Plenty of eye candy grabbed my attention at ICAST 2021 in Orlando, from the nifty Jackal Bounty Fish, Savage Duratech Crab, and Nikko Winnow 95 lures to new clothing, fly-fishing items and more. I was even impressed with an accessory or two. The opening night’s New Product Showcase had almost 690 products in it from line nippers to a monstrous beach cart. Here are some of the things I liked after cruising the ICAST show floor, New Product Showcase and On the Water pre-show event.
Aqua-Vu Quad HD
One of the coolest things about fishing is the ability to see underwater via sonar or flogger, if you want to be old school. Electronics are cooler. Aqua-Vu’s new Quad HD gives anglers in open or iced-over water the chance to see 360-degrees. The Quad HD offers high-definition color video with four 720p lenses attached to the camera module. There’s 125 feet of cable, infrared lights and four-directional viewing on the screen in your kayak, boat or ice house.
If you’re in a pond and want to know why you catch a fish at one particular spot, now you can find out. The Quad HD will shine in bigger lakes and for ice fishing, of course, when you’re seeking hard bottom, shell beds, cover on structure or other specifics. You can even record underwater video on compatible smartphones and tablets with the unit’s AV Connect HD. Info: www.aquavu.com
Angler’s Best Lazy Joe
Smart, designed well, sensible and not in the way. What’s not to like about a boat accessory that has all those qualities? The Lazy Joe from Angler’s Best fits around the front (or back) deck boat seat pole. Three slots for tackle boxes (included) are designed on an angle to secure them when running and bouncing on waves. Other slots hold pliers, accessories, beverage cans, or scent spray bottles. It’s made from durable plastic that will withstand the elements. The Lazy Joe has been tested on the Tennessee River and other lakes Alabama for a couple of years. Given the summer temperatures and occasional rough waters, those are pretty good proving grounds.
BassForecast Fishing App
Do you need more technology in your fishing endeavors? That’s for you to decide. BassForecast could be a quite helpful tool, though, if you want to keep up with the weather, pressure and the best feeding periods during the day up to 10 days before your fishing trip. I’ve been using this app for a few weeks at my home in Alabama and in Florida before ICAST. On shallow private lakes at home and legendary Lake Toho in Florida, the weather information was accurate and the recommendations on feeding times and lures was spot-on. In Florida, as expected in summer, conditions were tough. BassForecast suggested worms, crankbaits and soft jerkbaits — all of which we used — and said conditions would be “fair” for fishing. I can’t argue with any of the info the app has provided so far.
The Texas company that produces BassForecast is co-owned by Mike Welsh and Mike Mehlmann. Welch was Global Director of Business Development for Digital & Emerging platforms at AccuWeather. Mehlmann was Senior VP of Revenue at Mutual Mobile, one of the world’s foremost sports company custom software design and development companies. They have designed and developed projects for Nike, ESPN, UnderArmour, The World Cup, The Olympics, MapMyFitness & BassForecast. The app added more than 300,000 new users in 2020 and boasts more than 500,000. Info: Search in Google Play and the Apple App Store
Recycled Apparel, Sunglasses
It’s about time the fishing industry walked the walk, in regard to recycling. After decades of chest-thumping about conservation, companies finally are ditching catalogs for flash drives and online e-pubs, being more conscious about messaging and using recycled items — namely, nylon fishing nets and plastic bottles — for products.
Bajio uses a plant-based plastic for its Balam sunglasses while Costa del Mar offers its Untangled collection created from recycled nets. AFTCO’s Rescue hoodies, neck gaiters and gloves also are created from recycled nets. Gill is using a plant-based finish on its XPel line, which was introduced in 2020 but is now expanded to more apparel. Huk’s surprisingly cottony-soft Waypoint Hoodie is made from recycled bottles. I expect more to come in the future, including with lures, as companies learn they still can make money and be better stewards.
Regal River Pliers
There’s nothing fancy at all about these Regal River pliers from Smith’s Products, which has wide line of knives, sharpeners and tools for fishing (and some for hunting). The pliers are crafted from aluminum and look stylish, but aren’t an expensive fancy-pants tool you’ll be afraid to lose. They’re affordable, lightweight and get the job done. The pliers come with a locking latch, line cutter spring-loaded design, split-ring teeth and more. If you lose them overboard or catch enough fish that you wear them out (unlikely), at just $25 you can get another pair. For wading in creeks in summer, strap them to your belt, waders or bag and head out. You’ll forget they’re there until you need them. Info: www.smithsproducts.com
Buzbe Quik Cube
Should your tackleboxes be an investment? If you fish regularly and want them to last, possibly so. Buzbe’s modular tackle storage systems may look like overkill to some anglers. But if you’re tired of warped boxes or latches that break, these Buzbe systems may be for you. Individual bins, which come in five sizes, with locking feet allow you to customize tackle boxes. Set them up for everything from hooks, sinkers and accessories to lures ranging from jigs and crankbaits to worms. An additive in the plastic along with a waterproof gasket in the lid prevents rust, and a protective layer blunts UV rays to keep the tough plastic lids clear. Latches are fortified. Do you need all this to carry hooks, weights and baits? Maybe not. But I know from experience after dumping a box due to a broken lid latch, or having boxes warp, an investment isn’t a bad idea at all. Info: www.buzbe.com
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Hobie Mirage Lynx
Kayak fishing has blossomed in the last 10 years thanks to improvements such as Hobie’s MirageDrive pedal system. If your hands are free to cast and catch fish, instead of paddling, you’ll spend more time with lures in the water. The downside is that some of the kayaks were heavy and expensive.
Now Hobie has come out with a trim 45-pound kayak — the Mirage Lynx — that features the forward/reverse MirageDrive 180 pedal system with kick-up fins. The latter are flush with the hull when not in use, giving you easy gliding in skinny water. The Mirage Lynx has an elevated mesh seat and flat-bottom design. This isn’t an uber-frills kayak. At a glance it looks like a stand-up paddleboard with a seat. It is designed with an EPS foam core and fiberglass epoxy shell, and a plastic skin on top. At just 45 pounds you can easily load, unload and haul it. But you can customize it thanks to molded gear tracks, inserts for a Power Pole, fish finder, cameras, rods and other accessories. The design of the hull also allows for easy stacking if you have more than one Mirage Lynx.
Seaguar TactX Braided Line
I love braided line for certain techniques, and the technology that goes into lines gets better every year. TactX is the newest braid from Seaguar. TactX braid is a round, 4-strand line designed for all-around use. It goes on your reels easier and tightly. That prevents digging when you set the hook. Multi-colored strands are heat-set for color retention. The line’s earth tones should blend in better if you’re pitching or flipping in thick vegetation or around other cover, and especially in stained or tannic water. TactX comes with five yards of Seaguar fluorocarbon leader, with pound-test sizes appropriately matched. The braid is available in 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 65, and 80-pound test sizes. Info: www.seaguar.com