Everyone's Got A...

Last year's ICAST, the fishing industry's annual trade show, was, in a word, underwhelming. Attendance was sparse in Orlando, the numbers of exhibitors seemed to be minimal and the overall innovation of the new products to be introduced in 2010 was lacking.

Photo caption: The number of personal watercraft--kayaks and the like--at ICAST 2010 has been staggering. Pictured here are a couple offerings from Diablo Paddlesports.

This year, in Las Vegas, the same cannot be said. The general sense of excitement on the show floor over the first two days has been palpable. There seems to be a lot more business being conducted and the product innovation is truly impressive. From the widespread adoption of micro-guides on baitcasting rods; to forward-thinking advancements in the quality of construction of rod blanks and reels; to the truly original (and not entirely gimmicky) concepts for baits, lines and accessories, it's clear the industry has stepped up their game heading into 2011. My own theory is that manufacturers anticipated the recession and withheld any major introductions or advancements for this year. Next year's reward will be a veritable bounty of exciting new fishing gear.

In addition to innovative new products, we're also seeing a proliferation of certain categories across the industry. A lot of conversations I've had with other members of the media start with the line "It seems everyone's got a (fill in the blank)." That blank can be filled with any number of different products categories: ultralight-weight rod, long-lasting plastic bait, high-quality braid-cutting plier, personal watercraft. The list goes on.

What this all boils down to is that the fishing industry is confident that the country's anglers will be back to the marketplace in 2011. And when we walk into our favorite tackle shop or sporting goods store next year, we'll be met with some of the best new fishing gear to hits shelves in many years. --John Taranto