Today, Steve Smith, creator of Smitty’s Fly Box, takes us through the journey of crafting one of the finest fly-tying boxes in the world. Steve recalls his childhood, a time when he had all-access to Indiana basketball in the 80s when his father was the assistant coach alongside the iconic coach Bobby Knight.
Smitty’s Fly Box with Steve Smith. Hit play below! 👇🏻
(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)
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From his family’s relocation to Logan, Utah to establishing a fly shop and subsequent sourcing of fly-tying materials, Steve’s story is as interesting as the flies he ties. He gives an insider look into his fly-tying companies, Round Rocks and Smitty’s Fly Box. He also talks about his experiences teaching fly fishing at Utah State University, painting a vivid picture of his dynamic journey.
Show Notes with Steve Smith on Smitty’s Fly Box
(02:00) Fly Fishing and Round Rocks – Steve got into fly fishing with his dad and grandpa when he was a kid, and his earliest memories of fishing for bluegill in Indiana. He shares his experience with the legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight when his dad was an assistant coach for Knight’s championship team in 1987. Steve talks about what it was like to be around Indiana basketball in the 80s, and the big players on the team. He shares the story behind the founding of Round Rocks.
(09:09) From Basketball to Fishing – Steve’s passion for fly fishing was sparked by his dad and grandpa taking him fishing for bluegill when he was a kid. His dad then moved the family to Logan, Utah, and started a fly shop there. Steve and his dad made contact with a fly-tying factory in China and got a deal with Sportsman’s Warehouse, a chain of 130 stores nationwide. They transitioned from the factory in China to the factory in Thailand and Steve stays connected with the people there. Steve also teaches fly fishing classes at Utah State University and has a new venture, Smitty’s Fly Box.
(20:57) Bobby Knight, Fly Fishing Influences – Steve’s father was a basketball coach at a small school, West Side High School in Dayton, Idaho. Bobby Knight was hosting coaching clinics in the area and asked Steve’s dad to take him fly fishing. Steve’s dad obliged, drawing Bobby Knight a map of the area and taking him to the Madison River to fish. A few years later, when Bobby Knight won the NCAA National Championship in 1981, he called Steve’s dad and asked him to be his assistant coach. They packed up and moved to Indiana, and Steve was six at the time. We also discuss Isaiah Thomas, one of the greatest point guards of all time, and how his time with Bobby Knight shaped him into a hard-nosed ball player.
(32:33) – Fly Tying and Materials Discussion – We discuss the beginner and intermediate fly-tying boxes, the patterns they contain, and the materials we use. We explore the story of Whiting Farms, run by Tom Whiting, and how he has revolutionized hackle for dry flies. We also touch on our plans to transition and spread the word about our Round Rocks and Smitty’s fly boxes.
(45:49) – Exploring Rivers and Fly Tying – Steve’s father plays an important role in his fly-fishing journey and his teaching. We discuss Steve’s home water, the Logan River, and how it connects to Salt Lake. We also talk about the number of flies the company produces each year, which is in the millions. Lastly, we look at the evolution of fly fishing and how Steve’s father is open to new ideas and techniques.
You can find Smitty’s Fly Box on Instagram at @smittysflybox
Check out their website at SmittysFlyBox.com
You can find Round Rocks on Instagram at @roundrockflies
Videos Noted in the Show
Related Podcast Episodes
Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below
Conclusion with Steve Smith and Smitty’s Fly Box
Steve’s fly fishing journey is a unique blend of personal history, sports connections, and a deep passion for the craft. Starting with childhood memories of fishing in Indiana, his path led to unexpected encounters with basketball coach Bobby Knight and a transition from basketball to running a fly shop to owning a fly tying company.
Steve’s connection with his father and the Logan River, along with his involvement in fly tying and material innovations, demonstrate his dedication to the sport’s evolution. The intertwining of sports and nature is evident through his father’s interactions with Bobby Knight, showcasing how different passions can intersect.
In essence, Steve’s story showcases the enduring charm of the outdoors and how it bridges gaps between personal history, sports, and skill development, making his journey a compelling narrative of growth and connection.