If you’ve been following our Twitter account (@fishingtackleuk) you’ll know we were lucky enough to attend this year’s Salon Europeen des Peches en Mer fishing show in Nantes, France. It was a real eye-opener for all sorts of reasons but the one that really stirred my emotions was how the French tackle industry appears to be evolving and transforming the way that they fish – opening up their sport to new audiences (like urban dwellers) and bringing youngsters in.
One of the largest stands, and certainly the noisest was that of PecheModerne.com – a modern guiding service. Their ‘I love Peche Moderne’ campaign at the show saw them hosting a competition for kids. The aim was to pitch soft plastics at targets laid out on the floor in front of them, mimicking pitching baits at fish and structure in a real life angling situation. They used multiplier casting set-ups with an underarm pitching style, scoring more points by hitting smaller and more distant targets. It looked fun and by the relentless queue of children waiting patiently to participate, it was fun.
A DJ and compair were on hand to heighten the atmosphere and entertain the crowd – we didn’t see the stand quiet for the whole of the weekend. The execution was very impressive and it made you want to get involved.
The fun wasn’t limited to the kids either. Periodically the resident pro anglers from the various tackle stands at the show went head to head in elimination rounds, finally crowning the overall winner. It proved to everyone that it wasn’t easy to hit the smaller targets every time. Some of the kids were on an even playing field with some of pros!
As you’d expect, there were prizes for the children. Colourful caps and T-shirts were the prizes that everyone wanted – including me! A thoroughly well-run stand and immediately made me think what could be possible back in the UK. I really hope we see one of the big tackle manufacturers make an investment in this way. There shouldn’t be a fear of failure. I can’t see any negative to come from this kind of activity. It wasn’t that many years ago that our own local fishing club used to run a hugely successful ‘kids week’ – only halted by heightened health and safety regulations – which with collective effort could be appeased. It was hugely encouraging to see something like this clearly working.
French tackle manufacturer, Pezon & Michel should also be applauded for their forward thinking. Two of their sub-brands stood out.
Angling goes ‘Urban’ with the Street Concept Fishing range. Street Concept Fishing looks to target a youthful urban audience with a cool brand and sensibly scaled-down tackle – putting the fun back in fishing. The 6-strong rod range includes casting and spinning rods with casting weights of between 3-12Gr to 10-35Gr. Surrounding imagery implies that this range predominantly targets youths from inland towns and cities, which mostly reside upon Frances substantial river system. This thinking, and the tackle mirrors a growing Rock Fish style (LRF & HRF) of angling in coastal towns, so all bases are covered by respecting fresh or saltwater disciplines.
If one forward thinking brand wasn’t enough from Pezon & Michel, they also have the Gunki, Ultimate Custom Fishing Rod range. In this case ‘Custom’ doesn’t mean expensive or unobtainable, but it does mean fashionably cool with 4 sub-branded rod ranges, each with a colourful identity featuring custom coloured reel seats, anodised machined fittings, whippings and rod blank finishes. Each rod range has a clear and exciting sounding function:
- KAZE = Fast & Furious Rods
- HAYASHI = High Potential & Versatile Rods
- HI = High Potential & Dynamic Rods
- YAMA = High Stability & Sensitive Rods
Again, this is predominantly casting & spinning tackle with hard and softbody lures (baits) – something that has exploded in France specifically. It’s cool.
The Gunki rod range is complemented by its own range of reels, although I feel the strength is in the rods. I would assume that any fashionable youth would prefer their rigs to be seen adorned with the big brand reel manufacturers like Shimano & Daiwa. The rod market just feels more open to anyone right now. And of course, if you’re going to associate yourself with a tribe then you’ll want to wear the colours. Both Street Concept Fishing and Gunki have a range of well designed, fashionable apparel that wouldn’t look out of place down the park with your mates. The Pezon & Michel brochure shows a range of branded clothing including hoodies, T-shirts and caps. The range is further complemented with a large range of luggage to keep you comfortable and mobile while in-keeping with your look. This stuff is magic.
Another fairly new brand to France – Reins – is part of the uber cool soft-plastic revolution. Being a Japanese company, what the brand loses in French nationality it more than makes up with fashionable identity. The Reins stand at the Nantes fishing show was an ‘en vogue’ affair. I could see that any aspiring young angler would look up to the Reins pro staff and aspire to be them, whether that was the look, their casual put purposeful attitude or their impressive array of tournament trophies. Companies like this are the brand ambassadors for youthful fisher men and women. Take note.
All in all this was one of the key takeaways for me from the Nantes fishing show. Fishing can be cool, and with a little work can lure kids away from the TV, Internet and those precious games consoles. Right now I can only think of one UK brand that has broken into ‘fashionable’ and that’s Diem – a brand that came out of nowhere (for me anyway) and has done everything perfectly to create the right image – one that anglers want to be a part of.
Lots to think about. Lots to be inspired by. Lets hope these trends jump the English channel.