From Perrine to C & F to Wheatley, I either own or have used just about every brand, style or design of fly box out there. From the day I started fly fishing, I had an early fascination with fly boxes. My first one was some uninspired, mass-manufactured plastic compartment box that I think came with a Shakespeare rod & reel in bubble packaging from K-mart. Right away, I felt a lust for the much sleeker, sexier metal Wheatley boxes. They just looked cooler and, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew they were sure to make me a better angler.
Wheatleys were prohibitively expensive for a teen with no income but Perrines were pretty good doppelgangers and monetarily reachable so I ended up getting a couple of those. One had clips that were a reasonable imitation of some of the classic Wheatleys and the other had these strange rows of “springs” that held the hook points in place (remember those?). It was an odd design but my naive mind was somehow drawn to their peculiarity.
I considered those my first “real” fly boxes because they looked the part. They looked like something you’d lay out on a grass bank beside an English chalk stream and take a picture of in classic, dreary, British light.
Since then, I’ve had all manner of top-end and custom made boxes. And I love all of them for different reasons. But, after fishing tenkara for so long, I’ve gotten a little less nostalgic and a little more down-to-earth. I now think more about usability and function. And that seems to have made me more open to more practical gear–including fly boxes. Enter the Meiho Akiokun box.
This 3″ x 4″ box is an unsightly thing–bright orange (which may not be very picturesque or nostalgic but sure is easy to find if you should drop it along the trail). With tapered edges and corners, it’s very ergonomic and slides in and out of pockets easily (though not out of your hands).
This is a 14-compartment box with 8 smaller, individual-opening lids, and 2 larger lids that open up to reveal 3 larger compartments each. It’s a somewhat quirky layout, but if you think about it, the individual lids kind of make sense. Opening only one compartment at a time will reduce fly loss in high winds or if you accidentally drop the box.
Overall, the box is bombproof and will sustain any beating you can give it. The main hinge and latch are very robust and will last a lifetime.
Curiously though, there are no hinges on the internal compartments. They’re just thinned-out molded plastic. I imagine these will wear out a lot faster than the outside hinges.
One nice touch is a corner lanyard attachment if you want to go really minimal and just hang the box around your neck or lanyard.
I should also mention this box is waterproof and floats so if it takes a swim, your flies will be cozy and dry.
With a name like FB-470 and an all-plastic, neon orange construction, it’s probably not going to become an heirloom. But it’s practical. And it will hold all the flies the average tenkara angler needs for a day–and hold them well.