10 differences between carp shows in 1999 and 2019
No. 2 we don't pin clothing to the shell scheme in 2019...
1. The exhibitors
The change: There are probably more bait stands at shows these days than there were total exhibitors 20 years ago. In 1999, Drennan’s ESP offshoot had literally just launched, showing just how few traditional coarse brands had considered a dedicated carp range at the time.
2. The stands
The change: Carp fishing hasn’t always been the dominant force in angling. As its popularity has rocketed in the last two decades, so has the quality of the stands. No more trestle tables draped half-heartedly in tablecloths, these days it’s all gleaming metal structures, flat screen tellies and bespoke demo areas.
3. The talks
The change: To carpers of a certain age, even modern-day talks from star anglers will be known as ‘slideshows’, because, back in 1999, that’s literally what they were. The clunk-click of the projector would signal a new slide had been selected to appear on the screen and you just had to hope it had been focused up!
4. Deals and bundles
The change: Bulk deals and discounts have always existed at carp shows, but things are a lot slicker these days. The rise of the ‘super retailers’ has seen a much wider range of stock available at shows, and some of the prices on large items are unimaginably cheap compared with two decades ago.
5. Meeting the stars
The change: Thankfully, fishing has largely remained grounded and true to its roots, so the biggest names in the sport are willing to mingle with punters. But whereas in 1999 it was all about getting an autograph or a signed book, today it’s the era of the selfie.
6. Not just tackle
The change: Tackle and bait were the mainstays of exhibitors’ stands back in 1999, but now the choice is far greater. Dedicated carp-holiday companies have a big presence at modern events, as do organisations like the Angling Trust (which didn’t exist 20 years ago), plus firms offering services like tuition and insurance.
7. Demo areas
The change: As tackle technology and marketing techniques have evolved, the way we get to interact with new products has changed too. Casting demos, hands-on baitboat tests and large bivvy villages have all become staples of the carp show since the late 1990s.
8. The sights we’ve lost
The change: Naturally, a few stalwarts of the early show scene have fallen by the wayside. Sadly, you’ll no longer see Powerplus bivvies or Bitech Viper alarms at events, but there are plenty of new companies who use these gatherings as a way to introduce themselves to the scene.
9. Overseas variety
The change: Britain might be the spiritual home of modern carp fishing, but the sport has been absolutely flying in Europe since the turn of the millennium. Where once shows were exclusively for British companies, now you see exhibitors from France, Holland, South Africa
The change: If you’re under 20 it’s probably hard to imagine just how different social events were before the smoking ban of 2007. The tobacco industry has a long association with fishing (the Embassy Pairs was a huge match competition well into the 2000s), so if you went to a carp show in 1999 you probably came back reeking of smoke.