Today marks the 112th birthday of the patron saint of the modern fly fishing lifestyle, Ernest Hemingway. Not only was he an aficionado of bull fighting, 6-toed cats, self absorbed women, absinthe (and alcohol in general) and Queensbury rules, but he was a fishing enthusiast at his very core. I challenge that the beautiful brevity in which he wrote was really an enablement to more time on the water, whether it be in Northern Michigan, Spain, Cuba, Key West or Idaho. Really, who has time to write massively dense and complex compound sentences when there’s a salmon fly hatch, or the tarpon are running? Dig up a copy of Hemingway on Fishing and read his old esquire columns and you see a man who was as at home on the water as any. Plus, in one particular column he gave us the greatest cuss in trying to work around the censors of the first half of the 20th century, “fornicate the illegitimate.”
Pour one out, spark up a cigar, or read one of his books, and celebrate the life of Poppa Hemingway!
On to iCast, and yes I’m recapping this for you before I recap it for my employer.
I have the pleasure of working for an employer that feels it necessary to send me and those similarly situated every year to iCast, the international fishing tackle trade show in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. I hate vegas, and I’ll get that out of the way early. The show itself was my 5th and best to date. From a business perspective, got a lot done, saw a lot of new stuff that my company will be able to sell and of course ate like the bastard love child of fading royalty there. As fake as the town is, the food is lights out.
I’m not sure what the chinese calendar says it’s going to be next year, but it for sure is going to be the year of the frog in the fishing world.
The most surprising part of the show was the fly fishing presence at the show. Typically there is the token offering from Cortland and Ross (world wide), outside of that, fly had totally been the redheaded step-child of the show. This year, things changed. Simms was there to launch their line of (“fly” omitted) fishing gear. A serious line of rainwear featuring a window to view your watch without having to undo your cuff, sliding the sleeve up, back down, and resetting your cuff. They also had their full line-up of waders, boots, clothing, acessories, basically their Fly Show set-up with the rain gear; complete with snacks and beer. Oh, and next year, they’ll be selling felt soled boots again… Also, the stogy Ross worldwide booth was replaced with the full-on integrated Ross/3M presentation. TFO had been around in the past but with only their gear rods, this year it was soup to nuts TFO, with one of their reels winning best of show for fly reels, the TVK series.
The biggest news I can bring from the show is that G Loomis is back! Yeah, Gary is no longer involved, the sale to Shimano was ridiculous, but finally, after about 4 years the quality of product being brought to market by the venerable old mark is finally where it needs to be. Last year at the show, Loomis launched the NRX series of fly and conventional rods. We all kind of rolled out eyes. Of course Steve Rajeff is a casting mother fucker of the highest order, but can he build a rod? The fly rods were initially recalled because they boned the reel seat and that any reel other than a G Loomis Venture, was a hot dog down a hallway when the seat was tightened. But I’m here to say that the new GL 2, is a beautiful rod (the gear version won best in show), the Pro 4X is going to be the leader at around $400, and once again, the old flagship GLX in all of its most recent versions will actually be available and likely to appear in a shop, and not just on an order form to never be filled.
Wright and McGill brought to the show their line(s) of hot looking fly rods. They are doing a line of trout oriented fly rods with a cool finish, that ain’t daddy’s boring charcoal blank. They are very trout like colors, hard to really explain. I had the pleasure of throwing one last month in Maryland and was surprised with its performance and its $149 price point. They are also bringing a saltwater line featuring the flats camo color from their Blair Wiggans signature series of gear rods. The flats camo on the salt sticks is pretty wicked. The fresh and salt rods both come with tubes that match the blank’s finish.
I think the fly world and the gear world are starting to realize that they need each other to survive. Will that mean an integrated iCast and IFDTS in the near future? Likely not, though the invitation has been tossed out there before. The sooner that both sides realize that fishing is one big pie and the methods are individual pieces, and not their own pie, the sooner the industry can start to see real, sustainable growth again.
There was a refreshing sense of optimism from the vendors, media and other buyers while there. I’m happy to report that the state of the fishing union is strong! Off of the soap box now.
The corporation is looking to hold its next board meeting in the coming week, minutes will be posted after that meeting does occur.
Get the lines in the effing water,