This is one of those areas where that famous British snobbery still shows its face.
Not everyone buys into the minimalist philosophy of fly fishing; the happy wanderer with a modest bag slung over his shoulder.
Some fly anglers – often those with competitions to win – prefer the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink philosophy, and they and their 27 fly boxes are therefore understandably wooed by the famous tackle boxes with which Shakespeare is synonymous.
Now these boxes are big but you’d never call them the elephants in fly fishing’s room, I suspect, were they exclusive to fly fishermen and coloured a discreet rustic green.
Alas, they are more commonly favoured by tackle-laden coarse and sea anglers and come in what I believe is known as ‘Crayola Cerulean’. Vivid blue to you and me.
So they have their detractors, let’s say.
But what if we make a stab at being objective where the boating fly angler is concerned? He or she is out on what is often a large body of water for the day. Popping back to the car for forgotten tackle items is out of the question. Is a box really so heinous in these circumstances?
I’ve heard from two experts who say an emphatic “no”.
Bags for the boat angler have one thing going for them, they suggest. You would have to be an aesthetic barbarian not to acknowledge that the offerings from Fishpond (UK anglers go here) leave the Shakespeare box for dead.
But it’s not aesthetics you’re worried about when the rain’s horizontal, the wind’s funnelling down the valley and your boat feels like the loneliest place on Earth.
That’s when the box steps up:
- ‘Waterproof’ is a questionable label with certain makes of bag but with plastic, it’s not up for debate. The lid holds off the rain while the base holds back the water that builds up in the bottom of the boat. Drying yourself out at the end of a sodden day is bad enough; drying out all your gear just compounds the glumness.
- If your boat’s from the spartan end of the market, the box can double as a boat seat (subject only to how ‘full-figured’ you are).
- The box comes complete with a side tray and is roomy enough for everything you’d need while afloat. And there’s no holding back the walls while you rummage inside.
- Boxes kill bags on price. 50 pounds or $63 at current exchange rate. See how good a specialist bag that buys you.
Some fly anglers fall in love with the box concept even when shore fishing: transferring the essentials to a small toolbox that comes complete with a carrying strap.
You can buy a black version of the Shakespeare box. It’s a moot point whether they would make even bigger inroads into the fly fishing market were they to manufacture a version in British racing green, but that’s a subject for a marketing blog.