Trade Show Reflections
Paul Prentiss

From September 8th to 10th, I trudged from booth-to-booth at the Fly Fishing Retailer Show in Denver.  It's the kind of event that fishheads (guides and store employees) and gearheads (consumers who buy the latest and greatest) love.  On the other hand it puts a crimp in the cash flow of fly shop proprietors and introduces new levels of risk and uncertainty concerning the merchandise to carry.

None of the big name outfits rolled out a truckload of new products.  There were plenty of new rods, reels, lines and so on but nothing that would stop the presses. Here are a few observations:


1.  Improvements in fly tying materials continue to grow at an unbelievable pace.  Patterns and materials that started in saltwater fishing are pushing into the freshwater arena.  New or improved synthetics for building bodies, adding flash, and creating wings and legs, are driving these changes.  A considerable amount of innovation is coming from European countries.

2.  Your local fly shop will be showing off  a lot of great new fly patterns – lots of foam and synthetics.



3.  The quality and value of the under $200 fly rod is moving up at an extremely fast pace.  The finish and performance has significantly improved.  I spent some time casting a $179 4-piece for a 3-weight line that could easily lay out 70 feet of line.

4.  Fly lines aren’t getting less expensive but the quality is better.  The darker finishes are becoming more popular.  Watch for a lot of new leader concepts that make it easier for fishermen.

5.  More high-tech soft goods than you can imagine - no one wants a simple cotton fishing shirt.  The old fashioned vest has been totally displaced by vest-pak systems.  It started several years ago and the trend is accelerating.

6.  High quality sunglasses designed for fishermen or water sports are getting very competitive.  Not less expensive but move value for the dollar.