Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

September 25th, 2000

More Show Time

My husband JC and I have been on both sides of the aisle at one of these big shows. We have been in the booth explaining what the product has to offer, we've done the presentations on the ponds, (JC calls it being a company clown) taught folks how to cast, and JC did the buying for a fly fishing shop. So we do know what it's like. The latest one, the Retail Fly Tackle Dealer show in Salt Lake really was huge. There were booths we wanted to see and didn't. We flew in on Wednesday afternoon and left at the very end at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. I'm sure I missed goodies and neat stuff. (And if I missed your favorite, apologies of course.)

The Salt Palace

The big event is held at the Salt Lake City Salt Palace, shown above. Once inside, this whole place is incredibly immense. The show itself was down the stairs, and sprawled as far as one could see. The photo on the right shows the foyer, steps in the background. There are escalators which we really appreciated at the end of the day. (By the third day we took it down too!) The main entrance to the show is shown below. Our "home" for the show was the Press Room, about 3 doors to the right in the photo below. The room was equiped with phone lines, coffee in the morning and lemonade in the afternoon. We had a receptionist at the door, and could leave our valuables there. It was a nice touch, and also provided a private place for a meeting for two. We really did appreciate it.

Here's the Entrance

Joan in Royal Wulff Booth
In former years, most of the big 'names' were there - usually as Pro Staff for one of the major companies. The big names were indeed there, most however were not there as Pro Staff. I don't know what the change is, but there does seem to be one. Joan Wulff split her time between Winston were she indeed is Pro, and Royal Wulff ( founded by her late husband Lee Wulff). Wulff has made some changes this year, going to new line designations. No more the 4/5 and so forth. If it's for a 5 wt it says 5 wt. They hope it will simplify buying a Wulff line for the consumers.

Joan Wulff

Joanie is well, looks great and quite often was giving out pointers on casting on one of the four big casting ponds. (That's Joan on the left) One of the ponds was reserved for spey casting, and another (that makes five) was for demonstrating various float devices. Lefty Kreh and Flip Pallot were also there. If there were a King and Queen of the show, the honors would go to Joan and Lefty. They have contributed endlessly to our sport.

Dave Redington, designer of the Redington rods There were more 'personal float devices' at this show than in other years. Competition is great and gives us new products and lower prices. Be sure to check out Al Campbell's Pick of the Show in our Product Review.

Sage booth

I'm always interested in fly rods - and really enjoy casting whatever! There were a couple of new rod companies, mid-range mostly, nothing remarkable frankly.
All of the name companies, minus Orvis, were there. I can't imagine why Orvis would not want to be where the majority of buyers are - but they were conspicuous by their absence. G. Loomis was there, (they were not last year) with a colorful new line of rods.

Loop (Loop started that trend a year or so ago with a different color rod for a different purpose.) Gary Loomis was in attendance, and he looks great! The new G.Loomis reel mentioned last week was made by Shimano, the new owners of Loomis. That's not surprising.

Tiers Mike Martinek and Bear Andrews

Umpqua was also absent last year, and made up for it this year with a very large booth which included tiers and close-up tv. The photo is Bear Andrews (left) and Mike Martinek, Jr and who were tying in the Ewing Feather Birds booth. (Both did a Fly of the Week for us. Check for those!)

Andy Renzetti I don't think it was my imagination, there did seem to be more offerings in all fields at the lower and mid-price ranges. I'm glad to see that, frankly the high prices on some fly fishing necessities have keep people who might make the switch from spinning to fly fishing out of our sport. It really helps fly fishing and the fish to have more people dedicated to preserving and improving conditions.

Part of the SA booths

The big buzz of last year's show was StreamWorks. I wrote a column after the 1999 show in which I wasn't at all kind to Streamworks. Part of my feelings in part were that none of the principals of Streamworks were part of the fly fishing industry. They had advisors and some names on the payroll, but were not folks who knew the business inside and out. I have no way of knowing what really happened, but Scientific Anglers bought StreamWorks. Scientific Anglers is part of 3M. The SA booth(s) at this show were the largest display at the show. I did note a couple of companies which were part of StreamWorks seem to have disappeared.

The folks at Fitovers! I really am delighted to see SA acquire the former StreamWorks companies. 3M has the money, and the business experience to make those companies very successful. As JC said at the show, "It's great to see adult leadership." I can't help but believe SA's dedication to our sport will do anything but improve it for all of us.

The Complete Sportsman

Some of you may know Cortland bought up a few companies over the past couple of years, and I'm sure the intent was to have one-stop buying for the fly shops owners and buyers. Not being on the inside, I do assume it has worked for Cortland. They were at the show in force. Their focus this year seems to be getting kids involved in fly fishing, and I congratulate them on that.

LadyFisher and U.S. Manager Bob Funk One of the really big deals at this show was Mustad who unveiled a whole new line of hooks for fly tiers called the Signature! All these hooks are chemically sharpened, and are scaled to be more accurate in representing the proper size of the insect. For the fly-shop owner, the new packaging makes it possible to find the various sizes through the new 'Hook Select' numbering system. Really cool stuff! If you're a tier, check this out at your supplier! Really should make hook selection much easier. We also had the honor of meeting the current Chairman of O.Mustad, the fourth generation to have run the company, Hans H. Mustad who traveled from Oslo Norway for the show. (That's me with US Manager Bob Funk in the yellow shirt.)

Creative Publishing

This is truely an international show, we met a number of people from around the world, including the U.K., France, Italy, Brazil, Cuba, Sweden, South Africa, and Korea. All were invited to visit FAOL and our Chat Room of course.

Frank Amato Publications

The number of publishers in attendance was encouraging. We have always encouraged folks to buy books and build a library. There are fine books about fly fishing, (including how-to as well as why to) available. From the reception we saw at the show, your local fly shop should have a fine selection for you. I did have the pleasure of meeting Tony Lyons of the Lyons Press, (his dad is Nick Lyons) - Lefty Kreh did a book signing at their booth, and Amato also had some of their authors signing books during the show. (For the tiers among you, the awaited FFF Fly Pattern Encyclopedia is out through Amato. Nicely done!)

Lyons Press - Tony Lyons standing

Greycliff Publishing

We made a point of trying to visit all the booths of the FAOL Sponsors at the show. Even though we didn't stay long at most, our sincere thanks for being a part of FAOL. (It isn't that we don't love you, we didn't want to take your time from customers waiting to talk with you!)

Wes at Teton in black The photos throughout this column are mostly of our Sponsors! We thought it might be fun for you to see how they represented themselves at the show - and to get a bit of a feel on how a show like this looks. Unfortunately, someone walked off with one of our disks and we lost about thirty photos. Some of the booths in photos are new sponsors here on FAOL, and you will see their Sponsor Pages quite soon!

Bill Preuss (Fin-nor) with JC's Pick of the Show

All in all my only complaint is three days was not enough to see all the show. I suspect it will continue to grow, which will make it even more difficult. I would suggest another day be added, set up on Tuesday, show opening on Wednesday. Miller-Freeman which produces the show did a fine job, I heard no complaints from either the exhibitors or attendees.

Dale Stout and wife Glenna from Gorilla Proof

Oh, about the hat. That is not my normal 'thing' - but it is my official hat for the Fish-In in Roscoe NY next spring. I wore it on Saturday, everyone was tired and a little humor fit! Got a smile or two.

LadyFisher and Stu Apt It was great meeting Sponsors in person, seeing old friends, and meeting some new ones. The first couple of days were a bit like a family reunion. Lots of handshakes and hugs. (I got the hugs, Castwell did the handshakes.) And really, in many ways isn't that how it should be. After all, fly fishing is a fraternity.

On the pond

Keep on keeping on - from my view, fly fishing is very alive and well! ~ LadyFisher

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