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New Douglas Outdoors brand hits ICAST

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Jim Murphy: Founder of Douglas Outdoors, which is in the process of building a rod factory in New York State.

Fishing entrepreneur Jim Murphy is at his best when launching new brands and ventures.

The genial creative founded Redington and Albright before building the Hardy brand in North America. Now Murphy, a keen yachtsman, is at the helm of Douglas Outdoors, one of the many companies making a first appearance at ICAST. Douglas is carefully crafting a brand under its ‘fresh legacy’ slogan – a product line that combines the modern with the classical, the functional with the traditional.

The made-in-the-US Argus Reel, assembled only a week before the show, looks destined to be a jewel in the Douglas crown. Designer John Shaner has produced a reel intended to remain a classic in 25 years time. Shaner uses stainless steel bar stock in true American tradition, combined with marine brass in the foot, to create a clean, stylish look.

The other reel in the company’s initial offering is the Nexus, an incredibly light, sealed disc drag reel available in green or titanium and in four sizes. Buyers also warmed to the two fly rod series being introduced by Douglas, the DFX and the DHF, along with spinning and casting rods.
Murphy is on a mission to introduce a sustainable merchandising programme to independent dealers anxious to find a brand that will support them. Angling International understands that all products will be available in October.

TroKar Hooks made a huge impact when introduced by Eagle Claw four years ago and their reputation was further enhanced when the company’s TK619 model was voted the best hook in the show. The developers in Denver class this beefy, robust circle hook as among the best they have produced, which is some recommendation given the quality of their impressive line up. Watch out for the point on this surgically sharpened bad boy – it’s the first time a point this keen has been achieved on such heavy wire diameter, warns new Marketing Manager Nickie Kiefer.

It’s always a pleasure to chat with Kara Armano at the show. Far Bank’s PR communicator always has something new to talk about and this year is no exception. Kara had the latest on RIO’s new-for-2015 Permit line, featuring an easy-casting taper and ‘tropical’ coating that won’t wilt in the heat. Dealers and media were also introduced to the Sage Salt 890-4, a fast-action feast of a rod using Sage’s proprietary taper design. Kara’s enthusiasm was well placed, with both products subsequently winning categories in the following evening’s IFTD awards.

Mystic Rods is never slow to embrace new ideas and was one of the companies highlighted by the American Tackle Company in a press conference called to showcase the popular MicroWave Guide System. President Dennis Klein, who showcased his M-Series, Switch and Maveryck rods, is also interested in the growing sales potential among women anglers. He has high hopes for his latest rod (thankfully not pink, but a classy irridescent blue!)) in that expanding category.

Also in the IFTD section of the show floor, Fishpond had plenty to interest dealers and media with their range of packs, bags and vests in new Cyclepond recycled fabrics. Fishpond’s co-founder and designer John Le Coq has long been finding favour in the market with his eye for the classy but functional, and it was no surprise that Fishpond topped the luggage category in the IFTD awards.

The watercraft market is one of the fastest-growing in the industry, evidenced by the increasing number of SUP and kayak manufacturers attending ICAST. Broadplast Industrial Co., an offshoot of Ji-Yang Plastics, is carving a niche for itself in the sector with an expanding line of essential kayak equipment. This was the Taiwan company’s second ICAST and Sales Manager Kylie Chen is looking forward to next year’s show.

Also making a big splash among the watercraft exhibitors was Cruiserboard. Managing partners Jim Lipman and Neal Esterley describe the Cruiserboard as positioned between SUPs and kayaks and the only paddlecraft you can stand up or sit down in. The San Diego company only went into production in March this year and was making its national debut in Orlando, with Lipman and Esterley describing the reaction from visitors as “simply fantastic.”
Another ICAST first-timer, Zagaia Lures, is the biggest lure company in Brazil and is hoping to use ICAST as a springboard for breaking into the US. It has ambitions in the bass market and investment has been made available. The company’s big popper lure, the Angry Sub, was among a number of eye-catching baits on show.

Among the coolest offerings at ICAST were the GT Icecream plugs from South African company iFISH, yet another ICAST debutant. These big top-water lures were originally made to catch the giant trevally (GT’s) that hunt the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. When one of the product developers said they were like ice cream to the trevally, the name stuck, and now they are being used to catch all types of surface feeding predators. The company’s US agent Dylan Kendrick, the US agent for iFISH, said that the GT Icecream and Assassin range of rods had attracted a lot of attention from US buyers.

Popular eyewear brand Flying Fisherman has been successfully making sunglasses for anglers both in the US and abroad for 30 years. While sunglasses remain its core business (there were eight new styles on show in Orlando), the Florida Keys company has in recent years used the strength of the brand to add more apparel and to launch the Passsport travel rod series. Passport customers now have the choice of three spinning rods and three fly rods.

Revered rod manufacturer St. Croix is known for its broad range and high quality, and Vice President of Brand Management Jeff Schluter was hard pressed to select the stand-out offerings. However, high on his list are the AvidX, TriumphX and the Legend Trek travel rod, all of which created a lot of interest among show visitors. Angling International will be revealing more about this St. Croix trio soon.

French company Fiiish – maker of the Black Minnow and Crazy Sandeel lures – took a booth at ICAST for the first time after a fact-finding mission to Las Vegas last year. Manager Fred Orlach was sufficiently impressed by enquiries and feedback in Orlando that he has already booked a slot for next year. In the meantime, Orlach and his team will be working on a strategy for the US that is appropriate to the size of the company.

Cuda Tools, part of Acme United Corporation, wasted no time in making its mark at its first ICAST. The Cuda Grip and Scale won the Fishsmart Tackle category in the New Product Showcase awards and helped attract a steady flow of potential customers to the booth. The company can call on a long history of experience in tools and materials technology and majors in the production of fishing pliers, wire cutters, scissors and knives. Although Cuda is still finalising inventory, Marketing Manager Geri Adler said that business was “in good shape” after a stream of firm enquiries.

Although new products and new business are the key drivers behind ICAST, the show is also a great opportunity to catch up on the efforts of organisations like the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Project Healing Waters, organisations dedicated to the welfare of fish and fisheries and, in the latter’s case, the rehabilitation of disabled military personnel and veterans.

Participation in fishing is right at the top of the ASA’s priorities and is being rigorously addressed by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and its TakeMeFishing initiative, driven by takemefishing.org. Frank Peterson and his RBFF team are dedicated to creating new customers for the recreational fishing industry and central to that role is increased engagement with America’s huge Hispanic community. Among the many startling statistics revealed in our conversation is that Hispanic fishing participants average 24.4 days on the water per year – almost five days more than the average for all fishing participants! There’ll be more from Frank in a future issue of Angling International.

 

 

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