Re-Stocking The Summer Striper Box, Part One: Sand Eels

Organizing and replenishing my summer striper box is an annual ritual. I thought you might like to see how I do it. The left side of my box is the busiest, in terms of number of flies and how often I’m dipping into it. This is the left side, the sand eel side, and I’m covered for both matchstick sand eels and larger ones up to about 5″. Let’s start with the box: it’s a C&F Design Permit Box, completely waterproof, four rows of slit foam, 7 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ x 1 2/3″. I’ve had this box for years, and I love it.

The top two rows are for sand eel patterns, so I start by removing every fly and taking inventory: what stays, what goes, what needs to be replaced? The bottom two rows are mostly small stuff, like shrimp, crustaceans and isopods, clam worms, and tiny baitfish. Then, I fill in the third row with smaller sand eels. Left to right, The Golden Knight, Ray Bondorew’s Marabou Sand Eel, and Ken Abrames’ Eelie on various hooks and in different color schemes. These smaller sand eels are most likely going to used as part of a dropper rig team of three.
Now I’m ready to fill in the top row with Big Eelies. Note that I carry multiple color combinations (and I have more in reserve at home that I can use to fill in the blanks). I’ll choose a pattern based on conditions, light, bottom structure, ritual, tradition, and — most importantly — feeling. It’s easy to lift up the tail to see what’s beneath; this system allows me to maximize available space. I also carry a few extra Big Eelies in a baggie. I hand these out from time to time to people I meet on the beach. Right, John?

8 comments on “Re-Stocking The Summer Striper Box, Part One: Sand Eels

  1. Dave Studeman says:

    Thanks Steve, very helpful! What fly box do you use? What box do you use for bigger ( 12”) Flatwings?

    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi Dave. I’m assuming you’re not joking about what kind of box, and that you simply missed it. (It’s in the first paragraph of this story.) As to what box for bigger flatwings, I don’t. Oh, I have a large Bugger Barn suitcase style box for long term storage, but I typically don’t carry more than 1-2 spares. Those can, in a pinch, fit into the box you see here. I stick them on the opposite side and preen the feathers so the fly assumes a reverse L-shape. Maybe that’s worthy of a future post!

      • Dave Studeman says:

        Sorry Steve, must have had a senior moment there! Turns out I have that box! Just have to get the “crabs out”.
        But thx for the longer Flatwing storage idea. I’ll get on that one.
        Always enjoy your posts!
        Dave Studeman

      • Steve Culton says:

        No worries, Dave. At some point I’ll try to get a picture up of what I’m talking about.

  2. baldeagle73 says:

    Fabulous collection! You’ve inspired me to fill out my own box. Thanks!

  3. Gary says:

    Great article, Steve. Thanks for sharing

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