World Trade Expo 2004

By Steve Schweitzer

Fly-Fishing Retailer World Trade Expo
Denver, Colorado - Sept 17-19, 2004

GFF's 2004 HOT-n-NOT Product List

The show in pictures
GFF's 2004 HOT-n-NOT Predictions
Show Celebrities

GFF's 2004 HOT Product Predictions

  • Crocs are the next thing in footwear. I have a pair and while I can't say they will gain you any apparel awards, they certainly are comfortable, highly functional and a treat to slip into after a day in (not so) comfortable wading boots.
  • Anything William & Joseph...
  • and...Fishpond.
  • Marc Pettijean Products: Most creative products to come along in years; Magic Tool, clear flexible cone heads. We can't wait to see what Marc comes up with next. Hey Marc, we here at GFF have a few ideas...can we bend your ear?!
  • Bidoz Beads. Each one hand-painted and laquered. You'll get not a better quality bead anywhere.
  • Angling Evolutions Line cleaner: A nifty little device that attaches to your rod, not to your kitchen table.
  • Da-Lite Tying lamps have changed my opinion on how long I should stay at the tying bench before I get too fatigued to tie another fly. The incredible brightness and intensity of the light is easy on the eyes. I get less tired after tying a bunch of flies, I see the materials and colors more easily. If you don't tie with a Da-Lite, you are missing out.
  • Rod Manufacturers are now realizing that as graphite rod prices creep up into the cost of a new Plymouth Neon, the gap between beginner rod kits and the latest "techno-gizmo material" rod needs fulfilled. Look for small, well run rod blank manufacturers to offer a wide selection of modestly priced rod blanks that can compete with the big names in performance and durability. Look for the big names of the industry to offer exceptional values in the $200-$300 price range to compete and keep company margins in check.
  • Spey Revival. Expect the spey-days-craze to hit a flyshop near you. you don't speycast? You will.

GFF's 2004 NOT Product Predictions

  • Net manufacturers: This year, more than any other, I saw a plethora of new net models, materials and designs. Some look like they should be space junk catchers, some are more traditional, but I wonder how many nets does one flyfisher need? There must be some hidden demand that I don't know about. Are disposable nets the next wave of the future?
  • Reel Manufacturers: The glut continues; reels, reels, reels. I guess one needs to buy a reel for every rod owned; or maybe 2 for every one rod. I sense the rod manufacturers are secretly hand-shaking with the reel manufacturers. If reels are so easy to make, and with the obvious glut of inventory in the marketplace, why aren't they cheaper? Basic rules of supply and demand will kick in here any time now. Watch for reel bargains on Ebay. However, the Ralph Laurens of the reel industry will continue to garner Polo prices.
  • Benicchi Regal Vise: While it is highly functional and somewhat of a size wonderment, it seems to be an over-achieving bit-o-engineering that is better suited as a flyshop conversation piece than as a utilitarian vise in your armour of tying tools. This, however, takes nothing away from the engineered wonders of the Benicchi reels.
  • Fly Tying Companies: Each year, a new breed of off-shore flytying company enters the marketplace with the standard array of common patterns and colors. But, they enter the marketplace with cheap prices, which reflect the cost of the materials they use. While you can get a cheaper fly from "bulk" distributors, I'd rather buy a fly with hackle that will actually make the fly stand on the water, or tinsel ribbing that won't fray after one wind-heavy cast. Caveat Emptor on fly purchases, be aware of where they come from. Stay with the tried-n-true names, there's a reason they've been around since you started flyfishing.

GFF's 2004 Wishlist

  • Band of Brothers: the industry needs to stop talking about it and start doing it: kick start the youth and invigorate the curious seekers of flyfishing. The industry is on a decline, and while that may be good for your local streamside parking lot population, it's not good for the local shop you love to visit.
  • Comfortable Wading Shoes: It was a nice idea to marry the athletic shoe with the traditional wading boot, but still, I can't wait to get the darned things off my feet after a day of traipsing around. Will there ever be a wading boot that I truly love? Maybe Crocs should look into this.
  • Big Box flyfishing retailers to realize the customer is still #1. I sense these big-name, national or world-wide flyfishing retailers are loosing touch with trying to make a dollar that basic customer care is falling to the wayside. Quality in product selection seems to be lacking too. Chalk one up for the local ma-pa flyshop, where you still can get a great selection, one-on-one service and where everybody knows your name.
  • Flat out Nice: What ever happened to the simple flats chest pack? Like the one Columbia used to make? Nowhere to be found...I can get them with the built in waterbottle holder: don't want that. I can get one with the built-in fanny pack belt: nope, don't want that either. I can get one with 33 individual pockets the size of a '72 Chevy Impala trunk: nada, don't like that either. Or some come with built-in tippet dispensers that really don't work. While the new gear companies are out to over-engineer the next flyfishing vest, it's still the rule of simplicity that wins over consumers and generates sales.

Product Showcase - 2004
Shove it:
in a car-top plastic moulded and padded rod carrier, that is.
Portable Flies: 3M Sci-Ang's C&F Designs flybox people have made waht can be considered the industry standard for portable flytying kits. The Marco Polo Fly Tying System is well-thought out, well engineered and fits in a space no bigger than an average flybox, but it takes a shopping bag full of money to get one.
Reel Nice : American Tackle Company makes custom turned cork grips to match the wood reel inserts.
Strength and Beauty: American Tackle Company also makes graphite reel seats to match the graphite rods blanks of teh same vein. A nice touch.
That's one big water skeeter: A hybrid of sorts, the water skeeter float tube sits as high as a personal catamaran, but has traditional float tube entry and assignments.
Eggs over Easy Montana Fly Company displays the various colors of flexible eggs used in their patterns.
How to manage your butt: CDC butt feathers that is...Marc Pettijean's products include CDC and the magic Tool, a truely magic tool to manage your butt feathers :)
Benecchi Tank Company: The miniscule Bennechi reel is an attractive accompanyment to your 1-weight rod, the Benecchi Regent saltwater/large fly vise isn't.
Keep your fly dry!: AquaFly makes an ultralight, ultra cool watertight flybox that floats. Look for smaller ones to come out in the next year.
LagarTON of colors: While not a new product on the scene, Largartun color fly tying cement will put color in your (fly's) cheeks.
Line 'em up: Angling Evolution's ultra-compact, portable flyline cleanig device doesn't require you to take the spool off your reel, or the line out of your guides.
Fowl Play!: West Water makes attractive wooden frames more appealing with cute (& excellently crafted) spun deerhair waterfowl and upland gamebird creations.

Don't Pimp the Pimp: Angling evolutions came up with another winner of an accessory with the tube of clip-on strike-indicators.

A Lily Pad full of FrogHair accessories. Strike Indicators, Qwik-Shot split-shot dispenser and George Harvey tapered leaders. No longer are they just the tippet guys.

Tennis Anyone? William & Joseph break all the net rules and call thirty-love on how flyfishing nets should be designed.

I think my old warped graphite racquetball racquet may have a new purpose.

Watcha Got in There? Aluminum lockable rod cases. Just don't expect to tote this as carry-on luggage: it could be mistaken for something else.
Sage Again: Sage doesn't stop the rod evolution...several new rods, including the new FLi makes a neck-breaking debut at an eye-popping price.
There's no scum on this pond: Fishpond came out with all new colors and product designs to make me want to re-buy all that stuff I just bought this past year.
Jeepers-Creepers, check out those Peepers:
Ono's Trading Company combines the cool splashy looks with polarized lenses, and throws in a bi-focal magnification to give the ill-sighted a fighting chance to put on the perfect dry fly before the rising stops.
Bee-Does-Beads: Bidoz makes all the beads you could desire, and then some. If Bidoz doesn't make it, you don't need it. Throw in removable coneheads, tubefly extensions and portable flytyng kits as well.

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