What a fantastic weekend for so many different reasons, and I doff my cap to the organisers of the first ever European Sport Fishing Show for bringing lure and fly shops, companies and distributors together - and of course us anglers. With how well that first one went, I bet you next year is going to be absolutely rammed to the rafters with plenty more people from trade and public, indeed if I was in the lure or fly trade and hadn’t bothered to go then either I’d be giving myself a good kicking, or else I’d be talking to the people in my company who had decided against going and giving them a good kicking instead.
I’ve worked in fishing for a long time now, and a show like this is of course a great excuse to catch up with a lot of people in the trade, but as ever I just so love talking with other anglers and getting the chance to put faces to a lot of names who I communicate with online. Good to meet so many of you and thanks so much for coming up and introducing yourselves. I reckon there were a lot of people in the trade who came away from the weekend somewhat surprised at how so many lure anglers were looking to either spend money on new gear, or else check stuff out with an eye on buying in the future.
The big boys like Daiwa and Shimano deserve a good slap for not supporting a brand new show like that, and I must give credit to the might of Pure Fishing for being so active there. Fly fishing aside there must be any number of lure fishing related shops, companies and distributors who are going to want to be at this show next year and get in on what I reckon is going to become something pretty damn special. Well done to you lure related businesses for being there and I hope it was a success on many different levels.
I was very proud to be working with Fiiish UK at the show, and whilst we were there to show the gear off and let other stands actually sell the products, it’s always fascinating to me to talk to so many anglers who use the Fiiish lures, and also how varied the fishing and fish are that are targeting with the gear. I would like to thank the kind people who sat down and listened to my two photography talks, and whilst Sunday as a whole was a quieter day than Saturday, I couldn’t believe that almost all chairs were taken on the Saturday - to the point that five minutes before my photo talk started, I had to ask the assembled people what exactly they were doing as I wanted to check they really were there to listen to me! Thank you for letting me shout at you about fishing photography for so long.
And of course there was a lot of far too nice lure fishing gear on show and for sale at this new event. I travelled to the show and back with Mark and Ben from the Art of Fishing and I helped a bit with setting up and breaking down their stand - which means that I got to waggle virtually every single lure fishing rod on their hugely impressive stand. Holy cow this Japanese brand Tailwalk make a lot of lure fishing rods at all kinds of prices, and the Art of Fishing lot had a bunch of bass related lure rods that I had never seen before - lots of testing and fishing and reviewing them to come. Some of the freshwater lure rods (perch, trout, salmon etc.) plus all manner of light lure and LRF rods from Tailwalk felt sublime.
I also discovered at the show that Sufix do a bright orange version of my favourite braid in the world, their Performance Pro 8, but the story behind this is that I actually feel like a bit of a tit. I had emailed my Mr. Sufix contact to ask if they would consider making a bright orange version to go with the dark green and bright pink colours they currently have, only to be told that they already do the orange colour which of course means I hadn’t even realised - and people like the Art of Fishing have been selling the Performance Pro 8 in this lovely colour for a while now! Nice one Henry. I love bright braids and I shall be spooling up with some.
I got to have a close look at the impressive looking Hodgman waders and wading boots, and some anglers and guides who I have known for a long time were absolutely raving about this gear to me and how well it has been performing for them over a long period of time now. This is good to hear and I wonder if lure anglers will start to pick up on this and start checking out how this gear might work for them. Same with the Vision gear, indeed I still can’t find a better sub-£200 pair of breathable chest waders than the excellent Vision Ikon ones, and believe me, I have tried. It was interesting to talk with a guy I know on the Vision stand and have him tell me that the Vision Kust waterproof jacket that I have been using for a long time now is in fact their best selling jacket here in the UK. This makes a lot of sense to me because it’s such an outstanding waterproof jacket for lure fishing - and obviously fly fishing as well.
HTO had some good looking gear at the show, and I’ve got their new Shore Game rod here that’s going to be added to this outstanding range early next year (thanks Pete!). When the time comes I will explain why I already know that this particular 9’3’’ lure rod is easily one of the best fishing rods I have ever used, but for time being I am increasingly impressed with the HTO people and their plans for the future. There was some hugely impressive lure tackle on the Lure Heaven stand as well, including a serious amount of DUO lures and specialist slow jigging gear. Isn’t it great how seriously lure fishing is increasingly being taken here in the UK and Ireland, and how increasingly daft it makes the likes of Daiwa and Shimano look for being so damn reticent. Nothing so far has changed my opinion that it’s the smaller, more forward thinking companies and people who are driving lure fishing forward in the UK and Ireland, and long may it continue.
I could go on and on here, but to make life easier just let me reiterate how impressive this brand new show was (good on you Toby, all credit due sir), and how much fun it was to be a tiny little part of it. Please accept my apologies for the photos on here because I shot them with my mobile phone which I am utterly useless with as a camera because it simply doesn’t work like my proper cameras do! Still, I hope the photos will give you a taste of how good the show was and how horribly easy it was to spend far too much money there. Dave, I clocked you back on “that” stand buying more shiny gear to go with the shiny gear you had bought a little earlier! Outstanding.
But aside from all of the above, my overall highlight of the show was seeing the RNLI there with a great big stand - and then hearing from so many anglers who were so impressed how kind and patient and non-pushy the RNLI people were with their time and advice and ideas. I will be completely honest with you here and admit to being somewhat taken aback and very proud when the RNLI people I was talking to all mentioned anglers coming up to them to talk about how they might increase their own safety when out fishing because they had been reading this blog or my Facebook page. Crumbs.
I have got so much to learn here and then do my best to impart my findings to other anglers, but it was great to put a face to my main RNLI contact, and I am so, so honoured that as an organisation they are completely behind my starting to look into better fishing safety here. We are going to do some really interesting stuff together that’s going to debunk the myths and properly show what does actually happen when things go wrong. I have got to break down the different variables (waders, no wading belt, with wading belt, lifejacket, no lifejacket and so on) and then thanks to the RNLI we are going to professionally test all this and put the information out there via videos, photos, articles etc. Lots more to come, but thanks to this wonderful organisation for coming to the show and for talking with me and plenty of increasingly interested anglers. Roll on the 2018 European Sport Fishing Show!
Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.