Most of the consumer fly fishing shows across the country combine fly fishing, guides, lodges and fishing boats in one big show so they can draw as many people as possible. In most cases, these special interests are usually separated into different areas of the mxl tv building or buildings. This is a big help if you’re just looking for fly fishing items.
There are two ways you can attend a consumer fly fishing show. First, you can buy your ticket, walk in the main door, and go around the show, looking here and there and then exit. The second, and the method I suggest, is to go to a fly fishing show with a goal in mind, and have a plan to accomplish that goal. So let’s get started!
When you first hear about a fly fishing show in your area that you may want to attend, go online, get the website of the show, and print out the list of show exhibitors plus the times and dates of featured speakers and programs you also may want to see. Review the listing, and highlight the manufactures and show booths, including the time and dates of the speakers, and programs you want to visit. Be sure to take this list with you when you attend the show.
Plan to attend the show early the first day or so to avoid big weekend crowds that will slow you down as you move around the show. If you only have one day to attend, expect to spend 6 to 8 hours on your feet working the show. Your shoes are important, so wear a pair that will give your feet good support on hard concrete floors. Wear a lightweight casual jacket because crowded show buildings tend to get very warm and muggy later in the day. Purchase show tickets in advance at a ticket outlet, or a show sponsor. This will save you time and money, not having to wait in long ticket lines, and not having to pay higher show day ticket prices. Plan in advance where you will need to park your car. You may be able to take a park-and-ride shuttle bus right to the front door of the show.
I like shuttle buses, they save you time, drop you off and pick you up and keep you out of inclement weather. Be sure to take a small backpack or tote bag with some bottled water and a few trail mix bars or snacks, it beats the old steamed out soggy $6.00 hot dog and a $4.00 drink you usually get from the concessions at these shows. You can also use the backpack and or tote bag to put all the sales brochures you will collect during the show. Don’t forget your cell phone, reading glasses, note pad, mad money and a couple of pencils and pens.
When you first enter the show building lobby, pickup a show brochure and refer to the show booth number/location layout page. Take a few minutes to locate and circle the booths you want to visit, refer to your on line web site exhibitors listing page so you don’t miss anyone. Also circle the locations of the speaker rooms, theaters, restrooms and fire exits. This is your show map and guide for the day. A few minutes doing these simple things will save you precious time and help you to effectively navigate the show to accomplish your goals
If one of your priorities is to get information about a specific product, first go to the manufacture booths and talk with the factory sales representatives. These guys are factory trained, very knowledgeable and they know all the ins and outs of their product line. They have the latest insight and up to date information on the products you are looking for, and they can tell you where you can make your purchases. Be sure to take good notes, because you may see 10-20 different sales people during the day and it is easy to forget who said what about a specific product. After you have talked with the factory representatives go to the booths of the local fly shops in your area, talk with them, and get their thoughts on the products you are looking for. Support your local fly shops, as they are a valuable source of fly fishing information and products that relate to your area.
Remember, visit and work the show booths around the presentation times of the guest speakers and programs. The speakers and programs may only be on once or twice during the day, but the show booths will be there all day long. For example, attending a guest speaker presentation or program will give you the opportunity to sit down and rest for a while and at the same time, learn a lot of valuable fly fishing tips and fishing information.
You also need to set some time aside for having fun. Plan a couple of hours of just going up and down the aisles just looking for interesting booths and vendors. Just about all the fly fishing related booths and exhibitors will be located around or near the casting ponds. Don’t forget to make a note of the times when celebrity casters may be putting on fly-casting demonstrations; you can pick up a lot good fly casting tips and techniques.