SmithFly 2022 Recap. It’s time once again to slow down, take a minute to reflect on all that happened around SmithFly for the year 2022. In summary 2022 was good. It was busy.
We built a lot of boats. We had some fun and generally just kept cranking and working on doing the stuff to make our brand the best it can be. 2021 was a record sales year for us and a unique pandemic-fed growth year for the industry making it a difficult one to follow up on. The world is changing quickly and we are doing our best to stay ahead of things and keep pace with the evolving business environment. Overall, Andy, Rico and our lead welder at the Tipp City location have honed our metal fab and production capabilities little by little resulting in improved product performance in the field. We developed a couple new items in the line up namely the Hands Free Oar Hooks and our Carbon 96 Oars. The Hands Free Oar Hooks have been well received and continue to sell well for us as a stand alone product that works well with other boats not just ours. We also developed a minor tweak to mounting our rod box using casting brace mounting plates which improves the install experience significantly and makes it more adaptable to frames with varying cross brace mounting locations. 2022 saw a refinement to the casting deck and poling platform set up on the Big Shoals which is a big improvement over the old design and install. In 2022 we beefed up our light boat dolly to accommodate larger, heavier rafts, which again has been well received by those who need to get onto rivers in weird places with big boats. We also added in our own line of custom hard sided coolers for use as seats on the rafts and offer a nice, affordable option to high end coolers for our own rafts.
The winter of 2022 we took a break from the major fly fishing trade show circuit even though people always ask us if we are attending. We just aren’t that big to be able to handle building the stuff, and shipping the stuff, and being on the road selling the stuff. So that’s a big change for us from years past. The shows we focus on moving forward are Cincinnati (BUFF) and Detroit (MWFFS).
Ethan spent a week in the marsh chasing red fish on the fly which is a highlight of every year for him. The trip hosted by Cameron Mortensen of the Fiberglass Manifesto, included photographer and social media extraordinaire Dave Fason, and write photographer, Mike Sepelak fishing with Steve Martinez and Kevin Morelock from Indigo Guide Services. The trip was great as always. A little sketchy weather, some nice fish and best of all getting to hang out with some of the most enjoyable people in the industry. In April we had a great week of continued testing of the Bonita RIB and chasing fish around the Florida pan handle. The RIB is a great flats skiff and continues to impress the way it handles the marine environment. The Bonita is a fun and stable platform that handles big water as well as the extreme shallows.
In May we delivered a nice set of rafts with a custom wall rack display to Carson at Albemarle Angler in Charlottesville. The Albemarle has expanded their ability to sell our rafts and has done a good job of helping us deliver them to the customers in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. The Big Shoals gets on plenty of rivers and creeks that the big boats can’t get on but handles whitewater and bigger rivers just as well. We are glad to have them on board and helping us grow the brand. At the end of June, SmithFly hosted its first fishing trip to Scotland since the pandemic shut it down in 2020. The trip was a rousing success where two gusts shot two red stags, we landed a bunch of salmon and sea trout and overall enjoyed the wild lands of the extreme northern tip of one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Throughout the first half of the year Ethan was diligently working behind the scenes to bring to life the dream of making the rubber portions of the rafts in the US. In June he signed a lease to fit up a space in the Colorado Outdoors Park in Montrose, Colorado. Construction on the new space commenced shortly thereafter with a goal of being moved in and open October 1st. Unfortunately due to pandemic related shortages in the construction industry, October slipped by without being able to move in fully. Currently we are closing in on being complete with construction and having all machines delivered and installed and ready to start working on making rafts in the US at the beginning of 2023. 2023 should be an exciting year for SmithFly as we begin producing our rafts in the US and grow the brand in new ways. SmithFly is very thankful for all our customers, friends and family who make this possible and we look forward to a great 2023.