Impressions from the 35th Hunting and Fishing in Russia (2014) —
The international exhibition Hunting and Fishing in Russia is organized twice a year by Expodesign at the All-Russian Exhibition Centre in Moscow. The spring event attracts more visitors and exhibitors than the autumn one and is undoubtedly the biggest fishing fair in Russia. Far from being a trade-only show, it is open to the public and makes an ideal meeting place for manufacturers, trade, press, angling pros and consumers.
The 35th Hunting and Fishing was held in Moscow from February 26 to March 2, 2014. By attracting over 1,000 exhibitors and over 65,000 visitors it exceeded the organizers’ expectations. More important still, the rate of foreign attendance increased significantly. Many major foreign tackle companies are focusing now on the Russian market.
It’s been a long time coming but at last Daiwa is going to change its operations in Russia. Are the Japanese too lethargic or too arrogant to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Russian market? At any rate, the Russian sales will be managed from now on by Daiwa-Cormoran, а German subsidiary of Globeride Inc., and not by Daiwa’s Japanese headquarter. The Cormoran people were already present at the Moscow fair.
A big futuristic black and white booth adorned with Daiwa logos had to demonstrate Daiwa’s superiority over its competitors. Well, the bold design should be essential for the Daiwa strategies of the Globeride era. Its impact, to quote Daiwa-Cormoran’s website, should make the consumers “feel alive” and sense an “excitement spreading throughout the body”. Apparently, the plan in Moscow was to show Daiwa’s leading position in product design.
In the meantime, another giant is beginning to take the Russian market more seriously. Pure Fishing, a subsidiary of the Jarden Corporation, has now a new “dynamic” sales strategy and a special manager for Russia. The wind of change is blowing away the old structure with its very few distributors. Pure Fishing is looking for new partners on the market; it even proposes to create competition between them. For instance, famous Berkley lines are to be distributed by several Russian companies, not by a single one as previously. In addition, Pure Fishing intends to deal directly with Russian retail chains.
Far more interesting for the end consumer should be, however, the plan by Pure Fishing to introduce local products to suit the needs of Russian anglers. Among those products will most probably be some special rod ranges, as the requirements to the rods vary from country to country.
The moves of Daiwa and Pure Fishing prove that a flexible approach is required to make the most of the local opportunities. One wonders why it took so long to arrive at such a simple solution. Perhaps, it is the inherent sluggishness of a big corporation that hinders the giants to move more quickly than an average turtle. The big ones have many undeniable advantages over small fry but flexibility isn’t one of them.
An observant visitor of the Moscow fair couldn’t fail to notice that the local market for quality rods is becoming very tight. Why is it so difficult now to sell a good rod? It’s obvious. There are some modern OEMs in Korea and China capable of producing rods that are highly competitive in the medium-class segment. As opposed to fishing reels, fishing rods may be ordered without much thinking by a small company in small batches and then sold to a limited number of stores. But is it possible to get an outstanding rod this way? The answer is no. One needs talented and experienced designers, a lot of knowledge, a great deal of understanding of the manufacturing process and, last but not least, pro-staffers.
That is where the Rods Development Lab comes in. By concentrating on research and development, RDL is able to create perfect rods for its clients and can do it quickly. Six rod ranges designed by RDL for Nordic Stage and presented by Spinningline, the Nordic Stage distributor on the Russian market, had great success in Moscow.
“Visitors were extremely interested in the new Nordic Stage lineup as the craftsmanship and performance of these rods stands out amongst comparable products. And retailers are longing now for the first deliveries,” said Spinningline’s managing director Igor Zankin.
How can Nordic Stage manage to assert themselves against strong international competitors? Firstly, by supplying high quality, competitively priced rods specifically tailored to the needs of local anglers; secondly, by making these rods unbelievably strong and durable; thirdly, by offering a Lifetime Assurance provided by RDL.
The best materials and new technologies such as the revolutionary X-Torque provide for fast, crisp actions, unparalleled strength and amazing lightness. Each model can be loaded to the stated weight – a particularly strong point in view of big prey and hard conditions which are common to the Russian angling. You have to try very hard to succeed in breaking a Nordic. But even if it happens, you don’t have to worry. You may break your rod as often as you like and the broken part will be replaced by Nordic Stage distributors, first free, then at a reasonable cost.
At the Spinningline booth, visitors were watching videos showing crash tests of Nordic Stage rods; a special machine tested rod strength and flexibility. There was a crash test video for each model of the vast lineup. Why such an attention to those videos? Because they revealed a stunning toughness of all Nordics. The extreme curves tolerated by the rods were simply unbelievable. Another point: a rod test machine illustrates brilliantly the actual rod action and makes it much easier for the buyer to make the right choice.
The unique versatility of each model within its intended area of use turned out to be a strong point in favour of Nordic Stage. It seems that very few Russian anglers are prepared to carry around a complete armoury of rods while fishing. The majority prefer to keep things simple and to go armed with one or two rods, which can cope with a very wide weight range and with different sizes of fish.
New Nordic Stage rods were also highly praised for the clean, distinct design. They are all immediately identifiable with their “Scottish Tartan” patterns, above the handle, eye catching and looking out of the ordinary.
Particular interest was attracted by the Artist Series. Flagship of the whole lineup, the Artist features everything that RDL has to offer in the way of new materials and technologies. Incredibly light, slim but stiff, it was the main attraction on the Nordic Stage stand. Even Konstantin Kuzmin, one of the most famous personalities in the Russian fishing world, was visibly impressed.
The Artist range’s construction includes the use of extra low-resin carbon prepregs cross-wrapped at an angle of 45 degrees to the rod axis (X-Torque technology). This unique manufacturing process adds significant strength to the blank without adding unnecessary weight, and reduces blank twist thus improving the casting accuracy of the rod.
“A rod using X-Torque technology is slimmer and stiffer than standard rods, it is super accurate and has a very special action. Very few rod manufacturing plants have necessary skills and equipment to use this technology,” said RDL’s Chief Designer Kirill Guschin in an interview at the fair.
The Artists are excellent for most kinds of light fishing applications and work brilliantly with small hardbaits, trout spoons etc. Their blank design with a pearlescent coating is especially eye catching. The guides are Kigan’s 5Gs, extremely light and tangle free. All Artists feature an ultra compact cork split grip.
Another series of all-round light spinning rods is the Joker. A very sensitive, but not too soft tip is a perfect match to the powerful butt. And the Joker MJ is a special range for the miniature soft plastics enthusiasts.
Looks can be deceptive, and good examples of this are Nordic Stage Cheater rods, designed with modern twitching techniques in mind. They seem to be very stiff and very delicate but cope easily with light lures and big prey. The Cheaters are ideally suited to twitching hard baits within an extra-wide weight range. Their slim and stiff blank bends progressively under load with no sign of any lock-ups.
The remaining two series are very special indeed. The Invaders are tailored to soft bait fishing, Russian style. They feature a slim, strong blank for precise casts and total fish control, a spigot joint for additional strength and an extra-sensitive tip for improved visual bite indication.
Sensitivity is a strong point of yet another Nordic Stage series dedicated to soft baits. The Scouts feature reinforced butt and middle sections are especially suitable for fishing soft baits in flowing water.
All in all, RDL can look back with satisfaction on the Moscow fair. The hard work on Nordic Stage rods was well worth it. The rods were received with great acclaim.
One more brand had a major success in Moscow – Kigan, the guide manufacturer of choice for RDL. New Kigan 5G guides proved to be light, strong and reliable. No wonder that more and more rod manufacturers choose Kigan and turn their backs on a certain famous Japanese company which seems to rest on its laurels. It is perhaps not everyone’s idea of fun to buy overpriced guides and then to wait ages until the delivery comes. The recent Moscow fair showed once more how important it is to react quickly and flexibly to market demands – and how dangerous can it be to remain in an inflated self-esteem and a false confidence.
By Dmitry Y. Balichev, Moscow