Best Show Ever?

Was this year’s ICAST the best one yet? For most of us who were able to attend, yes it was. For those who were not there, it probably wasn’t, but surely you wish you could have been there. This year’s show was full of innovative new equipment, technological advancements, a few surprises and a great opportunity to make new friends and reconnect with friends from across the country.

If you break down just the numbers, approximately 9,500 representatives from the various aspects of the fishing community attended this year’s event. There was also an additional 700 fellow media members who reported on the show’s events and highlights. One of the growing trends this year was the use of social media on the show floor by attendees, exhibitors and of course media members, and how quickly non-attending members of the fishing community were able to connect with the show no matter where they were.

This year was also the first year that ICAST and IFTD combined their respective shows, and it looks to many to be a match made in heaven. Many retailers and buyers commented on how nice it was in an unsure economy to attend only one show yet be able to see both conventional and fly fishing tackle at the same time. Due to the co-locating of the shows, many non-fly fishing buyers experienced their first opportunity to see what the fly community already knows: there are just as many great manufacturers on their side of the fishing aisle as there is on the conventional fishing side. For those that enjoyed this co-locating of the two shows, great news – it will happen again next year when ICAST and IFTD both head to Orlando, Florida.

The Best of Show Award winners list was laced with the names of many long-time favorite fishing manufacturers, being recognized as having the best new products in their respective categories. A full list of this year’s ICAST Best of Show winners can be found here, along with links to many of the winning products’ press releases.

If winning one of the twenty-two Best of Show awards this year was not enough, ICAST added an additional benefit and shocked us all. A special guest presenter was on hand for the evening’s festivities, baseball Hall of Fame legend, and State of the Industry Breakfast’s keynote speaker, Johnny Bench. Mr. Bench stepped up to the plate on Wednesday evening and was kind enough to make every award presentation a bit more special and memorable for the award winners and attendees.

Whether ICAST is held in Las Vegas or Orlando, there are always gambles taken by manufacturers on new products, new product lines, technological advancements and small tweaks to current products. Many of these gambles take as much as two years to pay off for some, and others will never see their investment back. That is just how the industry and market is. In accordance with recent ICASTs, technological advancements abounded in almost every booth with an emphasis on smaller, lighter and longer battery life seeming to lead the way. There also was a more concerted interest in apparel, eyewear and coolers this year from a variety of different manufacturers.

The other trend that was discussed by manufacturers was the amount of interaction through social media, or digital marking and communications that many are entering into. They realize that many of you are online and need to be contacted directly and marketed to directly via the digital platforms instead of only using these methods to reach consumers. More will be discussed on this trend in the coming months as more manufacturers open up discussions with us.

If you were able to attend this year’s ICAST, what was your most memorable moment or piece of fishing equipment you saw? If you didn’t attend, what product are you anxiously awaiting to stock on your shelves? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page, or our in our LinkedIn group. No matter if you attended this year or not, maybe it is time for you to start planning to attend next year’s show as we all head back to Orlando, Florida.