You know what we don’t see nearly enough of in fly fishing these days? Products that actually work better than advertised. We’re promised everything from rods that will seemingly cast themselves to waders that wear like footie pajamas, and rarely does the performance really, truly live up to the billing.

SmithFly, an Ohio-based manufacturer of modular fishing gear, on the other hand, over-delivers. From waist packs and vests to boat bags, the best way to describe this stuff is to say it’s born of a “tactical” influence: Super rugged and extremely functional. At first glance, they’re perhaps not what the “fashionista” angler has in mind.

The concept is pretty simple: Using modular components, you can latch on and build out a vest or bag to your exact specifications, rather than the configuration a product designer assumes you want. That’s a huge bonus for the ever-quirky, finicky gearhead types like myself. And the construction (made in USA) is really tough. For example, the boat bag isn’t advertised as waterproof, but the other night Romano waited out a 45-minute downpour and everything inside stayed dry.

Here’s more of what he had to say:

“I have the Boat Bag and absolutely love that it has one large compartment with a zippered pouch inside. I’ve been attaching the 2x pouch on the outside and simply slinging this over my back on my stand up paddle board on the bass pond. I’ve got everything I need in there — soft plastics in the zippered pocket, hard baits in a box, and multiple fly boxes. The terminal tackle and everything else goes in the 2X pouch. I can stuff the kitchen sink in it if I want to, or put very little in it. I had a rain jacket, two beers, water bottle, four fly boxes, a hard bait box, soft plastics, etc., in it the other night and it was very comfortable. I’ve also had it out with one fly box, tippet and hemos and it felt fine.”

You kind of need to see this stuff to get a true understanding of how it works. I expect as more anglers get wind of SmithFly and more fly shops pick up this brand, that will be easier to do.