Ladyfisher

This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

September 1st, 2003

A Little Preview


We fly out on Wednesday for a few days at the Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Denver. The show is an annual event, the largest of its kind in the U.S. There is a similar show in Europe each year, but this one attracts more buyers from all over the world.

It is the one place where a fly shop owner can see and order almost everything new in the fly fishing industry - and of course, it's also an opportunity for the manufactures and distributors to show their whole line of products too.

We had a schedule conflict last year and did not attend. Not attending put us in the position of just not knowing what was happening with new stuff, but gratefully our Field Editor Al Campbell was there as part of his regular job and picked out some goodies for us all.

Since we, and Al will be there this year, we hope to be able to bring you the best of the new stuff.

What are we looking for?

Al has a set pattern. He knows exactly what the average income of his customers is and what the local fishery in the Black Hills requires, so he bases his decisions on what to buy for the 20 stores on product quality, price and suitability for the markets where the Sheels All Sports stores are located. Since Al has been in the business for a number of years, his experience helps him sort out things which may turn out to be a fad from those items which will serve his customers well over time. It is a big responsibility.

My husband, JC, and I don't have those constraints - and frankly, we love casting all the new fly rods! We just love to cast - but a show like this is the only place where you can cast all the rods and compare them. We will do that - and part of what we will be looking for is do the rods meet the hype. We've already cast a couple of the new rods. . .one of which will be given away for the August Drawing (Temple Forks Outfitters) and another brand new rod (Sage) for the September Drawing! It is billed as a saltwater rod - but is made from 6 wt to 14 wt, so if you've been pondering a new rod in that weight range you should check it out.

Besides rods, reels rank high on our "want to see list." Reels range from very inexpensive but utilitarian (meaning not fancy but it works) to the really pricey stuff. Some again are hype, others truly fine machined jewels. I suspect we will fondle most of them.

Sponsors like Mustad will be there and have name tiers showing off the hooks - and new materials from others as well. We do enjoy seeing these demonstrations, and there are neat ideas and tips to pick for our readers.

The show always has a new products area. Here is where the newest are displayed, and if you find something which floats your boat you find the manufacturer and give it a try. We will go through this area too.

One of the things of interest to us is yet another 'new' fly rod company. Jim Murphy, who was one of the owners of Redington (recently purchased by Sage) has surfaced with a new company. According to the pre-show publicity, they have 4 fly rods and 4 reels. The name of the new company is Albright. The rods will range in price from $69 to $350 and include 3- and 5-piece rods in weights 3 through 12. The reels range from $45 to $185.

I always look for reasonably priced clothing. (No fashion police, please.) Shirts with pockets large enough for a fly box and a closure (velcro) which stays put. Warm weather shirts with vented backs and roll up sleeves are mostly over-priced. I don't think a suitable fishing shirt should cost $80 or more! Last year Al Campbell's choice for Pick of the Show was the clothing line marketed by Redington. I'm happy to report it is a part of the line which Sage has purchased!

There are always some real odd-ball items - one Al mentioned last year was a clear acrylic toilet seat with flies embedded. I'm not that nuts - but I'm sure someone bought it thinking they had THE thing for the fly fisherman who has literally everything.

I do remember some wooden trout on a stringer one year, which I didn't buy and later wished I had. I have a perfect place in my kitchen for it. (While these shows are not 'selling shows' sometimes it is possible to purchase something as the exhibits are being torn down.)

One of the most fun parts is seeing old friends. We haven't seen some in a couple years, and we will meet new folks whom we've talked to, but never met. Hopefully new friends!

And isn't that all part of fly fishing? It's the relationships we forge over time which outlast the current killer fly or the newest hot rod. It is the 'people' part of fly fishing which sometimes we take for granted. It's the connection which allows us to view fly fishing as more than just catching.

So the big show will give us a chance to get up to date with the goodies out there - and to keep that people connection alive and well.

We hope to have some good information for you when we get back. ~ The LadyFisher

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