New Products for New Profits
IFTD 2019 First Impressions on Innovative Products for Your Shop
By Steven B. Schweitzer
I walked the floor of the 2019 International Fly Tackle Dealer’s trade show without expectation. After all, it has been estimated that 95% of the products on display have already been introduced to the market. So, I went on a quest to find the 5% of new and notable. It’s the first time the show has been back in Denver since 2012, when IFTD and ICAST joined forces under one roof in Orlando in 2013 – for that reason alone, I felt some good, shiny, new-car-smell showroom floor vibes as I walked the aisles.
I applied some filters to my search for new and notable products – I chose not to look at 1) rods, 2) reels and 3) clothing. Those categories merit their own separate discussions. Instead, I went on a quest to find accessories, expendables, creative innovation and (mostly) affordable new products that can equate to impulse and gift buys for your shop for the upcoming holidays and beyond.
Camo Is All The Rage – from clothing to wading boots to chest packs, new flavors of camouflage patterns are making its way into fly fishing product design. Having worked in the shooting sports industry for several years, camo is nothing new to me, but for camo to infiltrate fly fishing, it is. And its welcomed – it’s just darned cool to have camo stuff.
Military Meets Fishing – Back in 1997, the MOLLE system was introduced to the military. It’s a Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment system that allows for expandability and accessorizing of main packs only limited to the creativity of the product design team. Introducing MOLLE to fishing packs is long overdue, in my opinion. My hunting and backpacking equipment have MOLLE systems and I own several dozen MOLLE attachments for my hunting packs that can be readily be added to fishing packs and the like. I can already see the explosion of fly-fishing oriented MOLLE accessories to hit the market in the coming months and years.
There’s an Explosion of Rod Rack Carrying Options – while a car-top rod rack can cost as much as a premium fly rod itself, the market for these gadgets is coming into maturity with more design options than ever before. Each have their own design pros-n-cons. Rod rack carriers that can carry any combination of spin, fly and spey are the holy grail of design – we are close, but not quite there yet. But for those dedicated to the fly rod sport, the rod rack carrier options are in full maturity.
We Can Wade Safe and Fish Harder – who remembers when gnarly-patterned rubber-soled wading boots promised the next coming of slip-free wading even on the snottiest of slimed rocks? Well, those wading boot soles underwhelmingly never lived up to the promise. But in recent years, softer metal attachments to the bottom of your wading boots have become the norm, as they do provide sure-footedness while wading around in snot-covered bowling balls. From wading boots pre-fitted with aluminum discs and bars to conversion kits that allow you to custom build your boot bottom wading traction pattern, the next big thing in wading traction is fully afoot.
There’s Innovation Where You Least Expect It – Avoiding the “is it called a bobber or strike indicator” debate, there’s some innovation in the fishing indicator world that just plain has me intrigued. What would you think about a strike indicator that tells you the direction of the strike? Read below for a quick take on the new product from Troutscout Outfitters.
Conscious Recycling – While I said I would stay away from clothing on my new products quest, it’s hard not to avoid the increasing use of recycled material in the manufacturing of product. Hats, packs, shirts, sweaters and the like from several leading manufacturers are continuing to expand on using recycled and repurposed material in the production of new product. Fishpond expanded their Cyclepond program with new clothing options and RepYourWater introduced a hat line that boasts 60% of its construction from recycled material, as example. Recycling plastics, for example, saves about 1/3rd the energy as compared to making those products from virgin materials. So, in the fly fishing world, where plastics and derivatives are a huge component of most products, this can favorably add up in a hurry.
Remind me Again – Is it Fly Tying or Lure Making? – fly tiers in recent years have been treated to a wealth of new materials to tie flies – or make fly fishing lures – what you call it is your choice. There are several new products at IFTD 2019 that further merge the spin fishing and fly fishing worlds together.