Once a year the fishing industry comes together for its annual trade show called ICAST. ICAST 2013 begins this Wednesday, July 10 through Friday, June 12 in Las Vegas.
This issue I thought we would give you some insights about how ICAST works as well as the fishing industry in general. You probably will hear a lot about new products and some “gee whiz” stuff, but I doubt you will actually get an “insider’s perspective” on just how ICAST is organized, who participates, and what all of this means to you, the people who actually buy fishing gear. So let me try to explain all this and my take on it. Warning: there will be some editorializing here!
ICAST really starts in about March for most of us. We have to register for the show, make our hotel and airline reservations, and figure out how our business can possibly get by without us for a week. We also start getting “leaked” information about new products from manufacturers, which from time to time can be frustrating as we know whatever is new will only show up at ICAST.
The Wait For New Products
I have never understood why we must wait until the middle of the fishing season for new products. It would certainly make more sense (to me) if new products came out in the early Spring so we could all gear up with the new stuff, but who am I to question the aggregate wisdom on the manufacturers? Perhaps years ago, before the Internet and instant access to information, etc. that made sense. Products introduced in mid-July were for the next “selling season” which was typically about 6-8 months off. But in today’s world that’s just not the way it works.
Anyway, it is what it is. About a week before the show our credentials usually show up. The badges now have bar codes and “tags” that can be scanned by exhibitors, making sending information about products easier.
ICAST is attended by tackle retailer and distributors, the news media, government types, and lobbyists who do their damnest to try and protect our fishing rights. It’s an interesting amalgamation of personalities and agendas to say the least. Manufacturers are there in full force with executives, account reps, sales people, and often back office personnel.
This is actually the first year that the fly fishing and general fishing industry will participate in one big show. Prior to this year the fly fishing industry held their own show, usually in the early Fall. I never understood why they did this, but they did. About 3 years ago there were actually 3 shows – ICAST, the Fly Show, and The Marine Accessories Show. Now there is just one which covers all. Finally some efficiency.
New Product Showcase
The show starts with a “preview” of the New Products Showcase Tuesday evening from 5 PM till 7 PM. Only news media and retailers are invited to attend. (more on this later). Wednesday, the first day of the show, opens with an Industry Breakfast at 7:30 AM. This includes typical “convention food” and costs $40 a head. But, the good news is that the proceeds go toward protecting your fishing rights. And in today’s world that’s money well spent.
Best Products of the Year
Immediately after breakfast the show opens and the New Product Showcase is open for attendees to vote for the best products of the year. Manufacturers are allowed to submit a product for each category if they choose. Those categories range from best rod, reel, tackle box, soft bait and many, many more categories. Voting must be completed by Noon Wednesday and winners are usually announced by that evening. My 2 cents worth is that this is a little too quick, but that’s the way it works.
Once the New product Showcase has been visited (not all attendees visit and only dealers and distributors can vote) we usually start walking the show. Many manufacturers will make appointments with dealers and distributors so they have a chance to talk about the new products and show off their features, benefits, etc. I usually wear comfortable shoes but invariably end up with sore feet by the end of each day.
Fishing For New Products
Over the last 6 or 7 years we have seen some remarkable new products, but they tend to be the exception rather than the norm. More typical is expansion of product lines by manufacturers. More rods in a specific series or two, new color lures, new features old models, etc. Reels, however, would be the exception. New reels are just that – new. We have yet to see any reel introduced at ICAST that isn’t something new. Not always better, but always new.
Family Friendly Industry
Overall the show is fairly straight-laced and far from any sort of party atmosphere. I have attended many trade shows in my business career covering many products in various industries and I would say that ICAST is about as uneventful as any I have attended. Yes, there may be a dinner or a get together after the show, but my take is that most attendees are not night owls or prone to “party hearty”. Basically this is a family industry and behavior belies that – which is good in my opinion.
The show hours are from 9 AM until 6 PM Wednesday and Thursday and from 9 AM until 3 PM on Friday. The show is organized by ASA – American Sportfishing Association – which is basically an organization of fishing tackle manufacturers. A few dealers and distributors belong as well, but very few. Basically if you belong to ASA you are an exhibitor at ICAST.
Finally, ICAST is about sharing ideas and talking shop with your peers. We only get to do this very occasionally, so in this regard ICAST is invaluable. Here tackle dealers from around the world come together and, if you are social, share some ideas and stories.
We’re Off to ICAST 2013
So, we are off to ICAST. We will be sending you updates and hope to have some exciting news about new products and new programs within about a week to 10 days. In the meantime we will be talking to many people, sharing some ideas, and doing all we can to make American Legacy Fishing even better for all of you.
Thanks to all of you for your friendship and support. We’re here for you, so let us know what we can do to serve you better.