ORLANDO, Fla.— It’s all over but the shoutin’ now. A cloudless sky hangs over the Orlando Convention Center as the final day of ICAST 2016 begins. By mid-afternoon, this year’s trade show will be in the books, but before the doors close, here are ten more takeaways from our second day of meandering on the show floor.
1. Revo MGXtreme will make you hate your own tackle. Abu Garcia’s new Revo MGXtreme weighs just 4.5 ounces. That’s a nice bullet point, but putting one in your hands drives the message home. It’s a Micro Machine-sized Porsche of a baitcaster that could have a real claim as the best compact bass reel on the floor.
2. Newcomer Favorite Fishing could be the next market disruptor in rods and reels. 13 Fishing has gotten a lot of pop over the last few years for their savvy use of social media, and they’ve gone from upstart market disruptor to one of the most popular brands among young anglers. Look to Favorite Fishing as a brand that could repeat that success while adding a few twists of their own.
3. The Weego 44 is an essential. If you’re not stocking this item, you should. The Weego 44 Jump Starter is a lightweight, portable battery with a 500 lumen flashlight and enough power to jump start boats, trucks and motorcycles. Every boat should have one. Every vehicle should have one. It’s a safety thing that just makes sense.
4. People still seem confused about the Navico purchase. CEO Leif Ottosson has all the answers here.
5. This industry is a family. It’s no secret that ICAST is a big family reunion. In just my third year, I feel that. But what’s most impressive are the rival companies that come to each other’s aid when disaster strikes, or the first-time show attendees that suddenly find themselves under the wings of industry legends. It’s hard to find bad people at ICAST.
6. European tackle manufacturer Westin could make a splash. Westin is one of the most popular tackle brands in Europe, and their display at this year’s show is top-notch. The colors need some tuning to the North American market, but the bait designs are there. And the branding—with lures like Danny the Duck, Coco the Crap and Barry the Bass—is catchy.
7. Trapper Tackle has a winner. Simple sells, and it doesn’t get more simple than a hook…until you redesign it. That’s exactly what upstart Trapper Tackle has done, and their clever design keeps lures on the hook without the need for screw-in weights. Trapper took home Best of Show honors in Terminal Tackle, which is high praise for a company that’s only been in existence for a few months. Check it out:
8. After a hot start on Day One, most of the exhibitors I talked to felt that attendance was down on Day Two. ASA says this is the biggest ICAST yet. The show is occupying more floor space than ever before, and it’s possible that the increased square footage, thanks in part to the addition of an NMMA pavilion, has the crowd more spread out than in years past.
9. “There’s a market for everyone.” The folks at Integritemp—the sister company of Rebelfin—feel that there’s still room in the cooler market. However, they’re taking a different approach. Instead of heavy-duty rotomolded goliaths, they’re hedging their bets on the classic, affordable foam cooler. One of their largest clients outside of fishing is Omaha Steaks, so yeah, there might be something to that.
10. Booth babes are scary. One trade show veteran and newcomer to the fishing industry told me that ubiquitous “booth babes” are few and far between at ICAST. “They scare people away here. I’ve been watching them all day, and the only people that go up to them are kids.” While that’s not entirely true—more than one creeper has asked me to take a picture of them with a pretty girl this year— I do think there’s something to the theory.
Maybe we’re progressing as a society, maybe the industry is too conservative for them, but I do agree that booth babes are less a part of the ICAST landscape than most trade shows. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Honorable mention: There’s been some chatter about fly fishing brands being low-profile at the ICAST New Product Showcase. IFTD actually runs their own New Product Showcase, tucked away in the southwest corner of the trade show.