AFFTA Announces New Denver Fly Fishing Trade Show

Angling Trade broke the news this afternoon that the American Fly Fishing Tackle Association (AFFTA) has decided to create its own fly fishing trade show. The new event will take place in Denver in the third quarter of 2010.
Two weeks ago we reported that AFFTA had severed its relationship with Nielson, who had been running the FFR show in Denver for several years. As AFFTA Chairman Alan Gnann stated in this afternoon’s press release, “Throughout our careful and deliberate evaluation it became abundantly clear that a general fishing tackle show (ICAST) or a general outdoor show (Outdoor Retailer) would not serve the best interests of the of the fly fishing trade. It was also very apparent that the new found interest in fly fishing by these organizations was not aligned with AFFTA’s mission, making the decision very clear.”

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  • At the risk of getting crucified, I’m gonna step out front with some thoughts on this one…
    I sort of see both sides.
    On the one hand, It is easy for such a small niche within a larger industry to get “swallowed up” within the framework of these bigger shows. And the way I’ve heard it was presented for SLC didn’t sound good. And the tradition of the separate show is always a comfortable thing, too. From AFFTA’s perspective, they stand to lose everything by giving up the stand-alone show to Outdoor Retailer or ICAST. So I can see their point.
    On the other hand, ICAST already draws quite a heavy representation from the fly fishing industry and has casting ponds and so forth. They have 4 or 5 regional shows, which keeps travel costs down and allows more scheduling flexibility for small businesses and journalists. This is a much better growth model than 1 show in a very expensive city like Denver. And the potential for cross-pollentation from a partnership with ICAST would be good for the future of fly fishing in general: affinity marketing, recruitment, capital investment, etc. But it would be bad news for AFFTA.
    For the past several years, AFFTA has made somewhere between roughly 3/4 of a million and a million dollars per year off of the Denver show for the ostensible purpose of “growing the fly fishing industry.” In that time, the industry hasn’t grown. It has consolidated and contracted. In fact, the overall trend since the boom of the early 90’s has been downward. AFFTA says they’ve got positive feedback from Sage et al, Winston, Ross, and Smith. Well they always have the support of Sage, Winston, Ross, and Smith. But what about the smaller and the newer big companies? What about the retailers whom this trade show is supposed to be for in the first place? What about the world’s largest supplier to fly fishing retailers and one of the biggest mfgs in the industry, Wapsi? Where are they?
    I suspect the answers to all of these questions and the ultimate reason AFFTA decided to put on their own show in Denver is found near the end of the statement quoted: it’s not in the best interest of AFFTA. It has nothing to do with what’s in the best interest of fly fishing retailers, distributors, or the vast majority of manufacturers. And it sure doesn’t have anything to do with growing the sport of fly fishing so that there is a bigger pie for all of them to share.