After two long days of pressing paws and inspecting the goods at the Fly Fishing Retailer World Trade Expo, I can honestly tell you that I'm pumped up by what I see. Yes, the show is a tad down by way of attendance and overall new product buzz. But there is a positive vibe in the air, and the manufacturers who are fighting the good fight are zoned in on what matters.
Ladies... those of you who asked the questions about styles and fashions with functional value... beyond the "pink," you're covered. Look to Ex Officio, and also Simms for the answers. I haven't had a chance to talk with Patagonia yet, but they will surely be in the game, as is Orvis. If your shop doesn't carry what you want now, they will, or they should. No excuses anymore.
Speaking of Simms, the felt wading boot days will soon be over. The Vibram wading soles on their new line of boots are great. In fact, don't expect to see a lot of felt after next year. I think Simms nailed a solution to invasive species issues with boot models that look like money fixes.
On the rod side, ta-daaa! Guess what? The flyfishing industry has realized that trout aren't the only species to be caught with the long rod. I'm very, very hot on two new rod models, one from Loomis, and one from Redington, that I think will be right in the wheelhouse for anyone who likes catching bluegills, bass, carp, snook... and, okay, trout.
Reels? Sage. Yeah, that Sage, the rod company. I'm most impressed by what I've seen there. Bauer also lit my candle with a new model.
Lines? I love the Sharkskin lines from SA. The intro was last year, but now I'm seeing specific tapers that make me smile. They've transposed a technology that works to models that fit specific goals.
I really, really dig what I'm seeing from Fishpond, by way of packs, luggage, and other assorted functional accessories.
Orvis leveraged the Helios rods to new realms. Tender. But this "traditional" company also showed me some ugly, nasty... downright gnarly fly patterns that almost made me blush. Stay tuned.
Granted, these are all straight off-the-cuff, first impressions, but there you go. One other impression I must share: I found myself hanging around the Kaenon Polarized booth late in the day (and those of you who aren't familiar with Kaenon shades, you should be). I found myself mixed in with many names you will recognize from this blog: Curt Hamby from Jackson, Wyoming, Conway Bowman, the shark guru from San Diego, Aaron Adams of Bonefish & Tarpon Unlimited, whom I shared time with in the Bahamas, Greg Thomas, Paul Turner, John Barr, Scott Hed (Pebble Mine opponent)... and it occurred to me that these were the people/friends I have written about in Field & Stream for the past year. And all the adventures flashed before me like a highlight reel. Moments like this make me feel like a very fortunate guy.
One last note: The one other guy in the mix at that moment was Tim Romano, my friend, my partner. And, not only is he probably one of the greatest photographic talents in the outdoors realm... but he is a solid brother, and a kindred spirit. We are lucky to have him involved with Fly Talk. I am proud to work with him. Aside from the teasing and ribbing, I have but one thing to say:
Happy 30th birthday, Tim! Good job. Good luck. Let's catch some fish, buddy.
P.S. More details tomorrow.