Despite complaints about the economy, the annual SAFTAD fishing tackle trade show keeps on growing: this year a full house of 50 exhibitors showed their goods to representatives from 256 Southern African companies.

That means that nearly 40% of South African suppliers of fishing related products exhibited and more than 20% of retailers across the country who sell some form of fishing gear (including clothing or accessories) travelled to the annual show in Johannesburg over the weekend of 17-18 August.
 
Access is strictly controlled to admit only trade visitors, and about 90% of the close to 700 visitors were retailers. This is about 50% more than the number of retailers who annually visit the EFTTEX tackle trade show in Europe.

The popular brands distributed by Adrenalin Fishing, like Italian brand Alcedo and Hokkaido lures, attracted many visitors.
Goya Trading had plenty of baits and lures to show visitors – from their own Goya range to one of the world’s largest bait brands, Marukyu, to US plastic bait brand Netbait, European lure brand Salmo, etc.

 

While representatives from fewer companies registered on Sunday (101 compared to 155 on Saturday), the usual Sunday rush was experienced as many visitors who registered on Saturday, returned on Sunday (visitors are only counted once).
 
The new event safety regulations – e.g. aisles must be 2m wide throughout – resulted in 6-7 last-minute potential exhibitors being turned away. After being made aware of the new stringent regulations only a few weeks before the show, SAFTAD had to have new fire-retardant stand dividers made and introduced additional first aid, security and control measures.

The award-winning new products showed on the Rapala VMC SA stand was a drawcard for many visitors.
Fatiema Motala and Rashida Mall welcomed the visitors to Sensational Angling’s large stand.

 

Apart from showing the latest fishing gear, the trade show offers the ideal opportunity for comparing notes on market conditions. The consensus was that trading was tough – but, several suppliers were positive and reported that many retailers were trading well. Several suppliers also reported that sales of higher end merchandise were less affected than at the lower end, where consumers had less money to spend on non-essentials and were more affected by rising unemployment figures.
 
The South African market is overtraded, was a concern expressed by Mike Philip of The Kingfisher. “One has to work extra hard to promote your brands,” he says. “In the end, good service to the customer makes the difference.”
 
Mike Phillip of The Kingfisher introducing their many new products, including the new Korda’s Carp Goo soak, spod-mix, additive developed by Loutjie Louwies to provoke a strong feeding response in carp.


Lindie Wagener and Duran Rich fielded questions about the new T-Line Pro monofilament line in 0.20-3.60mm following upgrades to their manufacturing plant. They also showed the increased knot strength from imported dies and bulk offer spools.
Many suppliers expressed concern about the prospect of price increases over the next year from Asian manufacturers.
 
 “We’ve absorbed some of the costs so far, but we cannot do that indefinitely,” says Graham Hills of Pure Fishing SA. While he agrees that the market is quiet, and some retailers suffer, he adds that some retailers delivered standout performances.
 
He also confirmed that they will be distributing Greys & Hardy in Southern Africa, following the international acquisition of the iconic UK fly fishing brands by Jarden Corporation’s Pure Fishing division. Dave Levine, a veteran in the fly fishing market, will be assisting them with this range.
 
Although Pure Fishing has not been active in the fly fishing market, Hills believes the company will benefit globally from adding these well-known brands to their stable. For example, their existing brands and Greys & Hardy will all benefit from a transfer of technologies – like their award-winning reel technology and the unique Sintrix rod technology that Hardy & Grey have the rights to.

New products in the extensive Pure Fishing ranges that generated interest included the premium quality Berkley Maxx monofilament line, the Jerk and Flat Dawg soft baits introduced in the Berkley Havoc range, a new Penn Squall Performance Casting range and the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket with a blistering fast 9:1 gear ratio.
Zubair Vally of Striking Angling was proved right that baits are popular stock items as anglers have to replace them all the time by the number of visitors interested in their extensive range.

 

Not everybody, however, agree that the higher end merchandise have been selling better. During the past season they sold more mid-range rods and reels, below R1 000, not the high end products, says Lionel Crow of Okuma Fishing Africa.
 
 Akals, which is part of the Midas Group, is now known as Okuma Fishing Africa, because Okuma is one of the fastest growing brands in the world, explains Lionel Crow. With this name change the South African distributors followed the example of distributorships in the US, Europe and Australia.
Lionel Crow was on hand to demonstrate products like the new MicroWave Guide System that generated plenty of interest on the Okuma Fishing Africa stand.

 

 

The Tecni Perline line developed with the help of some of South Africa’s top anglers attracted a lot of interest on the Tecni-Sport stand.

Howard Joscelyne of Apex Jarvis Walker agrees that middle price point products sell better – while sales in the top end of their ranges were down, middle range products sold well during the winter months. But, as soon as the weather started improving, the orders started coming in. “We’ve had really good orders since the beginning of August,” he says.

WET Sports Importers are also fairly upbeat about trading conditions – despite the economy. We wrote some good orders and were happy with the interest in our products, says Andrew Wentzel. “Many fishing guys are seeing an uptick in their businesses and some of them are very positive.”
The WET Sports Importers team were upbeat about trading conditions. From left to right Patrick Franck, Andrew Wentzel, Darryl Wentzel and their new Gauteng agent Darryl Dickerson.

 

Madelaine Joubert and Morris van Staden of Lumé Fishing Lures introduced visitors to the new products in their synthetic handmade lure range, which is as buoyant as wooden products.

Their fishing ranges have been growing yearly, and there were again several new products to see on their stand.

 
Apart from placing orders, the show offers an opportunity to introduce new agents to retailers, and WET Sports Importers made use of the opportunity to introduce their new Gauteng agent, Darryl Dickerson, to the visitors.
 
Brentoni Distributors introduced their new agent,  Andries Steyn, with 15 years’ experience in the optical business, representing other well-known brands.  He will be jointly responsible (with Paula Hemmings) for sales outside the Western and Eastern Cape.

Rob Beamish (middle) of Brentoni Distributors introduced their new super lightweight and very comfortable metal framed Ballistics sunglasses, as well as the eight new plastic styles to visitors. Their new agent, Andries Steyn, is right and Western and Eastern Cape agent Alistair Barnes left.

 

Gareth Adams of Stealth Fly Fishing was one of the most optimistic and enthusiastic exhibitors. “It has been a good year,” he says, whilst acknowledging that the industry and market is changing. “One must move with the changes – the days when you could sell R7 000 fly rods are gone,” he says. “We now sell more for less.”
 
In the coming year he is hoping to give a boost to the fly fishing market with a dedicated show, and with workshops to attract new customers like women and young people to the sport.
He has already been involved with youth clinics at schools and black empowerment clinics for Mpumalanga workers in order to try and gain new fly fishing converts.
The new Smith Optics eyewear range with the Polarchromic lens that ensure crisp images and soothing light levels, were among the many top brand products that attracted attention on the Stealth Fly Fishing stand.
New products locally developed for the Xplorer Fly Fishing range and international award-winning fly fishing products attracted visitors to the Jandi Trading stand.

 

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