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The wait is over to see the best new fishing lures from the annual ICAST Show. After months and sometimes years of tweaking, designing, changing, and testing lures for bass, panfish, and inshore saltwater species, companies introduced a boatload of items at the summer fishing industry convention in Orlando. Retailers, media, and others at the show saw everything from micro-baits for bluegills and crappie to large, noisy topwaters and a slew of soft plastics for bass and toothy saltfish.
Some of these may be available now or soon in your favorite store or on websites. Others may not be formally on the market until late 2022 or spring of 2023. Check your favorite haunts for availability should you find something below that scratches a fishing itch.
Chatterbaits are high-effective search baits, especially in stained water. But few would ever imagine them to be effective as a top water bait. That’s all going to change with the new HellraiZer. It combines a chatterbait blade with a top water stickbait. The HellraiZer has a tight wobble, puts out a ton of vibration, and has a baiitfish profile. The body of the bait sits above the surface while the chatterbait tail hangs under the water. You can work it like a buzzbait with a straight retrieve and the lure creates a fleeing baitfish presentation without further input. Obviously the treble hooks on the bait means that you won’t be throwing this into a pad field, but fished over hydrilla or in open water the bait it should have serious drawing power.
YUM FF Sonar Minnow
Pro angler Jason Christie of Oklahoma worked for years to perfect his minnow-jig system for use with forward-facing sonar. That all came to fruition with his 2022 Bassmaster Classic victory, as the YUM FF Sonar Minnow and Sonar Jigheads finally hit the spotlight. His FF system allows for slow, subtle presentations to suspended bass, which he watched follow other baits and turn away. Refining a technique never is easy with finicky or pressured fish. The YUM Sonar Minnow is 3 inches long, with a slim, shad profile and horizontal forked tail. Combined with the FF Sonar Jighead, it quivers with minimal movement. The minnow comes in 10 baitfish colors. The ball-head jigs have a 90-degree line tie and sickle hook. They come in 1/8-, 3/16- and 1/4-ounce sizes in three glitter paint finishes.
Northland Tackle Elite Series
Northland Tackle’s new Elite Series collection is designed for battling tough fish in tough conditions. Among the new Elite Series lineup is the Cabbage Crusher jig, which has a scooped, nosecone head and 60-degree line-tie, twin titanium wire weedguard, and wire plastics keeper on the Gamakatsu hook. It comes in four sizes with 4/0 and 5/0 hooks in four colors. The new Finesse Football Jig is available in three sizes with a 1/0 Gamakatsu hook. It’s designed for smaller finesse plastics such as craws or Ned baits, and comes in four sizes and four colors. The new Nedster Jig has a standup, mushroom-shaped head, wire bait-keeper, double titanium weed guards and is available in four colors and four sizes with a Gamakatsu 1/0 hook.
Z-Man Kicker CrabZ
Designed for saltwater action, the Z-Man Kicker CrabZ was created to mimic a small, one-clawed crab that can be fished on the bottom or top. Formed with buoyant ElazTech, the realistic Kicker CrabZ claw moves with the slightest twitch or retrieve. Anglers know a single claw on a crab or crayfish is like a dinner bell to predators. Fished on the bottom, it appears to scuttle along. When fished on top, it can be used for saltwater or even bass. The body shape and tail are reminiscent of the short-lived, but dynamite, Z-Man Mouse from years ago. This new lure is designed for easier rigging, has a deep hook slot, keeled belly, and superb realism. Z-Man also jacked up the jighead space this year with its new DieZel Eye Jighead, which has a stronger hook with an oversized eye in three colors and sizes from 3/8- to 3-ounce. The hook has dual trailer keepers and an added skirt keeper.
Berkley Gulp! Surf Bites
No, it’s not bubble gum. Berkley’s new Gulp! Surf Bytes are the latest saltwater baits for shore and surf action. Berkley says the Surf Bytes stay four times firmer in the water. Surf Bytes Strips, in five colors, have segments that can be broken off for use for species such as flounder, pompano, black drum, and others. They can be recharged after you’re done fishing, too. The Surf Bytes Baitfish has a small baitfish design, five vivid colors, and can be rigged on a jighead or surf rig.
Strike King Sexy Dawg Hard Knock
The Sexy Dawg Hard Knock from Strike King is saltwater sexy, with tougher and corrosion-resistant hardware designed to handle the brine and smashing hits from trout, redfish, and other species. This 4.5-inch topwater walking bait, has an internal steel chamber and single knocking bearing that saltwater species can’t stand. Speckled trout, especially, are suckers for a one-knock topwater and will follow before smashing it on a pause during the retrieve. The Sexy Dawg has Mustad Triple-Grip treble hooks and a variety of solid colors. Other new saltwater intros this year from Strike King include upgraded versions of the Red Eye Shad lipless bait, Rage Swimmer swimbait, Rage Menace twin-tail grub, and the 3.5-inch Flood Minnow. All are beefed up for inshore saltwater action with reliable sizes and colors.
Jerkbaits and crankbaits work wonderfully in saltwater, and the new Berkley Juke should find a place in tackleboxes. Its flat-sided body and coffin-shaped bill darts and jukes with little effort. Mimicking a small inshore baitfish (or shad, for bass fishing), it can be cranked, twitched, or trolled. The Juke comes in two sizes—3.75 inches and 4 inches—and 14 popular saltwater colors. The bait has anti-rust stainless steel hardware and Fusion19 treble hooks, and dives 3-5 feet.
Bandit Suspending Minnow
Bandit Suspending Minnow will hit the mark for anglers looking for a suspending trolling bait, such as those on the Great Lakes. The bait was requested by walleye and zander trollers who wanted a lure to suspend when they turn the boat, so the inside line pauses and stays suspended. It’s similar to a jerkbait that is paused to resemble a struggling or dying shad in autumn when fishing for bass. But on the Great Lakes and others with walleye, zander, trout, and other species, this suspending minnow is dynamite. It is 4.6 inches long and has the same profile as the Bandit Walleye Deep and Walleye Shallow. The Suspending Minnow runs 18-20 feet deep, with a tight, aggressive action, and comes in 22 colors, including eight new ones.
Bladed swim jigs are a dime a dozen these days, but the new Berkley Slobberknocker puts a unique twist on this popular lure. The Slobberknocker has a thru-head design in which the blade is attached to the body. You still tie your line to a clip on the blade, but the bottom of the blade vibrates and swings on the body. The lure has a dependable trailer lock on the hook just behind the body so you can snug a minnow, worm, swimbait, or whatever else you want on there. The Slobberknocker comes in the most popular sizes and colors, and incorporates Berkley’s legendary PowerBait skirts.
Mr. Crappie Sausage Head Spin
Crappie anglers have a few new selections from Wally Marshall and the Mr. Crappie lineup. The Sausage Head Spin has a 3/4-inch hammered willowleaf blade that spins and glimmers during the fall or retrieve. The head is shaped to deflect easier off brush and grass, too. It comes in 1/16- and 1/8-ounce sizes in six colors. The new Maribou Sausage Spin has the same setup but includes fluffy, puffy maribou on the body for more action and attraction. And the new Slab Daddy Live Hair Jig sports a body and jighead specifically designed to show up clearly on a sonar unit, whether by casting with forward-facing sonar or vertically jigging. Info: www.strikeking.com
Strike King KVD Zeus Worm
Bass anglers wanting a big worm should take a gander at the KVD Zeus Worm, a 9.5-inch worm with a fat body, vivid colors, and infused coffee scent. The Zeus’ tail swims wildly when retrieved, flipped, or pitched. The body is sectioned; downsizing to a 7-inch worm is simple by clipping the head section. It easily handles a 4/0 or 5/0 hook.
Other new offerings from Strike King this year include the Tour Grade Tungsten Thunder Cricket bladed jig, which has a compact tungsten head, long-shank Owner Jungle Hook, hand-tied skirt, 14 colors, and two sizes. The KVD Filler Worm is a 6-inch finesse worm with a redesigned body for fishing around tougher cover. The Rattlin’ Rage Craw is a slender, 4-inch crawfish pre-rigged with a glass sound chamber embedded in the tail. Another craw imitation is the Rage Scounbug, a 3.5-inch bait with two Rage Flange pincers and 14 colors. If you enjoy swimming a worm, the 6-inch Rage Menace worm has two Rage tails that flap wildly. Hardbaits include the Shallow Hybrid Hunter that dives 1-3 feet, 1/4-ounce flat-sided Chick Magnet Jr. crankbait that shines 2-4 feet deep, and the new KVD Elite 300 jerkbait that hits 4-7 feet, has No. 4 Mustad Elite Short Shank Triple Grip treble hooks for better hookups.