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IFTD 2017: The Secret Menu

The 2017 IFTD show is upon us! It is Christmas in Florida in July… which is only slightly hotter than the normal Christmas in Florida. Instead of sugarplums and reindeer prancing about, it will be bearded men in casting shirts carrying PBRs in coozies.

I’ll not be attending the premier fly fishing industry event of the year: I’m moving this week. Which means I’d rather be in Florida in July. Alas. Just because I’m not there in the flesh, providing hard-hitting behind-the-scenes coverage, doesn’t mean that I don’t have something riveting for the audience of Casting Across.

You see, there are so many new products that will be featured at the show. There will be dozens of must-have items that go all “fire” on social media. IFTD will award some rods, reels, jackets, and fingernail clippers their snazzy crystal trophies. These are all worth paying attention to, and chances are many of you will be actually paying for them in the near future.

But just like most fast food restaurants, IFTD has a secret menu. Some industry leaders have the equivalent of a “filet-o-fish with Big Mac sauce,” or “only nacho cheese chalupa.” There are new products rolling out that are so hush-hush that they’re only able to be seen if you know the secret handshake.

Lucky for you, I know that handshake.

I’m ready to divulge five of the most secret, most guarded, most ingenious bits of merchandise that are not going to see the light of day at the 2017 IFTD Show in Orlando. So, without further ado…

Sage Butt-Fast Like stiff rods? It is 2017, of course you do. Well, as per usual our good friends in Bainbridge Island, Washington are happy to oblige. Sage has taken the technologically superior compounds and advanced tapers that they use in their cutting-edge fly rods and eschewed that in favor of fast. The Butt-Fast is just what it’s unfortunate name suggests: it is nine feet of butt section. You’re casting, mending, and playing fish with the stiffness of the butt section. Does it flex? A little. But once you aerialize 70 feet or so, you’re going to be off to the races.

Tacky Jacket Tacky’s silicone inserts have revolutionized the fly fishing world. Something as common and routine as the fly box has gotten better. But with everybody and their uncle taking rubber and cutting slits in it, where does Tacky go to stay ahead in the market? A jacket, made entirely of light blue, slitted rubber. Imagine this: you’re casting and you hook your sleeve. No biggie, the self-healing material just closes right back up. Decide this is a good time to change flies? Just nip the leader, leave the fly on your elbow, and tie on another fly from the veritable fly box that is your torso.

Hodgeman Retro Waders Old is new again. Kids are sporting foam-front, flat-brim, snapbacks like their grandpa used to. Glass is not dead. Fly fisherman are drinking on the river once more! What throwback look is more iconic than a pair of thick, heavy, galvanized waders. Hodgeman is making a move to blow past Simms and Patagonia by releasing these chic and bulletproof chest waders. Made of recycled tires (yeah environment!), each pair weighs in at a staggering 45 pounds. Featuring straight legs and integrated rubber, lug soled boots, your sweaty Instagram pics are going to get all sorts of legitimate and ironic likes. These aren’t archaic, however. Built into the heel of each foot is a valve to drain the gallons of sweat you produce, which can be bottled for any number of green initiatives of your choice.

Yeti Coaster It is a plain, cardboard coaster. It costs $8.99. Don’t worry: it has the iconic YETI logo on one side. In grey or tan.

Panini Sticker Book Remember the 80’s? It seems like a generation of anglers think of it fondly, as stickers are just about as popular among today’s fly fishers as they were in my grade school. Panini, the publishing company – not the sandwich, was at the forefront of sticker books for decades. Ninja Turtles, Rainbow Brite, Cabbage Patch Kids, and now RepYourWater, Orvis, and Costa. You buy the book, and it has pages devoted to all the major brands. You can throw everything you steal… I mean collect from fly shops and trade shows in the appropriate spaces. Trade with your friends to get them all!

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Did I whet your appetite? Share the article with friends to raise awareness of these amazing, underappreciated products so that they can get the publicity they deserve!

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