After a night of sampling near 100-degree temps and New Orleans’s number one health food—the tall, icy Hurricane—and watching spontaneous street music, IFTD attendees were welcomed to the show floor by bagpipes. In N’awlins? It was quite a contrast to the alto sax, trombone and tuba still rang in our ears (see below).
The good news was that the show setting itself is pleasant, and show organizers arranged for the New Products Showcase to be placed up near the entrance—a very welcome change from years past. More than 250 new products line the shelves there, and as Angling Trade reports, that set a positive “vibe.”
Escaping the new products booth for bit, what caught our eye as we strolled the aisles looking at booth displays?
The presence of two or three new stand up paddle board products was certainly noticeable. We spent some time talking with Jimbo Meadors about Dragonfly’s sleek new SUP, which at first glance would be something you’d be proud to have strapped to the top of your car. It weights only 45 pounds and has a shiny gelcoat finish. “What surprises you most about the fishability of an SUP,” we asked Meadors. “I take it way back into the marls in the Bahamas,” he responded. “Places where skiffs can’t go and you can’t wade. Heck, I even tether the thing to my waist and swim across channels to get to the next flat. Pure mobility.”
After that we made a beeline for the Simms booth to check out the new “bass-market-inspired” bibs and jacket. They really are cooler than they appear in pictures—not as “loud” as you might think and with the same elegant touches Simms applies to all their apparel. The clever watch window on the left sleeve of the jacket should be expanded intto a waterproof iPhone case, I suggested, but it was hard not to like this waterproof jacket’s features, from the extra-tall, lined collar to the titanium-infused neoprene at the wrists, which allows you to cinch down the wrist strap without any bunching. The bibbs are something I’d happily wear on a skiff or on a stream, with leg-long waterproof zippers, soft suspender straps and a light, comfortable fit.
We held the Folstaf Fly-Tyers Carry All wading staff for the first time and confirmed what everyone had been telling us: the sturdy staff is light and comfortable, folds neatly into a nine-inch holster, and is instantly “deployable” with a shake of the wrist.
And we couldn’t complete our first eye-candy mentions without include Tibor Reels‘ new oversized version of the Signature series. We were lucky enough to be the first people outside of the factory to hold the new 11-12 reel, which—trust us—does not fit neatly in the palm of your hand. This reel is a beast size-wise, but incredibly light. “We started with a four-pound block of aluminum,” explained Ted Juracsik, ” and removed almost 80 percent of the material to get to the frame you have there.” This reel is going to be a winner in any fishing where speedy line retrieval and control matter, and where it is hard to build a reel large enough but also light enough to match larger saltwater rod sizes.