Dollar Store Fly Hacks!


In my endless effort to find ways to avoid costs in what can be an expensive sport, I wandered through the Dollar Tree (aka “Dollar Store”) looking for bargains and found some! The Dollar Tree, as opposed to Family Dollar, prices everything at a buck. To find fishing gear, turn your brain sideways while looking cross-eyed at the products on the shelf and voila! Savings! Here are a few ideas.

Fly Box

The cheapest fly box on Amazon runs around six dollars with available discounts, but being a cheap guy, a fly box for a buck sounds even better. Since the Dollar Tree is not oriented at fly fishing, they mistakenly label their fly boxes as pill organizers.

You can get a seven-day box, 14-day box or even a 21-day box – most have plenty of room for flies. After experimenting, I recommend avoiding the 21-day option since it has tiny, difficult to open containers. Likewise, avoid the “Hardware Storage Case” available in the hardware section since opening the top exposes all the flies to disaster on a windy day. Small, deep compartments are best!

How do three zingers for a buck sound? The Dollar Tree usually has these in stock in late summer or early fall when their customers head back to school or work. While these inexpensive zingers will not hold heavy tools, like the Orvis forceps, they do just fine with nippers, floatant, and Amadou drying patches.

Stripping Glove

$20 for a stripping glove! No way! Instead, go into the Dollar Tree hardware section and buy one of the cloth/rubberized mechanics gloves and use this trick to turn it into a stripping glove. First, for additional comfort and to retain the tactile sense required to manipulate flies, cut off the fingertips except for the index finger. If you strip across your right hand, reverse the way you usually wear gloves and put the left-hand glove on the right hand; forcing the rubberized palm of the glove out (covering the back of your hand). This puts the smooth rubber at the top of the finger for the stripping surface. If you decide the rubber edge is not smooth enough, take one of the fingers you cut off and pull it over the uncut index finger, rotating the cloth underside up to become the stripping surface. Don’t like that? Just wrap a piece of duct tape around the glove’s index finger. A few clips with scissors produces a nice stripping glove. Use one of the removed fingers with the cloth side up for a smoother stripping surface.

Retractable Fly Box

When streamside, it’s natural to panic under pressure when changing a fly while fish are rising! The singular focus on getting back into action may result in the unintentional abandonment of the fly box streamside – the loss to be discovered much later when it is time to change to a different pattern. Likewise, an open fly vest pocket may allow a fly box filled with expensive flies to escape into the wild as you crawl to the best ambush positions.

Note: If anyone finds fly boxes on the Rapidan or South Fork of the Piney Rivers in Virginia, they are mine! Boomerang Tools recognized the need to attach the fly box to the angler when they released a retractable fly box last year. In fact, their implementation was one of the iCast 2016 award winners. But, at $25, it ends up being an expensive choice when you can just make one yourself. Here are the steps to make any box retractable:

  • Grab one of the Dollar Tree zingers and drill a hole through the folding plastic tab. The hole needs to go through both sides of the tab for strength.
  • Drill a similar size hole in the fly box of your choice. Use one of the Dollar Tree pill organizers or an existing box.
  • Slide a ½” long bolt and washer (I like to use finish washers) through the plastic tab and then through the hole in the fly box. Use a tooth lock or split ring washer and nut on the other side to secure.

The Dollar Tree zinger is not as robust as the heavy duty zinger Boomerang Tools provides. Therefore, put the box in a pocket since the zinger cord will break if you walk around dangling a fly box. Even with the Boomerang version, you would not want to stagger up a stream with the box waving in the breeze.

7 years of scouting…

100% public places…

Get out there!

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