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2014 ICAST sets a high standard

The 2014 ICAST was a great hit and a big success.
The 2014 ICAST was a great hit and a big success.
Robert J Wiebel

Melbourne, FL – July 21, 2014 – The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) annual trade show is now in the books. This year over 11,000 attendees visited the Orange County Convention Center to see row after row of the latest Sportfishing products. The show has only been over for three days and I cannot wait until next year when it will return to Orlando, Florida.

Now that I have time to compile my thoughts about the show, I plan to write this summary article and two more future articles, one on “My Best in Show” sunglasses, Guideline, Typhoon, and Vigor and one on the digital sport cameras GoPro, ION, JVC and Wasp Cam.

As days and weeks passed heading up to the show, I had stated to receive emails from many of the exhibitors that use emails and social media to attract visitors to their booth. What made it easy for me to plan my time at the show was the ICAST smart phone APP. Using the APP I could schedule my booth visits, see a floor plan of the show and Tweet about the fun I was having. Technology has certainly arrived at ICAST.

Because of my day job, I set aside Thursday, July 17th and Friday, July 18th as my show dates. My first day is a full day of visiting many of the exhibitors’ booths I received emails from. On this day I crisscross the exhibitor hall from booth the booth until my feet are so tired I can hardly walk. The second day is my walk each isle day where I walk each isle spending most of my time photographing many of the booths for my www.Examiner.com slide show.

One of the exhibitors that really used email marketing was Sunsect. This product is a cross between a broad spectrum sunscreen and an insect repellent. Have consulted with a local sunscreen lab here in Melbourne, FL I had to stop and talk with them. The company has been selling their product to the U.S. Military. It is made in the USA. I was given a sample to try out. I cannot wait to see how well it works for me. If it keeps the bugs away and keeps me from getting sunburn, I am hooked.

As a person who loves the rainbow of colors and textures that the hundreds of exhibitor booths show off, eye candy was everywhere you looked. Each year it seems to me that exhibitors with the biggest sales and marketing budgets are in a contest to outdo each other. As you walk the isles you can see the small mom and pop fishing tackle company with a simple tradeshow backdrop to the two-story wood-framed roofed exhibit that Costa sunglasses has. But the exhibits that really caught my eye were those by some of the fishing lure companies where lighting is used to highlight all the different colors in a jerk bait. Live Target, one of this year’s 2014 sponsors gets my vote as one of those exhibitors that really know how to catch your eye. Their life-like artificial lures are just amazing. One trend from the Surf Expo, which I attend two times a year, that has crept into ICAST is the walled off booth. Salt Life has changed from a fully open booth to a walled off configuration with a podium and an entry guard posted out front to limit access. I really do not like this type of booth. I hope this does not catch on at ICAST. It just ruins the whole look of the show. But there is one show feature that ICAST could steal from Surf Expo is the organization of the floor space. Surf Expo has the rows of booths organized by product category like surf, skate, swimwear, etc. It would be great if the 2015 ICAST rows that were organized like reels, rods, lures, watercraft, terminal tackle, and clothing and footwear. This would save loads of walking time and allow the buyer or store owner more time to focus on the product they were interested in besides being side tracked. It would also give a great side by side product comparison.

After spending 12 hours looking at all the Sportfishing reels, rods, lures, watercraft, terminal tackle, and clothing and footwear, I like to pick my overall “Best in Show”. This year I give my vote to the straight cast reel by Kendra Gear. Mark Kendra is the inventor of a new category of fishing reel that does not exist in today. The reel is a combination of a spinning reel when casting and a bait cast reel when retrieving in line. The line spool rotated 180 degrees right to left and left to right. Why would you want a reel spool to do this? The answer is simple. It removes the twist from your fishing line. You see every time to cast a spinning reel and retrieve the line, you twist the line. Over time line twist causes line tangles and can reduce the line strength. When using the straight cast reel, you cast like a spinning reel and retrieve like bait cast reel. What removes the twist from the line is that you alternate the line spool by flipping it over between casts. You can see Mark Kendra demonstrate the straight cast prototype reel in this YouTube video. I spent some time talking to Mark and his sister, Joanne Scara, at the show. Mark said that it will take another 9 months to take the straight cast reel from prototype to ready for production. So visit the Kendra Gear website or their Facebook page to get updated on the reels availability next year.

Have you ever notices how the big brands copy each other? I was surprised to see the number of ice chests or coolers that had MSRP prices well above $300. There were no less than three exhibitors showing their new coolers, Pelican, Yeti, and Engle. I did not see Coleman, Igloo, K2 or Canyon coolers on display. I just cannot see paying that much for a cooler. I guess when you can pay over $500 for a fishing reel, $400 for a high-tech cooler seems about right.

I always like to visit the Chums booth where I get my annual resupply of their soft cotton eyewear retainers. They now have a great new Switchback Silicone Eyewear Retainer. It comes in 11 different colors and patterns. I scored one of these to try it out.

Another new product that caught my eye was Madrone Technical Headwear. They make a full line of outdoor hats that keep the sun off of your face and neck. I really, really like the new split brim on some of their caps. It allows one to pack or store this hat in a small space without damaging the brim. The fit and trim of all the headwear on display were of the highest quality and made out of great material. They even have their version of the old Boonie hat that was worn by American jungle troops back in the 1960s. You can see their split brim cap and other hats on display on slide 10 of my slide show.

When you go to ICAST you expect to see all the fishing professionals on display. This year was no exception. I got to see Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston and Bill Dance, 3 Legends, all in the same booth. The booth and the isle in front of the booth were so packed it was a struggle to walk around all the fans trying to get an autograph. I did manage to capture a few photos. See my slide 9. I did meet and speak with Rich Howes at the Typhoon booth. Rich lives in Oviedo, Florida and won the 2013 Bassmaster Southern Open Championship on Lake Toho, Florida. He was the first qualifier for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville. Gosh, I love ICAST.

Another trend that is changing is kayak seats. The days of using a soft nylon, cushioned, webbed, clip in place, seat is giving way to metal framed seats. All the major kayak fishing kayak brands like Hobie and Native Kayaks at the show now offer these metal framed seats with nylon mesh backs and padded seat construction. Nucanoe has taken a different spin and uses the old style metal support, metal frame and cushioned swivel seat configuration. The seat slides on tracks embedded into the kayak floor. Wilderness Systems still used their flip up plastic back with a cushioned seat attached to the kayak floor. Each of these different seat types five the angler a different seat height from which to fish from. See my slides 3, 4, and 5.

To wrap up the 2014 ICAST show, the entire ICAST team did an outstanding job. Everyone I spoke with said the show was going great for them. I cannot wait until next year for the show to return to Orlando.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.