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In a show with hundreds of thousands of fishing products on display, a handful really stood out.
By Toby Lapinski

Just one week prior to my sitting down and typing this out, I was down in Orlando, Florida for ICAST 2017. ICAST is the world’s largest sportfishing trade show. This year’s event was extremely well-attended with some 15,000 attendees reported through the doors. Produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the sportfishing industry’s trade association, ICAST is the cornerstone of the sportfishing industry, helping to drive sportfishing companies’ product sales year round. It’s also the premier showcase for the latest innovations in fishing gear, accessories and apparel.

As I said in the video clip posted at The Fisherman's Facebook page which we shot at the new product showcase on Tuesday night, I felt like a kid in a candy store running around getting my dirty little fingers on all the newest, coolest products set to hit store shelves in the coming weeks and months.

Over the three full days of the show we shot more than 25 new product videos which you can see in their entirety in the Tackle & Gear Reviews section of the website, but as I started doing last year I also tried to put together a little recap of some of the things I saw which caught my eye. These are just some cool products that I liked and which I feel could benefit fishermen in the northeast; be sure to check out my ICAST 2016 Highlights, but in the meantime here is what caught my eye in 2017.

I have been throwing large sot plastics in the surf for some time now, and before I gave it a try it had long been the secret weapon of some excellent anglers. Over the years I have tried many different rigging configurations, but none of them fit my needs and wants as well as the use of an oversized “swimbait” hook. The problem has been, however, that all of these hooks are designed for freshwater species and environments, so I experienced failure in both hooks rusting and several times with the hooks actually breaking. Well, I may have stumbled upon my solution in the TT Lures Chinlockz SWS hooks. Designed to pair with oversized plastics, these upsized weighted swimbait hooks are designed for big fish applications in fresh or saltwater. The molded keeper eliminates the need for screw lock-style keepers with conventional soft baits, and the Mustad hooks are strong enough to stand up to species such as tuna, stripers, tarpon and more! They are built on 10/0 and 12/0 Mustad UltraPoint hooks, available in three weights (1/2, ¾ and 1 ounce), and come in packs of two.

I featured XTRATUF in my 2016 ICAST recap when they debuted the Kryptek ankle boot, and they have quickly become a staple for both inshore and offshore fishermen everywhere. Now for 2017, XTRATUF hits us with a bunch of sick crossover boating/fishing/casual footwear. This line of new footwear includes the Spindrift for men and women (an athletic-style water shoe), the Sharkbyte Airmesh for men (a breathable, quick-drying deck shoe), the Chumrunner Canvas for men (a casual shoe with boat-ready features), the Yellowtail Slip-Ons for men and women (a causal slip-on for on and of the boat), and two different styles of performance flip-flops for men and women. The South Shore flip-flops feature full grain leather, while the South Shore model is made of synthetic materials. Both styles feature triple density bottoms for comfort, a wide foot cradle for stability and the classic non-marking XTRATUFF chevron sole.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are a LOT of great fishing rods on the market today. I’ve fished most of them at one time or another, but I’ve made more casts with my many Lamiglas rods than all others combined and I’ve laid out nothing but my own hard-earned money to do so. With as much time as I dedicate to fishing the surf, it seems only natural that Lami would be my choice as they have been around for more than the 30-plus years that I’ve been prowling the surf. But, for the past couple of years, Lamiglas has been rather quiet if not altogether absent from the surf fishing rod market, pushed aside by some other companies making great strides to employ the latest and greatest in their rods. Now while I can’t say just yet what the guys over at Lamiglas have in store for the next few years, suffice to say they are in good hands and will make some excellent moves with new staffer and surf rat, Sean Kearney onboard the team! Right off the bat they have updated the popular Insane Surf rods with K-frame guides, and plans are in the works to update the Graphite Surf & Jetty and Certified Pro Surf rods.

Body Glove has been in business since 1953, and they produce a wide range of products suited for the recreational angler including wetsuits, footwear, apparel and more. With the recent surge in popularity of SUP’s, the Mariner Angler iSUP is a great go-anywhere packable option designed with fishermen in mind. This inflatable SUP comes complete with a back pack for easy transport, high pressure pump, adjustable paddle, accessory mounting points for rod holders, anchor line guide and more. This stable platform is built for your next fishing adventure! And while paddling around your nearest lake or back bay, a pair of 3T Hero minimalist shoes will provide a secure and comfortable grip on the board. Perfect whether spending a day on or off the water, these shoes features an ultra-grip outsole, elastic shocklace for a comfortable fit and zero heel lift for a true barefoot feet.

“Measure your prize… We print to size… The fish survives” is the motto of this company with a great concept for the catch and release angler. There are many ways to document an exceptional catch from fiberglass replica mounts to Gyotaku to framing a photograph, but sometimes we have a tough time convincing our better half to let us display the trophy on the living room wall, regardless of the chosen format. Well, when I first encountered one of the beautiful prints at the New Product Showcase from The Catch & Release Shop, I knew they would have to be included in my re-cap of the show for just that reason. These prints are more like a piece of fine art than a trophy hanging on the wall, and they are so well done that they will fit seamlessly into any décor. The concept is simple: measure your fish, provide the catch details and receive a true-to-size print of the fish which includes catch data including species, date of catch, length, weight, catch location and angler’s name. They are perfect for framing and would make a great memento of that memorable catch!

You might be surprised that I picked this product from Yo-Zuri. Between their other new saltwater offerings like the High Speed Vibe and the Hydro Minnow LC, a freshwater spinnerbait-type lure was probably a surprise. But, I must say, I have been getting back into freshwater bassing lately and this one had me intrigued when the first product sneak peaks surfaced in the days leading up to ICAST. While it sort of resembles a classic spinnerbait in some ways, the obvious change-up here is where the blade would or should be on a traditional bait. In its place is a “ball” with either a 3D Prism pattern or a painted Sound Ball pattern. They each have their own unique applications, and where traditional spinnerbaits could just be rolled along, this bait changes things up offering a variety of options.

Again, I know I am a surf guy so much of what I see leans me that way, but this system works for anyone fishing the surf at Cuttyhunk to a salmon stream in Alaska. I’ve been using Korker products for as long as I can remember, and their (unfortunately) now-discontinued HyJack shoes are my #1 wetsuit shoe of choice. I have one pair of those left that are unused and I am on my third season with my other pair (with more than 200 nights in the surf under their belt and still going strong!) When not in the suit I opt for the Buckskin boots, but I may have to ad in the new Wraptr boots. When a fisherman gets out 5 or more days or nights per week, their boots may go weeks or months without fully drying out. Any weak spot in the equation makes itself known under such torture, and the Wraptr boots eliminate this issue, “by creating a virtually seamless and stitch less upper that uses compression molding for protection. Less layers and stitching means lighter boots and less to break down.” The Triple Threat Soles feature thicker rubber outsoles and can accept the specially-made spikes, bars or hex discs (or any combination you see fit thereof) for the most secure grip you’re going to get while climbing over slick rocky shoreline. These soles are compatible with all existing boots that use the OmniTrax v3.0 soles. Couple the Wraptr boots with the awesome new Triple Threat Soles and you have an absolutely sick package!

This product seemed to pop up at every turn I made whether I was looking at the handle on a new reel to a slew of both custom and production rods so I had to stop by their booth and get some more information. This company started out making tennis grips in 1980, branched out into golf grips in 1996 and entered the fishing grip world in 2009. They make pre-formed grips (much like EVA foam or cork), overwrap (like cork tape) and a bunch of different butt caps and trips to match any rod from ultralight to fly to offshore. The grips come in hundreds of colors and shapes to make that custom rod truly custom, and the grip—one of the most important things here—is said to be second to none.

Ahi USA has more than 400 products under the brand including cast nets, squid jigs, rods, apparel and more, but what stood out for me this year was the all-new Live Deception cedar plug trolling lures. These trolling lures feature laser-printed, image transfers of five of the most common and popular offshore baits including mahi, green mackerel, anchovy, blue mackerel and sardine. No while cedar plugs are nothing new, the finish and image on these is absolutely insane. It’s not going to chip or flake off, and they look just like the real thing adding a new level of reality to their appeal. Available in both singles and a custom daisy chain these are certainly going to be a hit with the offshore trolling fans out there for a wide variety of gamefish.

The second back-to-back entry in my running ICAST recaps, Soft Science produces some of the most comfortable footwear that I have ever had the pleasure of wearing. I picked up a pair of Soft Science shoes last year and they have been a welcomed addition to my boating must-haves. What’s better is that they perform equally well on dry land as they do at sea. They are truly a joy to wear and provide unmatched comfort for long days on the water. Like I said in my intro, the products listed here are all included for no other reason than I feel that my fellow Fisherman readers will benefit from them, and Soft Science shoes have all but eliminated the back, leg and foot pain that I used to experience while fishing on a boat for extended periods of time.

Trapper Tackle made their debut at ICAST 2016 with a Best in Show award in the “Fish Hooks” category, and they’ve been making waves ever since. The difference in Trapper Tackle Hooks is quite obvious with their squared-off book bend, and the idea behind it is genius. The special design locks both bait and fish into the “trap” between two shafts and right angles making it extremely difficult for fish to escape by throwing the hook. This concept has proven itself extremely effective on hard baits where fish of all species have a greater propensity for throwing the hooks resulting in lost fish. With new saltwater hooks now in the line-up, these are sure to prove extremely effective for Northeast anglers in the coming years!

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. In the mean time, here are a few additional products we thought that you might enjoy.