ICAST Draws Flies
Two big fishing trade shows have merged into one
The casting pond at this year's ICAST show surged in size to accommodate fly casters. (Steve Wright photo)
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A new attraction has been added to ICAST this year, and the reviews are unanimously "two thumbs up."
"I think this should have come a long time ago," internationally-known fly fisherman Carter Andrews said.
The new act in the 56th annual ICAST trade show is fly fishing, specifically the American Fly Fishing Trade Association show. This first-time arrangement has been termed a "co-location." The two fishing trade organizations worked together on location, date and registration.
Click image for Day 1 From the Floor photos
AFFTA maintains a separate "new product showcase," and fly fishing booths are located together in one section of the Las Vegas Convention Center floor, rather than sprinkled in amongst everyone else. But what was previously two trade shows at different dates and locations has now been blended seamlessly into one.
"It has been great for both of us," said Mary Jane Williamson, communications director for the American Sportfishing Association, which hosts ICAST. "The energy level has been pretty high. A lot of folks have told us this is awesome."
Andrews is a fly fisherman with a worldwide reputation. He has a new fishing show titled "The Obession" that will premiere in January on Outdoor Channel. Andrews has won the Jackson Hole One Fly competition three times, and he is even better known for his saltwater fly fishing accomplishments.
But Andrews is more than that. He is a self-described "complete angler," just as comfortable trolling saltwater with massive baitcasting reels for blue marlin as he is with spinning tackle in freshwater for smallmouth bass.
Karl Schmuecker (left), general manager of Wapsi Fly in Mountain Home, Ark., visits with Tight Lines Ltd. representative Peter Toynbee of Napier, New Zealand. (Steve Wright photo)
Seeing the complete fishing picture of new products under one roof at ICAST makes all the sense in the world to Andrews.
"I've been going to the International Fly Tackle Dealer show and ICAST every year," Andrews said. "I love them both.
"I think it's really nice for the fly guys to see the other side of the world, and at the same time introduce those anglers to the fly side of things. It makes perfect sense to me that we all join together.
"The bottom line is: we all fish. That is what we do. So why separate them?"
Most importantly, fly fishing tackle wholesalers are happy to be at ICAST for the first time. Karl Schmuecker has been the general manager of Wapsi Fly in Mountain Home, Ark., since 1995. Some part of almost every fly tied in the U.S. (and most of the world) first came through Wapsi in one form or anthers, whether it's marabou, bucktail or Australian possum fur.
It was Karl's father, Tom, who discovered this niche in the fly fishing world and took it to unprecedented heights. But Tom, Karl and Wapsi Fly, in general, had become increasingly frustrated with the AFFTA show.
"We are darned glad they did this," Karl Schmuecker said. "They had to do something. We wouldn't have gone to another AFFTA show. I've already seen one of our Australian dealers who I hadn't seen in three or four years. He comes to ICAST every year."
Peter Toynbee of Tight Lines Ltd. in New Zealand came by to visit the Wapsi booth shortly after Schmuecker made those comments. He was another in a long list of those happy with the new arrangement.
"It's a good idea to combine the shows," said Toynbee, who lives in Napier, New Zealand, and represents one of the top sporting goods distributers in that country as well as Australia. "I was coming to the AFFTA show every second or third year."
It's easy to spot the floor location of the fly fishing products dealers. All you have to do is look for the giant casting pond. Casting a fly line requires as much space for a backcast as it does for the final presentation. No one was in danger of getting snapped with a (hook-less) fly line on either side of this layout.
"We've had a casting pond before, but nothing of this magnitude," said Williamson.
That might serve as a metaphor for the 2013 version of ICAST. It has hosted fishing shows before, but nothing of this magnitude – a show that finally encompasses all aspects of the fishing world.
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