What is the Tacky Flydrophobic SD fly box?
The Flydrophobic SD is the latest creation from US fly fishing brand Tacky Fly Fishing, who introduced the use of silicone fly box inserts a few years ago. Like the Original Tacky Fly box that has now inspired so many other brands to adopt silicone over foam (see Fulling Mill, Wychwood and Airflo for just three examples), this one also uses a silicone insert which holds flies far better than foam and doesn't wear out.
However, the real selling point of the Flydrophobic SD is that it's both waterproof and breathable and that makes it unique in the world of fly box design.
What's the point of a breathable fly box?
If you wade deep, are out in torrential rain or accidentally take a swim while wading, you may have found that your fly box fills with water. Quite a few fly box makers have aimed to overcome this problem by fitting a silicone rubber gasket in the lid of their fly boxes. That usually works quite well, but the downside is that any wet flies you have used and store away in the airtight fly box can become matted, stained or go rusty unless you air dry the box when you get back from your trip.
Tacky has cleverly inserted into the lid a section of eVent breathable fabric, similar to the stuff used for waders or waterproof hiking jackets. This is ultrasonically welded into the lid to give a tight seal. When combined with the usual silicone gasket, Tacky says this makes the box both waterproof and breathable. It reckons wet flies left in the box will naturally dry out without the need to leave the lid open, saving you the hassle of remembering to air dry your box after your trip and prolonging the life of your flies.
How many flies can it hold?
Unlike the Original Tacky Fly Box, the Flydrophobic SD doesn't include pre-cut slots to hold the flies. Instead, the silicone mat in the base of the box (which bears the same brook trout pattern as the lid) contains a series of concealed slits in the silicone running the length of the box into which the flies are inserted. It's the same style design as the Tacky Predator fly box.
Since there are no cut-outs, you can put the flies wherever you like, regardless of their size, allowing you to maximise the available space. Tacky estimates that the box holds 60-100 flies, depending on their size, which is less than the Original Tacky Fly Box's 168 fly capacity. However, the benefit of this box is that the slots are deeper and the box is taller, so it's big enough to hold larger fly patterns, such as lures and streamers. Even small to medium perch and pike fly patterns will fit OK.
|Tacky Flydrophic SD||Original Tacky Fly Box|
|Capacity||Approx. 60-100 flies||Approx. 168 flies|
|Weight||Approx. 227g (8oz)||Approx. 153g (5.4oz)|
|Size||177mm x 102mm x 25mm (7" x 4" x 1")||177mm x 89mm x 19mm (7" x 3.5" x 0.75")|
Does this fly box feel well made?
Yes, it's got a very rugged and heavy duty feel to it. The hard and tough polycarbonate plastic used is quite thick and feels very strong. The lid section attaches with the usual stainless steel pin, but cleverly this is serrated at one end to add a bit of grip and should hopefully prevent the pin falling out as it can do in some other fly boxes.
The breathable membrane is neatly fitted into the lid and the silicone fly holder is firmly glued in. Everything looks well made and feels really robust, but this does mean it's a little bit heavy for its capacity. There's a lanyard loop on one corner, though I think at 8oz I'd personally find it a bit too weighty to wear around my neck.
What's it like to use?
As you'd expect, the Tacky Flydrophobic SD fly box works well. The blue silicone gasket around the top of the lid firmly holds the lid down to prevent water getting into the box during heavy rain or deep wading. The gasket also has three little flaps integrated into the outer edge, which give a better seal and mean a latch isn't required. Unlike some so-called waterproof fly boxes, this one actually does seem watertight, too.
"I held the box under water for over a minute without water getting inside, so it should keep your flies dry if you firmly shut the lid."
The silicone base holds flies really well. It's soft enough to let you insert flies easily (some other silicone fly boxes use silicone that's a bit too firm for easy fly insertion) while remaining extremely grippy, so flies don't fall out or blow away when it's windy. The long, deep silicone slits mean you can put flies where you like and can shoehorn some quite big flies inside. The downside is that the lack of cut-outs make it a fraction harder to find the slots, especially when light levels are low.
While we didn't conduct a controlled experiment of its breathability, we did put some sodden flies in the box for a couple of days and left them. They'd dried out by the time we came to use the box again, so that feature does also seem to work.
How much does this fly box cost?
Fulling Mill, Tacky Fly Fishing's UK distributor, provided this fly box to us for review. It sells for around £35 and is available from Fulling Mill stockists and from Fulling Mill online. That price does make it one of the more expensive fly boxes on the market, but you're getting a unique and innovative product that is built like a tank so should prove long-lasting.
Available from: Fulling Mill