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A quick look at a few of the new products that made a lasting first impression at ICAST 2016.
By Toby Lapinski
Tags: general

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, took place in Orlando, Florida on July 12 – 15 this year. For those of you unfamiliar with ICAST, it is basically a fishing tackle, gear and accessory junky’s dream world. You know the old, “kid in a candy store” reference? Well that is how The Fisherman staff felt walking around the show for four days checking out 650,000 square feet of jam-packed show floor space with all the latest and greatest from anyone and everyone in the fishing industry. I mean, where else in the world can you walk 100 feet and bump into guys like Jimmy Houston, Larry Dahlberg, Mike Iaconelli, Mark Zona, three quarters of the Wicked Tuna cast and Florida Governor Rick Scott while also checking out fishing tackle from companies like Penn, Lamiglas, HUK, Owner and more?

While ICAST is not open to the general public, several staffers of The Fisherman Magazine were in attendance to bring you the first look at a bunch of new products that are set to hit retail shelves in the coming weeks and months. The first night of the show includes what is called the “New Product Showcase,” and this is an opportunity for editorial media representatives like us to get a hands-on look at the best of the best in new items from vendors at the show. This viewing also includes a ballot card where attendees can select their favorite items on display, culminating in the coveted “Best Of Show” awards. There are 24 categories including Best Freshwater Rod, Best Saltwater Rod, Best Fly Reel and so on, but for the most part this list does not always jive with the interests and needs of the readers of The Fisherman Magazine. Further, some may say that the voting process is more corrupt than a presidential election at the Del Boca Vista condominium complex (yes, that is a Seinfeld reference…)

So in its place today I’ll provide you with a quick look at some of the new products that we encountered in Orlando. There is not going to be any advertiser sucking up going on here or product plugging in the hopes of getting some free samples. Nope, just an honest few words on some cool products which are of most interest to fishermen of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic as well as a few that simply caught my eye and made me pause and say, “D@mn, why didn’t I think of that?!?!?”

The Mojo line of rods from St. Croix covers both fresh and saltwater applications from ultra-light freshwater to the roaring surf on out to the canyons, and now they have added a dedicated line-up with the saltwater jigging enthusiast in mind—but don’t think they are just for jigging as the applications are almost endless. Backed by St. Croix’s 5-year warranty and St. Croix Superstar Service, these rods are built on SCII graphite blanks that incorporate SRT technology which is generally only seen on their higher-end rods for a feel and fish-fighting power that is unmatched at a $200 retail price point. With eight models to choose from—four spinning and four conventional—there is certain to be one that fits your needs.

As a surfcaster and wetsuiter, lightweight yet comfortable and durable footwear is a must. Add some soul-mounted spikes and I’m a happy camper. Prior to this year’s show I received a few special teaser emails from companies who would be debuting special products, and when one from Hodgman popped into my inbox that showed boots with interchangeable soles, my interest was more than a little peeked. Three new boots—the Vion, Aesis and H5—will all be available in 2017 with the all-new H-Lock locking interchangeable sole system that comes in felt, studded felt, Wadetech rubber and studded Wadetech rubber soles. Couple a pair of these boots with one of Hodgman’s all new wading socks and your feet will be on cloud nine while your casts land in the surf!

When I first laid my eyes on the new Coltsniper sinking jerkbait from Shimano, I blurted out, “These are going to be deadly on albies and bonito” without even thinking. Making use of the all-new Shimano Propulsion Weight Transfer System, these baits are built to make long, accurate casts; essential when hunting speedy, spooky fish! With two models (120mm and 140mm) and heavy-duty through-wire construction, northeast anglers are going likely to find success on this lure both inshore and offshore.

We’ve all been there when a dead car or boat battery puts a damper on a day’s plans. Beyond just the simple inconvenience of a dead batter, the act of jumping said battery comes with its own set of dangers and problems. Enter the Weego jump starters and the all-new Jumpstarter 44. This one simple package was an eye-opener for me as it is now available in an IP65 rated package, perfect for use on your boat, kayak or canoe as well as in your car or truck. Capable of starting gas engines up to 6.4L and diesel engines up to 3.2L, the pack only loses 2% of its charge per month for reliable starting anytime and provides over 1000 full charge cycles! There is also a full line of accessories available to power everything from a portable tire air pump to your boat’s electronics.

There are certain things that I just can’t seem to get enough of, and shoes/boots/footwear in general fall into this category (oh man am I going to get ribbed for that comment...) I am pretty tough on my shoes so finding a pair that is both comfortable as well as durable is an ongoing battle. Xtratuf is long known as a leader in commercial fishing boots, and in recent years they have taken steps to expand beyond this into the recreational fishing as well as leisure craft footwear markets. The deck boot collection blends the needs of recreational fishermen with the durability put into the commercial fishing boots and now the ankle boot takes it a step further with the addition of the awesome Kryptek styling. Featuring the XPressCool liner to eliminate moisture and the slip resistant Chevron outsole, these boots are both comfortable and stylish!

The goal of anyone with a booth at a trade show is to catch the eye of someone walking the floor, and that is just what happened when I walked past the Dexter booth on the final morning of ICAST. The bright orange grips showcased on a large sign caught my eye just long enough to make me stop and find out more. As fishermen a knife is an important tool for cutting bait, filleting our catch and as a safety item in an emergency. Everyone it seems sells the best blade that “stays sharper than the competition,” but few go a step further and make the grip not only more comfortable, but also more secure in your hand than the all-new UR-Cut from Dexter. The premise is simple: hold the handle in boiling water for 2 minutes to soften the orange material, remove and dip in cold water for one second to make it safe to handle, firmly grip the knife with your cutting hand as you would if using and re-dip in cold water for at least 10 seconds to lock in your grip. Once the knife has fully cooled you will have a semi-permanent grip that is tailor-fit to your exact hand size and grip style—genius!

When the founder and chief designer of Crocs joins forces with the former president and chief operating officer of Reebok, you know some awesome footwear are sure to be the end result! Perhaps a result of spending three days on my feet, or maybe because I am so hard on my shoes, but either way I was absolutely amazed at just how comfortable the water and boat shoes from SoftScience felt. Offering a selection of styles including sandals, clogs, boots and traditional boat-style shoes, they will translate seamlessly from street to boat to water and back while all the time offering secure and comfortable footing on any surface.

Stay tuned for additional editorial coverage in print and online over the next few months as we spotlight even more new products in greater detail through some specially-themed articles.