Anyone into fishing (particularly with lures) in south east Queensland is sure to know about the annual Australian Lure, Fly and Outdoors Expo. It began five years ago when it was held in Fernvale but has grown every year and in 2017 was again held at the Ipswich showgrounds. Each year, people come from far and wide from South Australia to north Queensland and often stay for the weekend – soaking up a two day smorgasbord of all things fishing.
The 2017 Australian Lure and Fly Expo went off with a bang! The Chilton Tackle Co. team arrived at 8am on Saturday to set up and there was already a queue of people waiting to get in – the show opened at 9am! Not only was the expo full of great Australian lure makers but also other companies selling all things fishing – gear, boats, fish art, lure making components and general tackle items.
Now, I have been to the show every year since its inception five years ago, but nothing beats the experience I had this year exhibiting, selling my wares and learning from the greats – and I certainly learnt a whole lot along the way. So, what did I learn? Here are five key takeaways for me….
1. Things always take three times longer than you expect. I have been making lures on and off for about 7 years now. It’s always just been a hobby, though I’ve been selling a few things here and there and my lures have been accounting for some decent fish. I decided to do the expo in about May …. And I knew I had to have a decent range of lures for people to buy and to show what Chilton Tackle Co. is about. This meant a level of production way beyond anything I’d done previously. Making things in bulk may sound easier, and I’m sure with practice it will be, however, it certainly takes longer than you’d think to begin with. Combine this with the fact I still work full time and things really stepped up a notch.
All of my lures are individually handmade from a range of timbers including silky oak, white beech and jelutong. I individually design, cut (bodies and bibs), carve, weight, glue eyelets, seal, foil, glue eyes, paint and clear coat all of my lures.
In the final days leading up to the expo, I am extremely thankful to my wife, dad and brother who put in the hard yards and learnt a thing or two about making lures! Even so, in the nights leading up to the expo I was averaging just a few hours sleep!
2. Australian lure makers are a great group of people. There are so many great Australian lure makers out there and most of them are more than happy to share their knowledge. I was lucky enough to meet some of the people I have been following and admiring for years. It was a genuine pleasure chatting with these guys and it was awesome to hear they had just as many questions about my work as I did about theirs. The skills and techniques these guys use to create such high quality lures take years and a lot of hard work to perfect. The fact they are so willing to share what they know with others is awesome.
3. The show didn’t stop on Sunday afternoon! Since the show I have had just as many people contact me via phone, email and social media as I did at the show. I had been very haphazard with my social media prior to the event. Since the show my following on Facebook has nearly doubled and I have a bunch of orders to get through having sold out of most of what I managed to get done for the show. Keeping everyone up to date with what’s happening at Chilton Tackle Co. is another aspect I’ve discovered I need to work on since the show.
4. Big Lures are ….well, big! I certainly wasn’t surprised but I was definitely excited by the fact that there was a definite interest in the bigger lures at my stand. With the awesome Murray Cod and Barramundi fisheries we have at our disposal here in Australia, it’s really little wonder. I have a variety of sizes in my swimbait range and leading up to the show I was curious about the general reception the bigger models would receive. Wow! The feedback was amazing. It seems that people are really getting in to the bigger swimbaits and surface lures. I even had guys saying they could use something bigger! This is an exciting area of fishing and one that requires very specific gear and techniques. The show gave me the sense that we are only seeing the beginning of this trend in big lures and I feel it’s an area that is only going to grow in the coming years. Chilton Tackle Co. is stoked to be a part of it.
5. Never doubt yourself. Well at least back yourself a bit! Being my first time as an exhibitor I wasn’t really sure what to expect of the expo, and to be honest I was fair shitting myself leading into it. I hadn’t even considered the ‘lure of the year’ competitions. My wife encouraged me to enter into a couple of the categories and I was stoked to win ‘swimbait of the year’ with the ‘Neville’ – a four piece jointed swimbait.
I have been absolutely overwhelmed with the feedback on this lure and the rest of my collection. Without blowing smoke up my own arse, I want to say thanks to everyone for the comments and I am honoured to be listed alongside the great winners the other categories:
- Best bibbed diving lure – Solo Lures
- Best top water/surface lure – Barambah Lures
- Best blue water lure – Lively Lures
- Best bladed/metal lure – Thugs Lures
- Best presented stand – Thugs Lures
- Best ornamental piece – Thugs Lures
- Fly tie off competition – Shaun Ash
- Best presented display – Paul Topp
- Hall of Fame Inductee – Paul Kneller from Kneller Lures
Following the win I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Steve Morgan – Australian Fishing great, John Costello from My Lure Box (best lure review site in Aus – get onto it if you aren’t already), Jono Clark from Fish & Boat Magazine and Anglers360.com.
In a nutshell, looking back almost one month on, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had and I won’t hesitate to do it again next year (with a little more preparation time!).
So, if you have nothing to do in July next year – or even if you do, cancel all of your plans and come to the 2018 Australian Lure, Fly and Outdoors Expo.
Oh and the line outside in the morning – rumour has it they were after Thugs Lures killer clowns – which sold out in five minutes – well done guys. Hopefully one day soon I will have the same level of fannage 🙂