ICAST celebrates 50th year

Check out the ICAST50 Photo Galleries

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Fifty years ago, the average new car price was $2,200, gasoline cost 30 cents a gallon, Dwight Eisenhower served as President of the United States and Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army.

That same year, 1958, the Associated Fishing Tackle Manufacturers held the first Fishing Tackle Trade Show at the Hotel Sherman in downtown Chicago. There were 136 companies exhibiting products at that show. Twenty-two of them are back for the 50th annual industry trade show, which now goes by the acronym ICAST — International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades. ICAST50 begins Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Just like the cost of a new car and the price of gas, the numbers associated with ICAST have grown exponentially. This is the largest sportfishing trade show in the world. The 2007 cast at ICAST includes more than 400 exhibitors congregated in 350,000 square feet of floor space.

The ESPNoutdoors.com will provide full coverage each day from ICAST50, which concludes Friday.

New products are always the main focus at ICAST. What angler doesn't want the latest and greatest gear for the sport? But with this half-century celebration comes a time to honor industry pioneers and veterans who have worked long and hard to help the sport grow.

Highlighting that will be a special exhibition of legendary trendsetting gear displayed by some of those 22 companies that were part of the inaugural trade show in 1958. The first plastic worms, graphite rods, molded lures and kids fishing combos made their debuts at this show.

Jeff Powell is the president of Ed Cumings Inc., one of the original exhibiting companies.

"My earliest memory of the show was at McCormick Place in Chicago, back in the mid-70s," Powell said. "Someone had brought a prototype graphite rod, which was going for about $2,000 or some ridiculous amount, and we were all afraid to touch it for fear we might break it. We were all treating it like it was made of gold."

Undoubtedly there will be some new product, or two, or three, that will grab the spotlight this year. But in the spirit of the 50-year anniversary, ESPNoutdoors.com will provide you with some things old as well as some things new during this week of ICAST.