At IFTD in New Orleans this year, our friend Cameron Mortenson dragged us over to a display in the small business section – “you gotta check this stuff out”! The company was called SmithFly, and they make modular fly fishing gear.
What’s modular fishing gear? Well, after IFTD the folks from SmithFly were nice enough to send us some of their stuff to try out, and today we’re going to tell you all about it.
Moving gear between various vests, packs, waders and jacket pockets can be a pain! Also, different anglers and different fisheries can call for different gear configurations, and sometimes no one bag or pack quite hits the mark.
That’s the basic nutshell version of the problems that SmithFly is trying to solve. Ethan Smith is the founder of the company, and he’s got a really nice write-up with more detail on the story right here.
SmithFly’s system combines a couple of different pouches with a belt, a vest and a boat bag. The pouches connect to their ‘homes’ using the MOLLE webbing system – the same one used by the U. S. military (more on this below).
Your core fishing gear goes in the pouches, with each pouch loaded according to a specific fishing situation. For example, you might make a streamer pouch that has your streamer fly box, 1x and 2x tippet, a measuring tape, a hook file, some bullet weights and forceps. Your baetis pouch might have your baetis fly box, 3x – 6x tippet, dry shake, extra tapered leaders and nippers. Making sense so far?
So if you’re doing some trout fishing in January and you’re joining your buddy in his drift boat, you grab your baetis pouch and your streamer pouch and slap them on the outside of your boat bag. Inside the boat bag goes your lunch and thermos and maybe your nice camera.
The next weekend you’re fishing the same piece of water but this time you’re on your own, on foot. This is where the system shines – just grab that streamer pouch and that baetis pouch, strap them onto your wading belt, and hit the road without worrying that you’re forgetting your hook file or your measuring tape. It’s a great concept.
Design and Construction
It all looks and feels like high quality, super durable military gear.
Each pouch has a main storage area, some dividers for more organization, and an outside flap pocket or two with a magnetic closure (great for tippet spools). A little garage on either side of the pouch fits a Gear Keeper retractor perfectly.
The boat bag is basically one big compartment, with a zippered inside pocket. There’s tons of space for attached pouches on the outside of the boat bag – that’s where the organization is going to happen. The main compartment easily fits your lunch, your jacket, your camera…typical boat bag stuff.
The wading belt is a great option for the minimalist angler. It’s just a comfortable, wide, padded belt with attachment loops all around. If you might say to yourself “I’m going to fish streamers on foot today”, it’d be right up your alley. Slap that streamer pouch on your belt and hit the trail.
There’s a vest in the system as well. We’re typically not ‘vest people’ so we didn’t try it out, but it’s exactly what you would think – a vest covered with rows of attachment loops for your pouches.
SmithFly’s gear is made in the U.S.A. by military contractors, and it shows. The materials are thick and durable. The zippers are high quality. The thread is heavy and the stitching is even. You are not going to wear this stuff out.
One Other Benefit
Lots of companies besides SmithFly make attachments that are compatible with the MOLLE system, meaning they can be popped right onto your SmithFly gear. We can easily think of one group of folks that could make use of this benefit – our friends who guide in bear-infested areas in Alaska. A SmithFly vest with a couple of pouches on one side and a holster on the other sounds pretty darned perfect.
We think this system is fantastic and really well made. We’ve incorporated it into our angling arsenal. High quality gear made in the U.S.A. is not cheap – it’s a little hard to compare pricing since you can buy only the pieces you need, but a fully loaded vest with pouches, for example, is going to cost you $269.
You should take a look at SmithFly’s system if any of these statements apply to you.
- You tend to move pieces of gear between various pockets, bags and packs.
- You want to configure the ‘perfect pack’ or ‘perfect vest’ for the way you fish.
- You want to support a small American company that manufactures high-quality gear in the U.S.A.
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