Just in time for holiday shopping, here is a rundown on the 18 coolest new fishing products we found at the annual ICAST tackle show this year.
By Todd Smith
ICAST is the trade show produced by the American Sportfishing Association. At this annual gathering, tackle manufacturers showcase their latest fishing products. This year’s show in Orlando was the biggest ICAST ever with 626 manufacturers participating and more than 15,000 people from 71 countries attending. From new rods and reels to the latest in clothing, fishing kayaks and electronics, there were hundreds of new products introduced.
Choosing my favorite introductions was tough because there are just so many great products to choose from. One noticeable trend (and a real bonus for fishermen) is that many of the high-tech features introduced a year or so ago are now trickling down into more affordable rods, reels and gear.
Buyers and media voted on ICAST 2018 Best of Category and Best of Show Awards, but before I looked at the winner’s list I walked the show aisles choosing products that caught my eye as being stand-out innovations as well as just plain fun.
Some of these products are available now (just in time for your holiday shopping) while others will be hitting your local tackle retailer’s shelves in early 2019. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of my favorite products from ICAST 2018.
Baitcasting reels have always presented backlash challenges, especially for new fishermen. The new Curado DC Reels have a special Digital Control braking system that uses a microcomputer to monitor spool speed 1000 times per second. The result? The braking system applies just the right amount of pressure to prevent backlashes. Best of all, you get this flagship technology in reels that retail at a very affordable $249.99.
Strike King has added literally dozens of new products and color extensions to their line this year, but one lure that really caught my eye was their new KVD 1.5 Deep Diver. This lure is designed to BassMaster Classic Champion Kevin VanDam’s specifications and utilizes a deep diving bill that quickly gets this lure down to 9 feet and beyond—perfect for those times when fish are hanging just a little deeper. MSRP: $7.49
Saltwater fishermen will love the new line of G. Loomis E6X rods designed especially for inshore saltwater use. With 14 new models to choose from, there is a rod in this lineup to meet just about any inshore saltwater challenge from lures to live-bait use—all using G. Loomis’ Multi-Taper Technology that offers great balance and strength. Both spinning and casting models are available with prices ranging from $199 to $229.
Start with an owner who was a carpenter. Add a healthy dose of fishing passion and a dash of Yankee ingenuity. What do you get? A cool new line of fresh and saltwater lures from Odin Lure Co. that allow you to inject liquid bait (“Fish Smack”) into the body of the lure to lay down a scent trail that fish can’t resist. Guide, Ray Markham, tied one of these lures on the day after ICAST when we fished together and landed a huge sea trout on the very first cast! MSRP: $19.95-$29.95 (depending on size of lure); Smack $12.95; Starter Pack (Lure and Smack) $32.95-$39.95
Simms, long known for their innovation in waders, has partnered with Veil to develop a new proprietary fishing camouflage pattern that they are now offering in their best-selling G3 waders. Designed using sophisticated technology that is based on how fish actually see, this new River Guide pattern is amazing. (Simms is also offering clothing tops and head coverings to match offering UPF 50 sun protection). And while the camouflage is color patterned for Rocky Mountain rivers, I can see a great application for fishermen in many regions as well as duck hunters. Look for this product in spring 2019. MSRP: $549.95
OK, we all know that Costa Del Mar sunglasses look cool. And we all know that their lenses are some of the best available for spotting fish. This year Costa is also putting their shoulder to the conservation wheel by introducing new frames made from discarded fishing nets. Called “The Untangled Collection” this new line represents a strategic partnership between Costa Del Mar and Bureo, who works with fishermen to prevent discarded nets from polluting our oceans and harming wildlife. Bureo recycles the nets, breaking them down into pellets of raw material that Costa then molds into The Untangled Collection sunglass frames. A cool concept that looks and functions great, too. MSRP $199 - $269
Pulling fish up from deep water causes major barotrauma stress when fish who were swimming freely in the pressure and temperature of deep water are suddenly hoisted to the surface. The SeaQualizer is an innovative, new release device that clips to the fishes lower lip. You then drop the fish back down on a weighted line to the depth at which it was caught (up to 300 feet) and the release pops open, allowing the fish to swim away—back in the proper thermocline. Check out this video to see how it works. $59.99 SeaQualizer will also be marketing a new line of sunglass leashes soon made from recycled fishing line—very cool!
Looking for footwear that’s super comfortable and won’t mare the deck of your boat? Look no further than the full line of men’s and women’s fashion-forward styles from SoftScience. SoftScience utilizes Trileon—a closed cell copolymer that makes these shoes extremely lightweight, stable (for fighting fish), impact absorbent and odor resistant. I’ve been wearing a pair of men’s Fin 2.0’s. They’re super comfortable, and so light you hardly know you have them on. $89.99
Fishing kayaks were all the rage at ICAST with at least a half-dozen companies showing off their new models. The one that caught my eye, however, was the Topwater PDL (propeller driven) from Old Town Canoes. At just over 10 feet in length and weighing in at a mere 100 pounds fully outfitted, the Topwater PDL is easy to transport and nimble in the water, yet it sacrifices nothing in stability thanks to a DoubleU hull that allows you to glide through the water with ease. And the Topwater PDL features one of the most reliable and easy-peddling drive units available. $1,999.99
Long known for its fly-fishing products, Orvis has introduced a new wading boot (available in spring 2019) that they are making in partnership with Michelin. As you might guess, the boots are made from virgin and recycled rubber and a new tread design (you can feel the Michelin influence here) offers a 43% improvement in traction over traditional Vibram styles. These boots are surprisingly lightweight and are designed with the idea that anglers are indeed athletes, so performance and foot fatigue is factored into the design to provide a comfortable boot for hiking into those hard-to-reach places as well as great wading performance. $229.00 You’ll also want to check out their new Clearwater rods that offer high-tech features at an affordable price. $198-$249
For those who just getting into fishing, L.L. Bean is offering their new Quest line of fully rigged spinning and fly-fishing outfits. These sets come with a rod, reel, line and a really nice travel case. Take them on an airplane or toss them in the back of your car for some quick casts on your next camping trip. Best of all, the prices are truly amazing at just $129 to $149 depending on which outfit your choose. For those looking to step up their game, check out the new Apex fly rods. These are Bean’s best top-end rods and they are simply gorgeous.
Everyone knows OtterBox for their practically bombproof cell phone cases. The company has now taken that same ultra-strong molding technology and applied it to a full line of hard and soft coolers. OtterBox’s new Trooper 20 cooler is perfect for short trips (they also make a larger LT-30 for longer adventures). It has a 20-quart capacity (it will keep ice for 3 days) and no zippers, so it’s easy to open and closes with a simple latch. The Trooper 20 is O-ring sealed, so it’s leakproof and it has a modular design with two accessory rails so you can clip on a dry box or gear pouch—perfect for keeping your lunch cold and your catch fresh for the trip home. $249.99
Yakima will be expanding its line of roof racks and accessories in 2019 to include some amazing trailers for hauling kayaks, canoes and gear. They’re also adding a new addition to their truck-top Sky Rise tent line. The current versions utilize lightweight backpacking tent materials (210D nylon) so they’re super lightweight. The whole thing folds out and sets up in just 5 minutes (no tools required) and provides a comfy, mattress that is easily removed for fast clean-ups. The small version ($1,099) sleeps 2 while the medium version ($1,499) sleeps 3. Coming in February 2019, Yakima will introduce the Sky Rise HD Tent. This will be a heavy-duty fabric version for 4-season use. $2,000.
This reel gets my vote for one of the most innovative (and reasonably priced) baitcasting reels I saw at the show. At just 6.9 pounces the Diawa Tatula 100 is the smallest and most lightweight reel in the series—super palmable and ultra-fast cranking with a 9mm handle. The T-wing system offers a larger line opening to reduce backlash while allowing longer casts. And the Mag-force anti-backlash system is easy to adjust. All you have to do is dial it in for your casting style and you’re all set. Priced at $159.99, you’re getting a lot of great high-tech features in a very nice reel here.
Patagonia has recently paired their expertise in fly fishing with Danner’s boot design team to create the new line of Foot Tractor and River Salt wading boots, which will be available in February 2019. Working with Vibram, Patagonia developed two different sole concepts: River Salt boots feature a Vibram Megagrip compound that is optimized for all-terrain and all-condition grip on both wet and dry surfaces—perfect for hiking into remote streams—while Vibram’s Idrogrip compound, used in the Foot Tractor, is specially formulated for use on wet rocks. Both boot styles feature full-grain leather and durable nylon uppers for strength and weight savings. Danner’s stitch-down construction also allows these boots to be resoled and the leather reconditioned by Danner’s expert staff, so you’ll not need to worry about replacing your wading boots for years to come. Foot Tractors will be priced from $499 to $549 while River Salts will retail for $449.
Coming in mid-September, Abu Garcia’s low-profile Revo Rocket has all the bells and whistles baitcasting fans are looking for, combining strength, speed and power. The 10.1:1 gear ratio provides incredibly fast retrieves of 41 IPT (inches per turn) and the Matrix drag system makes this reel the perfect companion when fishing heavy cover where fast techniques are employed. $299.95
You knew it had to happen. If you’re one of the top names in hunting circles, why wouldn’t you expand into fishing? Mossy Oak did just that in 2017 when they launched their new Elements Agua fishing pattern. Since then the pattern has taken off like a skyrocket to become the official pattern of B.A.S.S., Major League Fishing, the Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, and the Bassmaster High School Tournament Series. Elements Aqua has also been adapted by a number of manufacturers for use on everything from clothing to coolers. Huk’s ICON fishing shirts are just one example. These shirts are available in three Elements Aqua color options and the long-sleeve version provides +30 UPF sun protection. Best of all, these shirts (and pattern) look great whether you’re on the water or heading to your favorite dockside restaurant. MSRP Long Sleeve $49.99, Short Sleeve $39.99, and ¼ Zip $54.99.
Fishermen are keenly aware of needing sun protection anytime they’re on the water. Buff has just announced a new line of multifunctional headwear (available online in January 2019) that will feature Coolnet UV+ fabric. This new fabric is made with REPREVE fibers, which come from 100-percent recycled materials. Coolnet UV+ headwear employs both wicking technology, to move moisture away from your skin and keep your cool, as well as odor-control technology to keep garments smelling fresh. And Coolnet UV+ products deliver a sun protection factor of UPF 50+ allowing you to enjoy more hours on the water without having to worry about harming your skin. Coolnet UV+ headwear products will range in price from $15 to $28.