This past week I again attended the American Sportfishing Association ICAST show in Orlando, Fla., that honestly was a good one.
After 15 or so of these this one seemed to have a little of everything, and I believe the industry is turning the corner again on the innovation side.
Of course there were still tons of frogs, coolers and products that look similar, but the energy and cool new products for anglers seemed to be on an upturn. I remember many that this was not the case.
For years, I have been disappointed in the New Product Showcase where new products are judged for originality, creativity and innovation mainly because a good portion of them were none of the aforementioned. I again have hope after seeing several categories where the actual best of show won best of show.
New products should be exactly that, and seeing a new frog or a new worm is like watching a bug zapper to me — unless there is something truly new about it. We did see some of that this year, and the best part was most categories that won in the best of category, best of show, actually were. That is refreshing.
Seeing media get serious about each category and a new voting process led to a more accurate vote, in my opinion. In years past, reels were in glass cases and many products were blister packed, making touching and feeling them hard.
This year voters could handle the new products. Many manufacturers actually had their baits in booths at the show in action, but also this year many of the new products were sent to top line media prior to the show.
Most products exhibited will also be available sooner for purchase this year, which also is a great step. Some winners in years past never were sold openly, and to me that detracts from the overall representation to the consumer.
Frogs were again a hot topic and the Freddy Frog from Westin won the best hard lure. This large-jointed swimmer looks like a large bullfrog stroking on top of the water when pulled slowly. Another neat frog was the Stanford Lures Boom Boom Frog that has a Velcro strip on the back of the frog for better holding power.
LiveTarget won the best soft lure with its good-looking Hollow Body Crawfish. Like with most LiveTarget creations, it looks like the real thing and is anatomically correct.
In the rod and reel categories, Shimano, Lews and St. Croix took home honors — Shimano with its Curado DC, Lews with its Team Lews Black LFS combo and St. Croix with its new Legend Glass rod. All are great choices.
On the electronics side, Garmin won both best in category and overall best of show with its new forward-looking Panoptix LiveScope. This award was timely for both the show and Garmin as it was truly a very innovative piece of gear and worthy of the award.
On the boating accessory side, the Minn Kota Ultrex was the winner. Minn Kota has now incorporated a down imaging transducer and spotlock in the same trolling motor. This motor has huge advantages, both visually and for holding off shore.
Power Pro won the best in line category with its Superslick V2 Braid, and Rapala won best innovation in terminal tackle with the VMC Neko Skirt.
The innovation is improving and I am looking forward to seeing what 2019 will bring. Congrats to the winners and look for most of these products hitting the shelves very soon.
We still have room for improvement from both the show and media voting perspective, but this is light years ahead of where we were in years past. Kudos to the ASA and ICAST on a job well done.
Sam Leman EverBloom Trail
Saturday the Sam Leman EverBloom Tournament Trail will hold its next tournament on Evergreen Lake. Take-off will be at 5:30 a.m. with weigh-in at 2 p.m. Come out to the Sam Leman Pavilion for the weigh-in.
Remember to use trash receptacles and line recycle centers for line at our lakes. Trash cans are located in several locations both at Evergreen Lake and Lake Bloomington.
If you bring it with you, do your part and take it home or dispose of it properly when leaving. Let’s keep our parks looking great!