Florida convention billed as the premier showcase for latest innovations
In early July, my friend Kevin Stobbe and I headed to Orlando, Fla., for the annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST).
ICAST, presented by the American Sportfishing Association, features exhibitors from all around the globe and is billed as the premier showcase for the latest innovations in fishing gear, accessories and apparel.
Held at the massive Orange County Convention Center, it was our second year at the event and it took us two days to cover the area. Media are given an early look at the new product showcase, and more than a few innovations caught my eye.
There were many new soft lure products on display and one that especially held my attention was the LIVETARGET Hollow Body Craw. It has an ultra-soft hollow body. Rigged on a football-head jig, it scoots across the bottom emitting tiny bubbles behind. You can also squeeze scent paste in the cavity to add even more attracting qualities. The pincers are also buoyant, which allows them to move around like the real thing. This is important in Manitoba, where the use of rusty crayfish as bait is prohibited. These are invasive species and are known to destroy vegetation in many of our lakes and rivers.
More and more anglers are using soft plastics exclusively, and this has been reflected in the influx of products anglers can choose from. Unfortunately, in this province, tackle stores have a tough time stocking the wide variety of baits which are available. Berkley is one manufacturer that dominates in the soft plastic department. This year alone, there are 89 new soft plastic products on the market.
In talking to the staff at the booth, I had them recommend the top new products for walleye and bass anglers in this part of the world. The one that really caught my attention is the PowerBait MaxScent Flatnose Minnow, which is made out of all-new material that releases a super-charged scent field, attracting fish in a way never before seen. The compressed flat nose is designed for better hookups on a drop-shot rig. It’s life-like tail mimics easy prey fish.
On the rod and reel side of things, two products stood out to me.
The Okuma Deadeye Classic rods are one of three new models of walleye specific rods to hit the market this year. The Deadeye Classic Series rods are a family of rods encompassing all of the popular walleye techniques from trolling to jigging. The new rods were designed around Okuma’s Ultimate Flex Reinforcement (UFR) tip technology. This process blends unidirectional fibre over 24-ton carbon in the extended tip section of the rod to increase lifting strength and power by as much as 400 per cent. This technology provides ultimate strength without sacrificing sensitivity — so you can feel even the lightest of bites. They also have a variety of sizes including a two-piece 6-6 version, perfect for walleye fishing. They have quality cork and hard EVA handles to go along with their sleek look. Best of all, they are priced right at a range between US$50 and US$129.
As for reels, things can easily get pricey, and the most impressive piece of machinery I saw was the Shimano Curado 150 DC Casting Reel. This one is built for those not comfortable with using a level-wind reel. It blends the winning attributes of the Shimano Curado 200K with Shimano’s Digitally Controlled braking system — resulting in one of the most dependable and technologically advanced reels on the market. Offering easy, trouble-free, long-distance casting throughout a range of conditions and baits, the Shimano Curado 150 DC features an externally adjustable braking system measured and controlled by a microcomputer every 1/1000 of a second, so it applies the optimal amount of braking pressure, virtually eliminating backlashes and maximizing casting distance. It will be available in the fall, but it won’t be cheap and will probably retail at around the $320 mark in Canada.
One product on the tackle storage side of things which impressed is the new Hard Bait Launch Pad. This small tray will securely hold five to 10 of your key hardbaits tangle free, ones you plan on using that day.
On the electronics side of things, Humminbird has added the Mega Down Imaging feature to their Ultrex Troll Motors for 2019.
Angler’s Notes: The sheer size of the sportfishing industry in North America is staggering, and that includes here at home in Manitoba. In the U.S. alone, anglers spend US$125 billion on the sport. There are 49 million anglers, and jobs for more than 800,000 people. Sportfishing tourism here in Manitoba is big business, bringing in somewhere around $125 million (including ice fishing) annually from activities and supplies directly related to angling. Direct expenditures include tackle, food and lodging, travel costs, fishing services, package plans and other related costs. About $61 million of that $125 million is spent by anglers from outside Manitoba who visit the province to fish.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press