Most of you know that July is the month that the fishing industry comes together for its annual trade show called ICAST. This year was no exception, so Sunday, July 10th Dixie and I loaded up the truck and headed for Orlando for 4 days of exploring what’s new in the fishing industry. Tuesday was “On The Water” day and it was a brutal 98 degrees with no breeze. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were (thankfully) inside the Orlando Convention Center and much more enjoyable although we walker further than normal for all 3 days.
Here are a few observations about ICAST:
I think the biggest thing Dixie and I noticed is how the fishing industry is getting “younger”. OK, that’s probably not a surprise observation given we’re both knocking on the door of 70 years, but until this year it was pretty much the same-ole-same-ole in the industry. There were always new products, but they always seemed geared to guys who had been fishing for a while – guys in their late 30’s to early 50’s. More often than not anything new was just small improvements on existing products. But this year we could actually feel the industry really stepping up and innovating in so many ways. New ideas, new concepts, and new approaches to products, distribution, and especially younger customers. And it seemed to us to have happened almost overnight.
Many of the folks in the booths were young, eager beavers who really knew their stuff. Frankly, if you were over 30 you seemed to be in the minority. And young people have young ideas. They drive innovation and dislike doing things “the same way we always have.” That’s not only refreshing, but bodes well for fishing in general not just this year, but for years to come.
In years past there have been some ICAST’s that were well attended, some not so much so. This year’s ICAST was by far the largest in history with more exhibit space and exhibitors than any time in the past. And record attendance. It took all the energy we could muster just to get around the whole show in those 4 days. Safe to say by the time we got back to our hotel we were shot. Thank goodness there’s ample cold beer available in Florida!
It would be almost impossible to tell you about everything we saw that impressed us our got the juices flowing. So let me just give you some highlights of what we’ll call “the good stuff”. The best of many, many bests we came across.
If you’re a G. Loomis fan you had better hold on to your seat! There’s a whole new generation of GLX rods on the way that will simply blow you away! They are gorgeous to look at and so much better than any previous GLX we have ever seen. The blanks are new and lighter yet amazingly stronger, the guide train is the latest and greatest Fuji K frame titanium coated SiC guides, the new proprietary thru-blank reel seats rock, and the handles are the best cork we have ever seen. There are some split grips, but more full cork tapered grips that really improve the rod performance. These rods are going to be one of the hottest products in fishing. They’re that good!
Loomis also has introduced the Asquith line of fly rods which incorporate a totally new spiral-X blank technology. They’re not cheap at $1,000 or more per, but they are absolutely the most accurate and powerful fly rods we have ever thrown. Think of zero deflection, absolute accuracy, and all the power you need or can even imagine needing. Line weights go from a 4 weight to a 12 weight. The rods are compatible in fresh or saltwater. We have never seen a fly rod this good. Safe to say we were totally impressed!
Shimano has really improved Metanium low profile casting reel. This Metanium MGL is lighter, stronger, and incorporates the new Micro-Module gearing for smoother action and better performance. Add to that the all new “Hagane” technology body and you have one very impressive reel. There are 6 models, 3 RH and 3 LH. Gear ratios are 6.2:1, 7.5:1, and 8.5:1(!) Our only criticism here is the drag pressure which stays about the same at 11 lbs.
There’s also a new Stradic Ci4+ reel on the way from Shimano. Here you still get all the great features that the Stradic Ci4 has become known for, but with a new lighter rotor and better gears and a stronger body. Prices went up a bit, but so did performance. Another very impressive product.
From the Daiwa camp there lots of great stuff coming our way. New Steez and Zillion reels, improved Tatula CT reels, new Lexa CC models that defy any fish to beat them, and a couple of higher end spinning reels that are simply amazing in their technology and performance.
We would have liked to have seen Daiwa do more with their Steez line of rods, but who knows, maybe next year.
Our absolutely favorite cooler line, Engel, has a bigger soft cooler that is going to be a real game changer. Think of the award winning Deep Blue cooler performance in a package that’s less than half the weight and, in our opinion, damn good looking. Just as Engel created innovation with their Dry Box line, this new soft cooler with definitely cause a major paradigm shift for the industry. Not sure when these will start shipping, but you can bet your booty we will have them as soon as they’re available.
Landing nets are typically pretty Presbyterian, but the new Ego Kryptek nets confirm that fishing is addressing the younger fishermen. We love Ego nets for their head interchangeability and the simple fact that they float. No more lost nets off the deck when you’re “at speed” or stretching to the max to land that trophy. Now there’s a whole new line of Kryptek blue Ego’s that retain the Ego’s features but look awesome in this deep blue color scheme.
There were more products that really impressed us from Golight, Buff, Wiley, Native Sun, Costa, Stormr, and many, many more. But overall, the above were our real “Wow” products.
From now until the end of the year we will systematically be adding these new products as they become available, so keep checking our web site often. Like I said, fishing is getting so much better. Shoot, I’m even starting to feel sorry for the fish!
This week, we are excited to give have the new gear from G. Loomis and Shimano on pre-order, as well as some big savings on multi-packs of our most popular game camera!
Thanks to all of our great friends and customers who have supported us and passed our name on to their friends. We know we are only here by making sure your needs are our first and only priority. Please let me know if we ever fail to meet and exceed your expectations.