Thoughts about our industry

It's August, ICAST is over and Oneida is just around the corner. I've had some time to think about things since the show. From what I saw, I feel pretty good about most of our industry. Some of the sectors are hurting worse than others, but at least the tackle part of it seems to be holding its own.

I hadn't been to the show in several years, and I couldn't help but notice the changing role of the media. It's very different — and in my opinion better — than it was years ago.

Years ago there used to be a handful of writers and photographers from the print media — magazines — on the floor. They interviewed everyone and took plenty of photos. Overall, they did a good job, but the result of their work wasn't seen for months.

I'm not saying that was their fault, because it wasn't. It's just the way things were back then.

This year, however, there were tons of Web sites doing their thing. Almost all of them were taking pictures, doing interviews and filming video for immediate upload. Stuff that once took two or three months to get out to the consumer is now taking two or three hours.

That puts information about new products and new techniques into the consumer's hands almost immediately. That's a good thing. It helps them make informed judgments about how to spend their money efficiently.

In some ways, the information's better, too. I really like being able to explain to someone how a product works when they can hear it in my words and watch me demonstrate everything live.

That helps us professional anglers and other experts educate anglers about how to use a product properly. That helps them catch more fish, which means they ultimately buy more products. That's good for all of us. It's a deal where everybody wins, and those are the best kind.

The other trend I noticed at ICAST was a movement towards value. There for awhile everything was upscale. It seemed like the more expensive a lure, line, rod or reel was, the more popular it was with buyers and the public — not because it necessarily worked better, but because it was fancier and cost more.

I didn't see that this year. Buyers and other industry professionals were looking for value. I think that was one of the big reasons the Strike King and Quantum booths were so busy. Our products offer anglers a chance to fish with reasonably priced, first-class tackle that catches bass.

Anyway, the way I see it is that things are good, if not great. We'll make it through these tough times. We've done it before as an industry and as a country. There's no reason to believe that won't happen this time.

Next week we'll talk about the Oneida event and the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

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