Friday, September 18, 2009

New Products at the Denver Retailer Show

Denver Airport is a vast labyrinth of concourses connected by a shuttle that is usually crowded with weary travelers and wheeled luggage. Steve Ellis, Ted Fukuhara and I found a spot on board and were whisked at an increasing rate of speed to the main terminal to pick up my checked bag. We had arranged to meet our old friend Nick Curcione, who was to arrive soon from San Francisco, and share a cab together into downtown. We were all in town to attend the annual Fly Fishing Retail trade show and renew old friendships throughout the industry. Each year the fly fishing industry comes together to show of new products and prepare orders for the following selling season. This year would be interesting because of the wild economic climate and the attrition caused by it.

Exhibitor booths seemed down by half over the previous years and, we had been told, that many retailers had chosen not to attend. The usual big boys however, where there in force, although some of the booths were smaller and the usual SWAG was less plentiful than in previous years. Attitudes, however, were high on the new products and better prospects in the coming year, and those of us who were there couldn't wait to see what the future had in store for us, product wise, that is.

Our first stop was at Fishpond, whose innovative, colorful, and well-made bags have changed the way we buy luggage. The standout item on this years list is the ultra light, Bumpy Roads, wheeled duffle that is a perfect blend of duffle and wheeled travel bag. It is the lightest bag that we have seen and will be a big help in making sure you are not over the stringent weight limitations that the airlines are enforcing with renewed zeal.

Scientific Anglers continues to expand their offering of Sharskin lines with the new Streamer Express line designed by our buddy, Kelly Galloup. This will be an awesome surf line as well as a super streamer line for big browns in the fall. In response to consumer’s comments on the initial lines SA has also quieted the Sharkskin significantly by reducing the embossing without losing that great castability.

Simms displayed a trimmed down offering compared to previous years and it did not include any felt soled boots. Simms is serious about their commitment to reducing transference of invasive species.

Their new “No Fly Zone” technical sportswear combines high performance COR3 fabric with a Permetrhrin-based, natural, insect repellent (odorless, water-based and biodegradable) that offers excellent protection from multiple species of crawling and flying insects. The COR3 provides maximum sun protection (UPF50) combined with Simms’ superb fit, moisture management and odor control.

My favorite jacket is the Windstopper DL and Simms has upgraded it with the new Guide Windstopper Jacket which features the addition of a removable hood and a fleece lined collar . This is a must have for early mornings in the high country, ripping through the Delta in a bass boat, or heading out on Crowley to midge for fall browns.

Sage has replaced two series of rods this year and both new models are a real step up in performance, lightness and cosmetics.

The Launch series has been the beginner rod of choice for several years and it’s replacement the Vantage is a beautifully appointed rod with superb castability that will be an awesome adult beginner rod. Made in Bainbridge Island, this is a fine casting rod at any price. It also comes with a Cordura covered rod and reel case that will be handy for transporting the rod to and from the fishing location.

The XI2 saltwater series have always been my go-to rods for tough ocean-going game fish but the new lighter XI3 series is significantly lighter and feels much more alive and responsive in the hand. I cant’ wait to try one out against a big, mean trevally on Christmas Island next March.

Redington was showing a new line of women’s performance clothing that is as functional as it is flattering. Fishing shirts, wicking undershirts, hoddies and pants that are practical on stream and look great around town.

Our friend Ray Hutcherson of Sea Level Fly Fishing showed us a couple of new Big Game reels that he has developed that will allow the average angler to afford a great quality saltwater reel at a good price. The reels , a 10-12 wt and a 13-15 wt are priced at a reasonable $300 and $350 respectively, feature 6061 aluminum construction, easy left/right changeover, high density neoprene reel bag and a large cork drag and also include a limited lifetime warranty. These will be in stock soon.

Other fun little items included some cool looking fly boxes and reels from Montana Fly Co. that have fish prints, river rock prints and camo prints that are reasonably priced. These should make great gifts for the holidays and birthdays. A hit for us was from a small Canadian company that was demoing their “Fishing Rod Butler” which provided a simple but effective way to tether your rigged rods together so that they will not tangle during transportation. For those of you who have purchased flies from us and have a bunch of our plastic containers around we will be carrying a cool new dispenser that you can use to stack and store small items on your fly tying desk or even in your garage workshop.

Over the next couple of months we will be getting in the new products as they become available and some, like the Sage rods are already here. Come on by and check ‘em out.