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Driftwood outdoors: Show offers chance to check out what’s new

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The 56th annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades was conducted in Las Vegas last week.

I was on hand to check out the latest and greatest from fishing tackle manufacturers while catching up with friends from the industry.

There was a lot of excitement in the air as many manufacturers acknowledged a recent uptick in the economy.

About 9,500 representatives from the global fishing industry attended, including thousands of buyers who came to check out the gear, accessories and apparel on display. In addition, more than 700 media representatives were there to cover the show.

“The energy and excitement generated during this year’s show was felt by everyone,” American Sportfishing Association President Mike Nussman said. “ICAST is our industry trade show. It’s very important to us that we create the show that the industry wants.

“The decision by the boards of directors of ASA and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association to co-locate ICAST and the International Fly Tackle Dealer show is a reflection of that. Our commitment to our member exhibitors, media and all show attendees is to listen and improve the trade show in any and every way we can.”

The ICAST New Product Showcase highlighted the latest innovations in sportfishing gear and accessories.

The submitted products competed in the “Best of Show” competition in which buyers and media members judge each new product.

This year the JL Marine Systems’ Power-Pole Micro Anchor was voted by buyers and media as the best product in both the Boating Accessory category and the overall “Best of Show.”

Other notable best-of-show winners were:

  • Eyewear: Costa, Tuna Alley
  • Fly-fishing rod: G. Loomis, PRO4x
  • Freshwater reel: Shimano American Corp., CHRONARCH C14+
  • Freshwater rod: G. Loomis, NRX Umbrella Rig
  • Kids’ tackle: Shakespeare, Ugly Stik GX2 Youth Combo
  • Best of show: Line product, Zero-Impact
  • Hard lure: Koppers Fishing & Tackle Corp., LIVETARGET Baitball
  • Soft lure: Lunkerhunt, Lunker Frog
  • Tackle management: Plano Molding Co., 3700 Guide Series Tackle Bag
  • Terminal tackle: Mustad, Grip-Pin Swim

I caught up with a couple of Indiana companies at the show.

Challenge Plastic Products of Edinburgh was showcasing its line of fishing products, which include cricket cages, bait containers, minnow buckets, fishing pole props, insect containers, minnow traps and live bait containers.

Stonefly Press is a new publishing house based in Bloomington that specializes in fly-fishing books. The company was promoting its newest book, “The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Carp,” by Kirk Deteer.

Castaic was showcasing its popular lures, including their popular swimbaits.

All seemed to agree that the show was a positive experience.

One of the coolest aspects for me, personally, was meeting a few celebrities I have admired for years. I got to spend 15 minutes or so talking one-on-one with Bill Dance, and I sat with Jimmy Houston during a dinner sponsored by TTI-Blakemore, manufacturer of the famous Road Runner. A real highlight for me was meeting Lefty Kreh, who is easily one of the greatest fly fishermen ever. He’s pushing 90 but was still out there teaching folks the fundamentals of fly casting.

If my grandpa were still alive, he’d flip out knowing the little boy he used to get up early with to watch these fellas on television was now rubbing shoulders with them. It’s a pretty cool feeling.

See you down the trail.

Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Saturdays in the Daily Journal.

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