Feature Article: ICAST Review

Annual ICAST Show had plenty for West Coast anglers

BY MIKE STEVENS/WON Staff Writer Published: Jul 24, 2019

ORLANDO, FLA. — The 2019 International Convention of Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) Show is in the books, and with that, an overwhelming deluge of new fishing gear will be unleashed into the market over the next year. While some of it is not yet available if not still in prototype stage, the trickle has already started.

As usual, Western Outdoor News had boots on the ground at this sportfishing industry Mecca attended by just about every fishing-gear brand you’ve heard of and many you haven’t. Unlike the Fred Hall Shows, ICAST is only attended by exhibitors and pro staff, buyers, retailers and of course, members of the outdoor media. It is not a “consumer facing” show. Attendees in each of those categories from all over the planet are there, and as you might imagine, the products unveiled at the annual event can be geared for anglers fishing well beyond American shores.

Naturally, a primary interest of WON attending is to sift through the vast trove of new gear and determine which would be of particular interest to our readers. I mean, if you want to hear about augers, European carp bait and the latest in nightcrawler-harness rigs for walleye, there are places for that. It’s just not here.

It was quite an undertaking, but here are some products you might want to keep an eye out for in the months ahead.

THE DAIWA BOOTH gets plugged with members of the outdoor media and pro staffers during it’s press conference. Mark Zona (left, in black) was the emcee, and here Randy Howell talks about the Daiwa’s Tatula Elite reels. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

The Daiwa press conference held right there in its massive booth drew quite a crowd as usual. Building on the very popular Tatula brand unveiled at ICAST last year, Daiwa is very high on the new Tatula Elite P/F crafted specifically for pitching and flipping. Top pro staffers including Brent Ehrler, Ish Monroe, Randy Howell and Seth Fielder were clearly impressed with this new product several of them had a hand in creating. It would be impossible to touch on all the new upcoming stuff from Daiwa, but the items getting the most attention at ICAST also include Made-in-Japan J-Fluoro – which is a perfect match for it’s popular J-Braid, the new Neko Macho weighted-plastic finesse bait and accessories that run the gamut from lure boxes with unique foam stabilizers, pistol grip pliers, a huge and full-features travel duffle bag and Tatula-branded performance shirts made by Huk.

MIKE IACONELI DETAILS the features of the new VMC Bladed Hybrid Treble that took top honors in the Terminal Tackle Category in the ICAST New Product Showcase. As you can tell, “Ike” takes ICAST very seriously. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

VMC took home a Best in Show trophy in the Terminal Tackle category with the VMC Bladed Hybrid Treble that can add the flash of a spinning willow leaf blade to any lure you connect it to. VMC falls under the Rapala umbrella along with some other popular brands that was showing off cool new stuff including the Storm Arashi Glidebait. That product took several years to develop under the discerning eye of bass pro, Brandon Palaniuk whose goal was to create a glidebait that anglers of any level could effectively fish out of the box without a lot of instruction. At ICAST, he called it “the perfect glidebait.” Sufix launched it’s Advance 100 Percent Fluorocarbon, and not to be out-shined by all it’s sister brands, Rapala added a new 12 six RipStop jerkbait and added to an existing, successful line, and a new BX Big Brat crankbait that turned a lot of heads at the show.

THE BIGGER NOMAD DTX MINNOWS officially dive to 40 feet, but reps in their booth at ICAST said they regularly get them down to 50. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

Nomad has quickly made a name for itself offshore in Southern California Waters, and it added new sizes to it’s Chug Norris offshore poppers. Built like a tank with amazing finishes and designed for an aggressive retrieve that creates a big bubble trail, there are now three new sizes including 7-, 6- and 4-inch. There is also a new 9-inch size for the DTX Minnow, which is a diving bait made for getting deep on the troll. While the 9-inch is marked as running to 40 feet on the packaging, reps on hand in the booth told me they’ve regularly dragged it down to 50.

Switching gears to the rod department, Park Falls, Wisconsin-based St. Croix once again found itself in the new item showcase winner’s circle. This time, it was for best freshwater rod with its Mojo Bass Glass Rip ‘N Chatter rod. It’s a complete redesign taking into consideration enough rod tech to make you think they were talking about the space shuttle. The bottom line is, for a glass rod, it’s lighter, stronger and more high-performance than any ever developed, and it can be had for a very reasonable price, ranging from $140 to $160. It’s available in four casting models and one spinning.

Those are sure to be a hit out here, but for good measure, St. Croix also took home Best in Show hardware in the Saltwater Rod (St. Croix Avid Surf) and Fly Rod (St. Croix Imperial Salt) categories.

Gamakatsu had a laundry list of new hooks on display, but what jumped out to me was their new Offset Finesse Jigs for Neko rigs and the Nautilus HD live bait hooks, with or without rings. I happened to notice and spy on bass pro Aaron Martens in the booth looking over schematics of other hooks and weighing in on the with a “Gama” rep, which I thought was a testament to how they really take pro staff input into consideration rather than just slapping their names on stuff.

Strike King has something in just about ever bass-bait genre imaginable, and the best way to cover as many as possible for WON readers is to just list them: check out the soft plastic Ned Ocho, 5.75-inch Rage Swimmer, KVD Baby Sexy Frog and Rage Ned Bug. On the hardbait side, the KVD 2.5 Wake Bait, Sexy Dawg Hard Knock and Mark Rose Lil Ledge Spoon, and the Tour Grade Ned Rig Head.

Bubba (formerly Bubba Blades) has been undergoing an evolution and now creates entire lines of performance clothing and accessories. Still very much a premium blade outfit, Bubba scored Best in Show hardware in the Cutley/Tools category with the Bubba 110v Electric Filet knife.

AFW (American Fishing Wire) had a lot of interesting items in the lure category under its C&H brand.The C&H Stubby Bubbler is a great trolling option for those of you who loved the “jet head” days. It’s rigged with a 7/0 Mustad hook, AFW swivel and a 100-pound HI SEAS leader. Other modern takes on throwback baits include the C&H Rattle Jet, Tuna Tango, and the No Alibi which is more of a classic feather. All are available rigged as described above or unrigged so you can have fun with it.When you consider the tendency for tactics circling back (cedar plugs anyone?) after years of dormancy, C&H could be the tip of the spear here. Are daisy chains next?

If you’re a trout guy, Harrison/Hoge (aka, Panther Martin) is coming out with a Dual Flash Spinner with a pair of blades, Mini Fly spinners, Willow Strike Spinners (debuted last year) now with a Mini Fly dressed hook, and a new micro 1/48 ounce Panther Martin Spinner.

It looks like modular tackle storage is becoming “a thing” and Plano is fittingly leading that charge with it’s new Edge Storage System that took top honors for Tackle Management in the ICAST New Item Showcase. Depending on which model you’ve got your hands on, it takes customizable storage to the next level with newly-designed dividers that stuff can’t slip under and anti-corrosion potion cooked right into the plastic.

After every ICAST Show, I like to include at least one item out of left field in these reviews. This time around, I’m going with Arctic Ice which, believe it or not, has taken reusable ice to the next level. Think of the classic “blue ice” on steroids. Arctic Ice comes in three Series geared toward different cooling needs, each with it’s own freezing point. So, one series for food (32 degree freezing point), beverages (28 degrees) and freezing (5 degrees). Each series comes in four sizes, with a fifth monster size in the works. There is even one designed for the new circular bucket-style coolers. Reps in the booth suggested a primary use on the West Coast beyond coolers will be the biggest models in a fish box on a boat. They weren’t suggesting Arctic Ice alone would be enough to keep fish temps down, but they did say their products would keep ice from melting, which makes a whole lot of sense.

A LONG WAY FROM HOME — San Clemente-based Fishworks unleashed it’s performance, foul weather and lifestyle clothing on attendees of the 2019 ICAST Show in Orlando.

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