SmithFly builds the best ultralight inflatable fishing rafts, the original inflatable floating tents and the chillest of chill, Cabana Rafts all to help people experience the world in new and unique ways. We build as much as possible in house and from scratch. For everything we can’t build in house, we work with the best manufacturing partners we can find. We are a small company. We make things in small batches.
You may have seen us on social media during one of our fits of viral-ness, you may have seen us the Today show, or CNBC, or even Bored Panda, of the NY Post, but don’t be confused, we aren’t some giant brand with teams of marketers or sales people with big ad budgets and swarms of “pro-staff.” We have four people on staff. With those four people, we manage everyday to design stuff, build stuff, pack stuff, and ship stuff all over the US and all over the world. It’s a tall order but we manage. All of this we do everyday, to help our customers get out in the natural world and see things and interact with nature from a different perspective. Hopefully we are making the world a better place - one little raft at a time.
Hey there, I’m Ethan-founder and principal of SmithFly Designs. In April of 2011, I launched SmithFly because of an uncertain future working for the biggest brands in the world. During the great recession, repeated rounds of layoffs at the design firm I was working for at the time called into question my employment future. It seemed there was a chance that if I launched my own business, that in the long run, I could do more to change the world in small ways if I worked on my own than I could working for someone else.
I started out by sewing the prototype product line for packs and bags on our home sewing machines. Bringing these innovative tactical style modular pouches and soft goods to the fishing world seemed crazy to some at the time but now the tactical features are widely accepted and found on most fishing bags and tackle storage products built by the top brands in the world. If you stop by to your local super center and head to the fishing isle you will see what I mean. In 2013 SmithFly was awarded "Grey's Best" from Grey's Sporting Journal for our first product to launch, El Poquito, fishing plier pouch and we built it from the ground up from that first product.
In 2015 I finally made the leap and went full time with the venture doing some creative design work for clients as I ramped up sales of the fly fishing gear. That year I opened our first location at 211 E Water Street in Troy, Ohio. In the spring we launched the Riffle inflatable paddle board, and later on that year we launched the Big Shoals Raft.
The Big Shoals Raft changed everything. What started as a single prototype exercise ended up with us scrambling all year long to keep up with sales demand. Once the first rafts hit the water the people who knew, came to us wanting to get their hands one so they could access that coveted skinny water. We had a few of the elite professionals in the industry asking about how we had solved many of the problems with other ultra-light rafts on the market.
From the beginning the demand for the Big Shoals Raft has exceeded our ability to build and supply them to customers. We then moved just across the street to a new and larger more robust fabrication facility, 210 E Water Street where we expanded our capabilities and logistical footprint.
In 2017 we launched the now infamous Shoal Tent. That floating tent product went viral on social media to nearly every corner of the globe with over 100 million views of world wide. As of 2020 there are Shoal Tents on every continent of the world. (except Antarctica)
We successfully launched a tent rental program with the City of Troy Ohio for overnight, on-demand style, rental of the Shoal Tents on the Great Miami River. The program was such a success and received such wide spread coverage on media outlets that there is a growing wait list for the 2021 season.
In 2020 amid the chaos of a global pandemic we still managed to test and launch a line of Rigid Inflatables, moved to a larger facility with a better showroom in Tipp City Ohio, launched the inflatable Solo and Duo Kayaksand acquired a new distribution hub located in Montrose Colorado. Our base of loyal customers is growing.
It is an amazing time to be in the outdoors industry with unprecedented demand growth and continued support from adventurous customers looking to push the envelope of what's possible. Whether it's sleeping out on a pristine mountain lake in your Shoal Tent or floating your local creeks fishing for anything that swims, we can help you get on the water!
We make the things, you make the stories!
Andy, SmithFly's operations manager, has fishing on the brain but organization and details in his heart. As a Marine, former marksmanship instructor at Paris Island, manager of Guitar Center and Duluth Trading stores his skill set is diverse and ready for anything we can throw at him. He brings enthusiasm and great work ethic to the shop and has really helped us streamline things. If you call into the shop chances are good you'll be talking through the details of your build with him and maybe about that 8 pound large mouth that got away.
The Showroom / Shop
65 West Kessler-Cowlesville Rd
Tipp CIty, OH 45371
Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm
Please call-in and make an appointment with us
Did I mention I love to fish for anything that swims?