Folks who’ve been fly fishing for a while remember when pretty much every fresh-water angler wore a many-pocketed fly fishing vest. You can still buy them, of course — Patagonia, Orvis and Simms continue to market really nice vests for the retro crowd — but they’ve more or less gone out of fashion, replaced by an ever-growing number of chest packs and hip packs and back packs and sling packs.
If there was one constant with those old fly fishing vests, it was the sheepskin or foam fly drying patch that was pinned to the upper left hand pocket on the front of the vest. “Pinned” is the right word, too, as most of those shaggy little drying patches were held in place by a safety pin that, depending on the age of the vest, was either bright & shiny or slowly corroding with years of accumulated rust and grime.
I always had a love-hate relationship with my drying patches. They were convenient and super easy to use, but given half a chance, they’d drop your flies — especially your streamers - before you had a chance to put them back in your fly boxes. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I’ve lost hundreds of flies from my drying patches over the years. A gust of wind, or a bit of stream-side brush, or simply a bad attachment leading to a gravity-induced fall has been responsible for untold numbers of disappearing flies.
I guess I could have put those flies away wet, but then a whole different problem — rust — rears its ugly head.
In any case, I’ve been searching for the perfect drying patch for decades, and while the jury is still out - I’m trying to be extra careful here, as I’ve only been using this little gizmo for a couple of months - I think I’ve found a solution that transcends sheepskin, foam and velcro.
The Tacky Tube offers a truly smart, innovative system for securing and drying you flies. The “Tube” is essentially a small plastic tube lined with silicon slits. Your fly hooks slide into those narrow slits, which grip them tight, and a couple of powerful little magnets provide extra security. The tube pops open for easy access, and you can attach it to your pack or waders with a pin-on retractor. You can also hang it on a lanyard, or keep it inside your pack until you need it.
It’s almost — and this is pretty damn ingenious — a small, open-air fly box.
Now I don’t know how long the silicon slits will last, or the magnets, but assuming that one of these little guys holds up for at least a couple of years, it should pay for itself in no time. Whether you tie your own flies or buy them at the local fly shop, flies cost money. It makes a ton of sense to keep them safe and secure while you dry them, and from everything I’ve seen over the last few months, the Tacky Tube does just that.