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.