As we near ICAST in Orlando, Fla., from July 9-12, the buzz begins and new products begin to “leak” out from industry stalwarts.
I use the term “leak” because for many marketing and PR companies that leak is a strategy. Give the public a taste, but don’t let them see the final product strategy, has been around for years. and if anglers get to see them first count on it being a gaping hole versus a small trickle of information.
For some reason, anglers are not good at keeping secrets so why not use that “show and tell” methodology to strengthen the announcement. That makes good sense and for years now PR firms have seen that as an advantage to create buzz.
One of the finest and best-kept secrets several years ago was propagated by a buddy, Doug Long, with the announcement of the Laser Trokar Hook family.
Not sure if he held the angler’s checks or not, but nary an angler slipped a word to the public and seeing them the first time actually happened at ICAST. The promotion, the technology and the hook set the fishing community on its ear and the crowds around that announcement were huge. Part of the promotion was to take industry media on a trip to Disney and their fabled lakes to use the hooks and, of course, we bit.
Although ICAST continues to be our industry’s leading show it seemingly is losing some of the pizzazz it once had as a buying show. Most buying decisions for retailers are now occurring prior to the show, and ICAST seems to have become a sponsorship finding and a family reunion than a trade show.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like that part and for me it does give me a chance to see business partners, friends and industry leaders, but as a selling and order taking show, not so much. It still has immense value as it’s a who’s who for our industry and instead of talking on a smartphone, Facebook messaging or texting it’s a face to face interaction like no other.
Developers, inventors, and company leaders all in one location is super cool and for me it is truly old home week. No question I go for the friendships.
Every year there is one category that leads all others. One year it was frogs, the next year it was vibrating jigs and yet another the rod and reel category takes over. Side, down and front looking electronics continues to amaze, but I am willing to bet this year will be the year of the trolling motor.
Can you imagine fishing having four trolling motors to choose from? To date we have had two and a few years ago, with the advent of spot lock, Minn Kota took over. Motorguide, the other troller, still had a large following, but that one feature rocked the fishing community. Having it connected to electronics and the “one boat” network was born.
This year Motorguide is launching a new trolling motor that I am eager to see, and Garmin and Lowrance is entering the fray I am told. Bill Dance “slipped” a few weeks ago on the Garmin offering. Did he or not is still open to conjecture, and recent photos of the Lowrance offering has hit social media as well.
Words like “revolutionary” are still used but tying GPS, electronics and the trolling motor together sure makes that windy day or finding fish on a new lake much easier. Mapping, electronics and trolling motor combined together allows anglers to be spot on with their fishing and it’s just going to get better.
Just about every fishing category has competition and it will be neat to see it happen for trolling motors, too. What that means to the consumer is better tools, better function and most definitely better features for all of us to enjoy. No one will be able to sit on their hands and enjoy the ride if any of these new trollers have must have features.
You can bet your bottom dollar that Minn Kota won’t be laissez faire. They, too, will be digging deep into the wizard’s book of tricks to find that next great thing. They did it once with Spotlock and I bet they have a few more tricks up their sleeves.
What will be next? Will it be charging systems? There is some opportunities there. Will it be wireless transducers? I sure hope so on the wireless front. Today, too dang many wires to run and connect and you have to be a master electrician with small hands and creativity to run 10 pounds of wire into a 2-pound slot.
Less wire does mean less problems in the water environment. Will it be a new material for hi-tech line like fluorocarbon or will it be a virtual fishing system?
Hard to tell, but the new stuff is what makes this industry go and I am excited to be right in the middle of it. No doubt the wizards are conjuring a new brew.