Cult of the Object: Wheatley Aluminum Fly Box

My grandfather, John Randolph (“Slim”) Young, was a hell of a fellow. He was an avid fly fisherman, and belonged to a fishing club in the Poconos called the Pohoqualine Fishing Association, which I’ve blogged about before. Here he is in 1979 with my aunt Becky, relaxing in the white clapboard fishing cottage called “totem home”:

Aunt Becky and Slim

Here he is, be-suspendered, on the lawn outside Totem Home, teaching my cousin Beth and I to cast. Ten… and two! Ten… and two!


Here is my aunt Becky, looking incredibly fierce and dashing in her full fly-fishing fig, preparing to cast a dry fly upstream into McMichael’s creek. Or perhaps she’s waiting for a gaggle of Ralph Lauren photographers to arrive. Could they have been far away? I mean, come ON! Look at those hip waders! JUST LOOK AT THEM!

Aunt Becky in Hip Waders

Anyhow, the reason I posted these pictures from Flickr (you can click on them to see the set, including this picture of eight-year-old me looking just like Lydia), is because I remembered the existence of the chief, the most amazing, the BEST piece of gear in a hobby that’s almost entirely built around wonderful little bits of gear. This is the item that I would stand in the stream and play with, mesmerized. I’d take it out of my child-sized fishing vest, provided by my grandfather, and just MARVEL at it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the richard Wheatley Spring-Loaded, Multi-Compartment Window Dry Fly Box Number 1609:


Each little window compartment has a spring behind it, and a little wire catch, so when you touch the catch, the window opens with a satisfying little “FWIP” noise. You can run a fingertp down a column of windows and “FW-W-WIP” open up three in a row. You can run TWO fingers down TWO columns and “FF-WW-IPP” open up two rows of windows. Since the box is stuffed with lots of colorful little flies, it’s the most AMAZINGLY SATISFYING THING EVER. I hadn’t thought about this box for years and years and years, and now that its existence popped into my head I REALLY REALLY want one again.

Given that JRY was an inveterate gearhead, I realized that this probably was not a cheap item. And it’s not – it’s two hundred damn dollars. And since I don’t fish anymore, I don’t even know what I’d put in there. BUT I STILL WANT IT!

One response to “Cult of the Object: Wheatley Aluminum Fly Box”

  1. Very cool old family photos.
    And I’m sure you could find things to put in there. Buttons, stones, tiny spools of thread, shrinky dinks…or small, round patches perhaps?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: