Inside fishing tackle’s can’t-miss review event

At ICAST, a happy hour made for tackle dealers delivers more than a good time.

Every year, there’s a happy hour that gives tackle dealers an early look at the most exciting new products in fishing.

Like clockwork, it begins when the bright lights of Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center flicker to life over a red carpet leading through a gateway at ICAST.

Before the show floor officially opens on Wednesday morning, the New Product Showcase Reception roars to life just as the forklifts loading in display booths fall silent on Tuesday afternoon.
Inside, display cases glow with spotlights on new lures bound for fisheries, from deep blue waters flanking sandy paradises to remote trout streams high in the Rocky Mountains.

Display racks are zoned with apparel made of new materials and sporting new patterns that have yet to see retail shelves. And a gathered crowd of retailers and media members share complimentary hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and brews amidst a hall where the best of the best new products at ICAST are all located in one place.

Aiming for the best
 “The New Product Showcase Reception is the first look attendees get at every product entered in the ICAST Best of Category Awards,” says American Sportfishing Association trade show vice-president Blake Swango.

“It’s not only a chance to see new products, most of them for the first time, but also an opportunity to vote in the awards and plan which exhibitors you might want to go see throughout the week.”

Last year, more than 1,000 new products shimmered in the spotlight of the New Product Showcase. Combined, they represented years of work from a field of 633 exhibitors competing in 37 categories ranging from hard and soft lures to apparel and watercraft.

Well received

For most of the past two decades, Aleida Tush has made the drive up to ICAST from her tackle store in Siesta Key, Florida in time for the reception.

“We get to see new products first-hand before a lot of people,” says Tush. “If you don’t go to ICAST, it can take two or three months before you could even possibly begin seeing some of the new things coming into the market for yourself.”

Tush says the chance to see brand new products before even browsing the aisles of ICAST has immediate and longterm benefits for her business, CB Outfitters.

“I always think that gives you a jump on seeing and possibly being able to order new products,” she says, noting that the New Product Showcase helps populate her show calendar

 “One of the reasons you go to ICAST is that you have the opportunity to meet and talk with managers, presidents or vice presidents that you otherwise might not meet. You get to share your ideas with them, too.”

For Tush and many retailers like her, some of those ideas are sparked at the New Product Showcase Reception – a happy hour unlike any other, a happy hour tailor-made for tackle store owners and employees.

“ICAST is the biggest sportfishing tradeshow on the planet,” adds Swango. “There is truly no other place where tackle dealers can see so many new products in-person while having the opportunity to speak directly to many of the people involved in making them.”

Growth potential

This year, the ICAST New Product Showcase is expanding to include 41 categories. It’s an all-time record that means attendees will have the chance to see even more brand-new products at the show and might need to spend a little more time at the unofficial kick-off happy hour.

The 2024 ICAST New Product Showcase Preview Reception is scheduled from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16 inside the Orange County Convention Center.

Registration for ICAST 2024, set for July 16-19, is open now. Qualified attendees can register for free and download the official ICAST smartphone app to stay up-to-date on daily events in Orlando on both iOS and Android.