This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

September 10th, 2001

Show Report and My Pick

The Fly Fishing Retailer Show held this past week in Salt Lake City, Utah was great for us. It's always wonderful to visit with old friends and see the newest goodies. We also take the time to try and stop by each of the FAOL Sponsors who are exhibiting. Some we only know by phone, and putting faces on the names really helps us in our dealings with our Sponsors too. We missed a few this year, not because we didn't stop by, but they were busy with customers or out grabbing a quick lunch. Needless to say they are there to do business first and we'll catch up with them another time.

According to the official press agency for the show, attendance by buyers from stores was down from 1,374 last year to 1,194 this year. There were more manufacturers and distributors attending, but they aren't the ones who fuel the economy of the fly fishing industry.

Bob Marriott and LadyFisher outside the main doors

Several people felt there were problems this year, Bob Marriott of Bob Marriott's Fly Fishing Store in Fullerton California (one of our Sponsors) said the high gas prices, energy problems in California, and general drop in the U.S. economy affected their business - one of the most stable companies in the industry - and they saw a drop in travel outside California because of it. Travel to neat new places usually spurs the purchase of new rods, reels, lines and flies for specific destinations.

Another view came from Kirk Barton, Sales and Marketing for Bare Sportswear Corp. in British Columbia, (also a Sponsor) the Canadian economy is in recession and Bare's Canadian business is booming. Kirk says it isn't the economy. Short and sweet, "We've got fish, you don't." If there is a shrinking fly fishing market in the United States, I suspect Kirk is absolutely correct. Maybe the people managing the fisheries should take note, not everyone can afford to travel to Canada (or elsewhere) to fish! Fisheries managers take notice, you could start anytime in Washington state.

Fly fishing as an industry is pretty small by sport industry standards, less than half the size of golf for example. A point to mention here, if there are more and more manufacturers and a smaller market, some companies just aren't going to make it. It makes sense to support those you like.

Here are a few highlights from the show:

On one of the four casting ponds

We finally got to cast a rod which has been out in its present form for several months. Many of the saltwater people in the Chat Room people had mentioned it with high ratings, but we just had not had an opportunity to play with one. The Redington Nano-Titanium rod is just super. We both cast an 9 foot 8 weight and in hand it is as easy to cast as a 6 weight. Just no effort at all. It's a powerhouse.

LadyFisher with Lamiglas reps

Todd Vivian at Lamiglas has been telling us about the new Esprit Concept fly rods. They are lovely casting rods, and are the first series of American made fly rods using the Fuji Concept Guide System. More on them another time, but the whole line is rated "fast," - they are.

Busy Sage Booth!

LadyFisher on right, Joan Wulff assisting a caster on left The other "hot" rod is the Sage SLT. You can read about it on our Monthly Drawing, and it more than lives up to any of JC or my expectations. We will be fishing the 5 weight versions at the Fish-In 2002, so if you haven't had a chance to cast it by then, you can cast one there. Sage did an outstanding job, it's not just great to look at, it's just great.

Brothers Doug, (me) and Scott Ewing

Lots of great flies

Saltwater flies
Another of our Sponsors, Ewing Feather Birds displayed their new addition to hackle - tied flies! A very interesting concept sell hackle to fly tiers and flies to those who don't tie! But with their experience (Scott and Doug) they should know the difference! Tier Bear Andrews was tying in the Ewing booth, an interesting dry version of the Partridge and Yellow, which Bear said was just an adapted Adams with a yellow silk body.

A couple of neat things, Jim Teeny now has a line that glows in the dark for night fishing. Someone else tried that a couple of years ago, and I remember sending one down to Key West to a fly shop down there, but I didn't ever get a response or returned phone call. If someone has tried them I'd sure like a product review.

Terrance, LadyFisher and Kathy at J.Austin Forbes Ldt Our friend Terrence O'Connor of J. Austin Forbes Ldt. (yes, another Sponsor, have you noticed we do have the 'good guys' as Sponsors?) distributed information about the Fly-Fishing Merit Badge, and we have already announced FAOL will be the storehouse for the Scout information.

Totally water and windproof from Rivers West

For my Pick of the Show, I've chosen a brand new technology, which will affect anyone who is out in the weather - not just fly fishers. In fact, the golf world has already discovered it and given it awards. This is a waterproof system called Hydro2 PowerLock. The clothing and gear using this technology includes jackets, vests, pants, hats, blankets and believe it or not a Cooler! The fabric is completely waterproof and windproof! I'm wearing one of the vests in the photo. Some of the items at the show did have the 'normal' zippers, but we were told everything will have the new water-resistant zippers, which by the way do not have any metal parts. Very cool. The clothing is expensive, but not as pricy as similar Gortex items. I suspect prices will come down in time. Rivers West is the manufacturer, distributed by:

Wind River
3982 Rolfe Court
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
(303) 422-1564 or (303) 378-7287
Fax: (303) 420-1522

Or on their website:

George Dierberger, head of Sales and Marketing
 for SA showing me the new DVD

New SA Packaging!

Scientific Anglers (yes, another Sponsor) has really done some neat things. They now have very unique artwork on each of the flyline and leader packaging which shows exactly which fish the product is to be used for. SA has also produced what appears to be an excellent DVD for an introduction to new fly fishers. That one will be available in your local fly shop soon, look for some of it here on FAOL as well. Another of the SA companies, McKenzie Flies has produced a new catalog with all of the flies in large wonderful photos - and the real Hatch Charts in the catalog are supurb. They are in the order of the hatching insects with the proper flies to match the hatch. There are all the 'usual' flies of course, but the saltwater, soft-hackle and steelhead flies are outstanding! Ask your local fly shop for a catalog!

Dick Talleur in the Folstaf booth tying a Fly of the Week We did make some new friends at this show, and I don't want to leave out how neat it was to meet Bob Popovic, Nick Lyons, Paul Marriner, and Dick Talleur. Stay tuned, Dick tied a Fly of the Week for us in the Folstaf booth. I also have an autographed copy of the Pop Fleyes book by Ed Jaworowski and Bob Popovic, we'll have a review of that one too, and Bob has promised to visit our Chat Room for a Special Guest Night.

Bahamian guide Prescott Smith and the LadyFisher

Bob Popovics and the Lady (he's a funny guy)

Lilly and Andy Renzetti in a quiet moment

Author, Atlantic Salmon tier Paul Marriner

Author and publisher Nick Lyon and LadyFisher

Frank Bryant owner of Chota and LadyFisher

Just in case you thought it was all work and no play, we did have fun. We played with neat stuff, learned a lot, ate some great food, stayed at a wonderful place (the tower at Little America) and really enjoyed ourselves. We did catch our friend - and new Field Editor Al Campbell - having a little fun too!

A micro-fishing rod from J.Austin Forbes

Over the next several weeks you will also notice some new Sponsors. In some cases the companies are part of a larger group, but all are outstanding and we are delighted to welcome them. It was a good show, next year Denver! ~ LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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