Takeaways from the successful return of world’s largest tackle show
The return of an in-person ICAST in Orlando last week was an undoubted success and, having walked the show floor for the duration of the event, I think there are several reasons why.
Ironically, the success of the show was due in part to the cancellation of last year’s in-person event due to COVID. The industry had not come together for two years and many attendees were seeing each other for the first time in that period.
There was a shared feeling of ‘we have come through this’ that generated a special atmosphere and camaraderie that was evident in the aisles and on the booths. Missing a year really seemed to have sharpened everyone’s appetite for getting together.
In addition to that I have three other takeways from ICAST – the visual layout, the apparent upswing of young people in the industry and the location itself.
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the exhibitors did a great job in making the show a visually appealing spectacle. The hall was dressed very well and a lot of the companies opened up their booths in a less-equals-more kind of way. The days of booths being packed with SKUs may be in the process of being replaced by a more inviting, experiential approach. The overall effect was very impressive.
The number of young people attending and working on the booths was also an interesting and encouraging development. There appear to be a lot of new faces determined to make their livelihoods in what has traditionally been a mature industry, and I think that has to be good for the sport. These people are switched onto digital, which fits with where a lot of the smart companies – and the fishing media – are taking their business.
My third takeway is really a reminder of what a great venue Orlando is. Walking round the North Hall, which fronts onto the lake that hosts Tuesday’s On The Water outdoor event, it’s hard to believe ICAST was, or could be, held anywhere else.
Apart from the suitability of the Orange County Convention Center and the surrounding hotels, Orlando offers great fishing before and after the show for those who want it. I spoke to lots of people who were staying on in Florida to go fishing. And for those people who take their families along, Orlando offers arguably the best tourist attractions in the world.
I appreciate the vital role ICAST plays in keeping and growing the recent boom of new fishing participants and look forward to seeing more anglers enjoying the sport.
Industry veteran, Stuart Pavlik, former Angling International US National Sales Manager represented the magazine during last week’s ICAST.