Each year in July, the fishing industry converges to ICAST. Here, buyers, wholesalers, and media get the first look at products that will be available to purchase in the coming year. One of the highlights of the show is the ICAST Best of Show awards that are divided into categories and voted on by those in attendance.
They are often remarkable advancements in their categories, but many items are overlooked. This year’s winners included fishing industry titans like Garmin, Humminbird, Shimano, Lew's, Power Pro, Costa, and LIVETARGET. They make a habit of winning these awards, and they are proven brand names.
Instead of only highlighting products from these brands, I scoured the small booths tucked away in corners of the show to find some truly unique items. Some of the Best in Show award winners deserved mention here, but I made sure to include the little guys as well.
Greenfish Tackle Chibi Finesse Swim Jig
Greenfish Tackle is a “garage tackle” company on a larger scale. They are very knowledgeable about all things tackle and make some cool products. The latest is the Chibi Finesse Swim Jig that was designed with pro angler Shinichi Fukae.
So, what makes it truly unique? It’s the little things here. For one it features an O'Shaughnessy hook which has a cult following for its ability to hook and hold bass. You don’t see it very often on jigs. It also has a light weedguard making it ideal for scattered grass and comes in some great color patterns. It also has cool keel system beneath the head of the bait to change how it swims.
A3 Anglers Multi Bait Rig
A3 is a company based in Utah, and they had a host of unique looking items at their booth. The Multi Bait Rig may not seem like much when holding it in your hand; it is something else when watched under the water.
The Multi Bait Rig is made up of a polycarbonate blade similar to those found on vibrating jigs which gives it some vibration. There are also two screw attachments that allow you to add soft plastics. The result is a cross between an Alabama Rig and a ChatterBait. Take a look at their video on YouTube to see it for yourself.
Savage Gear Rods
Savage Gear is relatively well known for their swimbaits, but their rods were truly unique. Walking the ICAST show is one big distraction after another; bright lights, fresh products, and people and cameras everywhere. It is hard to notice things in the crowd just walking by, but the new Savage Gear rods made me stop.
The thing that stood out at first was the military-inspired colors: camo, greens, and something different than the trend of bright fishing rods. While it was the colors that made me stop, the features and feel are what made me include them here.
They are light, felt balanced, and they were reasonably priced. They utilize Japanese Toray blanks that make them sensitive and strong with a reinforced tip section to prevent breaks where they most often occur from high-sticking the rod. The Squad rods start at $89 and the price and quality increase as you move to the Battle Tech and Black Ops versions.
Jordan Lee released a bunch of new signature series items this year through Abu Garcia and Berkley. Included were three soft plastics; a craw, swimbait, and drop-shot bait.
The designs were fresh and will catch fish, but the colors were what I found to be unique. They are very lifelike, and since they are part of the PowerBait lineup, so you already know they will be full of their proven scent.
I’m personally a big fan of the Shimano DC technology, and this is why this is included here. The big news last year was Shimano bringing the high-end digital casting control technology to under $300 with the Curado DC. This year, they outdid themselves and brought the cost even lower.
The Shimano SLX DC will retail for $189.99. The standard SLX was already a favorite among anglers looking for a quality reel at a reasonable price, now with the DC technology for under $200, plenty of anglers will get a chance to see what it can do.
As a side note, they added another new model in the SLX line with the SLX XT, which included Shimano’s SVS Infinity Braking that is usually only available in more expensive models.
There were some significant innovations at this year’s ICAST, plenty of new trolling motors, and a pile of new rods, reels, line, and lures to help you catch more bass. These five items stood out from the crowd in one way or the other and deserved a little more attention.