ICAST 2007ICAST 2007 Get a sneak peak at the new tackle for 2008 in this unique review of new and innovative lures, rods, and equipment.
By Glenn May
On July 11-13th in Las Vegas, Nevada the 2007 ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) show was held in Las Vegas. Over 180 companies from around the world showcased more than 600 new products for the nearly 7000 attendees at the show. ICAST is an annual event where the major players in the fishing industry come together with displays to show off their new and upcoming items that they will be coming out with for the year 2008. The ICAST show is not open to the general public and is only open to manufacturers, tackle representatives, media, outdoor writers, distributors and business owners in the fishing industry.
I saw a ton of neat stuff, most of which will be available to consumers this spring. ICAST is a gigantic show. It was impossible to see everything there, even after spending two full days roaming the isles. So instead of attempting to cover all the major product releases, I decided to focus on innovative and unique fishing items that the mass media may have missed.
Welcome the Women
During my visit with ICAST the impact from the explosive growth of female anglers was obvious, as many companies are introducing items geared towards women. Most notably were three innovative companies catering exclusively to female anglers: FisherGirl, Ocean Girl, and FishHer.
In my opinion, this trend is long over due and very welcome. Women have long taken a back seat to the men when it comes to fishing gear, which has hindered the growth of the sport.
I was happy to see these new companies leading the charge, as well as the major companies joining the movement. And it hasn't gone unnoticed. ICAST presented the Anglers' Legacy Leadership Award award to FishHer for leading the charge, an endorsement of the pioneering efforts in this area.
FisherGirl makes pink rods, pink reels, pink accessories and pink apparel for women. They also make a line of children's gear designed to get the little girl involved in fishing. The pink gear will appeal especially to the ladies who may have thought that fishing was a "man's sport".
Ocean Girl makes freshwater and saltwater rods and reels for the ladies. They also have a line of branded clothing. And yes, all of their gear is pink too. The difference, they claim, is that their rods are designed for women's hands. For example, they use shorter butts to accommodate a woman's stature.
Here's a company that's displaced the pink with lavender, but that's not all. They offer rods, reels, accessories, clothing and more. The rods are the most impressive. Made from IM7 graphic, these are smaller in diameter for easier gripping by smaller hands. Lightweight and comfortable, they're definitely a fit for women.
FishHer's line of tackle bags and accessories is extensive. And the quality is right up there too. In fact, I found myself getting a little envious of the ladies as I was looking through everything.
Visit their website, as it's more than just an online store - there's a plethora of fishing information just for women who are just getting started. It's a reflection of the company's commitment to encourage women to join the fishing lifestyle. A commitment that won them ICAST's prestigious Anglers' Legacy Leadership Award.
There's no possible way for me to cover all the new lures hitting the market. So here's a select few innovative and unique baits that caught my eye:
Castaic Swimbaits castaicswimbait.com
Swimbaits are all the rage these days, and it seems nearly every tackle manufacturer is trying to capitalize on the trend by introducing their own version. Castaic Softbaits is one of the original companies that started making soft plastic swimbaits years ago. They also make wooden swimbaits.
At the ICAST show, I saw something new from them that set them apart from the rest - a hard plastic trout swimbait. You heard me right. A floating, hard plastic swimbait. Ok, so what's unique about that, other than it's their first hard plastic lure? There are dozens already on the market.
What's different about this bait is that it has not two, but three joints. I looked all over the showroom floor and could not locate another swimbait with more than two joints. The third joint is located where the tail attaches to the body. This design enables the bait to swim with incredible realism. It floats at rest, and the slightest twitch makes that tail move ever so slightly - just like the real thing - and then you can make it dart away with a fast retrieve. It's so lifelike, even I was fooled! Leave to one of the originals to innovate and lead the pack when other companies are merely copying each other. Expect this design to be copied too as soon as it hits the market.
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Berkley-Fishing.com
I concede so you may have tried Gulp before and didn't like the fact that it seemed like a one-shot wonder. Works great, yes, but you can't reuse it again unless you carefully seal it back up again - and even then you're taking a risk of it spoiling the rest of the pack. Don't get me wrong, I really like Gulp because it catches fish. But it can be a hassle to work with, especially on hot sunny days.
Enter Gulp! Alive - Berkley's answer to dried up baits. They tout these baits as "Biodegradable Bait saturated in powerful attractant". Quite literally, the baits come floating around in a jar of fluid. It looks like Gulp meets the jig-n-pig jar of yore. Except the "jar" is more like a bucket. It's huge! This will eliminate the re-use issues, provided you place the bait back in the bucket before it dries out. And the fluid contains Berkley's patented scent.
The baits themselves look very realistic, particularly the minnows. Clearly they are more flexible than the original Gulp.
I used the original Gulp on dropshot and splitshot rigs and caught a lot of fish, so I was excited when Berkley gave me a jar to try out. As expected, it worked better than its predecessor. Unfortunately, the bucket lid didn't seal well, and it leaked the pungent fluid into my boat compartment. Berkley has assured me they are working on redesigning the package to address this problem, so I expect this won't be an issue for long.
Every year a new crop of hopeful lure inventors place their inventions on the market. Very few of these lures become a hit. But occasionally they do. Last year it was the Evolution Jig, this year it's the Injured Minda.
Upon first glance, I thought this was another gimmick lure. But further examination revealed some truly innovative engineering went into the design. It's a topwater bait that resembles a crankbait, but fishes unlike anything before.
It incorporates a hinged, two-piece body with a weighted bill and tail. Fishing line passes through the body and ties to the tail, creating a unique action like I've never seen. The tail points downward at rest, but flips up when pulled. It looks like a dying or injured bait fish when fished properly, and essentially stays in one place while you work it. This is exactly how an injured minnow behaves, and the bass just kill it.
I was impressed by the ingenuity that went into this bait. At $20 a pop, I don't expect them to become an overnight sensation, but I do feel that those who give them a try will be justly rewarded.
I won't even attempt to outline all the new rods I saw. There was just too many, most of which were improvements of existing models. So I apologize now for not covering your favorite brand. Instead, I will focus on just a few unique innovations.
The Carrot Stix
Ok, so this one is really unusual. It's a fishing rod made from carrots. Yup, that's right - carrots. I have to tell you, I was really skeptical of this one. I thought it was a joke or gimmick, but it's not. They're dead serious, and may have stumbled upon something big.
Upon examination, this unique rod, made by E21 Fishing, is a composite made from the Nano bio-fibers of carrots which exhibit the qualities of both graphite and glass. It's literally made from the cellulose fibers of carrots. The fibers are mixed with a water-based resin to create a composite used to mold the rod blank.
Yes mold, not rolled like Graphite. By molding it, E21 is able to create a rod void of weak spots. It looks and feels like a high-quality rod, other than the orange color, of course. But if you're put off by the color, Carrot Stix also come in green. In addition, 2007 Bassmaster Classic champion Boyd Duckett has added his input on a "Classic Gold" model that is dark brown.
The rods are lighter than graphic, but have more flex to land bigger fish. As I examined the rod's construction and craftmanship, I began to realize they may be onto something big. The ICAST folks agreed, as this rod won ICASTS' 2007 Best-of-Show Award.
This year, Fenwick is introducing a new line of rods. The Elite Tech rods are specifically designed for various methods of bass fishing, such as dropshotting, strokin, spinnerbaiting and crankbaiting. It doesn't matter if your tossing big topwater plugs for oversized bucketmouths or the tiniest jig to those pesky brown bass, your perfect bass rod is here. All you have to do is fit the technique you prefer to the rod-use name.
Some of these rods include a variable weight system that allows you to adjust the weight of the handle in order to achieve a customize balance to fit your reel. Something you usually see in more expensive rods.
One thing that really caught my eye was the new spinnerbait rods, made of 60/40 graphite/fiberglass. No, not a blend; the bottom 60% of the rod is a normal graphite rod, with the upper 40% made out of fiberglass. It looks like they literally pieced two different rods together. This feature improves the chance to hook-up on a fish when angler reaction time is too quick.
What's "The Catch"? GetTheCatch.com
While many innovations have that "WOW" factor, every once in awhile one comes along that makes you say, "Now why didn't I think of that?" The CATCH is just that kind of innovation.
Ever place your hook in the rod's hook holder, only to have it snag line on other rods, the boat carpet, your clothing, or worse yet, you, your child or your pet? It's annoying at best, dangerous at worst. The CATCH solves all those problems.
The CATCH is a magnetic hook keeper with a built-in safety shield that completely encloses the hook, thus preventing the point from finding unsuspecting targets. What's more, it uses a strong magnet to hold the hook in place. It won't fall out even if your reel accidentally disengages during transport.
Although I have endured the frustration of untangling rods bound together by hooks clinging onto the line of other rods - which this will eliminate - I personally liked this innovation due to its safety feature. I've heard of many horror stories from friends getting skewered by hooks that were "safely" tucked away in their keepers. I've also heard of too many pets and children that have stepped on these exposed hooks. The CATCH caught my eye as THE safety innovation that's a long time coming. No doubt it will keep everyone on board safe, including you, your guests and your pets.
Even better, a portion of their sales will go to support "Catch a Breath" program, which helps children with asthma via the American Lung Association. It's hard to go wrong when you purchase their products.
Here's a few items designed to increase the survival rate of the bass you release.
For tournament anglers who desire a simpler way to retrieve and transport fish stored in a boat's livewell, this next one is for you. This thick-plastic, flexible carrier seems like a long overdue idea.
The Well Mate™ Livewell Caddy is a 14-gallon flexible container constructed of a non-toxic EVA co-polymer. It is designed to fit into most livewells and features a sealed foam collar around the slotted opening at its top to prevent the unit from sinking under water and becoming difficult to reach or to deposit fish.
The product's vented sides allow water to circulate freely through the caddy. It has two nylon rope handles that should make is simple to remove from the livewell and easy to carry. The thick plastic material is built well and should hold up for many seasons.
The competition model is designed for tournament anglers. This model will hold approximately five inches water in its base, thus eliminating the need to transfer fish back-and-forth between the livewell and tournament bag. It should reduce the amount of fish handling, thus increasing their chances of survival.
How easy it is to use, how durable it is, and how well it holds fish plus water only time will tell. With a $90 price tag, this innovation may be out of reach for most anglers. But if it holds up to its promise, I expect the Well Mate to be in high demand.
The Larchy Hook Remover larchy.eu
It seems the age-old issue of disgorging hooks from deep inside fish has finally been solved....by Germans. This little pistol-looking contraption is simple in design, yet very effective. It's another one of those "now why didn't I think of that" inventions.
The Larchy removes hooks gently and effectively, thus reducing damage, and making it possible to dislodge hooks that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to remove.
It easily slides down the shank of the hook to the bend, and then pulls the hook out in the exact opposite direction it entered - taking into the account the curve of the hook. That is, it pulls the hook out exactly the way it entered, instead of yanking it straight out and causing more damage. This is accomplished simply by pulling the "trigger" on the device. It's quick, and effective.
I see this as the answer to removing hooks from gut-hooked fish, as it's difficult to pull the hook out towards the tail of the fish...until now. It's hard to explain how this works, but thankfully there's plenty of video clips on their website. You'll have to see it in action to get the full benefit.
And there you have it, my synopsis of some of the innovative and unique products hitting the market for 2008. Keep in mind that ICAST is a huge show and I am confident I have missed several items. So please don't e-mail me to complain about something I missed. :)
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