, we thought the mandrels held flies surprisingly tightly as well. Our original concern was that larger flies might provide enough leverage to loosen their hold, but we found that to be far from the case. In fact, we made sure to bounce the box around in an attempt to free up secured flies, but were unable to make them budge.
We believe that organized anglers catch more fish. How so? Simple. The less time you spend digging for gear, the more time your fly spends in the water. The more time your fly spends in the water, the more fish you’re going to catch in the long run.
While some of our guides carry hundreds of flies at a time, we always encourage our anglers to keep a small selection of flies with them at all time, and we think Plan D’s Tube Fly Boxes are a great solution to storing an outing’s worth of tube flies on your person.