February 16, 2015 Last Updated 6:45 pm

* Show Time!

Winter can be a trying time for anglers who cannot get out fishing. An angling show makes an ideal diversion...

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Show Time!

Winter brings many challenges for the angler. On a cold winters day it is easy to sit back and long for summer evenings fishing in your tee shirt! Many boat anglers hang up their gar for the winter time and wait for nicer conditions. Some, like myself, take whatever opportunity of fishing that arises and in between make do with the closest things to fishing: Sorting tackle, writing about fishing, talking about fishing, sorting equipment and of course meeting up with fellow anglers to talk about fishing a bit more! One of the most pleasant  things you can do as an angler is to head to an angling show. Looking at the most modern offerings from tackle companies and generally taking in the atmosphere of these shows is always enjoyable.

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I remember visiting the Irish Angling Show back in the early 2000’s. I visited once because it coincided with the Specimen Fish Awards. I entered took a quick look around and left fairly quickly it was no akin to a car boot sale than an angling show. It held little interest for me. Move on a few years and enter Mara Media on the scene.  Mara are an events company. Apart from publishing a few publications they also run a few different shows around Ireland and the UK. They do a Cycling show and they run the Skipper commercial fishing show. From the outset Mara asked anglers what they wanted from a show. I like the “European model” and the more the Irish show can emulate this the better.

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We’ll come back to the Irish show later but it is important to talk about the yardstick by which the show will be judged. It was back a few years ago when the lust of “modern lure angling” was beginning that I decided to take the trip to France and see what all the fuss was about the Sea Angling Show in Nantes. I organised the flights and accommodation and duly headed to France towards the end of February.

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The Nantes show or “Salon Europeen de Peche” is a show that every angler show attempt to get to just once! Despite the obvious language barrier it is an example of how a “real” tackle show should be run.  The event is largely populated by manufacturers stands and then a range of retail shops. So when you visit a stand they are not trying to “make a sale” but will spend all day showing you their wares. Then if you should want to buy some gear them there are plenty of retail shops around to sell you what you want and believe me you will want!

We could not get over the vast array of equipment on display. The calibre of the manufacturers stands was incredible. Most of the large tackle houses had  a display tank. There was a constant display of lures and lure fishing in these tanks. The event has a “lure pool” as well, basically a small swimming pool, where manufacturers have displays going on all the time and there is a good chance you will get to have a chuck yourself!

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There is a bait fishing element to the show but it is clear that the main driver in French angling is lure fishing. You will see displays of soft lures that will make your eyes water. You will see every major lure manufacturer represented. Hard lures are as popular as ever and abound. Boats and equipment feature as well. Seriously if you can only get to this show once it is worth the while. There is plenty to keep the angler occupied and that is saying something given that there is little point in going to the lecture theatre because you cannot understand the lingo! There is a constant stream of interviews and lectures to get involved with. Try go to the Nantes show even just once if you can.

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I remember being asked by Mara Media what should their show look like? I told them they must try to recreate as close as possible the show that I have witnessed in Nantes. Obviously this would be a tall order in a country as small as Ireland with its limited market for things angling. Still, Mara media took heed and set about trying to lure (Sorry!) the major manufacturers. Incredibly this is what they have managed to do! They also put together a collection of speakers that make the Irish Angling Expo more a tackle show in the real sense rather than a car boot sale of tackle retailers. Of course it is always difficult to satisfy everybody  the majority of anglers I meet at the show make the most of the trip.

Making the most of the day is really about taking your time checking out the manufacturers stands. There is plenty to see. You can get a feel off of rods that are not even available in the shops. You may want to get a feel for rods that shops are reluctant to stock due to the price. The chances are the manufacturers will have representatives on the stand that will only be too happy to go through the technicalities of their gear. If you perchance want to purchase some gear the tackle shops in attendance might be able to oblige.

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In amongst the tackle shops you will surely find some of the organisations and government bodies. I notice much criticism on line of bodies like DCAL and IFI they both usually have stands at the show so stop by and make your feelings known. In a similar vein stop by the Angling Council and some of the other angling bodies you have an opinion it would be a great time to make your thoughts known. You might find yourself signing up!

As a sea angler I usually stop by the RNLI stand just to have a chinwag about any new developments. I like to touch base with the charter skippers from around the country that have stands at the show. It is always a good time to have a natter about your plans for the year. You may find yourself booking  a shark fishing or tuna chase. You might find yourself getting hooked on West Cork and Dromgowlane House with Paul Harris.

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Of course I would say the most important part of the show  would be the talks! I would say that as I speak at the show but I do think that some of the speakers are highly knowledgeable and many give decent presentations. Choose the anglers you would like to see and make sure to check out the timetable of events. There a good chance that you will meet the speakers wandering around the show. Make sure that you make yourself known and have a chat.

For the fluff chuckers there is always plenty of tiers around and plenty product to buy. The casting demonstrations are usually superb. You could easily get an hour’s tuition with some superb casters. All you have to do is ask! The array of manufacturers and retailers that specialise in the fly fishing area is worth checking out. I really am not up to speed on the coarse fishing scene to know much about the show other than there being lots of rods that do not suit me!

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If you don’t manage to get to Nantes then the next big thing on the Irish calendar is the Swords show. Even for readers across the water it is a weekend that is worth a visit for the craic alone. Between the exhibitors, the Angling guests, the Specimen fish awards and the punters there tends to be plenty to do in between the show too. See you in Dublin on the 21 & 22 of Feburary.



The Ireland Angling Expo is an annual event based in the National Exhibition Centre in Swords Co. Dublin.

The show runs on Saturday and Sunday from 10 until 5

All angling disciplines are catered for as well as all techniques.

There is a mix of manufacturers, retailers, tourism, organisational and educational stands.

Apart from the show stands there are also lectures and presentations as well as casting demos and tuition.

The Specimen Fish Awards take place in Bewley’s Hotel on Saturday 22.

 timetable 2015


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