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Monday, June 06, 2011
Kayak Fishing Clear Lake

ICAST Stays Geared Up for Kayak Fishing

The super show offered new boats and a bevy of accessories


LAS VEGAS Once again, kayak fishing joined the fun at the recent ICAST, the recreational fishing industry’s annual trade show and cocktail party.  We’ll get to the notable product introductions in a bit. First, a missing ingredient signals the tackle manufacturers are getting a better handle on the sport. There wasn’t a single new rod or reel aimed solely at kayak anglers.


You might be tempted to think that’s bad news. Not so. It’s a sign of the sport’s maturity. It’s dawned on most product development managers that we use the same gear as everyone else. Of course that isn’t the case when it comes to the kayaks themselves, or the accessories we need to fish them effectively. There were plenty of those.


The flashiest news always concerns new rides and Hobie didn’t disappoint, unveiling two new 11-foot long fish hunters. The Mirage Revolution 11 snapped up Best of Show in the boat category. It’s the spitting image of its larger, popular brother also boasting the Revolution nameplate, an excellent blend of pedal-drive maneuverability and fishing-friendly storage and rigging. The new version hits the same high notes. How Hobie’s designers did it while shaving off three feet and knocking the boat’s fighting weight down to 47 pounds is a head scratcher.


Hobie’s Quest 11 is the shorter Revo’s paddle-powered complement. Same deal. Let’s call it a pocket battleship. Lots of fishing firepower packed into a smaller size. That wasn’t all; the company also cooked up the H-Bar, a leaning post for the big daddy of the line, the massive Pro Angler. With one of these aboard, it’s a veritable stand-up machine. The Horizontal Rod Holder, another new accessory, is more in the mode of refined user mod. Use it to strap rods down along the sides of virtually any fishing ‘yak.


Paddlesports powerhouse NRS turned up with cool new toys for the company’s first ICAST. Hopefully these will be the first of a strong push into fishing products. The Reel SUP is a stand-up inflatable designed specifically to cast lines. The accessory Fishing Tackle Bag fits it perfectly, solving the problem of where to put the stand-up paddle while fishing (there’s a neat vertical holder). The bag would be a welcome addition on just about any fishing ride.


Two more boat notes. Malibu Kayaks showed off new camo color blends and a fresh new fishy deck for the X-Factor. Diablo Paddlesports checked in with the Fly Deck. It turns the nose of their Chupacabra into a massive stripping basket. Nice!


This is good stuff, but it wasn’t the most promising development. That came from Lowrance. Effectively mounting a fishfinder transducer without degrading performance is one of those persistent kayak issues. Lowrance has an elegant solution in the new Scupper Hole Transducer Mounting System, the first to boast a universal design. The company says it fits 95 percent of the fishing kayaks out there. A prior through-scupper design only worked with Ocean Kayak models.


The scupper mount works with Lowrance HDS, Elite, Mark and X-Series transducers, even the slick new DSI models. But that wasn’t enough. Lowrance also came strong with the Elite Socket, a sonar head mount custom-designed for the Elite Series which offers a solid price-performance punch for kayak anglers.


There was more in the accessory mode. Scotty, famous for kayak-savvy rod holders, was showing the slick Portable Camera Mount – just the thing for Go-Pro Heroes. I also caught two nets of note. The Castalia Outdoors Folding Flip Net offers a small footprint when stowed, and pops out with the flick of a wrist. The two-button yoke looks just a hammerhead. Leverage Landing Net was back with a new Kayak model. The handle fits in a rod holder. This thing epitomizes “reach out and touch someone” – the handle is long! 


A few more: The Boomerang Tool Company was back with new tethered fishing tools. The Big Catch H1 Pliers offer replaceable stainless steel jaws on a cast aluminum body. That spring-loaded cable is tough Kevlar. The Swift Cut knife is a folder with fine and serrated edges and a kayak-kind blunt tip. The handle is non-slip. Berkley’s Fishing Multi-Tool looked great. Only $20 for a wealth of fishing function built into a saltwater savvy aluminum and stainless frame.


There was oh so much more. While none of the myriad new rods and reels was designed specifically for kayak fishing, there’s a lot to like in the avalanche of high-tech new gear on the way. Quantum reps claim their feather-light EXO PT spinner and baitcaster are saltwater cool.


Penn is back full force, with kayak worthy new Fathom and Squall conventional reels. The powerful Daiwa Seagate fills the same niche.  And finally Ardent and Okuma both introduced sexy new saltwater baitcasters perfect for calico catches. They are the Inshore Pro and Cedros Saltwater Specific. I’d spool either with the new PowerPro Slick. More casting distance and better abrasion resistance? Yes please.

 revolution 11-studiof

BEST OF SHOW BOAT – Hobie chose the fish-friendly spaces of ICAST to debut the Mirage Revolution 11, the latest of the company’s winning line-up. This shorter, lighter version of the original Revolution looks every inch the capable fish killer.   

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Thanks for the update Paul!
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