IFTD Day Three Wrapup
IFTD 2012 drew to a close with less of a bang than in previous years (when organizers wisely held the big casting contest to the end, thus holding a lot of the dealers as well). Many vendors reported that the show was down or just okay, while others stated that they'd been very busy and felt the show was a success. Unsurprisingly, those reports correlated pretty directly with the booths with the most big new product releases.
Being close to the marsh, this show saw boats represented better than in previous events. Hells Bay had two models on the floor (both amazing, and amazingly expensive). Diablo Paddlesports joined NRS and Outcast with a number of interesting watercraft of various descriptions. Diablo's standup paddleboards were intriguing, while Outcast added a line of attractive and highly robust waterproof bags to their usual boat models. Outcast also is offering a stick-on, stretchable patch for polyurethane raft and pontoon bladders which is a big improvement over the dab-and-swab glue repairs many anglers are familiar with.
Hardy updated several models (it is hard to believe that the venerable Bougle is now in its Mark VII edition). They also had a sensitive, one piece 8'10" five weight which was a great in-close caster.
Overall, the new rod generating the most buzz at the show was probably the Sage ONE. (One dealer stated that he has already sold more ONE rods through early pre-orders by his customers than he sold in the entire Z-Axis line last year). The ONE is indeed a very accurate rod, which many Sage aficionados likened more to the XP than to the Z-Axis it is replacing. In person, the fittings are very attractive, and the coal-black blank is both rich and classy looking.
This was not a huge reel year, with most manufacturers choosing to simply add sizes to existing lines. Tibor added a billfish-sized model to the popular Signature Series (which is the first Tibor reel to contain a sealed cork drag). One new reel company, Cheeky, had a colorful blue and gold reel which drew a fair bit of interest.
Dealers continued to debate whether to ditch the IFTD show altogether and join forces with either ICAST (a fishing industry event) or Outdoor Retailer (a show geared to the entire outdoor market, including hunting and climbing/camping/backpacking). Some debated the merits of introducing fly shops to better supply lines for conventional gear, while others pointed out that Outdoor Retailer likely caters to more potential fly fishers (on the assumption that conventional fishermen are familiar with fly fishing and have made a conscious decision to stick with shorter rods). It is unlikely that this question is going to reach a resolution any time soon; really it is a matter of interest only to the manufacturers and dealers anyway.
Be sure to stay tuned to the next issue of Fly Rod & Reel, in which we will announce our best of show awards, and thanks for following the IFTD 2012 liveblog.