Al Campbell, Field Editor

September 15th, 2003

Al's Pick of the Show, 2003
By Al Campbell

It is a tradition I enjoy; this thing called the Pick of the Show. Most years it goes something like this: Castwell picks the coolest high-tech thing he can find, LadyFisher chooses something cute or nostalgic or at least traditional, and I pick the best bargain. So much for traditions. This year Castwell got nostalgic, Ladyfisher found something old-looking and traditional, and I decided the best bargain at the show was something that could make me laugh.

That isn't to say that I didn't find any bargains. On the contrary, I found so many bargains I couldn't choose the best one. In fact, if I noticed any trend worth noting, it was the bargains. Well, I did notice a trend in fly rod warranties, but the biggest trend seems to be bargain prices. I handled at least a dozen new rods that feel great, but will retail for less than 150 bucks.

On the idea of fly rod warranties, I noticed a sharp turn in warranties, and that was pretty much across the board. It looks like the days of unconditional lifetime warranties are either over or nearly over. If the company offers a no-questions-asked warranty, it is now usually associated with a handling fee or more. Even the guy who first started this craze has abandoned the idea of unconditional warranties on his new line of fly rods. The days of busting a fly rod to get a replacement because the handle got dirty, are over.

If the rod you bought with a no-fault warranty breaks, plan on paying something for the replacement. In the case of Sage and Redington, that fee is twenty to thirty bucks, and over-the-counter replacements are a thing of the past. Loomis will replace it fast, and the fee will be about fifty bucks. However, I also noticed a shift to a lower price point in many of the rods being offered as new models. Let's face it; we all have been paying for the warranty anyway. Some abused it, some didn't break their stuff because they took good care of it, and some folks were fortunate that their accident was covered by a no-fault warranty.

Reel prices are all over the board, but it seems a lot of new reels under 100 bucks are in the new offerings this year. Want a nice, lightweight, disk drag aluminum reel with a true large arbor for about $85 retail? There were at least a dozen of similar design at the show this year. While the big guys continue to shoot for the stars, a few have started aiming the other direction too. You don't have to shell out over a hundred of your hard-earned dollars for a quality reel anymore.

Fly lines, clothing, tying tools, flies and materials to tie your own are all being offered at new lower prices; if not by the old guys, then by the new guys getting into the supply market. Even the big fly distributor who told me five years ago that they didn't need to budge on wholesale fly prices budged this year. It didn't matter to me; I made the switch five years ago when they told me they didn't need my business and the other guys wanted it real bad.

So, this year I had a choice of over fifty new and tempting bargains, but I decided to switch gears for one show and choose something I thought was different enough to make me laugh. While the others were going retro and picking stuff from the past, or at least re-creations from the past, I went for the one product that had me rolling in the aisles of the show. In fact, I dug some bucks out of my wallet and bought the thing right then and there. It reminds me of the conversations I have had in the chat room and the threads on the bulletin board. When I look at it, I think about fish-ins of the past and fishing outings I have shared with fellow FAOL members in recent times. In fact, it reminds me of one of the main reasons I enjoy this sport so much.

My pick of the show is this sign, which I bought on the spot. I had plenty of other things to choose from, and some of them tempted me a lot, but I couldn't pass this one up. So guys and gals, from all the choices I had, I chose the one thing that made me think of you. After all, the pick I usually make is all about you and what I think you need to invest in. In this case (especially after the last year), I think we all need to lighten up and enjoy a few laughs once in a while.

If you think you might want one of these signs, or any of the other fun signs I saw, you can contact Erik Pieper at

His address is:

Signs And Stickers Inc.
383 Curtis Street
Evansville, WY 82636-0128
(307) 237-3733

I'll see some of you at the Idaho Fish-In. The rest of you will be on my mind every time I look at my new wall ornament. Until then my friends, tight lines. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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