Fishing & Boating News

ICAST Trends from a Woman's Perspective

Women comb the aisles for new products and industry triends

by: Betty Bauman,

Roland Martin and Betty Bauman at ICAST
Photo by courtesy Ladies Let's Go Fishing
(Jul 24, 2016 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL) At the largest ICAST show ever, the staff of "Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!" (LLGF) combed the aisles to find products of interest to novice anglers. International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, or ICAST, is the world's largest Sportfishing trade show with 15,000 people in attendance in Orlando, FL.
 
The industry focus was on how to engage or renew interest of anglers. More than 126 million Americans have tried fishing, but only 46 million are active participants. The Recreational Fishing & Boating Foundation (RBFF) outlined an ambitious effort called "60 in 60" to engage the industry to get 60 million anglers actively engaged in the sport in 60 months.
 
LLGF participates in this effort through offering immersion-style programs for women, including fishing education, hands-on practice with equipment provided, networking and an on-water charter boat fishing experience.
 
At the show, the staff was searching for the latest and greatest equipment to share with their vast female followers. "At ICAST, we felt like kids in the candy store," commented Betty Bauman, LLGF Founder. "ICAST offered everything under the sun for fishing."
 
The industry showed it is listening to consumers, with products that are light, colorful and easy to use.

Our perspective on what's trending in fishing

Tackle:
Rods: Technology to make rods even lighter with more strength. More color choices.
Reels: Lighter reels designed to cast further and prevent wind knots and backlashes.
Line: Braid was the buzz with many designs to prevent wind knots.
Line Cutters: An increase of cutters designed to easily cut braid.
Hooks: Stronger hooks with less bulk.
 
Accessories:
Cameras: Underwater video cameras with even more features such as charging without removal from the case and ability to see what you are filming immediately.
Extreme coolers: Coolers aren't just coolers anymore. They have become an integral part of fishing and come in a multitude of colors and artistic designs. Some coolers had built in freezer packs, lighting and accessories such as rod holders, fillet boards, cup holders and more. Freezer packs in many sizes and colors. Carts for taking the cooler and fishing equipment to the beach.
Tackle Storage: Soft sided tackle boxes with hard bottoms to prevent the tackle box from getting wet. Backpacks with water resistance. More attention to storage for soft baits and liquid. Colors that are pleasing to the eye.
Apparel: Sun protection and coolness is the key. New materials to keep anglers cooler than ever. Long sleeve microfiber and technical shirts designed to fit a woman's curve. Fishing shorts and pants with stretch material and pockets. Buff-style neck protection in almost every part of the show.
Dry Bags: More colors, sizes and features.
Kayaks and paddleboards: An increase in lighter weight and inflatable vessels. More technology for integrating fishing accessories.
Drones: Drones that can deliver your bait to the fish with a line-dropping mechanism. Right now they are mostly for use on land and can be programmed to return to the take-off location. We did not see any that can be programmed to automatically return to boats.
Bobber transducers: Hand held waterproof fish finder - float out the bobber-style transducer to show you where the fish are and where to cast. Great for kayaks.
Sunglasses: Improved lenses, sunglasses that float.
Electronics: Smaller electronics with connectivity to mobile phones. Battery chargers the size of a small purse with ability to charge a boat engine and hold a charge for 90 days.
Cleaning materials: More versatility to address a multitude of cleaning needs. Fuel additives to keep the boat engine running properly. Reel cleaners.
 
Future of Fishing:
Fishing Education: More emphasis on immersion programs versus partial day casual fishing clinics. Increased attention to attracting new anglers to fishing. Emphasis on person-to-person encounters versus online.
Fishing Market: Concern that the most lucrative angler market is aging and the younger market is not converting to fishing at the same rate. Special attention to Florida, the top state for fishing and boating in the country. Attention to water quality and its affect on the fisheries.
 
Female Anglers Represent Growth Potential
 
Of the 46 million active U.S. anglers, roughly more than one quarter are women, representing enormous potential for the sport to develop new anglers with immediate return. 47 percent of first-time fishing participants are female.
 
The industry is realizing the power of women, their control over the family's recreational endeavors and their ability to bring others to the sport. Parents and grandparents can play a crucial role in making fishing possible for youth and younger anglers.

Reach the parents = enable the children
 
"Programs that teach the teachers enable adults to provide fishing as an alternative for youth, to spend less time on electronics and more quality time making memories with their families. There are many who may participate once they understand the basics, such as how to hold a spinning and conventional reel, use the drag system, how or why to use swivels, sinkers, lures and more. Hands-on education helps reduce the intimidation of the sport," said Bauman. "It's not the least expensive route but consider the thousands of dollars that come to the sport by converting a handful of new anglers."
 
Marketing to Women
 
Bauman feels women want 'what's in it for me' information, explaining, "For instance, say what a reel will do for them versus detailed mechanics such ball bearings and gears. They want to hear, 'This will cast further, reel in the fish faster, hold up to a heavy fish, last a long time...' - simplicity is the key. They need advice on what else to buy, matching rod, line and terminal tackle and how it all goes together."
 
Influence of Women and their Ability to Bring Others
 
Bauman finds that women are not typically lone anglers. They seek others with similar interests and bring them to the sport. For instance, with the 8,000 LLGF grads comes a multiplying factor. She explained, "It's like multi-level marketing - bring one who will bring more. Networking and fishing with other attendees gets the ball rolling."
 
According to Southwick Associates President Rob Southwick, based on their research of fishing industry trends, "Women are a huge part of the outdoor market and influence spending decisions by others in their households. Smart companies need to reach out to the female segment. Their impact on the outdoor industry is far reaching."
 
Southwick added, "Women outdoors enthusiasts are so prevalent they cannot be ignored. Companies that continue to focus solely on male consumers are leaving a lot of potential customers-and dollars-behind. It's critical that companies better understand this emerging market." Southwick's free Women in the Outdoors 2014 report is available at www.southwickassociates.com.

For more information on "Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!" visit www.ladiesletsgofishing.com  or email info@ladiesletsgofishing.com.