Holy frigging cow fishing out here is just on such a different scale - I have spent a fair bit of time over the years here in the US, yet each time I come here it just amazes me how big the outdoor market is. It seems that everybody either fishes or hunts or shoot, and the market surrounding these activities is scary big. I have been to a few trade shows in the UK and Europe, but this Orlando based ICAST show is on another level. It's massive and it's full of all kinds of fishing gear and to be honest it's a brain-melter!!
We have just had the first day of the show and these Fiiish lads have been doing really well. The interest levels in the Black Minnow and the Crazy Sandeel have been fascinating, and although I suppose we could not help but assume that the striped bass market is the obvious one for them to go for, you would not believe how many people came to the Fiiish stand, looked at the products, and started talking about species such as redfish, largemouth bass, snook, speckled trout, tarpon, bluefin tuna, cobia etc. And yes, Matt the designer of these lures and I are talking about trying to do some photo/testing trips out here to get the stuff in front of these kinds of fish. I gotta see me a big redfish before too long.
When time has allowed I have wandered around the show, met a few cool people and seen some fishing products that seem seriously worth checking out. The Z-Man stand has got some great guys on it, and they come from south Carolina which is home of some pretty serious redfish fishing - their new soft plastic weedless popper looks awesome, and it's pretty heavy as well. I am betting it casts a country mile. Same with this new slightly larger and heavier IMA Skimmer which the guys from Optimum Baits are showing off, and they also have a smaller IMA Big Stik which to me looks like it could be one of the longest casting bass sized surface lure around. These two lures alone are causing me sleep issues!!
The Costa del Mar stand is just insane. It's heaving with people all the time and it looks great, and they have these brand new, ultra lightweight 580P mirror lenses in blue, green (yes!!) and silver lens colours. These new lenses have only just been launched at this show, so I don't know when they might appear in the UK, but the sunnies I was shown by their rather lovely export manager were just ridiculously lightweight. These 580P (polycarbonate) lenses are also somewhat cheaper then the 580G (glass) ones.
I have not really looked around the massive Shimano and Daiwa stands, but they are manned by lots of uniform wearing people and the new Stellas look very nice and horribly expensive. One of the spinning reels that I really like the look of is the Quantam Cabo, indeed Matt of Fiiish who boat fishes a serious amount rates them ahead of his Stellas, Saltigas and Van Staals when you take the somewhat lower price into consideration. I must admit these Cabo things felt pretty bomproof, albeit not as smooth as a high end Shimano or Daiwa.
Some of the most impressive looking gear I have seen is from a company called Stormr. Although their neoprene foul weather stuff looks serious, it's their new, lighter weight and breathable Fusion jacket that does it for me. I love how they have incorporated a bit of stretch-neoprene in the parts of a jacket where you need that flexibility, yet it's very lightweight and looks like it is built for exactly the sort of fishing we might do outside of summertime. I don't do much boat fishing these days, but I also really like the look of the Fusion bib and brace trousers as well. From memory the jacket retails at about $260 here in the US, which for what it seems it might be I reckon could be great value for money. This gear originates from the striped bass market.
Anyway, that's day one of the ICAST show done and dusted. Everything is that much bigger out here, and this trade show is no exception. We are just about to head off for a bite to eat and a bit of a debrief/breakdown of the first day and then tomorrow we do it all over again while I also try not to fry my brain too much at all this good looking stuff on show. Although Orlando is not really my thing, I can't help but love coming to the US - it's always such a buzz to be in a country where sportfishing means so much to so many people in so many ways, and the simple fact that this huge tackle industry is almost by default helping to protect the fisheries out here doesn't half make one wonder what on earth might be achievable in the UK and Europe if just perhaps some of the attitudes were a little different...........