The Sportfishing Industry is alive and well and this year’s ICAST show was a testament to that stability and growth. New companies as well as old, legacy companies showed up in mass and as an old timer to ICAST, it was great to see the growth. The ASA should be commended and the future looks bright.
About every year when I return I get asked, “Did you see anything that knocked your socks off?” Typically my answer is no, but this year there were a few things that honestly showed creativity, innovation and were not knock offs from years prior. New products are the lifeblood of the fishing industry and drive the future of stores and anglers' arsenals.
Reels: There were a lot of great reels introduced this year, including the Shimano reworked Curado, the Abu Garcia Gen 4 lineup, the Lew’s Mach Crush SLP, which won best of show in the combo category, and my favorite, the 13 Fishing Concept Z.
All are exceptional, but the Concept Z went the extra mile with the elimination of ball bearings in the reel. The Concept Z bearing is space age polymer that makes for smooth casting, but also prevents corrosion. It comes in right- and left-handed models and 6.6 to 8.1 gear ratios. It retails for $199.99.
Rods: There were more new rods than you could shake a stick at, pardon the pun. I was totally impressed with the ARK lineup, including the Sniper and Invoker, the Denali AttaX and Lithium Series, and the St. Croix Legend X. However, Daiwa is my choice with their new pro-designed Elite AGS Series of rods. Everything on them is cutting edge.
Special mention goes to Megabass with the new lineup of Destroyer and Levante Series. They had other obligations and did not attend this year’s show, but introduced these rods just in front of ICAST.
Accessories: This was an easy one for me. The new Power Pole Charge and Vision boat accessory and management tablet allows boaters to utilize the tablet through a CM switch for more control of pumps, jackplate, bilge, livewell and lights for more efficiency. Six ports in all and is NMEA compatible, so your engine data can show up, too. It’s a slick device.
I also love the products from Yolotek. They build powering devices that attach to your boat’s bow and stern lights to power cell phones, GoPro cameras, and other gear that make “on the water” experiences more enjoyable and give the boater the capability to record that experience.
Lures: Like a kid in a candy store with a limited budget and big eyes, picking a few of the best baits at this show is tougher than pushing an elephant through a keyhole.
Glidebaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits, frogs and “deeper” if that is possible, diving crankbaits, seemed to be main fare at this ICAST. Noteworthy additions were the Teckel Sprinker Frog, a hollow bodied hybrid frog and buzzbait combo designed by Hideki Maeda that was being purchased in droves even before they were available, and the Rapala Brat, a shallow diving crankbait.
Booyah came out with a foam injected diver they say is virtually indestructible and the Streak IV is rated to dive to 25 feet based on line size. New technology wins with me and this bait can be a game changer for how diving baits will be built moving forward. Booyah also introduced a shallow diving squarebill that should be a hit around Central Illinois.
Clothing: Rainsuits from SIMMS, STORMR and foul weather gear from Mustang Survival got my nod this year. Staying dry and comfortable takes center stage when the weather gets rough and I will spend a bit more money to get the best. Frogg Toggs’ new Pryme1 Series jacket and bibs will be a big-time hit too. It may be the best camo pattern I have seen to date.
Costa Del Mar just introduced a new pair of high end glasses called Sunrise that avid outdoors folks will love.
It’s tough to narrow the ICAST show down, but if you purchase any of the above mentioned companies’ products you can rest easy they will be a good investment. Most of these products will be generally available starting this fall through the beginning of 2018. Happy shopping.
Mike Blake and Terry Brown won the Sam Leman EverBloom Tournament at Lake Bloomington with five fish weighing 14.06 pounds. Tied for second were Randy and Rob Hakes and Wes Gehrt and Ryan Robinson with 13.57 pounds each. Mike and Greg Therian had big bass of 5.81 pounds.