Well worth the lines
I whizzed by the International Sportmen’s Exposition last Thursday afternoon, and spent the better part of the day there the following Saturday. The first round was consumed primarily in ‘closed door chats’ – at this event it meant stopping every ten seconds for someone to say hello to the subjects (as well as mumbling “who’s that dude with the tape recorder”) – you can find summaries of those here and here. It was not particularly calm, but still cool and collected. Saturday was a different story, time was spent mostly fighting crowds. Good crowds – the place was jam packed.
Miscellaneous notes derived from non-existent notepad
I bumped into an old friend, Greg Pearson, who is representing Waterworks-Lamson and Scientific Anglers in the Mountain West with San Miguel Mountain & River Products. We spent some time reminiscing, and the rest arguing which was better, Greg’s trophy Atlantic Salmon catch from Nova Scotia (a life sized picture of which was now strewn around on the backboards of manufacturers’ booths), or the boat full of schoolie yellowfin tuna I ran into one fine day in Mexico (which only Greg ever saw pictures of). Greg won. Also, this guy is not only one hell of a fisherman, but an accomplished artist too – you can check out his finer work here, and the creativity he invoked on my behalf while jazzed up on Steve Schmidt’s coffee here.
My good Australian buddy Craig Berg succumbed to peer pressure and picked up a closeout Sage Fli 6-weight for a spring trip that’s now securely past the planning stage. Blue Quill Angler made the deal, and their cash registers were not otherwise hurting for some ringing. In fact, I noticed both a lot of deals to be had and a lot of people taking advantage of them. The fly fishing industry may think it is on shaky ground (or maybe it’s just the mainstream media trying to kick everyone after blowing their credibility in the real estate market), but there is certainly some pent up demand for new fly fishing gear if the price is right.
Continuing on the wheeling and dealing front, John Mazurkiewicz, also working with Scientific Anglers, gave me the scoop on SA’s oft-labeled ‘overpriced’ line, the Sharkskin. He said it not only was selling well – it was selling out! This didn’t surprise – the product was described by my friends at local Denver purveyor Discount Tackle as a big step above anything else on the market. And when I opted for a Rio Gold as a recent replacement they took me in the back, under the guise of showing me some pictures from a redfish hunt down in Florida, and proceed to kick my ass for the decision. While the bruises are still healing, I tried stopping by the Discount booth during my visit. It was three deep with people picking up product, meaning not only is innovation still alive and well in fly fishing, but commerce has not hit a brick wall yet either. One of my 6-weight WF lines is on its last leg – I’m opting to test the latest and greatest come spring, thereby avoiding another beating AND contributing to the economy.
I chatted briefly with Brian O’Keefe, one of the Drift movie anglers who is also co-founder of Catch Magazine. He noted that producing great content and drawing advertisers is a 24/7 endeavor, and they’ve got their noses to the grindstone – O’Keefe’s ability to teleport himself around the exposition floor (with the machine he stole from Dr. Who no doubt) is a good sign that the working pace was accurately described. I personally love the online magazine format they’ve put together – in my opinion the future is bright there. Of course, I’m biased – Catch’s latest release included an outstanding piece by Adam Barker, centered primarily on Utah, and with emphasis on several waters I frequently got skunked on frequented while there. Oh, the memories!
Finally, I swung by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association booth. David Phares was running a raffle when I arrived, and getting through was impossible while David stood on a chair, disguised in a wig and playing to the crowd. We finally got to speak after the audience dispersed, and I’m only saying this for the benefit of women attending the remaining ISE events where Mr. Phares will be: Dave is going to try convincing you ladies that he’ll tie up a beautiful fly with a lock of your hair – he tried this on the female friend with me (bad choice – she doesn’t fish), and above the warning calls of the lovely gals working beside him. He’s a charmer, and you’ve been warned!
I received an email this morning from a friend who attended Saturday. He’s a bit older than me, and dropped fly fishing years ago when work consumed his every waking moment. I’ve been taking him out over the last few seasons, hoping to reinvigorate his interest (and get him to subsidize my stream-side lunches)…
Nothing has fired me up as much as Lefty’s lesson.
My free sandwiches are in peril!
Everyone was in great spirits, and despite the economic difficulties facing our world right now. In one respect, however, the show got lucky. We had balmy weather the first of last week here in Denver (highs in the upper 60′s are enough to make anyone happy in January), but by the time I left Thursday a cold front was moving in. Nevertheless, I did get to meet several of the folks working the event, and they were asses and elbows keeping things running smoothly. Which it did, so they deserve like 99% of the credit – mother nature gets the rest.
Bottom line – the show was a resounding success, and I’m already looking forward to next year.