Published Apr 13. 2009 - 14 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 8. 2021

Baskets, trays, buckets

Sometimes you want to make sure that your line doesn't tangle and sometimes you want to make longer casts. A line or stripping basket, bucket or tray may be the solution. This article covers a bunch of types from rigid plastic buckets to ingenious contraptions with spikes and hooks.

Longer strips - If you tuck the rod under your arm you can make longer and more varied strips. It might be a be a bit uncomfortable, but it give a bit more freedom.
A mess - One good reason to use a stripping basket. Waves, sea weed and a thin sinking shooting line is the recipe for disaster.
Out of the way - The firm baskets can easily be turned out of the way while fighting and landing a fish.
Stripping basket or not
Martin Joergensen - Henning Eskol

A line basket is - as the word says - a basket for your line, in this case your fly line. The idea is having your loose line under control while stripping and removing the friction of the water while casting.

You simply lay the line into the basket while stripping it in before a new cast, and when you cast, the line will be lifted back out of the basket when the line shoots.
This gives you two main advantages:

1) The loose line is under control. No tangling with grass, rocks, sea weed or stuff in the bottom of your boat (like your feet!) and no sinking into the water or getting drawn by current into a large downstream loop.

2) When you cast, the friction in the line is highly reduced because the line isn't in or on water or in grass, but just coiled up in the basket.

A blessing

As you can see from the above points the basket can be a great benefit when wade-fishing with a sinking or intermediate line that would otherwise sink into the water and be hard pull up again in the cast.

When fishing in surf the line basket can also be a blessing, keeping the line from rolling in the breaking waves and getting all tangled up in weed and stones, not to mention your feet.

On a boat, which is not built for fly fishing, the basket will keep the line from snagging all the stuff that you find on boats. You'd be surprised how many little things a line will find in the bottom of a boat. The line will be kept away from all these line eating thingamajigs that boat makers and boat owners seem to just love mounting everywhere. Only few boats are built for fly fishing. And even if you have a boat built for the purpose, rest assured that the line will find your sandals, laces or even bare toes!

Some lines are difficult to control without some kind of place to keep them. That goes for many really thin shooting lines such as monofilament as well as some full sinking or intermediate lines, which can be impossible to shoot if they are immersed in the water due to friction. A shooting basket can save the day here.

Fishing from the bank on a stream often means bushes, grass and all kinds of line-eating botany. The basket can keep the line off the ground and save many tangles and keep it out of the dust and dirt aiding its ability to float and prolonging its life.

The use of a line basket can be an advantage in many situations.

Alternative use - The rigid stripping basket has many other uses than just holding a line.
Wading - When wading deep you have to lift the rod and the stripping hand in order to put the loose line coils in the basket
Floating line - Since water can pass in through the weave the line can be rearranged - often with tangles as a result
Container - A closed plastic basket can also keep things off the ground, free of sand and dirt.
Goods and bads
Martin Joergensen - Henning Eskol

The line basket and I

My personal relation to line baskets is somewhat ambivalent. On one side I can see the advantages, but on the other hand I feel that all the systems I have tried, impose so many limitations on me that I simply find it annoying to use any of them.

My main problem is that of stripping patterns. I like to be able to take in the fly as I please - long or short strips, fast and slow mixed - but the basket means that I'm quite limited. Since every coil has to go into the basket, I have to limit the strips to the size of the basket, or I have to take long strips and then arrange the loose line in the basket. It also bothers me that the basket is quite high, and that I have to hold the rod higher in order to be able to get the loose line in there. The only system I have tried that doesn't impose these limitations is the stripper type - like the Flexi Stripper. It rides low on the hip and allows for almost any stripping pattern.

I sometimes buckle and bring a line basket, but I tend to leave it on the bank or in the car. On most of my fishing trips I don't bring it at all.
Being a critical user does not disqualify me from judging line baskets. On the contrary, maybe. A line basket has to be very good before I want to use it. I have close fishing friends who use line baskets all the time, and I will take into account their opinions about the different types that I cover here.
I won't make this a review of specific products, but try to objectively discuss the different types that I have been able to get my hands on.

Rod rest - The Danish line basket from allows the rod to rest in a couple of cutouts in the edge
Limited stripping pattern - Since you have to stuff each coil of line into the basket, you have a limit to what length of line you can strip. This imposes some strains on the pattern you can retrieve the fly with. The really long strips are impossible unless you arrange the line in the stripping basket afterwards.
Tangle! - Sometimes a knot will form in the basket and shooting will stop when it hits the stripping eye on the rod
Stripping basket in use
Henning Eskol

Basket, bucket, tray, stripper

There are a number of different types of line baskets or trays on the market and an even larger number of home made systems. I will divide them into five basic types:

These are soft, made from fabric, which in most cases allow water to pass freely. Most are collapsible.

Trays are much like a plastic dish washing bowl, and many home made trays are indeed such bowls. They are made from plastic and may or may not have spikes or dents in the bottom to control the loose line. Some are rigid baskets that allow water to pass, others are closed and not drain. A few have draining holes in the bottom.

These are essentially things you drape your line over. They are worn like trays or baskets, but not hollow, but flat with spikes or other structures that grip the line and allow it to hang.

Buckets are often used on boats, and are deep and free-standing cylinders that are heavy in the bottom and often rubber padded so that they stand steady in the sea. These buckets can be up to 3-4' deep in order to facilitate stripping into them while standing on the deck of the boat.

Hooks can be everything from simply that: a single hook that you drape the line over, to something a little more advanced like a coil or spring that grabs the line. My favorite hook is definitely Soren Essebo's bathroom towel hook glued directly to the jacket or vest, but more "authorized" hooks and hook like gizmos can be bought in stores.

One disadvantage

Watertight or not

One fairly big issue if you use your stripping basket when you wade is whether to choose a watertight one or not. On one hand the closed ones will fill up, and require you to empty them when you take a wave, but on the other hand they will keep out water until then. The open ones will let water run out right away, but the odd wave that fills it from below will often mess and tangle the line, which might mean bird's nests when you cast.

Opinion about this matter is split in two. Some detest emptying the closed baskets while others hate when the line can potentially tangle. Personally I'm equally bothered by the two incidents, and try to avoid them both by not wading too deep, which makes the issue less important. Most of my friends who use a basket while wade fishing, seem to prefer the watertight one.

Some products out there

The market for trays and baskets is huge, and there is no way I can cover all the brands and types, which can be bought in the shops - not to say made by yourself. But I have chosen a few, which I have found in the local shops, in my own stash or which I have tried or are used by my friends home and abroad.
I will use them to cover some aspects of the concept.


The Take Tackle Stripping basket is literally a new take on the concept. At first glance it looks exactly like most other baskets made in the Orvis/Linekurv shape: a tub with some spikes in the bottom, a belt and a couple of notches for the rod to rest. But there's a major difference: the Take basket is soft! It's made from a rubbery material and is flexible, able to collapse and almost being rolled together. This doesn't influence the use much since it's rigid enough to hold its shape fine, but it does influence the convenience significantly since it will give way when you move, bend over or simply bump your arms or hands into it.
With a 59 Euro price tag it's even pretty reasonably priced, and can be ordered online directly from its origin in Latvia.

Take Tackle Stripping Basket
Take Tackle Stripping Basket
Take Tackle


The Baskette is a new contender (introduced mid 2016) from Danish Kette Gear.
It's a nice and pretty complex construction compared to some of the other plastic baskets such as Orvis and Linekurv. It's made from a special, durable foam, and is floating. It has drain holes in the bottom, so that it should drain automatically. Some consider such holes a disadvantage - as already mentioned - because water can seep in through them when you wade deep, but Kette Gear says that the floating nature of the Baskette keeps this from happening.
It has cutouts for resting the rod (like the Orvis and Linekurv) as well as a line lock, which keeps the line from being drawn out of the basket by waves and current.
The Baskette is a pretty pricey product, sold at DKK 999.- or some 150 USD or 135 Euros, but on the other hand postage is free.

Baskette line tray
Baskette line lock
Baskette line tray
Kette Gear


This product seems to have been discontinued, and is not found on Zpey's web site anymore.
Another more recent line tray is from Zpey. This is an open type, a hybrid between a basket and a stripper, made from a very lightweight foam, bringing the weight of the tray down to a mere 95 grams or a little more than 3 ounces. The tray has spikes in the bottom, cutouts for the rod and comes with a Velcro belt. The price is 82.50 Euros or some 90 USD, so it's not a cheap product, but not among the most expensive either.

Zpey Multiflex Stripping Basket
Zpey Multiflex Stripping Basket


Orvis' line tray is a true classic. It's changed a bit over the years, but the basic design and principle has remained the same. It's a rectangular plastic tray with cones in the bottom. It's a well proven design, very durable, quite heavy, but most people who use it seem to be happy with it. More recent versions have cutouts for the rod to rest in.
Personally I find it a bit clumsy, but it certainly works.

Cones - The cons in the bottom keeps the line from tangling - most of the time
Conventiently large - The Orvis is large and allows for more variation in the stripping
Henning Eskol

Linekurv literally means line basket, and is much like the Orvis - rigid, cones in the bottom and with cutouts - but it's lighter, has a softer shape and generally seems a bit better made than the Orvis and appears more elegant. The size is about the same, except for the rounded corners. And it's less expensive than the Orvis. The basket is made by Danish fly angler Lars Matthiesen whose ins and outs can be read in the blog Larsmatthiessen's Weblog, where you can also see lots of pictures of the product and read stories about its use and Lars' adventures home and abroad. - The Danish line basket uses a proven and well tried construction, but is compact and lightweight.
Line tray placement - The rounded stripping tray from is very convenient
Henning Eskol


This is a radically different approach the the line basket concept percieved by Danish rod builder Bjarne Fries (The web site is unfortunately closed, but the stripper is still available from Danish Go-Fishing). In stead of a basket, we're dealing with a flat piece of half moon shaped plastic, which has soft spikes mounted on the top. You simply drape a coil of line over the spikes now and then, and this keeps the loose line off the water or ground. It's different than the baskets, but for someone like me who don't like the limitations of the closed baskets, it's much easier and more convenient to use, and I certainly appreciate the compact and ingenious construction of this gizmo.

Radically different - The FlexiStripper works very differently from the normal line basket. You drape the loose line over the pegs and fairly large coils, and it shoots from there.
Releasing line - The flexi Stripper releases line easily and with very few tangles
Henning Eskol

J.W. Outfitters

This is an old collapsible basket that I bought many years ago. It is fairly flat and wide, and allows for a bit more movement while stripping. It's fully open, and allows water to come in from the bottom when wading deep, but of course also lets it out right away.
The basket is made from a nylon mesh and can collapse completely.
In order to keep it open, you mount a strip of stiff plastic along the rim. This strip can be removed for easier storage and transportation of the basket.
I like the compact shape and the fairly large opening in the basket as well as its ability to pack away.
I haven't seen this particular model for years, but baskets like this are widely available, like Charlie's Total Control Fly Fishing Stripping Basket (whadda name!), which I tried to get a hold of for this article, but in vain. William Joseph has an almost similar basket, found on their accessories page as does Loon Outdoors, LL Bean and many other fly fishing gear suppliers.

A real basket - The open weave of this JW Outfitters basket lets water pass in and out. A fiber rod along the edge keeps the basket open
JW Outfitters - A classical mesh line basket
JW Outfitters
Henning Eskol
Canvas basket - This is an older type of basket, but still very useful
Sufficiently large - The rigid edge on the canvas basket keeps it open for convenient stripping
Old canvas basket
Henning Eskol

The Bucket

The bucket, which I have tried, is from Sea Level FlyFishing and is a very simple cylinder with a nice finish. It's heavy in the bottom and rubber footed so that it stands steady and doesn't slip. It's not cheap with a tag of 170 USD for the largest model. You can get several sizes.
An alternative is Pleskunas Design's LMD (Line Management Device). This bucket seems to be very equal to the above both with regards to design and price.
A hybrid between a bucket and a basket is Stan Peskunas' Hip Shooter Stripping Basket, which is a plastic bucket that can collapse and is worn at the hip as the name implies.
If you want to go cheap on the bucket style stripping basket, you might consider visiting your local garden center. Online shops also have them: collapsible gardening baskets meant to collect leaves and newly cut grass. Equip one with a heavy bottom, maybe some rubber to keep it from slipping and you have a stripping bucket in the 20 USD range.

Sea Level stripping bucket - Simply named \"The Bucket\" this stripping bucket from the company Sea Level is specially designed for stripping with smooth sides, heavy bottom and spikes in the bottom to keep the line from tangling.
Garden bucket - A collapsible bucket like this one is available from many outlets at prices ranging from about 10 USD. Remove the handle and glue some heavy rubber to its bottom, and you have an excellent stripping basket for boat use.
- Martin Joergensen
Biting the line - You can also keep loose coils in the mouth and let go as the line shoots.
A clip - This spring clip from STH/Cortland will enable you to tuck loose line coils into the spring, which sits in a wading belt or on the seam of a jacket. I cannot recall the brand name of this thing.
Low budget, no frills - Sören Essebo's stripping hook. A towel hook glued to the jacket or vest.
Kasper Mühlbach - Martin Joergensen - Henning Eskol


There are other ways of controlling the line.
One of my personal favorites is renown Swedish pike angler Sören Essebo's towel hook glued to the jacket. Yes, a simple plastic hook and some glue and you have a place to drape your line while stripping. Similar contraptions have been seen in the commercial trade, but this is simply brilliant - and inexpensive. I once owned a small clip, which was supposed to go on a wading belt or a jacket, and had a spring mounted under slight tension. As you stripped, you stuck the line into the partly open coils in the spring. The idea was good, but it didn't really work. In the end I lost it. It simply slipped off and disappeared into the water...

Flytubez is another alternative angle on the loose line problem. These are simply loose spikes, which can be screwed into an existing basket or mounted on a mat. Drop the mat in the bottom of a boat, and you just let the line fall on the spikes to keep it from tangling. The company has a product called Stripmat, which is a flexible, non-skidding mat with spikes mounted.

The natural alternative for the ones not easily persuaded to use too much gear, is to keep the loose coils of line in the mouth.

Related articles


Try Youtube...

Try Youtube, and search for "white spotted char jpn", and watch what the Japanese flyfishers use. Foam, probably foam sleeping mat with short nylon "spikes" either thick nylon or cable ties, and a catch measurer on the side. Looped over their shoulder and floats on the water.
I'll be trying this season.

Martin Joergensen's picture

Richard, If you m...


If you mean where the pictures of me (in clear water in a brown T-shirt) were shot, they were all done off the coast of the Danish island Falster, But the different baskets and devices were tested many other places.

Does this answer your question?


If you have time Mar...

If you have time Martin where you testing the stripping gear?
Thanks Richard

I've been experiment...

I've been experimenting with a new hobbie. Jetty fishing for various rock fish on the Washington coast (Westport Wa). It's lots of fun and I've noticed a lot less hang ups loss gear and more fish. My problem is casting needs to be done with heavy sink tips to get the fly down quickly. A stripping basket because of rocks, barnacles etc. is a must. My problem is managing the tangles. I've found that using 5' to 8' of T16 or T18 works nice for getting fly to the fish and managing the limited space the heavy tips shoot so fast and hard the coils often get tangled. There is no room for a false cast Basically 5' of tip 3' of leader and heavy Clouser type fly carries 40 to 60' line out of a basket. Any Ideas on managing tangles.

I geared up for the...

I geared up for the half day I had to fish the ocean off Barnegat Light a few years ago. I was fishing off the jetty, so I stopped at the 5 and dime store on the way and bought a small laundry basket, about 9 x 12 inches, and a bungee cord. I used the cord to hold the basket around my waist and stripped line into it. It worked very well and I was glad I had it. Climbing around on slick, uneven rocks, I really didn't need the added distraction of keeping track of the extra line. When I got it home, I modified it by punching small holes through the bottom of the basket sized for plastic zip ties that stick up to keep the coils in the basket from tangling. Cost? About $3.00.

Kalby64's picture

Nice atricle Martin,...

Nice atricle Martin,

Ive been using the flexi-stripper for about a year now, and must say that I really like it. Although I have never been a great caster, I definatly notice more distance with the flexi-stripper, which if anything is good for my ego. But the thing that is really great, is that my hands don't get as wet, the line is not being pulled from the water when false casting, which is a big plus during them colder months on the Danish coast.

Having said that, I will be giving Hans Jacobs method a try, sounds like a very good idea.


I`ve used a line tra...

I`ve used a line tray for quite a few years now, and I guess it`s the same as with a lot of other things, some people don`t need them, some find them very useful. I know I would`nt leave for the beach without one. Try one, then make up your own mind. Could be the best buy you ever made:-)


I personally have ne...

I personally have never used any form of gadget or contraption.
I can see the advantages as well as the disadvantages Martin has pointed out. Nice article and I love the very first picture (top right: foot in coils).

All in all, the best item I can see is Sören Essebo's towel hook. I tried this some time ago and got it to work a treat.
As for line baskets, I have always thought they look strange and kind of silly and rates right up there with most other useless junk on the fly fishing scene you can do without.

I agree with Hans Jacob..."tangeling is part of the game". No one said that what ever you do and how you do it should be problem free or easy.
I have stood in the salt at Andros Island, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Tortola, Denmark and even the Falkland Islands in calm mirror like seas to a howling, bitter, blue finger, nose dripping nightmare in winter. I get coils and knots and other impossible tangles but have never let it get to me. It's part of the game.

I like these articles. Good and bad sides and some pretty "fine and dandy" alternatives. You decide but don't get sleepless nights and waste your money.

Last but not least...Don't buy what the fly fishing scene or some expert says you should have.

Shake a leg and get rid of those coils!!!

Rip Van Winkle.

Hi Martin There is ...

Hi Martin
There is another even more obvious natural alternative to the bathtubs: simply pick up the line coils with your left hand fingers ( if you are a right hand caster of course). With a little practice its possible to handle a lot of shootingline with your fingers.

Using your fingers gives you several advantages. First, and maybe most important, you do avoid to buy, pack and carry another gadget. With the fingers its easy to keep the line clear of wawes and current, it gives you freedom to vary your stripping, it allows you to hold your rod and strippinghand where it feels natural and when the coils is slipping through your fingers it gives you better possibilities to add resistance to the shootingline to form those tight and sexy loops you need in windy conditions.

How do you avoid tangeling of the line? Well, as you all know tangeling is part of the game no matter if you use fingers, basket, tray, stripper or whatever fancy gadget. But if you want to use your fingers first of all use a minute or two to stretch the shooting part of your line so it forms nice even coils. Then you should mix between large and small coils as you vary your stripping and put the first one or two coils round your index finger, the next ones around your f*ckfinger and so on. If you use thin monofil shootingline like flatbeam, let the lower third of the coils be submerged in the water. When fishing short distance from a riverbank with brush and other obstackles I normally carry 10 meters shootingline (plus the shootinghead) in tight coils around 30 cm diameter. When I wade fishing longdistance I carry 15-20 meter shootingline in 5-7 large coils.

So gentlemen, save the money and effort and enjoy when the line is whizzling through your fingers into that murky water.

Thight lines and again and again......

Hans Jacob


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