The Best (and Worst) New Fishing Gear

A HIT 1. Berkley FireLine Tracer Braid
Manufacturer: Pure Fishing Line watchers will love the latest braid offering from Berkley. As the name implies, Tracer Braid is designed to allow fishermen to watch their line as they cast, fish and retrieve. By alternating two colors, low-visibility, moss green with high-visibility chartreuse every 2.5 feet, the line becomes amazingly visible. When casting the line appears to flash (much like the dotted line on the highway as you drive) as it spools out allowing visual monitoring. Radially woven braid fibers makes this line strong and durable. Available in 15- to 80-pound test, on 110-, 300- and 1,100-yard spools. ($17.95-$139.95; purefishing.com;(800) 237-5539)
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A HIT 2. Smart Cull
Manufacturer: Ardent Every serious tournament fishermen knows the pain of culling fish during the heat of battle. The Smart Cull eliminates all the guesswork by recording the exact weight of each fish on a lockable dial. Six independently colored balls and clips attach to fish. Weight is entered into the ball by simply depressing a push button and dialing in the desired weight. Releasing the button locks the weight in. Each ball can be adjusted up to 15 pounds 15 ounces. ($39.99; ardentoutdoors.com; (660) 395-9200)
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A MISS 3. Stonze System
Manufacturer: Pallatrax Billed the "environmentally friendly fishing weights," the Stonze System is just what the name implies - rocks, well, technically "stones." Real stones are collected and drilled to accept your line, replacing harmful lead sinkers. According to the manufacturer, Stonze are hugely successful throughout the UK and Europe. Somehow I find it hard to believe that bassers will ever be flipping these into a hydrilla mat. Available in 1 to 5.5 ounces. (price varies depending on size; pallatrax.co.uk; 01409-240042)
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A HIT 4. Gulp! Alive! Crazy Legs Jerk Shad
Manufacturer: Pure Fishing The Gulp! Line of soft baits have become a staple of serious fishermen around the world. Their new Crazy Legs Jerk Shad features thin legs that ungulate wildly on retrieve. The 5-inch lure is packaged in a unique bucket filled with a Gulp! Solution that keeps baits fresh. When finished fishing, return the bait to the bucket for recharging. These baits are available in Black Shad, Chartreuse Pepper Neon, New Penny, Pearl White, and Watermelon. ($19.95; purefishing.com;(800) 237-5539)
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A MISS 5. Rocket Fishing Rod
Manufacturer: Spin Master, Ltd. The Rocket Fishing Rod "launches" baits 30-feet without casting. To operate, you simply pump it like a shotgun and launch it. Call me old fashioned, but what's wrong with teaching a kid how to "cast" a rod? What happened to spending quality time with your kids? ($29.99; spinmaster.com; (416) 364-5025)
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A HIT 6. ZipVac Resealable Vacuum Storage System
Manufacturer: CTI Industries We all know the value keeping food fresh and vacuum sealing is arguably the best way to do so. However, until now, vacuum sealing machines are both bulky and non-portable. The ZipVac features a compact rechargeable hand-held unit that's at home in boats, RV's, and in camp. Additionally, a manual vacuum pump is included. Individual bags are reusable and come in quart and gallon sizes. ($40; zip-vac.com; (866) 382-1707)
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A HIT 7. Shimano Evair Marine Fishing Shoes
Manufacturer: Shimano The search for the perfect fishing shoe is over. The Evair is manufactured from ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). They are ultra-light (weighing a mere 9-ounces) and exceptionally comfortable; making long days on deck no longer a chore. ($49.95; shimano.com; (949) 470-4140)
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A HIT 8. 4Play
Manufacturer: Savagear Swimbaits are quite the rage. This triple-jointed swimbait designed by Scandinavian fishermen Mads Grosell has made its way to America. The 4Play is painstakingly hand-painted making the lures very lifelike. Three different styles are available; the Slow Float, the Swim & Jerk, and the Liplure. ($13.95 for small baits; savage-gear.com; (866) 511-3848)
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A HIT 9. Sickle Ringed X-Wide Gap
Manufacturer: Matzuo America This wide gap hook features a simple, yet very unique welded ring that allows for greater freedom and movement of baits. Whether using live or artificial baits, this hook promises greater bait mobility. The oddly shaped bend adds hook setting power and helps retain fish once hooked. ($3.99/5 pack; matzuo.com; (800) 941-2029)
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A MISS 10. Bioline
Manufacturer: Bioline, LLC Bioline biofilament fishing line is an attempt to "green" fishing line. Bioline biodegrades in five years, opposed to the several hundred that monofilament takes. We liked the idea; however, what threw us was the fact that the line retains 100% of its strength for a period of 10 to 12 months once spooled. I'd hate to have that trophy of a lifetime on and realize I hadn't respooled in a year. Available in 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-pound test. ($13.99-16.99; biolinefishing.com)
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A HIT 11. Lee Sisson Weedless Crankbait
Manufacturer: Worden's Lures / Yakima Bait Company Could you ever imagine throwing a crankbait into thick vegetation without retrieving a massive bundle of salad? These Lee Sisson designed crankbaits incorporate a patent pending lip guard system that keeps the bait weed free. Weedless treble hooks complete the system. ($5.99; yakimabait.com, (509) 854-2263)
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A HIT 12. Shak E2 Jig Head
Manufacturer: Mega Strike Recently "shaky heading" has become one of the most popular methods of catching bass. The Shak E2 lead head has a fulcrum built into it. No matter how the bait is fished, the head rolls forward, lifting the bait into a vertical orientation. This tail-up attitude results in more strikes as the bait appears alive. ($5.99/4 pack; evolutionlures.com; (866) 454-6487
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The fishing tackle trade industry descended upon Las Vegas to introduce the hottest in new fishing gear. Much of it was awesome. Some of it, well, it wasn't so hot. Here's a sneak peek. By Todd Kuhn.