ICAST raises the temperature to hot, hot hot!
It’s hot! And we’re not just talking about the searing temperatures in Orlando, Florida. Business is booming at ICAST, the world’s biggest fishing tackle trade show. Dealers have been packing the aisles of the Orange County Convention Center and you can almost hear the ‘ker-ching’ of exhibitors clinching deals across the expansive show floor.
Signs of a good show were evident as early as Tuesday evening, the traditional timing of the show’s prestigious Best New Product showcase. The throng of dealers and media casting those all-important votes suggested that the industry was on the brink of something special.
Unlike other major trade shows, ICAST prefers to open the product showcase to dealers and media representatives on the eve of the show itself. It’s a formula that works and one that other shows might learn from. The turnout is high and the voting gets the focus it warrants. Winning awards at ICAST is a serious business that, if marketed properly, can be converted into significant revenue.
The word amongst dealers and media was that the fishing industry’s biggest gathering was about to get even bigger, a mood enhanced by ASA Board Chairman Gregg Wollner at the following morning’s State of the Industry Breakfast.
“Coming to Orlando has proved to be a very good business decision, a sound investment,” said Wollner, who is Rapala’s Executive Vice President. “This looks like the biggest show in ICAST’s 57-year history.”
ASA President Mike Nussman shared Wollner’s optimism and paid tribute to the board of directors’ willingness a year ago to embrace co-location with AFFTA’s IFTD show. “That was a big and very important decision for us and has got us where we are today,” said Nussman.
The feelgood factor soon spilled into the neighbouring halls as business commenced and the serious business of introducing new products to retailers and distributors began in earnest.
ICAST prides itself on innovation and anyone who can’t find evidence of that at this year’s show just isn’t looking hard enough. Shimano (booth 585) is always a good place to start, and this year’s traditional first-morning media call took the wraps of a mouthwatering range of new products. Shimano has no fewer than new 300 SKUs across its PowerPro, G. Loomis and Jackall brands.
The headline acts include the new Ultegra C14+ long cast surf reels and the Tiralejo long-cast surf rods, signaling the company’s intent to build a position in a category where it has not been traditionally strong.
Steve Rajeff and his team at G. Loomis have introduced the new PRO4x ShortStix fly rods, a move endorsed by dealers and media who voted it best freshwater rod in the show. From Jackall, whose sales, marketing and distribution is handled by Shimano, the Binksy Big Noise popper created a splash, along with the ScissorComb, an action-packed soft plastic bait that looks sure to make waves among tournament bass anglers.
Australian lure company Halco (booth 2405) is steadily building momentum in the US and looks to have added to its stock with the C-Gar, a hard bait with a wide range of applications. A serial winner in the hard lure category at Australia’s annual trade show, Halco believes the C-Gar also has huge potential in the Central Americas, South Africa and the South Pacific territories.
The much-vaunted MicroWave Guide System continues to capture the imagination of rod builders around the world and there’s no easing up from manufacturer American Tackle (booth 1829). There is no shortage of customers who believe the system is going to change the rod-building industry and the Florida company today revealed its intention to role our new versions to broaden the system’s range of applications.
ICAST debutant Blutbombette arrived in Orlando fresh from its success at EFTTEX where it secured a secured second place in the best bait category. The German company’s tablet-shaped, slow release attractant is a unique product developed with the help of pharmaceutical technology and is used inside a neat online capsule positioned ahead of the lure or bait.
Broadplast Industries (booth 2019) from Taiwan is making a growing impact on the kayak market with its expanding line of components. The company already has a firm foothold in the US and is looking to build on its dealer base with a range that includes an innovative Kayak Carrying Handle.
There is a buzz about A Florida ICAST that Nevada struggles to match and the ASA’s decision to keep the trade show in Orlando until at least 2016 is very smart move right now.