There's an old Broadway show with a song about
"another opening another show..." There was, we
went and it's over.
For the folks who haul boxes and crates, set up
and take down a booth at one of these shows it is
a huge effort. My husband JC, and I did a couple
for Gatti some years ago, and it is an overwhelming
job. Hats off to everyone who exhibited at the Denver
I'll bring you some of the news from the show, and over
the next couple of weeks we'll have more about the
individual booths too. I know there was a great deal
of interest on what would happen with Redington with
the Sage buy-out. Redington was at the show, with a
nice selection of rods and the clothing line which our
Field Editor, Al Campbell had picked as his Pick of the
Show last year. It lives, and sure looks dandy.
The group which puts on the show chooses a Retailer of
the Year - this year won by the Fly Shop, Redding,
California. They also have a nice mail-order catalog.
The attendance by both manufacturers and buyers was down
in our opinion, and some companies we fully expected to
see were not there. There may be many reasons, the whole
fly fishing industry took a hit following 9/11. Some
manufacturers who depended on travel to fishing destinations
saw their business decline - and there were some shops who
were very travel dependant who lost as much as 37% of their
business. Yes, we did lose some fly shops. However, I believe
many could have survived with proper planning and perhaps
restructuring debt. The problem is (and this is mentioned
in a string about fly shops on our Bulletin Board) many
shops are started by guys who love fly fishing and always
had the 'dream' of owning their own fly shop...no previous
retail experience, no business experience, no idea of cash
flow, much less stock, personnel management or cash reserve.
That is a disaster waiting to happen.
Every manufacturer had a new product. The "New Products"
area was crammed with everything from ways to protect your
rod while you are rigging up or down, a neat file cabinet
for hackle storage, or a unique system for changing into
or out of your waders and wading boots. Many of the new
products have been years in development.
There is a brand new company which may peak some real
interest. Jim Murphy has produced a new line of fly rods.
Jim Murphy was one of the partners in Redington. He tells
us this new line was in development for two years, and was
not included in the Sage purchase. The name of the new
company is Albright, and you will hear more about them soon.
We did cast the new fresh and saltwater rods, a fused
silicate external core protecting the high modulus graphite
core. The top of the line saltwater 3 piece retails for $325
including tube and rod sock. The 5-piece high modulus graphite
freshwater rod (A-5) was very nice - both rods very light in
hand and fine casters. Cosmetically the rods are stunning.
Retail, tube and sock $195. Albright has also produced a
dandy entry level rod, the Topwater rod, 2 - 4 piece, ranging
from $69 to $89. There are also three nice reels in price
ranges which will shock most of the industry. Stay tuned,
Joan Wulff suggested we try her signature Winston rod - but
there is a story to this one. Many of us find casting 'big'
rods for a long period of time is very physically tiring.
Joan had gone from fishing an 8 wt for Atlantic salmon down
to a 6 wt because of the problem, but a 6 wt really isn't
adequate. Winston solved the problem. They have produced
a new rod with a 2nd generation boron butt section which
gives the rod strength without the accompanying weight.
JC and I both cast the rod, and Joan's comments were right
on the rod - the 8 weight feels like a 6 weight. It is a
very smooth, fine rod. Retail on this one, $615. The rod,
made to her requirements does have an indentation in the cork
for a person's thumb, but the same rod is available without it.
We always especially enjoy seeing old friends, and while
that was terrific, I do want to let you know everyone's
best friend, Lefty Kreh was there for Temple Forks Outfitters.
He is well, looks great and is still helping folks on the
casting ponds and telling stories on the sidelines. It
was absolutely grand to see him. I finally got to meet
Rick Pope who is one of the principals of TFO - and his
partner Bobby Jones, both delightful men. Their newly
designed Lefty Kreh line of rods seem to be very well
accepted by the fly shops, and as Lefty told us, he has
wanted to see good rods at reasonable prices for years.
He is very proud of the lines.
There were tons of goodies, as I mentioned loads of new
entries - and while rods may be my favorites, it is always
a mixed blessing to see the newest and greatest. I really
admire the thought and planning which goes into a new rod
design and development, but in my heart of hearts I feel
the rush to 'newest, fastest, zippy, zingy, hot off the press'
misses the mark.
The connection with the history of fly fishing. The
simple joy of fishing with beautiful elegant gear from
our past. We've seen a solid trend of interest in cane
rods, a curiosity about really good fiberglass rods
(really) and several of the manufacturers have been
playing with glass rods again - the best of the bunch
is one JC wrote about a while ago, the ones designed by
John E. Tarantino for the House of Hardy. We spoke to
several people who cast it at the show who were as
impressed with it as we are. It will be interesting
to see where this all goes.
There really may not be anything new - but between the
new Marryatt reel which may be a new concept and the
new version of the automatic reel by Franco Vivarelli
from Italy (which was designed to defeat fish swimming
directly at you) the fly fisher can play with some
marvelous toys. We had a demo on this 'new' automatic
reel - it really works. Being very different it would
take some getting use to, but there are situations where
I can see the advantage.
I've held off telling you what my Pick of the Show is,
only because I wanted you to know there are many new
goodies on the market - I've only touched on a few.
The winner is:
The House of Hardy "Bougle" fly reel. The reel will not
be available until April 2004 because it is the Centennial
Reel! That's right, Hardy commissioned a reel which is
remarkably like the reel they introduced in 1903. It is
a simple click and pawl, and absolutely elegant. For
those Hardy collectors, you might want to keep an eye out
for one of the 100 numbered gold-plated "Bougles" in a
walnut box. Beautiful. By the way, our Brit friends
pronounce centenial as cen-tin-ery. For those folks
attending the Idaho Fish-In later this month, I will have
one with me. . .no doubt on JC's Pick of the Show.
My head is spinning, we have new writers who you will
see in the future - lots of things to share with you.
Stay tuned, more next time. ~ The LadyFisher
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