ICAST 2019 is now little more than a fading memory of five days filled with heat, humidity, many miles of walking and a few new fishing products that have been touted as “game changers, but I’ll get to that in just a moment. First up, a little bit about the show. Between the record number of booths and the thousands of products on display, 14,500 buyers, media and exhibitors from the global sportfishing industry brought ICAST 2019 to life from July 8-12, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. ICAST is produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), a national, non-profit trade association made up of more than 800 members who share a stake in promoting sportfishing for the well-being of our businesses and as part of our national heritage. ICAST is the cornerstone of the sportfishing industry, helping to drive sportfishing companies’ product sales year round. It’s also the premier showcase for the latest innovations in fishing gear, accessories and apparel.
Despite what you might perceive, a trip like this is in fact work. Now I am not looking for any pity here, so please don’t get mad at me for complaining about having to go to Florida for a week. Trust me, I have not always had a desk job as I’ve earned my fishing money through a variety of ways over the years from waiting tables to working at a food service delivery company, but when a five-day trip to Florida for work runs you so ragged that the only sights outside of the show floor comprise of the shuttle bus, hotel room and nearest restaurant within walking distance of the hotel then you truly look forward to landing back on familiar soil!
ICAST is pretty cool, too. Take for instance the celebrity sightings. No, I’m not talking Kardashians or Hiltons; instead you’re likely to run into Bill Dance, Mike Iaconelli or Hank Parker walking the floor of the show at any given time. One year I even set out to take as many fishing celebrity selfies as I could while holding a Nemo stuffed animal I had bought for my son. Being that this is the premiere tackle show in the world, this is also the place where companies like Shimano, Daiwa, Yo-Zuri, Costa Del Mar, Penn and really everyone who is anyone in the fishing tackle industry debut their new wares. This is a chance to touch, see and sometimes even try out the products that will be hitting store shelves in the coming weeks and months before anyone else gets to see them. I’ll admit that in general there is little dedicated new products hitting the market for my beloved surf fishing (We may be one of the most passionate angling groups but in all reality we are a drop in the bucket when it comes to number of users.), but that doesn’t prevent me from wading through the gear designed for other fisheries and trying to figure out a way to adapt or modify it for our use.
So what of those new products? With buzz words and key phrases like “unique,” “never seen before” and “experience tomorrow’s technology today,” you’d think my mind would be whirling with possibilities. But when you offer your product in little more than a new color and you refer to it as “game changing,” then perhaps your game wasn’t so strong to begin with. Now don’t get me wrong, there was some innovation to be seen at the show and it wasn’t just a popularity contest for everyone. That said, much of what I saw isn’t going to help us catch more fish and some new products, like a helmet which comes complete with two beer holders and straws as well as a Bluetooth speaker to help you pass the time while filleting a day’s catch, might actually set us back a few years by furthering the stereotype of fishermen being little more than beer-drinking Neanderthals.
So be sure to hit up TheFisherman.com and give our “Tackle & Gear Reviews” section a look for not only the new product videos we shot at ICAST, but a library of great past product reviews and profiles that have real relevance to anglers in the Northeast.