By Darin Dohi
In 2016, in a small corner of the show floor, a sole exhibitor set in motion, the rebirth of custom tackle in California. That exhibitor was Island Fishing Tackle. Its owner, Sam Dela Torre, has been involved in the fishing tackle business for well over 20 years. His awareness and mastery over the trends in this business have given him insight as to where the next opportunities exist. His fledgling business at the time was positioned perfectly to take a fresh approach to the Fred Hall Show. His focus…Custom Tackle.
From that single odd shaped booth in the far corner of the show floor, a huge influx of consumers became reacquainted with the idea of building their own gear. From Rods, to customization of reels, to gaffs, to tools. It was all possible with the help of a company like Island Fishing Tackle.
With a new appreciation for the custom rod building business, Mike Lum, General Manager and Bart Hall, Show Producer of Fred Hall Shows Inc. made the executive decision to dedicate floor space and other resources to embrace the reborn custom tackle market. Time, space, equipment and planning went into the establishment of the Custom Rod Depot, creatively named by Bart Hall. With Sam and Island Fishing Tackle as the anchor, others began to commit. First and always at the leading edge of anything new and fresh, Bill Batson was eager to recommit to displaying at the show. United Composites lead by Randy Penny and his team moved from what would argue was a much better location on the show floor to join others in the Custom Rod Depot. This was a decision he has never regretted. SeaGuide, Winn Grips, and American Tackle were also there to support the effort as well as take the opportunity to reach out to new consumers. A dedicated seminar area was cut out of this area seemingly as large as a super-market! A Super-Market of everything you would need to build custom rods and other equipment. The seminars for the show covered fundamental rod building techniques to the most advanced thread art. Not only building but repair and finishing! It was a full docket of info that could have kept everyone captivated for the entire day!
In 2018, with economic tides raising all boats, a massive influx of new exhibitors to the Long Beach Fred Hall Show threatened the opportunity for the continuation of the Custom Rod Depot. Floor space was at a premium. The possibility of having the dedicated area for seminars was quickly being gobbled up by new start-up companies who wanted to show their wares. The temptation of filling the space with exhibitors who would be paying for space was probably very high. Nevertheless, it was never a question to those in charge. Both Bart and Mike once again re-confirmed their dedication to see the Custom Rod Depot succeed as the Southern California resource for information, product, and equipment. After a
quick reconfiguration of the show floor plan, an even larger seminar area was dropped into the heart of the “Depot”. All of the same exhibitors were still represented in the area whether as exhibitors or as product offered by Sam and his team at Island Fishing Tackle. Bill Batson and Batson Enterprises brought a significantly larger space. They were on hand with their entire marketing team. They had some of the best rod builders in America come to the booth for meet and greet opportunities as well as seminars and demonstrations. United Composites also continued its growth and expansion at the show by positioning itself directly in front of Island Fishing Tackle with a new larger booth and product offering. In the seminar area, two legends, Jim “Doc Ski” Labanowski and Jim “Dragon Master” Upton held down the fort demonstrating different advanced thread art techniques.
The days are quickly passing by. We are approaching the opening of another season of Fred Hall Shows. The expansion of the Custom Rod Depot has evolved yet again. Custom tools like pliers and gaffs, as well as continuing the commitment to custom rod building has given reason to rename the program. The new all-encompassing name Custom Tackle Depot will include such things. In addition, the Custom Tackle Depot will be featured at each of the Fred Hall Shows starting in Long Beach, moving to Bakersfield, and finishing the season in Del Mar, California. Speakers, seminars, and demonstrations will be on tap for each of the shows. In Long Beach and Del Mar, a “People’s Choice” award will be given to the custom rod build that generates the largest number of votes over the course of the show at which it is displayed. Some of the very best rod builders will be featured in this contest as well as some very talented hobbyist rod builders. A very special entry is coming from a freshman rod builder who is at the ripe age of 13. Keep an eye out for that entry in the contest.
Sliding Into Home
As you can imagine the preparation for our show calendar is in high gear. There are other shows but we are offering something a bit different. We have been in this business of bringing you the greatest outdoor show on the west coast. We have a grand variety of exhibitors, retailer, and vacation destinations and opportunities. We embrace not only the hardcore outdoorsman and women, but their spouses and their children. There is truly something for everyone at each of the three Fred Hall Show stops. Do we dare even suggest that if someone was to travel to each of the shows even for just one day each, they would find an amazing depth and breadth of entertainment and value that they may not have known existed.
Fred Hall Shows, Inc. thanks you for all of the years of support that you’ve given to our shows. We also thank you for continuing to embrace the changes and additions that we make to this show on your behalf. Enjoy the 2019 Fred Hall Shows.