Before you get overly pumped for this year’s carnival of fishing tackle at ICAST, there’s another grand show set to take place on the other side of the pond before that, which you need to know about. The European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition – or EFTTEX – is set to take place from 13 to 15 June in the Belgian capital of Brussels. 

But why should you care? Well, for starters there will be more than 180 exhibitors there from countries all over Europe, Asia and, as you can read in my review from 2018’s edition, North America too. The show has global importance and always packs in plenty of new product launches, new brands, strategy ideas and inspiration – and even sometimes even a little scandal – to get the juices flowing. Here’s some of the things you should look out for as EFTTEX week approaches.

US companies learning

As previously mentioned, American and Canadian companies are regular faces at EFTTEX, especially when it is hosted in an easy-to-access city such as Amsterdam in the Netherlands like in 2018. I think it’s pretty fair to say that, with a few exceptions, the first of these American companies were merely toe-dipping when they first exhibited here, and then grew in confidence and in strategy. North American companies have adapted incredibly well to the differing demands of the multitude of varied markets in Europe, perhaps even better than some European companies, and are making major waves. Companies like PRADCO, Eagle Claw, American Tackle, American Fishing Wire and Boone Bait are staples at EFTTEX. But we’re seeing new faces willing to mould their product ranges and their strategies to make it work in Europe – take a bow Live Target, Costa Sunglasses et all.

Chinese companies making their own way

Times have changed since China was known only as ‘the place where all OEM fishing tackle is made’. China is growing and China is getting more ambitious – as are it’s fishing tackle companies. That gets more and more obvious each year at EFTTEX as the show hosts an increasing number of Chinese exhibitors – but these guys aren’t touting for business to make stuff for European and American brands, oh no. They have their own brands and they want you to buy them. Export is the buzzword in Chinese fishing tackle right now and EFTTEX is the place to see it. This year will host 29 Chinese exhibitors including names you should remember where you heard first, such as: BKK, Crony Fishing Tackle, Lurefans, Recertop Lures and Frichy.

Photo: David Guest

Product innovations

Like ICAST, EFTTEX has its own Best New Product showcase. Unlike ICAST, there’s no fancy reception and the judging panel is usually hand-picked members of the media, and a limited number at that. Because of this, the awards have been accused by some of being a little biased or unfair – but that definitely does not stop brands being innovative in a bid to try and claim the top prizes. Some of the fishing tackle innovations that debuted at EFTTEX include Savage Gear’s incredible Suicide Duck, Westin’s Mike the Pike lure, Costa 580P sunglasses lenses and Fuji SiC guides. You can usually tell who won what award by which exhibitors are latest turning up to the show on the last day after the awards ceremony – usually with strong coffee, dark glasses and a couple of painkillers in hand. 

A few sour faces 

If you do ever make it over for EFTTEX, you will be hard pressed not to have someone moan to you about the show. I don’t know what it is – maybe my position in the media means when people complain to me they think their complaints will be printed – but the vibe is very different at EFTTEX compared to ICAST. That’s not to say it’s a bad show, far from it. It’s just different. The scale is different, the pace is different, the presentation is different. You have to work hard as an exhibitor before, during and after the show to make it count – but it seems many don’t and expect things just to fall into their laps. People don’t like change, and maybe the changing venue every year is what does it. But don’t let the occasional complaint stop you from enjoying and benefitting from this show.

Someone getting marched out of the show

I’ve seen it more than one occasion and I’m sure I’ll see it again plenty more times – someone getting ejected from the show for doing something they shouldn’t. It appears EFTTEX can sometimes be a victim of its own success and you can sometimes find people selling in the aisles or even targeting products to copy. Thankfully, the EFTTEX staff and security are super diligent about this kind of thing and they deal with intellectual property disputes and other fallings out quickly and discreetly. It’s just something our trade has to live with.

A renewed focus on sustainability

We all know fishing faces challenges – both in terms of the environment and in terms of the size of the market in the future. This year’s EFTTEX will feature a special seminar on sustainability from Stuart McLanaghan PhD, Director of Sustainable Angling and fish21, on how global issues such as ocean plastics and climate change are creating threats and uncertainties, but also present opportunities via new products and services. This kind of knowledge and session could be incredibly vital for the future of your business and it’s refreshing to see Europe’s biggest stage for the trade giving these topics the airtime they deserve and require.

A global audience

In 2018, EFTTEX attracted visitors from 72 different countries – 82% from European nations and the remaining 18% from elsewhere. It would cost you a heck of a lot of cash to visit industry players from all these nations and the show really is one where one good meeting could make the trip all worthwhile. EFTTEX moves around from city to city in Europe each year and this also affects which people visit. Brussels is an easily accessible city and a relatively cheap one too. Expect to see faces and hear tongues from all over the globe.

EFTTEX key facts and figures

  • When: 13 to 15 June, 2019
  • Where: Brussels Expo, Brussels, Belgium
  • Who: Over 180 exhibitors from all over the world
  • What: Europe’s premier fishing tackle trade show, attracting on average about 1,500 visitors
  • How much: Free for media, €60 for retailers, €100 for wholesalers and €260 for manufacturers and agents