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Best New Fishing Products On DisplayBob McNally
The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (iCAST) show was held in Orlando recently, and it’s tough duty to digest all the new fishing gear on display from around the world.
In attending the show, there’s little question that even in this time of economic downturn, the over $2 billion fishing tackle industry is alive and well.
It was the 55th anniversery of the show, and it attracted manufacturers, guides, captains, professional anglers and media folks from every state and dozens of foreign nations as well. All were anxious to see or show new products that will be the hottest lures, rods, reels, electronic devices and accessory gear for the coming year.
Here are some of the hot items, and the buzz about them:
Kayaking has made a huge and lasting mark in the fishing world, and that was clearly evident by the vast array of kayaks and accessory items on display at iCAST. Innovative new paddles, storage systems and other items designed for paddle craft were seemingly everywhere, and most were obviously designed by hard-core, on-the-water types who know fishing and paddling well.
In fact, the Hobie Cat Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak (www.hobiecat.com) was voted the "Overall Best of Show" new product at iCAST. This is a big deal, and gives insight to the direction of angling’s future. Over 700 products were entered into the new products showcase this year, with Hobie’s kayak winning the big enchilada.
The Mirage Pro Angler has more great fishing boat creature comforts built into it than many high-end power boats. The 12-foot kayak has an incredible 500-pound weight capacity. It’s stable enough for stand-up fishing, stows six fishing rods, has plenty of tackle storage space, a "live well-ready" storage compartment, can accommodate a sail, and will quickly accept sonar fish-finder electronics. It has a comfortable seat designed for all-day fishing, and is powered by special "Turbo Fins" that are underneath the kayak and driven with bike-like peddles using an angler’s legs. Thus arms and hands are free for casting, landing fish, etc. It retails for about $2,500.
Another iCAST new products winner in the electronics arena was Humminbird’s "360 Imaging Fishfinder" (www.humminbird.com).
This sonar unit allows 360-degree underwater viewing around a boat, enabling anglers to "see" in exacting detail bottom configurations in every direction. The new unit integrates with MinnKota’s iPilot electric fishing motor system, which can have anglers save GPS waypoints to work proven fishing spots effortlessly using the motor.
Looking good on the water has become an obsession for many anglers - including those who rarely spend time actually fishing. Many companies are marketing a wide array of stylish new shirts, shorts, caps, and other attire, some offering substantial and much-needed sun protection.
Columbia Sportswear (www.columbia.com), which for years has been at the forefront of innovation in fishing outerwear, introduced a new line of "Omni-Freeze ZERO" clothing that effectively lowers skin temperature as a person sweats. The company’s "Drainmaker" footwear also looks to be a winner, as the shoes offer plenty of skid-proof sole comfort, and work to keep feet dry.
In the fishing lure area, the "Alabama Rig" is all the rage with manufacturers and some anglers, mostly bass fishermen. It seems like every lure company has some version of this rig in its new products arsenal.
The multiple-lure "Alabama Rig" set-up is simply a modified version of the old "umbrella rig," used often by saltwater trollers targeting striped bass, bluefish, as well as billfish and dolphin.
The concept is pretty simple - LOTS of lures and/or baits swimming along excites gamefish and triggers them to strike quicker than if a single lure or bait were used. The multiple lures appear like a baitfish school and gamefish attack wildly.
Yum Lures (www.lurenet.com/yum-baits) was one of the first companies to take this concept and turn it into a bass size lure set-up. This year the lure design is targeting everything from panfish and trout, to muskies, pike, walleyes and others. There are "Alabama rigs" designed for use with everything from jigs and swim baits, to even top-water frog lures. Berkley, Mann’s and many other companies are offering such rigs, and many companies have rods and reels designed specifically for fishing these different and effective multiple-lures.
Berkley GULP (www.berkley-fishing.com) has pretty much dominated the soft-lure industry over the last few years because this plastic type lure catches fish nearly as well as live bait. This year at iCAST, Berkley introduced a series of special "GULP Heads" designed specifically for use with their GULP soft baits.
These are lead-free jig heads, available in many colors and sizes, with good hooks and smart configurations that allow the lures to do interesting things. The "Darter JiggHead" is primarily designed for inshore flats fishing and can be used with an array of Berkley soft baits. The "Minnow JiggHead" has multiple applications, designed for use in freshwater jigging to inshore techniques that target fish with delicate mouths, such as spotted sea trout.
Also in the GULP Head line is Berkley’s BDS (Bait Delivery System), which utilizes a controlled density system so anglers can choose how fast or slow a lure sinks in the water column. Four sizes allow anglers to control sink rates, ranging from 1.5 feet per second to three feet per second.
A wealth of other interesting and useful fishing items were on display at iCAST, too. Rockybrook Sinkers (www.rockybrooksinkers.com), for example, had a full line of eco-friendly fishing weights made from actual stream stones, instead of lead. The stones come in many sizes and weights, from bullet-configurations to ones looking like egg and pyramid sinkers with swivels drilled through their centers.
Sportsman’s Gold Seafood Marinades (www.sportsmansgold.com) had a booth using their aromatic products to cook fish, which drew people to their products like chum on a reef. This year they’re making fish marinades that come already packaged in heavy-duty sealable bags. This way anglers can take just-caught fish, place them in a marinade holding bag for an hour or so, then grill the fish on board your boat, or have it ready to eat when you get home. This is made-to-order for shore lunches of fish.
Finally, Wild River (www.gowildriver.com) took soft-sided tackle bags and set them apart from other companies. They offer their bags with innovative light sources that shine into their well-made satchels to illuminate gear during low light, or in a dark hold of a boat. They also have a new "Rogue" tackle bag that not only has plenty of tackle pockets for abundant storage, but it has a two-speaker audio system and a compartment for an angler’s iPOD or MP3 player. Now cool tunes easily can be played wherever the fishing winds take you.
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