COVID-19 turned the International Consortium of Allied Sporting Trades (ICAST) into a virtual event this year, but the fishing industry’s premier trade show brought plenty of interesting new items. Here’s a look at some of the gear and gadgets that caught my eye.
1. American Tackle Tsuka Handle System
Recognizing that rod handles have largely lagged behind blanks in design advances, American Tackle utilizes an array of advanced elements to elevate this facet of rod design. This G2 3K carbon handle system includes the world’s first hand-crafted carbon blow-molded reel seat and a G2 custom matte black aluminum trim and end cap mounted on a fitted 3K carbon handle tube. With a split grip design, 3K carbon casting seat with extended trigger and aluminum reel seat link; the Tsuka’s lightweight design increases sensitivity transmission, durability and longevity. The Tsuka handle system can be used in new rod designs or to retrofit existing rods. ($145; americantackle.us)
2. Minn Kota Raptor
Expanding its boat control mission, Minn Kota debuted a hydraulic shallow water anchoring system designed to combat the impact of waves, current and tide, while adapting to various bottom composition. Essential to the goal of maintaining a firm anchor position in any scenario, Raptor’s Active Anchoring continuously monitors the conditions and makes the necessary adjustments. Also, Auto-Bottom Mode measures how hard or soft the bottom is (rock vs. mud) and varies the amount of anchoring force. With an extruded aluminum mounting bracket and a tightly stowing pump design, this 8- or 10-foot anchor applies twice the force for retraction, so it’s sure to exit whatever it enters. Operated via wireless remote or optional foot switch, the Raptor integrates into Minn Kota’s One-Boat Network.
“The new Raptor shallow water anchor is a smart addition to a Minn Kota/Humminbird One Boat network,” said Bassmaster Elite angler Chris Zaldain. “Installing dual Raptors on a bass boat will allow an angler to deploy anchors quickly, quietly, and efficiently from any Humminbird display or switch aboard.
“My favorite feature is that Raptors are self-adjusting, which means the hydraulic pumps automatically re-adjust to the lake bottom even in wavy or turbulent water conditions, keeping my boat locked exactly where I want it.” ($1,500-$1,900; MinnKotaMotors.com/Raptor)
3. Plano Edge 3500
Having won Best In Show for the Tackle Management category at ICAST 2019, Plano expands its innovative EDGE series past the common 3600 and 3700 Stowaway sizes to include a more compact 3500 model. Measuring 9.13 x 5.47 x 1.38 inches, the EDGE 3500 features a Duraview lid for easy tackle identification, along with a patent-pending, one-handed latch for convenient access, EZ Label system. To repel corrosion, Plano added a Dri-Loc O-ring seal, infuses the EDGE 3500′s base with its exclusive Rustrictor compound and includes a Water Wick — a water-absorbing desiccant divider. ($18; planomolding.com/edge)
4. AFTCO Reaper Windproof Jacket
When AFTCO introduced the original Reaper Hoodie a couple years ago, the integrated facemask design revolutionized the go-to hooded sweatshirt world. Now, the company expands this handy concept with a soft shell jacket (94 percent polyester, 6 percent spandex rip-stop) featuring a built-in facemask/neck warmer and proprietary Hexatron fleece lining. Other cool features include Lazercut vented underarm, Lycra cuff stretch gussets with thumbholes and Polyurethane-coated zipper pocket enclosures and side vents.
“I really like how light this jacket is, yet it’s still incredibly warm thanks to the Hexatron lining,” said Major League Fishing pro Jared Lintner. “I love the water resistant zippers on all the pockets; no more wet phones or faded plastics. The integrated face mask is also a helpful feature — especially during a brisk run.” ($99; aftco.com/reaper)
5. Abu Garcia Gen IKE EZ Cast
Bass pro Mike Iaconelli, one of the fishing industry’s most dynamic proponents of encouraging participation, partnered with Abu Garcia to design a rod/reel combo aimed a taking the pressure out of graduating to that “next step” — baitcasters. Central to this goal is the proprietary Anti-Backlash System, which automatically controls the spool and prevents the time-consuming frustration of spool overrun. Once an angler gains sufficient thumb dexterity to control the spool, this control can be disengaged for continued learning. Mounted on a 6-foot medium power rod with high-density EVA handles, the 6.2:1 reel comes spooled with 10-pound line. ($50; abugarcia.com)
6. ScentLok OZ NFUSE Ozone Sprayer
When the Great Outdoors turn funky, ScentLok combats the offensive smells with Ozone (O3), which oxidizes odor molecules to leave the air fresh and clean. The 13-ounce OZ NFuse Ozone Sprayer injects ozone molecules directly into ordinary water and uses an exclusive platinum and titanium charging system to create a powerful oxidizing cleanser. An InfiniCote 360 nozzle creates an ultra-fine mist and works upside down, so you can hit those live wells and other difficult reaches. With a Micro-USB cable and a rechargeable battery, the OZ NFuse Ozone Sprayer provides extended use, thereby maximizing environmental benefit by replacing dozens of disposable disinfectant bottles. ($130; ozbyscentlok.com)
7. Yeti Roadie 24
Measuring 17 1/2 inches high, 16 1/2 wide and 14 deep, this rotomolded cooler is made with tight spaces in mind. Tuck it behind your vehicle seat for road trips or your ride to the ramp, strap it into the cargo section of your fishing kayak or carry it to the water’s edge for a day of bank or beach fishing. Permafrost Insulation provides days of cooling, while a Heftyhauler Handle facilitates transportation and the Neverfail Hinge System ensures secure closure. Optional Tie-Down kit, seat cushion and dry goods tray. ($200; yeti.com)
8. YUM Just Add Nature Kits
Encouraging young anglers to enjoy the great outdoors, YUM has created a set of kits with the tools and educational materials to do so. Options include a Wiggly Worm Kit with a Critter Shovel for digging up bait, a Hoppin’ Things Kit with a net for catching crickets or grasshoppers and a How to Rig a YUM Dinger Kit with a barbless plastic training hook. All kits include a reusable bucket with a pair of multipurpose pliers, easy to follow bait-rigging instructions and a fish identification and activity poster. ($10; lurenet.com)
9. Suffix 131
Is more better? Suffix answers affirmatively with its new braided line constructed with 13 fibers — 12 high-modulus polyethylene (HMPE) and one GORE. The result is superior knot strength and a “super round” line that facilitates long, smooth casting. Offered in 150-yard spools, Suffix 131 comes in 6-, 10-, 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-, 65-, and 80-pound tests ($40; rapala.com/sufix-line)
10. Ugly Stik 9inch Pliers
Expanding its legendary toughness from rods, to fishing tools, Ugly Stik packed a lot of functionality into a sturdy set of pliers with an attractive price point. Featuring an Ugly Tuff Grip, these pliers have a triggered reverse grip handle design and spring-loaded 420 stainless-steel jaws for one-handed operation. Paired with an adjustable vented sheath with belt clip and 36-inch lanyard, the Ugly Stik 9-Inch Pliers include replaceable cutters. ($43; uglystik.com)
11. VMC Crossover Pliers and Rings
Addressing a common concern for wacky/neko rigging, VMC replaces the standard O-rings, which are prone to inconsistent fits and slippage with an advanced Crossover Ring featuring a dual-channel hood design that allows the hook to be placed perpendicular (wacky style) or parallel (neko) to the worm. For efficient mounting, VMC’s Crossover Pliers feature a compression handle design that expands the ring wide enough to slip onto a worm. Pliers include handle compartments for spare rings, which are available in five sizes and three colors.”The pliers are easy to use with one hands so you can have the other free, while the storage compartments ensure you have extra bands at the ready,” said Bassmaster Elite Brandon Palaniuk. “The rotated hook ring allows the hook point to be perfectly positioned to increase hookup and landing ratios.” (pliers $15, 10-pack of rings $5; rapala.com/vmc-fish-hooks)
12. Gamakatsu G-Case 7000
Gamakatsu’s popular G-Boxes do a fine job of keeping lures and terminal tackle in order, so it’s only sensible that the company build a product to keep those boxes in order. With a lid that opens from either side for maximum access, the hard shell G-Case 700 holds several G-Case sizes and includes an interior tray that holds various loose items. A mounting bracket accommodates an optional rod holder with multiple positions. Other options: exterior side-mounted jig compartment and shoulder strap. ($90; gamakatsu.com)
13. Shiflett Fishing Paddle Co. My Bucket
Think 5-gallon bucket meets Swiss Army Knife. A handy helper for the pond, river bank, pier or sandy beach, this patent pending, single-piece item integrates more than 20 gear holders into the upper end of a spacious bucket. Load the interior with tackle trays, bait bags, snacks, etc. and hang everything from pliers, to hook-outs, to utility knives and spare hooks/lures on the perimeter. There’s even a mesh holder for beverages and a removable lid for securing interior items. ($30; mybucketring.com)