AFFTA 2023

AFFTA 2023

by Scott Sadil

If you’re like a lot of anglers, you may not give a lick about something you hear referred to now and then as The Industry.  

The Industry, of course, is made up of folks engaged in the business of fly fishing, especially those who design, manufacture, and sell products the rest of us need, or at least want, in order to go fishing and, ultimately, catch a few fish now and then.

Some readers, no doubt, go fishing for the express purpose of forgetting about commerce, hoping to escape, if only momentarily, the harsh realities of what it means, in our own private Idahos, or wherever, to make a living.  Yet the truth is we’re lucky to have a community of entrepreneurs, business sorts, and dreamers alike who keep us well supplied with options for new equipment, some of which can help us chase fish in greater comfort or safety and, on occasion, actually improve our chances of landing more or better fish.

Tim Rajeff

Plus, members of AFFTA, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, appear dedicated, across the board, to supporting those environmental causes which, if successful, will ensure we have fish—and, with luck, wild fish at that—to fish for in the future.  

This past week, AFFTA gathered in Salt Lake City for its annual trade show, this year called the association’s confluence.  Yet attendees all agreed the new name, however apt, failed to inspire the sort of participation seen in previous years.  Something seemed different—but I’m the last who should offer his two cents in matters like these, if only because I’d eventually land myself in territory I try to stay clear of.

The good news, however, is that a whole bunch of fly rod makers did show up, and a lot of them had new models to share.  Winston, Sage, TFO, Scott, St. Croix.  Did I miss anyone? Orvis? Echo? CF Burkheimer? There’s always the question, of course, whether any of us really needs another fly rod—but once you reject as silly any such doubts, you’re free to indulge in the timeless fantasy, real or otherwise, that the next rod you acquire is going to change your fishing forever.

You’re probably already familiar with the look of these fly fishing shows and how they operate.  Rod manufacturers try to have their booths set up around the so-called casting pond, an area approaching the length of a football field, half of it water, the other half big enough to keep your backcast from tangling with onlookers or passersby.  Since I was working, too, in attendance to perhaps select a new rod for an upcoming Gray’s Best award, I spent a lot of time hovering around the pond, selfishly indulging in the kind of voyeurism that can actually help to improve your own casting.