A flurry of late visitor registrations resulted in several exhibitors at this year’s SA Fishing Tackle Agents and Distributors (SAFTAD) show expressing satisfaction with the interest shown by visitors to their stands.

A week or two before the show the committee was worried: pre-registrations were down 40% on last year, when the visitor numbers were already 20% down from the year before.

But, then there was a sudden flurry of late pre-registrations — even as late as the Thursday and Friday before the show.

“Although it placed Mary-Ann (Hodgson, who organises the show) under tremendous pressure, we knew that somebody who pre-registers on the Friday is likely to attend the show, and will not cancel as happened in previous years,” says John Pledger, who was re-elected SAFTAD president at the AGM on Saturday.

Mary-Ann Hodgson (right) and her team that manned the registration desk: Keisha, Serena and Clarah.

With the result that the initial tally shows that 189 companies sent representatives to the show this year. Many came from far — Louis Trichardt, Cape Town, Durban, etc.

“On the Saturday visitor numbers were up 15.4% on last year — we counted 105 companies coming through the door — and on Sunday 12% more dealers visited than last year, namely 84,” he adds. The final figures will be announced once duplicates and non-retail visitors had been removed.

This year pre-registration forms were not distributed to retailers through Sports Trader as in previous years. We did, however, write about SAFTAD on our blog for the trade where we mentioned some highlights, shortly before the show. link

After 19 years, the show has become a fixture on the annual South African tackle trader calendar — but over the past few years exhibitor and visitor numbers have unfortunately been declining. This year’s 38 exhibitors on 35 stands were, for example, 27% down from the 52 exhibitors in the show’s heyday six years ago.

Visitor interest also peaked at that stage when more than 250 retailers sent more than 650 representatives to attend the show. That year, 2012, was also a boom year for tackle imports and retail sales, which unfortunately declined since then.

Waning interest in trade shows is, however, a global phenomenon. This year, for example, an attempt to resurrect the ailing Tackle & Guns Trade Show in the UK failed and the event planned for October was cancelled. The organiser is, however, confident it will succeed next year.

Pure Fishing SA Product Manager Dexter Grewcock with an Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier rod and Abu Garcia MGX Extreme reel, which were popular items on their stand.

Yet, SAFTAD exhibitors were generally positive. “One exhibitor said it was the best show he’d ever attended,” says Pledger, adding that many exhibitors told him that they were happy with the quality of the visitors to their stands, who were serious about doing business.

Comments we received were cautiously optimistic, e.g. a qualified we are satisfied and the dealers came through and we were generally pleased from some exhibitors to “we did feel that the show was better than last year, but we will have to wait and hope the orders come in!” from Apex Walker.

Outdoor brand Columbia exhibited their Performance Fishing Gear (PFG) shirts mainly “to reach more fishing retailers that we do not normally deal with,” says National Retail Sales Manager of local distributor Brand ID. “I found Saturday to be slightly quiet but expected that due to retailers that still trade. Overall, we were happy with the number of new contacts we received,” he concludes.

SAFTAD committee member Andrew Wentzel (right) with W.E.T. Sport agents Johan Minnaar, Ian Couryer and Leon Van Heerden.

“The turnout was better than expected thanks to a last-minute drive to get customers there after slow pre-registrations,” says Andrew Wentzel of W.E.T. Sports, who add that they are “always grateful for the effort customers make to be there, especially those who travel from far”.

Their table of new items from ProHunter — some already available, some still on their way — received lots of attention — in particular the Frogs and Mice, Spiral Rap, Moth and the range of colourful tackle boxes.

“The award-winning (at EFTTEX–ed) surprise we had in store was from the Scandinavian company Westin,” says Wentzel. They provide “stunning packaging with awesome finishes. Barry the Bass, Tommy the Trout, Mike the Pike and Danny the Duck attracted many positive responses, but Coco the Crab stole the show,” he says. And with such names, who could resist them?

W.E.T. Sports also introduced their 2018 fishing catalogue at the show.

As always, the many new products, including brightly coloured caps and shirts and Mustad accessories on The Kingfisher stand again drew the visitors.

Mike Pereira (left) showing the Daiwa Tannacom electric deep water reel, with committee member Mike Phillip on The Kingfisher stand.

Daiwa reels, which had many winners at EFTTEX again occupied pride of place on the stand. The Tannacom 1000 Power Assist electric reel that makes deep drop fishing so much easier, attracted quite a bit of attention. The battery-charged reel automatically measures line let out and rewinds once the Power Lever is activated — until the lure reaches. This power assist helps to retrieve those heavy sinkers and an oversize line guide aperture help stop large knots. The new LCD display screen also reads in English.

“We always view the show as an opportunity to showcase our product range to retailers,” says Graham Hills of Pure Fishing SA. The show enables them to discuss the features of the new ranges, while ensuring the existing products remain top of mind. “Our team was busy both days, so I would say the show was a success for us,” he adds.

SAFTAD action committee member Graham Hills of Pure Fishing with the new Penn Spinfisher V1 reel.

Some of the Penn and Abu Garcia reels that had visitors to this year’s EFTTEX and ICAST international tackle trade shows talking, impressed visitors to their stand at SAFTAD.

“The Spinfisher VI range is a fully sealed range of reels that are sure to be popular with the rock and surf community,” says Hills. Another Penn reel that attracted attention is the new Conflict ll LC — the lightest reel Penn has ever designed, but with the potential of delivering further and faster casts. “It is great for spinning applications,” he adds.

Two reels from Abu Garcia that generated interest are the latest Revo 4 Beast, which was the runner-up in the Best Multiplier Reel category at EFTTEX, and the Revo Rocket Baitcaster.

In addition, their new range of Berkley top water lures also received a lot of attention, says Hills.

At the AGM John Pledger was re-elected chairperson and Mary-Ann Hodgson remains secretary and show organiser.

The following people were elected to the action committee:

  • Ahmed Hoosain of Sensational Angling. Andrew Catchpole of S.I. Mias.
  • Andrew Wentzel of W.E.T. Sport.
  • Graham Hills of Pure Fishing.
  • Howard Joscelyne of Apex Walker.
  • Mike Phillip of The Kingfisher.