Hello and thanks for stopping by. I’m Ethan Smith founder and principal of SmithFly Designs. In 2010 after years of frustration I finally became fed up with the vests packs and bags available to fly fisherman and I set out to design a completely new set of gear that allows fisherman to compile their own gear based on their own needs.
On a river northern Michigan, I had my vest stowed in the drift boat and became frustrated at the fact that when I went to get something out of it, I felt like I was wrestling an octopus. What a PAIN! I realized in that moment that being able to take the pockets off of a vest, fully loaded with all my stuff, and attach those pockets to a bag would save me a bunch of headaches.
The next weekend I was fishing a smallmouth stream and getting skunked pretty badly when we decided to save the afternoon by heading to a farm pond at a friend’s house. It was hot and I didn’t want to wear my vest anymore. I happened to have a waist pack in the car and I took all my gear out of my vest and stuck it in the pack. When I got to the pond, a short hike over the hill and down the way a bit, I realized I left a few things in my vest. Damn, if I could have taken the pockets from my vest, fully loaded with gear and put them on a waist belt, I wouldn’t have been missing a thing! Lucky for me, at sunset, in August, on a small farm pond filled with eager largemouth, it didn’t matter what I had.
So I sketched up some ideas for the perfect modualr kit of parts to build the pack of my dreams. Armed with my wife’s sewing machine and absolutely no skills, I set out figure out how to make this stuff. My first few attempts were laughable but hey you gotta start somewhere right? All the while I was teaching myself the fine art of sewing I banged out a set of prototypes for my products and began to talk to sewing contractors about having these things made by some folks who know how to sew commercially and in larger quantity and scale.
As it turns out, most of the sewing contractors left in the US are sewing for the Military. The US has a rule that all the gear the Military wears and uses must be made in the US. The law that established this rule is called the Berry Amendment. SO these shops were already sewing the military’s Molle system, a system of webbing ladders that weaves together to create a strong and durable attachment for the pouch, which became the perfect way to attach my pouches. I found a great bunch US-based sewing contractors who really nailed the products and are my supplier today and have healthy relationships with my supplier who build my products in factories that adhere to strict regulations on labor and environmental issues.
Why Made in the USA?
There are many factors that went into my decision to manufacture my products in the United States. The main factor that weighed most heavily is accountability. I need my suppliers to be accountable for their work, for their materials, for their environmental impact, for their labor practices, for their process, for my intellectual property and for the timely delivery of quality goods. The international market puts the accountability of all those items on shaky if not unsteady footing if you lack the ability to have a direct and reliable representative on the ground doing the accounting for you.
Second to accountability was the ability to do smaller runs throughout the year. Because we don’t need to wait on a boat to arrive and we don’t need to ship our goods in HUGE quantities we can do smaller orders than the big companies. Consequently the likely hood of long waits on backorders is greatly diminished. By making stuff in the USA the turn around time for a an entire production of goods is weeks instead of months.
At SmithFly sustainability and the environment are at the top of our priority list.
SmithFly is focused on making products that can, like my Great Grandma’s Butler’s desk and my Grandfather’s hunting coat, be multi-generational. The things we make may even improve with age gathering a patina of fair and careful use. Making things is an investment of resources and like any investment we want to get the maximum return out of that investment. So while other companies like Yvonne’s are studying how to engineer life cycle costs and funding ways to take them back when they get old and broken, we hope that you only buy one of our vests and that it lasts long enough that your great grand kids can use it. This model might be sustainable, it’s certainly has worked for the past 150 years.
210 East Water Street
Troy, Ohio 45373
Monday - Friday 9:00 - 5:00
Saturday 9:00 - 12:00
Did I mention I love to fish for anything that swims?