10 Takeaways from ICAST…Day One

Day One is in the books, and as ICAST plows full-speed into Day Two (we’re counting Tuesday as Day Zero, because the show is not technically open), here’s a look back at a few first impressions of ICAST 2016.

1. Bill Lewis Outdoors has a potential smash-hit on their hands with the new StutterStep. This topwater, walking lure features bass-slaying actions in a simple retrieve and could have the potential to be the next big topwater craze. Check it:

2. The debate rages for best ICAST show floor hype music. I’m still sticking to my pre-show favorite, “Hustlin'” by Rick Ross. Fred Roumbanis swears it should be Big Head Todd’s version of “Boom Boom.” Of course he does…

The most appropriate jam could be Kanye West’s “Famous”— everyone at this show is trying to make their product faaaamous.

3. LIVETARGET continues to introduce the most anatomically realistic baits, year after year. Their new swimbait series is ridiculously accurate. Each one looks like a true work of art and the company says that actions vary by each pattern…pretty insane stuff.

4. News that Lowrance, Simrad, B&G and GoFree monolith Navico was purchased by Goldman Sachs and a European investment group has the show floor talking. Navico joins Pure Fishing and—potentially— Cabela’s as massive brands that are finding new ownership this year. And while that might seem like groundbreaking news, Navico officials say its not. This is more of a bank deal that is unlikely to affect the organizational structure of the company. Although, it might give them even more bankroll to play with…

5. Kudos to a pair of ICAST rookies who took home Best of Show awards last night. Cobra Garage Door took home Best Tackle Management and Trapper Tackle won Best Terminal Tackle. Those are two categories full of seasoned competitors, and it takes real innovation to grab the trophy there.

6. The rotomolded cooler market has to reach saturation soon. While YETI took home top honors for Best Fishing Accessory, a legion of other cooler companies are attending the show this year. I counted at least four other booths in the category.

7. Marketing continues to dominate the New Product Showcase. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the products to take home trophies last night were the subject of extensive marketing campaigns prior to the show. There’s something to be said for reaching voters beforehand and telling them to check out your product. At least half of last night’s winners had done such.

8. Frabill’s I-Float suit deserves props for winning Best Technical Apparel. Central Florida is a long way from ice fishing country, and a victory here speaks volumes to the potential that media and buyers see in the product.

9. ICAST feels well attended this year. I haven’t received the attendance actual figures from ASA yet, but a full day on the show floor gives me the vibe that there are more exhibitors and attendees this year than ever before. The addition of an NMMA pavilion and increased IFTD presence may have something to do with it, but most of the booths I saw on Day One had plenty of action going on inside. ASA says this is the biggest ICAST yet, and it certainly feels that way to me.

10. Lucky Tackle Box deserves credit for ingenuity. They’ve brought in nearly a dozen high school and college YouTube stars to cover products on the show floor—products that Lucky Tackle Box sells. The kids are easy to spot on the show floor, and Lucky Tackle Box says they represent about 2 million YouTube subscribers.

One final note…

Minn Kota’s Ultrex put an end to the kayak’s run as Best Overall winner at the New Product Showcase sponsored by Fishing Tackle Retailer. Thus, Ken Duke’s sure-fire method to win Best of Show is laid to rest before it ever took off. Sorry, Ken…