A couple of recent incidents are top-of-mind for me today.
First, at the recent ASA Sportfishing Summit in South Carolina, I attended my first Trade Show Committee meeting as an actual member of the committee. That means, quite literally, that I have a seat at the table, can make motions, can vote on motions and resolutions, etc., etc., etc.
I took advantage of my new opportunities by making a few motions, arguing for them and watching them sink or swim with the other committee members. My first three motions ran the gamut between success and failure.
The first of my motions was to create a category in the ICAST New Product Showcase for ice fishing. This has been a long time coming, and it passed without opposition.
I also proposed that the Best of Show awards be changed. The ones they have now —and have had for decades — are transparent acrylic. They’re nearly impossible to photograph effectively, and what good is a trophy if you can’t show it off? New options are now being explored.
After one win (ice fishing) and one “we’ll take a look” (the trophies) maybe it was karmic time for a flop. That’s when I rolled out my proposal to combat my current pet peeve with the New Product Showcase.
You see, there were nearly a thousand items in the New Product Showcase this year, covering 25 categories. Media and buyers are allowed to vote — but not anyone who does not qualify for a media or buyer badge.
My problem with that is media is too often beholden to manufacturers. As managing editor of FTR, I try to be as objective as possible when voting (and I vote infrequently), but when it comes down to two new products — one made by an advertiser and the other not made by an advertiser — I feel the conflict, and I understand why many would believe that my vote is swayed by relationship.
In order to make the ICAST New Product Showcase Best of Show awards as prestigious and valuable as possible, we must avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
So, I made a motion to restrict voting to buyers only — no more media.
And it completely bombed. In fact, it wasn’t even seconded.
This was disappointing, but the failure has not convinced me that I’m wrong, only that I need to do a better job of explaining the situation and the benefits of a change.
A Different System
Ironically, I went from the ASA Summit to the Pitman Creek Wholesale show in Sevierville, Tennessee. Like ICAST, they have a New Product Showcase. And like ICAST they allow retailers to vote on the products.
Unlike ICAST, however, they do not allow media voters, and that makes a difference. If you don’t believe me, you can ask the manufacturers.
Here are the winners from Pitman Creek:
Terminal Tackle — Berkley Fusion 19 Feathered Treble Hooks. They come in sizes 2, 4 and 6 in a four pack that retails for $5.99.
Fishing Line — Power Pro Super 8 Slick V2. It’s an 8-end, dense weave construction and comes in sizes from 8- to 80-pound test and in spools from 150 to 3,000 yards. It’s available in Onyx, Blue, Aqua Green (high-vis) and Moss Green and MSRP starts at $20.99.
Fishing Reel — Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel. It weighs just 6.9 ounces and comes in right- or left-hand retrieve with gear ratios of 6.3:1, 7.2:1 and 8.2:1. MSRP is $99.99.
Best Hard Lure — Strike King KVD 1.5 Deep. This lure takes the popular squarebill action much deeper than before. It weighs 1/2-ounce, comes in 25 colors and retails for $7.49
Best Soft Lure — Googan Baits Bandito Bug. This is a 4-inch bug-style bait that features oversized claws and multiple small side pinchers with raised flanges that produce lots of water displacement and action. It comes in 10 colors and a 7-pack retails for $5.99.
Best Rod — Duckett Fishing Silverado. Duckett is keeping price in mind with the new Silverado, offering quality and affordability. The rod comes in 10 models and is priced at $99.
Best Accessory — Erupt Fishing RTD (Rod Threading Device). Thread line through your rod guides in a few seconds with the RTD. It self-centers and avoids the headaches of dropping your line while trying to thread it. MSRP is $29.99.
Overall Best of Show was the Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel.