By Steve Chaconas
And the winner is…
No red carpet, beautiful people, or golden trophies at the world’s largest sportfishing industry trade show in July. The recreational fishing industry’s trade association, American Sportfishing Association (ASA), hosted ICAST 2016, the gathering of the domestic and international sportfishing trade. More than 15,000 people; exhibitors, buyers, and outdoor media, connected in Orlando. This single event can drive a company’s domestic and international product sales and remains the ultimate showcase for the latest fishing innovations. It’s one-stop shopping for buyers and media with gear, apparel and accessories that help to make a day on the water.
Not open to the public, it’s up to buyers and writers to get the word out on what’s hot. The New Product Showcase, with 25 categories, brings out the competitive nature of the tackle trade. Winning can add a tag line to a print ad or launch an unknown company into overnight success onto a tackle shop end cap. But, looking back over the years, it appears mega companies overshadow newcomers. Some attendees feel the voting is marginalized as some writers and buyers cast votes, not based on valid features and benefits but on personal favor. However, there are unique products that rise above.
For decades TTI Blakemore, the parent of legendary Road Runner lures, has introduced new products at ICAST. The Buck-Tail PRO Road Runner, a multi species lure bass anglers call “hair jigs” and saltwater anglers “Buck-tails”, caught the attention of anglers attending the show and generated chatter from writers and buyers too. Another bass bait introduced was Casey’s Finesse Runner with all the features of his Classic Runner just downsized for slower presentations and shallower waters. Blakemore was accompanied by top pro anglers including Randy Howell, Casey Ashley, Tommy Skarlis, Jimmy Houston, Captain Van Hubbard, and Captain Tom Van Horn. Buyers learned about the new products. For veteran attendees, ICAST is a reunion with many friends stopping by. According to PR representative TJ Stallings, buyer meetings are as much about fellowship too. Noting how the show has grown, he feels politicians should take notice of the angling public. ttiblakemore.com
In business for 5 years and attending their 4th ICAST, relative newcomer to the rod and reel industry, Florida-based 13 Fishing entered edgy and technologically advanced products into the showcase. While not going home with a category win, they developed new relationships with media and tackle industry people. Utilizing displays with images, video, and text, 13 Fishing product features, functions and benefits were laid out. Interestingly, this company’s reel designer ran the country’s largest reel repair shop incorporating what worked and avoiding what didn’t on his way to designing some of the hottest new products. BASSMASTER Elite Series pros like Dave Lefebre provided practical insight into product performance. 13fishing.com
If there’s such a thing as stealing this show, The Cobra Garage Door Storage Rack probably pulled it off, winning the BEST OF SHOW for Best Tackle Management. After the New Product Showcase win, they began to show up in trades and social media. Their goal was to seek exposure for their unique new product and allow buyers and media to see what the Cobra Rack is all about. Demonstrating how their rod storage system worked, providing rod storage on the back of unused garage door space, impressed the crowd. In business for a year and attending their first ICAST, Cobra Garage Door Solutions is hoping to build upon this success as they plan to bring new and innovative products to the next big show. cobrastorage.com
YETI coolers have grabbed the attention of the fishing world. From big fishing boats to small bass boat compartments, fisherman are a core part of the brand’s identity. Founders Roy and Ryan Seiders are avid anglers and launched YETI out of frustration with gear failing on fishing trips. YETI debuted the Hopper Flip 12, which took home a Best New Product Award. The YETI tradition continues with a leak-proof, tough-as-nails, compact and portable small soft cooler. This cubed body cooler is the perfect lunchbox with a wide-mouth opening for easy loading and access to food and drinks. yeti.com
Looking good while feeling good, no matter the weather, the winner of Lifestyle Apparel was Under Armour’s Men’s UA Fish Stalker SS. Fighting heat and humidity and avoiding dehydration is key during the toughest on the water conditions. Strategic ventilation and a loose fit, so air can move easily around your body, offer full range of motion. Also featuring built-in UPF 30+ sun protection, ArmourBlock (anti-odor technology) and UA’s signature moisture transport system to wick sweat round out the unique coolness. underarmour.com
There were many winners at this year’s ICAST with several companies finding opportunity in the New Product Showcase. In spite of some feeling overshadowed by large companies, many still recognize ICAST as the best way to introduce new gear by putting products in the hands of media members and buyers. Most companies plan on returning to the 2017 show, in Orlando next July, which promises to be even bigger and better.
Potomac River Bassing in SEPTEMBER
Weather improves and grass begins to break up allowing for more topwater action in the mornings. Using Lucky Craft Gunfish or G-Splash poppers, work over grass in clearer water.
Over grass mats and pad fields, work Mann’s Hollow Super Frogs on 60-pound GAMMA Torque braid to haul big ones out the entire day. Punching on the same line with a stout Mustad Flipping hook and 1 ounce Round Valley Tungsten weight will also work in thick mats.
Skip weightless stickworms, soaked in Jack’s Juice, under cover like docks and allow to drop. Watch for bites. Slowly crawl chatterjigs and swim jigs like Mann’s Stone jigs with Mann’s HardNose Mullets through the grass and snap free. Craw patterns work. Use either braid or 16-pound Edge.
Other times use Mann’s Baby –Minus cranks over cover.
Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & contributing writer for BoatU.S. (BoatUS.com) Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.