The NFLCC Nationals is not like any other event in the collecting world--if all you've ever gone to is a regional show, you really can't imagine just how much fishing tackle is around you. One year a friend of mine tried to calculate the fair market value of the fishing tackle on the show floor alone and quickly gave up when his mental math reached the high seven figures. It is simply mind boggling, and the amazing thing is how little time you have to take it all in. If you stopped in front of every table for just ten minutes you could not see the whole show in two full days. It's basically a Mall of America for tackle collectors.
The great part of this year's Nationals in Peoria was, of course, meeting up with all of the friends from the past and making some new friends as well. A new thing for me this year was actually having my own table, which I've never actually done before. My experience as a vendor was fascinating to say the least. I must have completely lucked out as they put me between a veritable who's who of collecting--to my left was ORCA officer and Horton-Bristol guru Bill Muth with his incredible reel display; behind me was the wonderful "Pepper" Jack and Dobby Gallagher, two of the kindest people alive; and to my left were the legendary Bill Stuart and Johnny Garland. I mean, these collectors have certainly forgotten more about fishing tackle than I will ever know. It was a true pleasure to talk with them for two days.
Perhaps the best experience for me was getting to launch two new books at the nationals, Jeff Kieny's wonderful Patented Hooks, Harnesses & Bait-Holders, and Don Wheeler's outstanding Frog Lures of Yesterday and Today. It was a great honor to not just work with these gentleman but to spend time on the floor with them, as they celebrated their celebrity status by autographing books for most of the day.
The only problem with running your own table, I discovered, is that you get almost no time to explore the floor yourself. I spent less than an hour doing so, and that only because my two helpers spelled me for a brief time on Friday afternoon.
To balance my disappointment over the amount of time I got to spend exploring, many friends old and new made it by the table. From John Conlin to Bill Sonnett to Laurie Bingham to Roger Schulz and Dave Erickson to Andy Foster to Tom Jacomet to Joan Lyons to some of the regulars off Joe's Board like Big Foot and Grouch, it was fun being able to talk to people at some length. Of course, there is never enough time and I didn't get a chance to talk to some of the people I enjoy spending time with such as Don Ludy, but so is life.
One of the things I truly enjoyed this year was bringing my eight-year old daughter who, thanks to Don Wheeler, is now crazy about Frog Lures. With her new friend Nicholas, she covered the show floor with other kids around her age and brought a smile to many a grizzled veterans' faces. This is truly the future of collecting, folks. Thanks to Craig Comjean, Byron Parker, Dan Basore, Don Wheeler, Laurie Bingham, and many others for their kindness to the children, both this year and in the past.
Friday morning found me at the NFLCC business meeting. It is always good to get in the same room with so many like-minded people, and particularly it was gratifying to see that the meeting was fairly well attended.
Tomorrow: NFLCC Show Report Part 2
-- Dr. Todd