Mike Stevens – KNEE DEEP

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Friday, January 25, 2019
Tough Love: trout edition
Friday, April 26, 2019
Sierra bullets: Opener and beyond

The cookie-cutter Fred Hall Show excuse
It was tired in the ’90s, and it’s tired now.

Somewhere along the line, the rules for not attending the Fred Hall Show became the exact opposite of the rules of Fight Club.

For those of you who have not seen Fight Club, there are three rules, and rules one and three are the same: you do not talk about Fight Club.


When it comes to not attending Fred Hall, it seems like many non-attendees feel the need to go out of their way to tell anyone who will listen why they don’t go, and even cast shade on those who do.

Not sure what that accomplishes.

You know how you know when I don’t care about something? I DON’T TALK ABOUT IT. Somehow, it’s possible for me to not attend a dog show without telling everyone why I don’t attend dog shows.

The primary go-to when Show Season arrives is as classic as it is tired: “there are no deals at Fred Hall.”

While there are many angles of attack for taking on that one, I’ll focus on a couple.

For one, it’s simply inaccurate. Anyone taking the time to thumb through our Fred Hall Preview before the show arrives, and later, the Show program can get a good overview of the event, see some of what’s out there, and formulate a basic game plan based on potential “deals” and otherwise.

If there are “no deals,” who were all those people I saw LEAVING the Show when I arrived an hour after doors opened on Day 1 with their arms wrapped around 10 rod blanks or a quiver of combos? Highly likely they had a hit list based on some rudimentary research, checked their boxes, are stashing the haul in their trucks and heading back in for the “freelance” portion of their day. And that’s to say nothing about the forest of flagged rods we in the hands of smiling attendees we see when walking the Show ourselves or manning the WON booth.

And that’s just using rods as an example.

ONE OF THE SHOW’s longest-running “deals.”

I would say I had reached the ripe old age of 17 when I realized I could cover parking and admission to multiple Shows in what I saved in buying line to cover all my fishing for the next year. Think that’s how it WAS back in the good ‘ol days (I’m about to turn 42) and that’s no longer the case? It’s only been magnified several times over here in the fluorocarbon and braid age. I was only buying mono back then, and I have a list of friends I sold the value of the Shows on via that factor alone. In fact, the first thing one of them said to me after his first lap through the Main Hall in Long Beach was, “have you seen the deals on braid and fluoro?”

If you think you should be able to saunter into the Fred Hall Show and get 50 percent off a reel that was unveiled six months ago, that’s just not how anything works. Play your cards right and you may be able to score something extra with the purchase of such an item, but the Fred Hall Show is not a yard sale.

I could go blue in the fingers hammering away at endless specific examples of Fred Hall deals, but I’m not yet given the Pat McDonnell-allotment of column inches. More importantly, it would take away from the treasure-hunt nature of the Show: work the aisles methodically. Leave no stone unturned.

I saw a social media post just prior to a Long Beach Show in which the poster said something along the lines of “Everyone’s fired up about Fred Hall. I’m not going because there are no deals there, and it’s just become a social event.”

Aside from the hilarious irony in the fact that this was a social media post griping about the Show being a social event, I thought about it, and it absolutely is a social event. A GREAT ONE.

Let’s see here, it’s a huge gathering of like-minded folks where local to international exhibitors are cuttin’ it up with outdoorsmen (and women) of all levels in the heart of one of the most important states in the nation when it comes to the sports represented there. This all going down, year after year, at the same point on the calendar, which allows it to stand as the unofficial kick off of all things fishing in the western fishing.

I can think of some other social events in this vein: the ride from the bait receiver to the fishing grounds, the night before the Eastern Sierra trout opener and any time you find yourself in a tackle shop with an elbow on the reel case. Then there’s the straight-shot home after a multi-dayer, every night at deer camp, on the deck of the resort in Baja with sunburns and sore arms and that backyard fish fry you throw because you’d rather your neighbors all eat fish that was swimming yesterday than freeze any.

Social events.

Some of the best things taken from the Fred Hall Shows don’t go home in a yellow plastic bag. Regardless of your outdoor interest, there is someone there that will give you a better understanding of it, make you better at it, cut-down the learning curve associated with it, or get you to try it for the first time. If you think there are no new tricks an old salty-dog like you can learn, you’re kidding yourself.

But by all means, continue skipping it because you can’t get a brand new reel below cost and the beer’s expensive.


THESE GUYS DEFINITELY get the value of the Fred Hall Show as a “social event.”

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