The #5 Dry Fly Oil Bottle


~ Click On Pictures To Enlarge ~


The #5 Dry Fly Oil Bottle

This is, without question, my absolute favorite fishing gizmo. The fit, finish and feel of the #5 is absolutely first rate… it’s just oozing with quality and character. Constructed entirely of brass, with the exception of the rubber seal and the pin back, the #5 is 2.75″ tall. The bottom, the pin back and both side pieces are soldered on and the workmanship is impeccable… simply flawless. One thing is for certain, the maker of the #5, Felix Balbo, was a very competent machinist. According to Marty Keane and Allan Liu, Balbo’s fishing partner was none other than Art Flick.

Several factors contribute to the sensibility of its design. First, is the aforementioned pin back. Rather than having to search vest pockets for a bottle, the #5 can be pinned wherever it’s most convenient… and since it is stationary, spillage is less likely. The key to the success of the #5 is the operation of the cap. The cap is securely locked and opened by disengaging the latch and then flipping open the lid. Both actions are easily performed by a thumb. Opened, used, shut and no spills. Perfect.

So, why do I refer to this tackle treasure as the #5? Because the #5, the serial number, is stamped on it in three places: on the lid, the latch and the side. I have been lucky enough to have seen three or four others in my 38 years of tackle collecting and the one with the highest serial number was #32. Given that, I’d imagine Balbo made these for friends and not production (sale).

Felix Balbo was born on the 7th of January, 1918 and died on May 8th., 2000 at the age of 82. Balbo was a native of New York City and lived in Queens Village. By trade Balbo was a silversmith with a shop in New York City. He served in the Navy during World War II and once retired moved to Stuart, Florida, with his wife of 41 years, Norma.

The #5, Open And Ready For Use
Note The #5 Stamped In Two Places: The Top And The Side

The information above was originally published in the Fall 1990 issue of Fishing Collectibles Magazine. Since that time I had not seen another example of Balbo’s bottle …until I recently came across the one pictured below …

Number ONE !

Number ONE !


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