There’s No Business Like Show Business… (Except the Monkey Business Behind Consumer Fly Fishing Shows)


Angling Trade just attended the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) and The Fly Fishing Show, both in Denver January 6-9.

As for ISE, from the minute I walked in the door, I’ve been thinking “I do not know what more ISE could do to make a more friendly and alluring environment for the sake of fly fishing… particularly exposing potential newbies (general outdoors folks) to this sport.”

Fly fishing is literally the nucleus of that show.  From the casting ponds in the heart of the floor plan to the free casting lessons offered by Orvis, Angling University, Far Bank, and others… all the things that I, as editor of Angling Trade, have been harping on the industry to help pump life into our sport, were happening at ISE.  It was heartwarming.

At the same time, across town, Chuck Furimsky’s The Fly Fishing Show was also bustling, catering to another highly dedicated crowd of fly fishing aficionados.  For the record, I think it’s great to cater to “the base” with a consumer event focused on fly fishing.  That’s a tradition, not just a happening.

What’s not so cool, from my perspective now, is the behind the scenes chatter I heard as both events took place, and afterward:

“This show is filled with bubbas who don’t really fly fish.”

“That show is ‘old,’ it’s 10-to-1 people over 50 versus younger people.”

“This one is a ‘flea market’… that one is an indoor ‘county fair’.”

And so on, and so on…

The thing is… why can’t we have it all?  And why can’t fly fishing benefit from a coordinated, not competitive, scenario where we endeavor to reach all audiences—the hard core anglers, and the dabblers—with strategic precision?

The real question is, must these consumer shows be on the same weekend?  I’ve heard it both ways.  The two birds, one stone buy alprazolam next day delivery perspective: “It’s great to have both events on the same weekend… we drove in from Nebraska, and made it a weekend to hit both events.”

But I’ve also heard many more locals who by now are confused, even agitated by having to choose one option over another.  In many cases, these people have consciously chosen not to choose at all.

How do you feel about this?  As a retailer, whether you’re based in the Denver area or not…

Angling Trade is now en route to The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey, to get a clearer picture of the national consumer show landscape.  And you can expect more detailed commentary on this topic in the March print issue of the magazine.

Having spoken with the top brass at AFFTA, ISE, and the Fly Fishing Show, I think the climate may be right to move past the competition in Denver.

In my mind it really shouldn’t be a competition between one show versus another.  It should be a competition between generating exposure and excitement around fly fishing, versus complacency, egos, and lacking the will to work together for a common strategic good.  Whatever statements had to be made, were made.  The war is over.  The economic climate may be looking up.  It’s time to get smart and move on… together.

International Sportsmen’s Expositions Contact Info:

Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific)
PO Box 2569
Vancouver, WA 98668
Brent Layng Sales Manager 360-397-0216

2011 Shows
2012 Show Line Up
Show Maps

The Fly Fishing Show Contact Info:

Fly Fishing Show
531 North Center Ave.
Suite 102
Somerset, PA 15501

Toll Free: (866) 481-2393
Phone: (814) 443-3638
(814) 443-1784
Fax: (814) 443-3943

Email: [email protected]



  1. Well put and I agree with much of what you have said, here: Why the competition between shows, why the same weekend and make the public choose one over another, therefore forcing retailers and other exhibitors to choose where they think more interested parties might be.

    The key is new anglers want to learn and we are all going to have to give a little to get a bunch and not everyone is willing to do this. That said, great to see the manufacturers getting that and leading by example.

    For us here in Seattle, the first Furimsky show went great but then a lack luster effort to bring in new “talent” each year, a high cost to attend the event at the location and the time of year (super bowl weekend) just ended up making it a flop in a mere 5 years. Probably need to let the old guard die or move on to bring new life the the show circuit, and a boost from the economy, perceived or real would be good. And yes, let’s drop the ego, it is just fishing after all!

  2. Haven’t I heard this all before? Wasn’t there some kind of contentious issue a few years ago involving Furminsky’s Denver show being scheduled the same weekend as another? I agree that it looks like there are some egos involved, which is detrimental to all of us in the fly tackle industry. I have to say however, that both Furminsky and ISE have done a pretty good job with their shows.

    A large percentage of fly fishermen come into the sport after passing through the conventional tackle marketplace first. Most wet their apatite dunking eggs and worms first and then eventually want to move on to more challenging pastures. Conventional tackle is in a sense our farm team and we should nurture that market. Being that it is our source of talent so to speak, that might be where we need to go to get our future customers. Maybe we should all be coming up with marketing programs that target those guys. Just a thought . . .

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