Where the fishing trends get started

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I was once in Orlando in July and I think I swore to myself every day, “never again…” Oppressive heat and humidity…The only good reason I can think of to ever go back would be to participate in ICAST.

ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show, is the premier showcase for the latest innovations in fishing gear, accessories and apparel. ICAST is the cornerstone of the sportfishing industry, helping to drive recreational fishing product sales year round and worldwide.

Every industry has their big trade show and last week in Florida, the “Big Event” took place, with over 12,000 industry insiders attending. From the largest manufacturers (think Shimano, Berkley/Pure Fishing, and Eagle Claw etc.) to the smallest basement workshop type producers (think Tackle Taco, RinseKit, etc.) everyone and everything fishing is there.

But a unique thing about ICAST is that the industry insiders get to pick the “Best of Show” categories, but it is done before the show opens to “attendees. Companies who win their categories get to brag about their gear AND the awards they received all week long, guaranteeing “Sold Out” status of those items to distributors and retailers who tarry!

There are over 20 categories from overall best, to several fly fishing categories, freshwater and saltwater categories, lures, clothing, and more. Winning any “best of” awards at ICAST typically means your company will not only sell out of said product, but get your company featured in every single industry-related publication for the next four months.

Some past category winners at ICAST include Berkley Nanofil fishing line (have you tried it yet?), and Beam Outdoors for a fly reel in 2012. Berkley is part of corporate giant “Pure Fishing” while Beam outdoors is a small, ice-fishing-centered family business in Watertown, South Dakota, owned by Danny Heaton, a friend and business partner. That one product put Danny and his company on the “map” in the industry and is perhaps the biggest single business accomplishment to date for Beam.

As for the rest of ICAST week, invitees to the show get to rub elbows with a Who’s Who of fishing industry giants; view, handle and demo almost every product that exists; and perhaps make some contacts that could help their product become the next best thing!

Highlights from this year’s event include a couple of items that will most certainly be showing up in anglers’ hands in the valley very soon. And again, one of the products is from a very large name brand, while another is an industry upstart.

Bass fishermen will fall in love with the G Loomis E6X Bass model spinning rods, winning the Freshwater Rod award, (especially coupled with the Shimano Stradic C3000 reel, winner of the freshwater reel category). This line-up has a model for every possible bass fishing technique.

But an item that I find especially appealing and one that will be a definite hit with Northwest Montana sportsmen and women, is called simply “Rinse Kit.” This item won the “Boat Accessory” award and is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” products!

Simply put, it is a portable, self-contained, freshwater delivery system that can be used for everything from rinsing off at the beach, spraying down dirty boat decks, kayaks, SUP’s, even washing the dog. I can definitely see at least one of these in my pickup in the near future. Check it out at rinsekit.com.

On the local scene, fishing remains great on almost all species, everywhere. While local rivers are still a little threatened, the recent cool, moist weather has certainly helped.  I’ll see you on the water!

Howe runs Howe’s Fishing/A Able Charters. Contact him at www.howesfishing.com or 257-5214 or by emailing Mike@aablefishing.com.

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