Gotta love outdoor shows!

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

I’m no different than most of you when it comes to outdoors shows.

I love attending, although I’m usually there to give seminars or make public appearances. Admittedly, the travel becomes a headache, but I always get excited when I’m on the show floor.

My first show was at the Ultimate Fishing Show in Novi, Mich., this week, one of the Midwest’s best outdoor shows. It’s near Detroit, so I get to renew a lot of old acquaintances. I really enjoy visiting and talking with the people.

And I learn from them. I have broadened my horizons and gain insight from other anglers I encounter at around the country.

I see and hear of new techniques, lures or rigging methods that work well for those anglers and that I can employ elsewhere.

The Angler’s Marine Show I attended in southern California several years ago was a great example. I was blown away by all the cool Japanese tackle that I had never seen before and the techniques that that I didn’t know much about.

I spent more than $500 at that show and brought home tackle that I was able to use in tournaments later that season.

As good as Bassmaster, B.A.S.S. Times and Bassmaster.com does at staying up with trends, it often takes time for those local secrets to rise to the national level. There simply isn’t a substitute for the grassroots knowledge you get from going to these shows.

The local shows also draw small manufacturers offering cool stuff that you won’t see at the national level.

On the flipside, these shows are where several national companies unveil new products to the public that they exhibited at the tackle trade show in July. And best of all, you’ll see the best prices you’ll see all year, especially on big ticket items like rods, electronics and specialty fishing lines.

Humminbird is a good example. The company’s new 360 Imaging is now being demonstrated publicly for the first time at many of the shows. There’s not another technology like it, and I’m excited about getting it on my boat this summer.

When perusing the aisles, look for the latest trends in tackle, such as deeper running and rattle-less crankbaits, the continued evolution of the Alabama Rig, more premium hooks and a larger variety of fishing line, with a marked improvement in the braided lines available today.

It’s also a good time to shop a boat for the same reason. Boat manufacturers offer retailers hot bargains they can pass along at boat shows and you can really get more bang for your buck.

Take time to examine those new boats and you will see premium features previously offered only on the bigger rigs are now standard on mid-size bass boats.

Of course, there’s not a better outdoor show than the one at the Bassmaster Classic, which is the MacDaddy of all outdoor shows. Several manufacturers will announce new products at the Classic that weren’t even shown at the trade show in Vegas.

The reason? The Classic draws a lot of people and media.

Yeah, the tournament is the big deal, but the show has become a spectacle in itself.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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