The New SmithFly Study Blog

The end one thing marks the beginning of another.

I’m super excited to announce the new blog – The Study.

Please direct your RSS readers here:

The Study is a place to enjoy a quiet morning cup of of coffee or a cool evening double, find cool stuff, learn things and generally appreciate life.

This is a place of truth and detail. Every day I will be posting content celebrating greatness in all it’s forms and functions. The study is a place with equal reverence for music, art, literature, sport, design and performance.

On any given day we might take a look at the work of Stephane Grapelli, Flat and Scruggs & Bill Monroe, Robert Johnson,  Paganini, Levon Helm, Rebop Kwaku Baah, Enzo Ferrari, F.E Payne, Loyd Loar, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Phil Hill, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nakashima, Annie Leibovitz, Julia Child, or Payne Stuart.

We might look at the writings of the literary Giants of 1920s Paris, or how a gun maker might adjust a loose forend iron, how a rod maker wraps eyes, links to great barn find autos, tips on tying flies, tuning up a hand plane, sharpening a hand saw, switching a fly reel from left to right hand retrieve, or a recipe for a stiff drink.

We seek to look deep into the marrow of life through the lens of great work in an atmosphere of respect reverence, questions, discipline, hard work, finesse, timeless beauty and quite diligence. 

Please review all the the definitions of the word study below and you might understand why I have chosen it for the SmithFly Blog. It’s one word with many wonderful definitions pertinent to the way I live my life and plan on documenting it here. 

study |ˈstədē|
noun (pl. studies)

1 the devotion of time and attention to acquiring knowledge on an academic subject, esp. by means of books: the study of English | an application to continue full-time study.
• (studies) study as pursued by one person: some students may not be able to resume their studies.
• an academic book or article on a particular topic: a study of Jane Austen’s novels.
• (studies) used in the title of an academic subject: a major in East Asian studies.
2 a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation: a study of a sample of 5,000 children | the study of global problems.
• a portrayal in literature or another art form of an aspect of behavior or character: a study of a man devoured by awareness of his own mediocrity.
archaic a thing that is or deserves to be investigated; the subject of an individual’s study: I have made it my study to examine the nature and character of the Indians.
archaic the object or aim of someone’s endeavors: the acquisition of a fortune is the study of all.
• [ with adj. ] a person who learns a skill or acquires knowledge at a specified speed: I’m a quick study.[originally theatrical slang, referring to an actor who memorizes a role.]
3 a room used or designed for reading, writing, or academic work.
4 a piece of work, esp. a drawing, done for practice or as an experiment.
• a musical composition designed to develop a player’s technical skill.
5 (a study in) a thing or person that is an embodiment or good example of something: he perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery.
informal an amusing or remarkable thing or person: Ira’s face was a study as he approached the car.
verb (studies, studying, studied) [ with obj. ]
1 devote time and attention to acquiring knowledge on (an academic subject), esp. by means of books: she studied biology and botany.
• investigate and analyze (a subject or situation) in detail: he has been studying mink for many years.
• [ no obj. ] apply oneself to study: he spent his time listening to the radio rather than studying.
• [ no obj. ] acquire academic knowledge at an educational establishment: he studied at the Kensington School of Art.
• [ no obj. ] (study up) learn intensively about something, esp. in preparation for a test of knowledge: a graduate student studies up for her doctoral exams.
• (of an actor) try to learn (the words of one’s role).
W. Indiangive serious thought or consideration to: the people here don’t make so much noise, so you will find that the government doesn’t have us to study.
2 look at closely in order to observe or read: she bent her head to study the plans.
3 archaic make an effort to achieve (a result) or take into account (a person or their wishes): with no husband to study, housekeeping is mere play.
in a brown study absorbed in one’s thoughts.[apparently originally from brown in the sense ‘gloomy.’]
ORIGIN Middle English: shortening of Old French estudie (noun), estudier (verb), both based on Latin studium ‘zeal, painstaking application.’
If you liked the Fiddle and Creel, you will like what I’m doing here. The Study is in the same vein but with an expanded umbrella of topics.

Bonbright Distributors and Sweetwater Brewing team up for the coolest Ural bike ever.

Let’s be clear, Ural Motorcycles are cool straight off of the trailer. But when Bonbright Distributors of Ohio signed a deal to bring the popular Sweetwater Brewing of Atlanta to southwestern Ohio, they pulled out the stops on a custom Ural motorcycle to mark the occasion and they hit a HOME RUN. This super cool URAL hits all the notes for most of the beer swilling trout bums I know. Also, Urals are pretty affordable, so this isn’t going to be some trailer queen. This baby is meant to be ridden and will certainly get dusty on some back roads.

Gentlemen, this is your ride.

Featuring custom laser etched oxblood Bison leather seats, kick ass trout and 420 Pale Ale themed brand graphics all around, a custom CNC-cut logo gas cap, and custom tied chartreuse and olive grizzly schlappen fly key chain (tied by yours truly on a 55mm Partridge of Reddich Waddington shank), this is one bad ass way to get the river in style.

And with the sidecar, your fishing buddy doesn’t have to ride bitch and make things all awkward. Nice.








The bike will be on display tonight at the launch of the new partnership at Riverscape Metro Parks in Dayton Ohio.

Tickets for the launch party are available at the Bonbright Facebook page.


Privatizing Education: Don’t turn my kid’s education into another profit center.


Hey let’s privatize our education system, says pundit X! What’s the matter with that?

The problem is that we live in a country founded on the principle that all men are created equal and as an extension of that, we include children, who are NOT responsible for their own family’s financial abilities. We should NOT punish children for their parent’s foibles. Let me re-phrase that, do you want to be the guy who walks into the school and tells all those children that their school is being sold and left to rot because their parents and their neighborhood “no longer make financial sense in the free market?”

You can call it socialism if you want, but I BELIEVE ALL CHILDREN HAVE THE RIGHT TO A FREE EDUCATION THROUGH THE 12TH GRADE and I thought this was something we as a society established a long time ago. If left up to the private sector, eventually, where it doesn’t make financial sense, education would cease to exist. We are talking about places like downtown Detroit, Dayton, Columbus, rural WV and South Eastern Ohio. In these places, without STATE MANDATED freely available and supported education, there would be NO SCHOOLING available to those children. Would you want to live there? In your little fairy land we would have entire swaths of the country with no educational systems at all. Just like we have entire neighborhoods now without adequate grocery stores, fresh food, gas stations or even basic amenities that your free market says it “should” supply.

The real problem is profit and greed. You see it’s easier to make money in large chunks with high margin items and it’s easier to supply services to people who have plenty of money to pay for those margins. Making money a little at a time from poor people is difficult, if not impossible. So you don’t see many new businesses popping up in those places I just mentioned. It doesn’t make financial sense to go there and it never will. We don’t mandate that grocery stores move there because we don’t think that access to good fresh food and groceries is a right afforded to all people equally. And that’s fine. But what we DO NOT do is let innocent children, and yes I think children are in fact innocent and by that I mean NOT responsible for who’s birth canal they happened to be pushed through, be deprived of the right to read and do math because they don’t make financial sense. DO NOT EQUATE EDUCATION WITH MAKING MONEY. Education is NOT a business it never has been and never will be. Privatizing education is a bad idea. More profit will not equal better grades EVER.

Pundit X’s fictional fairy land does not exist. Ayn Rand is fiction and all of her theories are too. The world she created is no more real than J. M. Barrie’s Never Never Land. It never has existed and never will. What would you think if I advocated for legislation to banish all alarm clocks and alligators? As REAL as all of Rand books sound, Randian free markets are FICTION. They are not real. Alan Greenspan was wrong. Social Darwinism is bad for the country and bad for education. We are not animals, subject to death and dismemberment by those that are bigger than us. Competition does not work in many places and education is one of them.

Educating children IS and ALWAYS will be about cooperating, sharing, being kind and generous and serving the public, and GASP, not making money! DEAL WITH IT.

YOU WILL NOT turn my kid’s education into another profit center.

How social media and the internet are changing the way pop music sounds.


If you haven’t read it yet, go read Taylor Swift’s op-ed in the WSJ.

While not a riveting novella or groundbreaking piece of original research, it is an interesting read, with interesting insights and at least a glimmer of optimism, something we could use more of right now. In it Ms. Swift says “In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.”

That reminded me of a theory I’ve been kicking around for a while now  — that pop music actually sounds different because of social media and the internet— the Ho Hey singalong chorus is taking over.

It’s simple. Now more than ever “likes” and “fans” and “followers” drive revenue directly.More clicks and more eyeballs means more money. The two are directly related. It even manifests itself into real estate transactions down to the level that the fortune 500 companies (mostly franchises) grading of real estate to determine how many eyeballs dry by a given site on a given day as do websites etc. Traffic = sales = revenue, it’s very simple. More traffic = more money, virtually and in reality, going both ways.

No secret there right? So what does that have to do with the actual content of a song?

Just listen to some popoular songs and you will hear the musical manifestation of artists trying to mimic “likes” and “followers” in song form.

Every time you turn on the radio there is a chorus of 10 or 20 people singing along with the artist during the chorus. The chorus has an actual chorus singing in it <– see what I did there? Yes that is where the chrous gets it’s name, it’s supposed to be singable by a chorus, I get it.

So go listen to songs like:

Ho Hey  – The Lumineers

Demons – Imagine Dragons

Pompeii – Bastile

I will Wait – Mumford and Sons

Happy – Pharell Williams

A light that never comes – Linkin Park and Steve Aoki

American Kids – Kenny Chesney  (even country gets in the act see also every Brad Paisley album recently released)

These songs all follow s similar formula. A guy alone with his contemplative self thinking about stuff and then BAM – instant group of followers all singing in agreement. The songwriter just hit the like button a million times. Sounds like Kickstarter, Twitter or facebook or – (fill in the blank technology company)

It’s the the musical equivalent of a million “likes”. It’s like saying, this artist got a whole army to sing along with him. Many people like them. They must be successful, therefore they make a lot of money. Therefore they must be valuable and I shall like them as well.

I’m not saying I agree with the tactic, or if it even works but I am saying that the ongoings of society may actually be driving the aesthetic decisions of musical artists even if they are sub-rosa or even just coincidental.

No different than the roaring 20s and jazz. The 60s and rock and roll. Or the 70s – coke and disco. The 90s grunge —all the music reflects the times.

Todya’s music is built to make you feel like, a lot of other people like it.

It’s social music…

…with a built in feeling of all your friends agreeing with you and singing along right there in the chorus.

The music industry has rediscovered the value of a singable chorus, that can actually be sung by a chorus. <– sorry did it again 🙂

It also helps that mega music festivals are also a thing, with huge flocks of folks flooding the doors and singing along in real life. Yeah real life, so there’s that too.

So there you have it – social media is actually changing the way music sounds.

I’ll leave you with parting words from one of my musical heroes, Dave Grohl who said, “Don’t bore us, give us the chorus.” And I couldn’t agree more.


Before the Flood – 0 for 5 on the PM


We hit the Pere Marquette flies only section on Saturday and apparently so did every other fisherman north of the Mason Dixon Line. Most of the snow was gone, there were steelhead in the river and the forecast was good. Consequently, the people were out in full force. We were fishing with Steve Martinez from and stayed right on the flies only section at the Red Moose Lodge. Steve is as professional, personable, and amazing as a fly fishing guide can get and the Red Moose Lodge is clean, convenient, affordable and no hassle.

We hit the water late, 11:00 am to bat cleanup and try an avoid the crowd by letting the unwashed masses go ahead of us. As it turns out, most of the other smart folks had the same idea — crowd not avoided. So we leap frogged boats most of the day.

The good news is, there were still plenty of fish in the river. Right off the bat we had a couple good follows from decent browns and one small resident rainbow to hand. So there’s that.

By the end of the day when we hit the honey hole the fish were there in plenty of numbers. Our spirits were only slightly dampened by the rain that moved in.

My wife hooked up first on the indie rig. It spit the hook. That was her first taste of Steelhead and she looked pretty stoked, and soaked.

I jumped out of the boat and waded thigh deep to position myself for the swing on the 11′ switch rod. Then I hooked up to a nice male who boiled and tail-walked a couple times before spitting the hook. I hooked up another nice fish on the swing a few minutes later who alligator rolled me into a real mess before making like Houdini and escaping. The river was up. The current was strong, and the pull was perfectly intoxicating. My wife hooked up another and it promptly ran into some fallen timber and broke her off.

It was 45 degrees, raining consistently and shooting cloud to ground lightning every few minutes or so. Signs were pointing towards heading in, and eventually we did.

By the time we got to the ramp it really started pounding the big rain drop you usually see int he tropics. When the boat was just hitting the trailer, the quarter inch hail started pummeling us. By the next morning over three inches of rain fell. Flood warnings were issued, and we hit the road for home.

El_Poquito_Pere_Marquette_River  Pere_MArquete_River_Resident_RainbowTrout1 Pere_MArquete_River_Resident_RainbowTrout2 Smokem_If_You_Got_Em SteveMartinez_Pere_Marquette



Catching up


M ike Schmidt on the Salmon River swinging flies and rocking a full SmithFly get up. Hook it up.

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated over here.

I’ve been so busy over at SmithFly this thing has taken a back seat, and it may just get retired here soon in favor of a blog on

In Jan, Feb and March, I logged 16,000 miles on the road and visited 16 states showing off our SmithFly gear. I met a TON of great people and sold a ton of stuff. It’s been an awesome, start to the new year! New year, hell it’s April, Q1 is toast – but it was a dandy.

We’ve added two great new dealers to the network the Deleware River Club and We have more deals in the works. So things are really growing quickly.

We have a BIG deal in the works that could give SmithFly a huge boost of exposure and we are really stoked about that, stay tuned.


A great shot from the talented Russ Schnitzer of me at the Denver Fly Fishing show standing in the booth in front of our new retro wordmark.


Sometimes your home water surprises you with a late breaking curve ball.


Sometimes your Home Water surprises you with a late breaking curve ball.

Last weekend I snuck away for the quintessential October evening of fishing. Everything was just right.

The Great Miami River was low and clear, a rarity I cherish. The air was cool and dry. The sun was setting. The breeze was moving enough to rustle the drying yellow leaves but not blowing enough to warrant a wind breaker. It was one of those days.

The fishing was understandably slow due to the low and gin clear conditions. The water was also unseasonably cool which  made the smallmouth a little more hesitant. So I wasn’t expecting to knock anything out of the park, a nice single into right field would be fine.

I waded to some known sections and felt not a nibble.

I noticed that one particular pool, one usually fairly difficult to access because of swift currents and wading obstacles, was fishable.

Some teenagers had just finished wading through it in blue jeans. There were four of them, two guys and two girls. The one couple waded through piggy back style, the guy acting as horse. The other couple waded separately. The young girl opting for the ankle deep riffle below the bridge run. Her blue jeans darkened in the water and she sreiked and giggle as she slowly made her way across. When they re-united onshore there was some hugging and horse play under the bridge. Then they left and headed for home, across the bridge.

As they were watching me cast and walking back across the bridge a fish hit my little black wooly bugger. They watched as I hand lined it in and pointed at me from the bridge. No doubt saying something along the lines of , “oh look he got one.”

It was an average fish. I snapped a couple photos and let it slip back into the current seam.

I fished on to no avail but plenty of enjoyment at just being there on an October evening, enjoying the weather.

I got home transferred the pics from my camera over to my computer and  was shocked! That was not an average SMALLMOUTH! It was a Largemouth, from a spot that shouldn’t have ANY Largemouth in it. Fast current cold water temps — not what you would think of as typical Largemouth territory, but there it was, a beautiful little Largemouth.

It was the perfect  late breaking curve ball that I hit into right field for a single on an October afternoon.



SmithFly Invents Way of Attaching Fishing Gear to Coolers


SmithFly Invents Way of Attaching Fishing Gear to Coolers
Cooler Kilts Help Small Watercraft Fishermen Carry and Store Gear

DAYTON, OH (October 22, 2013) — Innovative fly fishing gear maker SmithFly Designs will launch the Cooler Kilt, a one-of-a-kind product enabling pouches to be attached to coolers, on November 25.

By snapping directly to a cooler, the Cooler Kilt keeps gear consolidated, out of the way, and easily accessible. It was designed for people fishing on small watercraft, including stand up paddleboards, kayaks, and micro skiffs, as well as spin-and-bait casting fisherman and hunters.

Many anglers keep coolers on board of their watercraft to carry water, lunch, snacks, and beverages. They also carry cumbersome bags that are intended for wading. SmithFly owner and fisherman Ethan Smith set out to design a product that easily enables people to attach their gear directly to the front of their coolers.

“There wasn’t a good solution for carrying fly boxes and tackle on the water while fishing from smaller, more nimble boats,” said Smith. “Now you can haul your gear and your beer in one trip from the truck to the boat. The Cooler Kilt lets you put your stuff right where you can access it, without any hassle.”

Cooler Kilts are made in the U.S.A. and will be available in five sizes accommodating cooler sizes from 25 to 65 quarts. They’re constructed of 1000D Cordura, and feature multiple rows of Mil-Spec nylon webbing with one-inch tactical bar tacks. The back of each kilt has snaps that attach to coolers. The snaps are available as stainless steel self-tapping screws similar to those of boat covers, or as pressure sensitive adhesive pads with snap heads.

Preorder for the Cooler Kilt, which starts at $45 (including shipping), is available beginning on October 28. For more information and to place a preorder, visit

About SmithFly Designs

SmithFly Designs offers American made fly fishing vests, tackle bags, waist packs, belts, and pouches with interchangeable parts that enable fly fishermen to customize their gear. It was founded by designer and fly fishing blogger Ethan Smith in 2010 and is based in Troy, Ohio. Visit to learn more.