Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gear Review- Fish Like a Local with SmithFly

I have never been a vest guy. I hate those things. I can always spot a local- they carry next to nothing on the river. If you drove 250 miles to fish here you are probably decked out in as much gear as you can carry, with every fly imaginable. If you live here and you brought the wrong flies you can always go home and get them, or grab a burger at a local bar and fish tomorrow. It's a not-too-subtle and important difference.

I learned to fly fish as a teenager, and back then I used whatever my grandfather gave me. I left Northern Michigan for ten years, but fly fishing was forever ,in my mind, the ideal.

When yadda yadda yadda I was divorced and moved back to Northern Michigan I again yearned to get back into fly fishing. It took a few years, but eventually I bought a St. Croix rod (a bad one) and got back to it.

To be honest I knew next to nothing about the sport. I fought my own bad casting for two years before a friend told me what a loop was. I owned my own business and May and June were my busiest months, so I missed most of the major hatches. A new "casting club" had focused attention on my favorite river, and so I avoided the Hex hatch.

But in July my work would reach a comfortable level, in which I could take the occasional afternoon off, and so what I did was fish hoppers.

My approach, literally, was to load up my neoprene waders, my crappy rod and my Cabela's $12 reel, drive to a local convenience store and buy a leader and a dozen or so flies. Then, despite my terrible casting I would go and catch lots of fish.

It was all so simple- a rod, waders, a plastic cupful of flies and hope.

Things aren't so simple now. I know too much but not enough. I still carry my local sensibilities. I am better prepared these days, but you will never catch me on the river with multiple fly boxes packed with every fly imaginable. I will never wear a vest. I still like to keep it simple.

This is where my SmithFly 2X comes in. I do indeed carry more than a plastic cup full of flies these days, but I still want a minimalist approach while covering my bases.

Here's what I like about the SmithFly 2X. I can pack in several small or two medium fly boxes, some split shot, spare leaders etc. It  holds everything you need for a fun day on the water, if you know what you're doing. If you don't know what you're doing then you need a vest and every fly that was ever tied.

Another example of its simple utility- when steelhead fishing I pack it with two medium fly boxes, a variety of shot, a couple spools of tippet material, swivels and a breath mint. Sometimes I leave out the breath mint, but I'm not one to kiss fish, so I don't think they mind. The point is that I can spend an entire day on the water chasing steelhead with this one little compact pack and do just fine.

the 2X loaded with everything I need for a full day on the water

Or take a midsummer afternoon float. I pack it with extra leaders, 2-3 small fly boxes, some tippet and I'm set. No vests necessary.

Want some other reasons to give SmithFly a look?

It's American made. Your neighbors have jobs because of you. Yes it will cost you a little more to not get it from Bangladesh.

It's bulletproof. No, I have not literally tested this, but if you choose to I'd like to see the results. SmithFly's lineup is incredibly well built and tough. You're looking at a one-time investment.

It's designed with MOLLE webbing and part of an integrated system. Every component in their lineup works with every other component. Buy the Poquito, pair it with a 1X, 2X, 3X, a belt, a bag, the (cough!) vest, or the trendy cooler kilt- whatever your needs from the minimal to the kitchen sink, SmithFly has you covered.

It's not exactly cheap- the 2X will set you back seventy five bucks, but it will last forever and SmithFly's integrated system will have you set up with a system that can handle any outing from stepping out your back door to heading off to Alaska.

Or until you go back to those little plastic cups.

Check out their full line-up at

Now through the end of April Ethan is offering a special promotion on the 2X. Enter the coupon code "DONTFISHFIGHTCLUB" when checking out for $20 off the 2X. Get yours!


  1. Absolutely love my Smithfly gear. I tend to carry more than I need whether 2 miles from my door or two days drive away...but I am a big dude so it isn't a burden. I use the Boat Bag as a sling with a 3X and 2X on the outside and it has been a phenomenal piece of gear. Through hundreds of outings over the last couple years it has held up and basically looks like the day I bought it still. Bulletproof!

    1. That's the beauty of it. You can tailor it to your personal style of fishing.

  2. Spot on. When on unfamiliar waters, I carry too much. But when fishing around here, my SmithFly 2X and 3Xs are perfect. Funny how the term "bulletproof" always seems to surface when talking about Ethan's gear.

    1. I'm planning on adding to my line up soon. Despite what I said I kind of want his full vest package.

    2. I cannot speak in regard to the 2X, but I can attest to the usefulness of the El Poquito. It is great. Bulletproof? Probably. You'd have to retrieve it from the bottom of the lake I dropped it in. I'm sure it is still holding together well.

      I liked it enough to buy a replacement. The new ones have a strong snap in addition to the magnetic connector. This one WILL be around for a long time. Now I want to get the 2X, too. You can never have enough bags and cases, right?

    3. That is correct sir. I'm looking at my options as well.

  3. Just ordered an X2 to replace/compliment my Fishpond chest/lumbar pack. Zippers died on the Fishpond. Looking forward to breaking in the X2 on the AuSable and Manistee Rivers next weekend!

    Thanks for the coupon code!