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There are many different reasons to make your own fly box. Maybe you don't have the scratch for the newest $35 Umpqua fly box, or you're looking for something light for your backcountry excursions. This is where the trusty Altoids tin comes in handy. For years people have been saving onto and re-purposing these curiously strong tins and now fly fishing is no exception. In this guide, we will show you how to turn your tin into a rigid and reliable fly box for a low cost.
Firstly, make sure all of the mint dust is out of that tin! Its no secret that fish have adapted an exquisite sense of smell. if you go by throwing your flies in a pile of mint dust, your flies will naturally pick up this smell. Simply rinse out your tin in warm water and soap until everything is washed out. As an optional added step, use rubbing alcohol to ensure that there are no residues left behind in the washing process.
Starting with your cardboard, we are going to cut dividers for your tin. For the length of your box, cut a strip of cardboard that measures 3 1/2" x 3/4". For the width of your box, cut two strips that measure 2 1/8" x 3/4".
With these three strips cut out, take your length strip (3.5") and make 2 cuts half way through the strip so that each of the three sections measure 1 3/4". The strips that measure the width of your box cut a single cut in the middle of the strip that goes half way through so that each section measures 1 1/16". Pair up the notches so that your cardboard pieces make a small 2 column "tic tack toe" board.
Wrap your cardboard pieces in duct tape to give them some strength. This will also help from the cardboard getting wet and falling apart inside of your new fly tin. This will also give your dividers a more snug fit inside of the tin so that ensures your flies will stay in place. After that you're all set! You can enjoy the benefits of having a way to organize your flies for under $5.
There are a few other methods we like to use when making our Altoids fly box that don't involve creating compartments for our flies. If you use magnetic tape inside of your fly box, the magnet will be strong enough to hold onto your flies as you toss them in and out of your box. As an alternative option, you can use Velcro tape and using the hoop section (the fuzzy side) stick it to both sides of the inside of the box. This will give you a surface to hook your flies onto to keep them from knocking around inside your new tin.