DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — Farewell old friend. ICAST 2016 is in the ground. This week, just days removed from the part circus, part reunion, part board meeting that is ICAST, FTR takes a moment to celebrate the brief, but productive life, of ICAST 2016.
Overseeing the burial are FTR Managing Editor Ken Duke and Digital Editor Joe Sills.
On the belles of the ball, the Best of Show Winners…
Ken: We saw lots of the usual suspects and a few newcomers. Lew’s continues to gain traction. The resurrection of that brand by Lynn Reeves and Gary Remensnyder has been nothing short of remarkable and inspiring. Savage Gear going back-to-back in the Hard Bait category (they won last year with the Hard Shrimp) is impressive, but I wonder if they can translate that into sales with a bait as offbeat as the “Suicide Duck.” (Meanwhile, I want one!) PENN has owned the Saltwater Reel category for three years running, but no company has dominated their space like Humminbird in Electronics. They now have six consecutive wins!
Joe: The award ceremony was an awkward two-step that ASA Vice President Glenn Hughes managed to turn into a serviceable waltz by the time Minn Kota’s Ultrex was named the overall winner. Credit Mr. Hughes for keeping his cool as a packed house at the ceremony lacked a few representatives from winners. Savage Gear’s Suicide Duck had the show floor buzzing, but I think the true head turners were Cobra Garage’s upset win in Tackle Storage and Trapper Hook’s upset in Terminal Tackle. Their product is a head turner. One of the all-time great Bassmaster Elite Series anglers I talked to had his doubts; another reportedly stayed in their booth for over an hour learning everything he could about it. Both of these guys would easily make the list of Top 10 bass anglers of all time.
On Orlando as the host city…
Ken: Yes, I’m biased because I live in “The City Beautiful,” and I understand that it’s really hot and humid here in July, but Orlando should be the permanent home of ICAST because the show is better-attended here, more business gets done here and Orlando offers opportunities for events like “On the Water” that you just can’t get anywhere else with such convenience.
Joe: ICAST comes to Orlando just weeks removed from the Pulse nightclub tragedy, and you could still feel its presence in the locals. Public buildings, hotels and the Orange County Convention Center were all lit in a sea of colorful lights after dark. From an attendance standpoint, it makes sense for ICAST to be here, though you do hear occasional rumblings for a return to Las Vegas. I would like to see some consideration given to America’s other fishing capital—the upper Midwest—but Orlando once again earns a “hats off” for hospitality, and the OCCC’s surrounding restaurants and amenities are world class. I even located an imitation Memphis at Costa’s Thursday night party, wedged between B.B. King’s Blues Club, Lafayette’s Music Room and Itta Bena Restaurant—all hometown favorites for me back in Tennessee.
On ICAST On the Water…
Ken: Unfortunately, I didn’t hear many good things about the event. There’s lots of room for improvement, starting with restructuring the ICAST Cup presented by FLW. I love the tournament (and would love it even more if my team had won), but it interferes with the On the Water activities and keeps the pros from working with their sponsors, which is what ICAST On the Water is supposed to facilitate. The tournament and weigh-in must end before 9:00 a.m. for On the Water to succeed. Hopefully, ASA and FLW will realize that and get this fixed before a great concept is foolishly discarded. Right now, however, On the Water and the tournament are competing rather than complementing each other, and that’s a huge problem.
Joe: Exhibitors were not overwhelmed with response. The biggest hurdle here might be transportation. For the second year, transport to and from Lake Toho and the convention center seemed a little unorganized. There are several large bodies of water located directly behind the convention center, and I wonder if a location change to one of those would bolster attendance. The IFTD On the Water event seemed to go well.
Thoughts on Breakout Companies…
Ken: It’s hard not to notice Tauten and Favorite Fishing. Tauten, with their LineWelder, has one of the most innovative products on the market, and as it gets out there anglers are going to find new and interesting ways to use it that haven’t been thought of yet. Favorite Fishing made a big splash with lots of booth space, big name pro staffers and a large lineup of new rods and reels. They’re making a bold and expensive entry into the market. It’ll be interesting to see if they can gain traction.
Joe: Favorite Fishing is the one to watch here. They’re entering the market with a savvy team of digital marketers, and their eyes are set squarely on chasing down 13 Fishing in the up-and-coming “cool” brand category. Lucky Tackle Box also impressed by leveraging a small army of college-age YouTube stars to promote their brand. It’s marketing by crowd-sourcing, and I’m surprised the idea hasn’t been leveraged more heavily at ICAST before.