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July 17, 2015

Fishing Accessories Galore at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

From tackle boxes to high performance rain suits, tackle manufacturers have pulled out all the stops with an incredible range of new products unveiled this week at the ICAST fishing tackle trade show, held in Orlando, Florida.

Plano exhibited a number of new tackle boxes, including a Women's Series of soft-sided tackle bags and a new M Series that includes a Hydro-Flow hanging bait bag that will appeal to muskie anglers and professional guides

The Women's Series of soft bags consists of three new totes offering all-new functional designs in a stylish teal finish with light pink trim.

Plano Women's Series Soft-Sided Tackle Bag and Tote

"Plano has always made high-quality products," says Plano Prostaffer Marianne Huskey, the first and only female to win an Angler of the Year title in professional fishing. "The new Woman's Series of soft bags are not only attractive to the female eye, but are well thought out in design and functionality."

The attractive Woman's Series Tote holds up to four 3600 StowAway utility boxes in its divided main compartment. The design allows two of the Stowaways to be pulled to make space for a light jacket or other fundamentals. Two oversized end pockets are perfect for storing water bottles, sunscreen or other large items, while two huge slip pockets provide additional utility. Inside, a zippered interior cell phone pocket sits near the top main opening for easy access. Two nylon straps fit comfortably in the hand for straightforward lift and carry.

The Carrier bag also accommodates four 3600 StowAway boxes in its main compartment, and has a double zippered opening at the top for wide open access. In a more traditional styling, the Woman's Series Tackle Bag offers four zippered and three mesh pockets that provide ample storage for essential fishing tools, sunglasses, pocketbooks and more.

Plano M-Series Hydro-Flo Tackle Bag

Professional guides and muskie anglers – male or female – will enjoy Plano's new M-Series Hydro-Flo tackle bag, which stores up to 25 oversized lures in vertical hanging bait compartments, with room for a 3700-series StowAway on top. Its flow-through design and reinforced base with drainage allow lures to be put away wet without fear of corrosion. Plus-sized perimeter pockets that zip closed secure tools like fish gloves, pliers and hook removers.

Yeti Coolers attracted a large crowd at the show when the company unveiled its first new Tundra cooler in more than three years, the Tundra 210.

Yeti Tundra 210 Cooler

With over 12,000 cubic inches of capacity, the new Tundra 210 is one of the company's largest coolers, yet has a smaller, cubed footprint designed to better fit a boat deck. Constructed from roto-molded polyethylene, the Tundra 210 is virtually indestructible, while its FatWal Design and extra thick PermaFrost insulation combine to provide maximum ice retention. Yeti's NeverFail hinge system and durable rubber T-Rex lid latches combine for secure, reliable storage while the Vortex drain system provides easy and complete draining with the twist of the plug. Like all Tundra coolers, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee certifies the Tundra 210 to be bear-resistant when secured with a proper lock.

The Tundra 210 is also dry ice compatible, giving users access to three times the cooling power of regular ice and more interior room for cooler contents.

Bubba Blade exhibited a full line of fishing-specific knives, including two new models for 2016. A new nine-inch fillet knife with a flexible serrated blade allows anglers to easily slice through fresh fish without tearing any meat. An offset, six-inch handle design with a trigger grip and non-slip thumb and finger pads allows anglers to utilize the entire blade, while providing greater comfort.

Bubba Blade Fillet Knives

Also new for this year is the four-inch Shorty, which also features an offset, titanium coated stainless steel blade. Versatile enough to perform double duty in the kitchen, the Shorty makes a great bait knife with its micro-serrated blade.

One of the most dramatic displays at ICAST belonged to Wiley X eyewear. Showing its roots as a supplier of precision eyewear to military and tactical support teams, the company featured a high mass impact test device in its booth to demonstrate the toughness of its ANSI-rated sunglass lenses and frames. The demonstrations clearly resonated with anglers in attendance, who all know the potential for being hit by the bait when a fish shakes off close to the boat. "We also test them by shooting them with steel ball bearings," said Ryan Wilkerson, director of brand management for Wiley X. "But that's just not practical to do in a show booth."

Wiley X Sunglasses

New for 2016 are the Wiley X, WX Legend, WX Tide and WX Peak styles, each available with a wise range of 16 different lens options, from a blue mirror polarized style popular with open water anglers, to a new gold mirror type. "We can also do prescription lenses," says Wilkerson. "The customer sends us their prescription and their choice of lens and frame style, and we ship it right out."

July 17, 2015

Next Generation Rods and Reels Unspooled at ICAST 2015

by Craig Ritchie

One expects to see new technologies introduced at the world's largest fishing tackle trade show, and manufacturers did not disappoint with numerous new rod and reel introductions at ICAST, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando from July 15 to 17, 2015.

Leading the way from Abu Garcia are the company's new Revo MGX spinning reels. A new AMGearing system uses finely tuned machined gears cut to exacting tolerances in order to deliver better performance and longer life. The new reels also feature Abu's X-MAG gearbox, providing a super-light weight yet extremely strong gear housing that's better able to withstand the strain of long fights with strong-running fish. Like all Revo reels, the MGX series feature the company's Rocket Line Management System, and a Carbon Matrix system for smooth, consistent drag pressure throughout the entire operating range.

Abu Garcia Revo MGX

For anglers who regularly target large, rambunctious species like muskie, pike, stripers and salmon, Abu Garcia also introduced a new Revo Toro Beast heavy-duty baitcasting reel. With its active-response Power Stack Carbon Matrix drag system, the new Revo Toro Beast allows anglers to make immediate drag adjustments in mid-fight, even with the line taut. This is unique, since anglers have historically had to ease tension on the line in order to make any adjustments, sometimes losing the fish in the process. Maximum drag setting is a whopping 25 pounds. The Revo Toro Beast uses a lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum spool for high strength and longer casts, and Abu's Duragear heavy-duty gear system for increased fighting power and extended gear life. The reel even comes with a choice of handles – and extended bent grip for increased cranking power, a power handle and a casting power handle, each with large EVA knobs for all-day comfort. The Revo Toro Beast is available in eight models, including two with high speed retrieves.

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast

Shimano also pulled the wraps of a number of new products at the 2015 ICAST, including an all-new Stradic FK reel series. The new ST-1000HG, ST-25000HG and ST-C3000HG models each come with 6.0:1 gear ratios, while the larger ST-4000XG and ST-C5000XG models feature 6.2:1 gearing. All five reels feature six shielded AR-B bearings, Shimano's one-way bearing power roller and a cold-forged aluminum spool.

Shimano Stradic FK 2500HG

In its baitcasting lineup, Shimano revealed all new 300 and 400 models in its top-of-the-line Calcutta Conquest series. Increased spool capacity makes the new reels ideal for casting big swimbaits for bass, big bucktails and jerkbaits in musky waters, and for inshore saltwater use for anglers targeting bluefish, stripers and tarpon. The Calcutta Conquest 300 (right-hand) and 301 (left-hand) weigh in at 11.5-ounces and accommodate 160 yards of 20-pound test monofilament. Weighing 11.7-ounces, the Calcutta Conquest 400 and 401 can handle 235-yards of 20-pound test monofilament respectively. All four reels have 5.6:1 gear ratios and will retrieve in 30-inches of line per crank.

Shimano Calcutta Conquest

Premium rod builder G. Loomis came to ICAST with its all-new E6X rod series of 30 casting and spinning rods, offered in both technique specific models with exacting actions, and ‘Classic' models with more forgiving actions for use with a variety of lures. The series also includes a pair of two-piece rods for anglers looking for travel convenience. Technique-specific casting rods in the E6X line feature split grip handles with cork grips, along with Fuji reels seats and guides. Classic multi-purpose E6X models include six ‘Mag Bass' and flipping action casting rods, and six spin jig spinning rods – all with fast tapers and powerful butt-sections, full cork grips, Fuji guides and Fuji exposed blank trigger reels seats.

G. Loomis E6X

Okuma presented a number of new products as part of its 2016 lineup, including an all-new spinning reel series named Inspira. Available in thee sizes (20, 30 or 40 series) and with the choice of black/blue or white/black finishes, the Inspira line features an all-new cyclonic flow rotor that is said to create a rotation of air around the rotor, beneath and around the spool, in order to drive moisture away from structural elements to minimize corrosion and extend longevity. An all-new
Centrifugal Disc Bail design incorporating a stout brass disc for improved balance and smoother, more precise bail operation with a minimum of moving parts.

Okuma Inspira

The Okuma rod lineup also featured a number of new models for 2016, including a full range of SST salmon and steelhead rods with carbon grips. The lineup includes 26 technique-specific salmon and steelhead actions, four models of pink Ladies Edition SST rods and three 4-piece multi-species travel rods – that's a total of 34 new models in all. Carbon grip rods are crafted from tubular woven 3k carbon fiber, which is said to be more durable than traditional cork grips. It's also much easier to keep clean, stands up to use in rod holders without chipping, and provides a better grip in wet hands.

Okuma SST with carbon handle grip

Daiwa showed a wide range of new tackle for 2016. The company's new Fuego spinning reels utilize a "Hardbodyz" design said to add strength and durability. Available in four sizes (2000, 2500, 3000 and 4000) the Fuego features an innovative Air Rotor that cuts weight, and Daiwa's Digigear digital gear design and nine-bearing system for smooth and effortless rotation. Additional features include an Air Bail, ABS aluminum spool and machine cut aluminum handle with EVA knob.

Daiwa Fuego 2500

Also new for 2016, Daiwa's top-of-the-line Steez baitcasting reels now are available with SV spools. Made of G1 Duralumin, the SV spool is lighter is lighter yet stronger than traditional aluminum for easier start-up on the cast and greater longevity. Zaion side covers and a swept handle with cutouts further reduce weight. The Steez SV comes with an Air Brake system to allow long casts with lightweight lures, 8.1:1 Xltra hyper speed retrieve and 12-bearing construction. Daiwa's Ultimate Tournament Carbon drag with 13.2 pounds of pressure should stop big fish in their tracks.

Daiwa Steez SV

Available in both right and left hand models, the new TeamKVD line of rods and reels from Quantum tie bass fishing's all time money winner to a rich looking series of rods and reels that start at $79 for the reel, or $99 for a combo.

Quantum Team KVD rod and reel

Each TeamKVD reel features eight bearings, and a lightweight aluminum spool. The 7.3:1 gear ratio model sucks up 31 inches of line with every turn of the handle, while the 6.6:1 model picks up 28 inches per turn. Both feature an external magnetic cast control that helps anglers dial-in to match lure weights and wind conditions, plus a carbon fiber/stainless drag system. The matching TeamKVD graphite composite rods feature split grip EVA handles.

July 17, 2015

Cutting-Edge Electronics Revealed at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

Among the hundreds of new products introduced at the 2015 ICAST show, held in Orlando from July 15 to 17 inclusive, few can match the buzz generated by the latest offerings from manufacturers of high-tech electronics.

Navico generated a huge amount of buzz at the show with the introduction of the new StructureScan 3D sonar modules for its Lowrance and Simrad lines. The remarkable new technology – based on a new module and transducer – allows anglers to easily spot fish, underwater structure and bottom contours in an entirely new way, viewing the bottom down to 300 feet and with side-scanning capability to 600 feet on either side of the boat. The image is rendered on a stunning 3D touch-screen display that allows the angler to move the view in any direction with the swipe of a finger. The three dimensional views provide an unprecedented view of bottom structure, cover such as trees or vegetation growing on that structure, and fish holding in it.

Navico Lowrance HDS-9

Among the numerous new technologies included in the system are a new SelectScan capability that automatically shades fish-holding cover, providing an almost photographic rendering of the bottom contours in full 3D. Further, a new Leading Edge feature provides a clear graphical illustration of the actual sonar beams as they intersect with the bottom contours – a brilliant bit of engineering that gives the angler a better sense of target depth. Vertical Depth Enhancement provides greater emphasis to vertical drops and depth contour changes, while 3D Waypoint Overlay makes it easy to revisit favorite fishing areas.

"At the product unveiling we had three BASSMaster Champions in the booth at once, and each of them were talking about how they could have used these new capabilities last season," says Lucas Steward, product manager at Navico. "In our own product testing we were astounded not only at the degree of detail you can see, but at how easy the technology is to use."

Humminbird also used the show to display a range of new products, including its Helix 7SI, which won a Best of Show award in the electronics category. Judges were impressed with its Side Imaging, Down Imaging and SwitchFire sonar capabilities, displayed on what the company describes as the brightest seven-inch widescreen in the industry, as well as its ability to accommodate a range of media in its card slot, including Humminbird LakeMaster, AutoChart and AutoChart Pro, as well as Navionics Gold/HotMaps.

Humminbird Helix 7SI

With the growing popularity of using portable devices like iPads to display fishing information, several fishing apps were also unveiled at ICAST, including an exciting update to the popular ‘Boating' app by Navionics. An all-new autorouting feature enables dock-to-dock route planning along US coastal marine, Great Lakes, and major rivers areas. Just tap the start and end waypoints on the onscreen map, and autorouting provides viable routes, taking into consideration navaids, water depth and more. Once underway, the app also displays speed, ETA, distance-to-arrival and total distance. It is also possible to search marinas and waterfront restaurants.

Navionics' 'Boating' app

Currently available with the Navionics Boating version 8.0 for iPhone and iPad, the company says an Android edition will be available shortly.

Making its debut at this year's show, GoFree introduced an all-new fishing app called GoFree Hooked. Available for iOS, GoFree Hooked offers the capability of recording and sharing every fishing trip – whether from a boat or the shore – complete with the time, location and navigation track of each outing. The app features fast and simple "Catch" functionality to quickly save fish details like photos, size, weight, species and other information. The app merges navigational data with user data for a complete picture of every catch. All data is stored on the secure GoFree cloud server for easy access anywhere.

GoFree's 'Hooked' app

The GoFree Hooked app also delivers a powerful "Compete" feature so anglers can create their own personal tournaments among friends. Data is recorded in real time, allowing anglers to view a live leader board and share each other's data. Compatible with Apple iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and 6+ devices, the app is in a Beta test stage (interested anglers can sign up at and is expected to be available from the Apple Store shortly.

July 16, 2015

Hundreds of New Baits Unveiled at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

Anglers will face tough choices when shopping for new lures next spring as manufacturers unveil a wide range of new hard and soft baits this week at ICAST, the world's largest fishing tackle trade show. More than 11,000 people representing manufacturers, buyers, dealers and reps from around the globe are on hand in Orlando to see what's new for 2016, including hundreds of new lures from manufacturers around the globe.

Berkley has unveiled a complete line of new hard baits, in cooperation with top bass pro David Fritts. The all-new Berkley Hardbait series consists of 11 different models, each rigged with Berkley Fusion19 treble hooks and featuring custom designs and colors. Models include the Bad Shad 5 and Bad Shad 7 crankbaits that rise slightly at every pause; the Cutter 90+, Cutter 110+ and Skinny Cutter 110+ suspending jerkbaits; the Digger 6.5 and Digger 8.5 crankbaits designed for covering water with an aggressive wobble and side flash; the square-billed Pitbull 5.5, designed to bounce off of wooded cover; the lipless Warpig 1/2 and 1/4; and the deep-running Wild Thang 8.5.

Berkley's Hardbait Cutter

Berkley's PowerBait Shaky Snake

While the new hardbaits definitely raised eyebrows, Berkley has also made some significant new introductions to its PowerBait lineup for 2016, topped by the all-new Shaky Snake. Designed for finicky fish that just won't commit, this five-inch bait features a beefy head section that tapers into an egg sack. Corkscrew ribs add a lifelike, fluid motion that should coax even the spookiest bass. The ribs on the Shaky Snake are said to add more surface area, allowing more scent dispersion throughout the water column.

Thanks to its unique moving weight system, the Jaco 58MR from Jackall casts like a lure that's heavier than it actually is. The flat-sided crank will dive down to about six feet, making it a good choice for fishing over grass beds. Available in eight colors, it features an innovative internal scale pattern finish for enhanced underwater reflection.

Jackall's Jaco 58MR

Mann's Baits raised a few eyebrows with its all-new Crystal Classic spinnerbait. This lure features an actual glass crystal mounted in a clear, polycarbonate blade, which the company says generates unique vibration patterns in addition to distinctive flash in the water. The Crystal Classic comes with a Silaflash skirt, Eagle Claw Trokar hook, and the classic spinnerbait head to create a truly modern twist on one of the all-time classic lure designs.

Mann's Baits' Crystal Classic

Not to be outdone, Live Target came to the show with a number of new lures for both freshwater and saltwater applications.

The Hollow Body Sunfish comes in two sizes and 12 colors that match varied Pumpkinseed and Bluegill patterns. Perfect for use in heavy cover, its weedless design utilizes a custom Trokar double hook.

LiveTarget's Hollow Body Sunfish

With the round goby now a prolific baitfish in the Great Lakes region, Live Target has introduced two variations of this pre-rigged and weighted soft-plastic lure. Available in three sizes and eight colors, the Goby comes in both a Paddle Tail and Curly Tail versions.

LiveTarget's Round Goby

Also new is a Magnum Threadfin Shad crankbait in the BaitBall Series. Designed to represent a group of shad that have become separated from their school, the new bait comes in eight color patterns, some with metallic flash enhanced anatomy schemes

LiveTarget's Magnum Threadfin Shad

Snagproof enters the 2016 season with its new Wobbletron frog. The weedless, one-half ounce floating frog features new kicker feet that come straight out the back of the frog for great gurgling action during a slow, steady retrieve. The durable, soft, hollow plastic body stays weedless through the snaggiest weeds and feels natural to fish that hit it, allowing more time to set the hook. Specially weighted to land right-side-up at the end of the cast, the Wobbletron comes in five colors.

Snagproof's Wobbletron Frog

The new Impulse Live Rigged Paddle Minnow from Northland Fishing Tackle was designed for walleye, but should also prove a hit with smallmouth bass anglers. The lifelike baitfish-imitating bodies are precisely matched to ultra-realistic, stand-up jig heads and come conveniently pre- rigged in sizes from 3/64 to 3/8 ounce. Available in six holographic HD fish photo-image finishes, the Live Rigged Paddle Minnow is said to offer a uniquely lifelike action and feel.

Northland's Impulse Live Rigged Paddle Minnow

The ICAST show runs at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando through July 17.