Despite obvious concerns over 2009's economic woes, organizers of the annual ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) exhibition announced record crowds of nearly 7,400 tackle-industry attendees from around the globe at this year's show. ICAST opened in Orlando, Florida, rather than its traditional location - Las Vegas - in mid-July.
"I admit we were a bit gun-shy about leaving Las Vegas, but everyone seems to have embraced the Orlando show location, and it certainly exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance," says Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association, which hosts the trade show. Exhibitors echoed much of that goodwill during the event, commenting on the frenetic activity.
Sport Fishing's editors attend ICAST each year to report on products you can buy the following January. We began this year's coverage by showing you a few new-product pictures online at www.sportfishingmag.com, posted during the event; below, we offer more detail about top award winners and gear from your favorite manufacturers.
Daiwa debuted its Saltist Spinning Reels at ICAST alongside the Saltist Lever Drag reels (see Sport Fishing's July/August New Products column), which won the ICAST New Product Showcase award for Best Saltwater Reel. The all-metal Saltist spinners come in five sizes and include Daiwa's Digigear system, digitally designed to mesh more efficiently for max power and reduced wear. The reels' 6.2-to-1 gear ratio provides a retrieve rate of 53 inches of line with every handle crank on the three larger reels. Other features include five CRBB ball bearings; a manual bail trip; dual, full-time anti-reverse; and sealed, waterproof drag. The smallest, 4000-size reel holds a maximum of 55-pound braid (240 yards); the largest, the 6500, holds a max of 80-pound braid (440 yards). Prices range from $199.95 to $229.95. Call 562-802-9589, or visit www.daiwa.com.
Designed for inshore/nearshore species, Penn's new Conquer features proprietary design elements, including the EAS - easy-access system. A single screw secures a rear hatch that opens to allow gear and bearing lubrication while keeping all parts in place. Conquers also come with a spool lip made of "Eternal Alloy" for strength and hardness twice that of titanium alloy, Penn says. The four reel sizes, 2000, 4000, 5000 and 7000, weigh from 9.9 to 18.1 ounces, with gear ratios from 4.8-to-1 to 5.1-to-1. The 2000 holds braid as light as 8-pound-test (250 yards); the 7000 holds 250 yards of 50-pound braid. The two smaller reels cost $199.99, the larger two, $219.99. Penn builds Conquers with a patented one-piece machined-aluminum gear box, a Superline Spool (eliminating the need for backing), 11 shielded stainless-steel bearings and HT-100 drag washers. Call 215-229-9415, or visit www.pennreels.com.
Calling it the new-age standard in lighter, stronger, faster lever-drag reels built for braid, Fin-Nor has introduced the all-new Marquesa. The Marquesa features a forged and fully machined frame, side cover and spool, and a carbon-fiber drag system offering more than 30 pounds of lockdown power on larger models. The reels come in four sizes and six models, including four open versions for live-bait anglers and two top-bar models for line- management applications like kite fishing and trolling. Top-bar models also offer an adjustable bait clicker that allows for variations in current, drift and wind. All models sport 6.1-to-1 gear ratios and a four-weight brake control for pitch-baiting. Line capacities range from 270 yards of 50-pound braid on the small MA12 to 670 yards of 50 on the MA30T; reel weights run 20 to 27.4 ounces. Marquesas cost $259.95 to $319.95. Call 918-836-5581, or visit www.finnorfishing.com.
Shimano Talica II
As conventional reels go, star-drags generally cast better than lever-drags because they have lighter spools and the drags are in the gears, not the spool, Shimano says. But the company sought to defy that logic with its new Talica II two-speed lever-drag reels. Talicas can underhand a sardine to the chum line and horse big fish on heavy-duty braid. Talica's high-speed gear ratio is 6.2-to-1 on the smaller models and 5.7-to-1 on the larger; the lows are 4.1-to-1 and 3.1-to-1. The 8II holds 395 yards of 40-pound braid such as PowerPro; the 10II holds 540 yards of 40, and both cost $479.99. The 12II holds 700 yards of 50-pound braid such as PowerPro; the 16II holds 845 yards of 50, and both cost $499.99. Call 877-577-0600, or visit http://fish.shimano.com.
Accurate Boss B2-30 Narrow
Accurate designed the B2-30 Narrow for wahoo fishing aboard the West Coast's long-range live-aboards, but the small yet sturdy Boss Xtreme reel performs any application where a light 80-pound-class two-speed would be needed. Like its sisters in the line, the B2-30 and B2-50, the B2-30N handles 30 pounds of drag. It's built from T6 6061 aircraft aluminum and features Accurate's TwinDrag system that applies even force on both sides of the reel. For extra strength, Accurate doubled the diameter of the gear shaft; the reel offers 2.2-to-1 low and 5-to-1 high gear ratios. The B2-30N holds 450 yards of 80-pound braid. Price is $629. Call 888-ACCU-372, or visit www.accuratefishing.com.
Okuma worked with Tiburon Engineering USA to design the new flagship Okuma two-speed big-game reels - the Makaira series. Makairas employ Tiburon's patented DFD, dual-force drag, engineered with a "pull-bar" drag system that virtually eliminates pressure created by the alternative "push-bar" system. Push-bar drag relies on the reel frame's strength for structural support. The DFD is a wet drag system with dual Carbonite washers and Cal Sheet's drag grease. Tiburon also custom-designed a large thrust bearing to absorb side-load pressure, allowing anglers to fish high drag loads without increasing handle pressure. Okuma has equipped Makairas with EZO Japanese ABEC-5 ball bearings that facilitate free-spool for live-baiting and casting. Okuma also uses its silent anti-reverse system and helical-cut gear process in the machined-aluminum reels. Makairas come in four open and three crossbar models from the 26.1-ounce MK-10II that fishes 380 yards of 20-pound test with 34 pounds of max drag to the MK-80WII at 116 ounces, fishing 850 yards of 100-pound with 100 pounds of max drag. Prices range from $439.99 to $829.99. Call 909-923-2828, or visit www.okumafishing.com.
G.Loomis Pro Green
Taking home the top prize for best saltwater rod, the G.Loomis Pro Green series of spinning rods offers anglers nine models for everything from 1/8-ounce jigs to larger 1-ounce baits, targeting all inshore species. The fast-action Pro Greens come in three lengths - 6 feet, 10 inches; 7 feet, 4 inches; and 7 feet, 10 inches - and three strengths - medium, medium-heavy and heavy. Smaller rods are rated for 6- to 12-pound-test; the largest can handle up to 20-pound braid. All come with Fuji Alconite guides, Fuji skeleton reel seats and composite butt caps. Pro Greens range in price from $240 to $270. Call 800-456-6647, or visit www.gloomis.com.
Shimano chemically bonds three composite materials, including carbon and T-glass, in its proprietary Uni-Fiber process to create lightweight yet durable Voltaeus rods. For salt water, Voltaeus rods come in four spinning and four casting models, including 6-foot-6-inch medium- and medium-heavy-, 7-foot medium-heavy- and 7-foot heavy-power, fast-action, one-piece rods. Shimano custom-designed the reel seats and added stainless-steel guide frames. Lighter rods are rated for 12- to 30-pound-test; heavier rods handle 20- to 40-pound. The saltwater Voltaeus models cost $59.99. Call 877-577-0600, or visit http://fish.shimano.com.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Inshore Select
Shakespeare's 7- and 7-foot-6-inch Ugly Stik Inshore Select spinning and casting rods combine durability with sensitivity to handle inshore and nearshore species with live bait or artificial lures. The four spinning rods come in medium-light, medium and medium-heavy actions, while the casting models come in medium-light and medium actions. Shakespeare begins with an inner graphite core from the butt to the tip and wraps that in an outer layer of glass/graphite. Fuji aluminum-oxide guides with black stainless-steel frames, Fuji and Total Touch reel seats, and EVA split grips create lightweight balance. Selects cost $49.95. Call 800-334-9105, or visit www.shakespeare-fishing.com.
Penn Torque Jigging Rods
Built to pair with its newest reels such as Conquer (see page 38) and Torque, Penn has added one conventional and two spinning rods to its line of Torque Jigging Rods for targeting tuna, snapper and grouper. The one-piece rods feature lightweight strength in a full-length spiral wrap of graphite over graphite core. Penn used Pac Bay stainless-steel guides with Ti-coated inserts to withstand saltwater corrosion and braid abrasion. The Fuji reel seats are made from corrosion-resistant materials; foregrips comprise triangle-shaped EVA (comfy to hold but won't easily turn in your hand). The two new spinners come in 65- to 100-pound and 80- to 130-pound classes; the conventional covers 65- to 100-pound-test applications. The rods cost $99.99. Call 215-229-9415, or visit www.pennreels.com.
SEBILE Spin Shad and Magic Swimmer Soft
SEBILE took both the soft- and hard-lure awards at this year's ICAST with the company's new Spin Shad and Magic Swimmer Soft. The hard-bodied Spin Shad combines crankbait form with a weighted, flashy bismuth body that fishes fast. At the tail end, SEBILE fastened an inline swivel and a Shad Blade, shaped and colored like the lure. Use the lure with the main belly treble, plus a stinger treble attached to the blade's split ring, to increase hookups. Spin Shads come in 3/4- and 1 1/4-ounce models and in a variety of colors. Cost is $15 to $16. Magic Swimmer Soft represents SEBILE's first soft bait, and it mimics its hard-bait cousin, the original Magic Swimmer. The soft version is a jointed bait and features a hand-painted color finish. The 4- and 5-inch models come with molded hook holes and a pocket that conceals a 5/0 worm hook. The Magic Swimmer Soft ProPack includes three to four lure bodies, plus the Soft Weight System - a hook and 1-gram tungsten barrel weights to alter the action. Or fish the Swimmer on any jig head or hook. ProPacks cost $15. Call 325-437-8103, or visit www.sebileusa.com.
Yo-Zuri says its Excite-A-Bite lures use various attractants, including a chemical pheromone, to trigger feeding behavior in fishes. The reusable, soft, biodegradable lures come in a wide range of colors that leave no greasy residue and don't bleed or impart overpowering odor. When the liquid pheromone in a bait pack depletes, use the Recharge liquid, which comes in 8-ounce spray bottles. Excite-A-Bites come in seven styles: T Shad (deep body, paddle tail); C.T. Grub (curly-tail grub); D Minnow (dying minnow); J Shad (jerk shad); Loopy Legs (two looped tail sections); G Shrimp (Gulf shrimp); and B Worm (bloodworm). Packs of lures (quantities vary from six to 14) cost $5.99. Call 772-336-2280, or visit www.yo-zuri.com.
Bomber Saltwater Grade Badonk-A-Donk
Any of you who follow country music probably started humming a familiar tune as you read the name of this Bomber Saltwater Grade lure. But this new walk-the-dog-style topwater Badonk-A-Donk stands, or swims, on its own merit, Bomber says. Available in 3 1/2-, 4- and 4 1/2-inch lengths, the torpedo-bodied lure also comes in two different sound frequencies: high pitch, for windy days and stained water, and low pitch, for when it's calm and clear. Bomber fits all versions with saltwater-grade hardware. Badonk-A-Donks come in 15 colors and cost $5.99 and $6.99. Call 479-782-8971, or visit www.lurenet.com.
Rapala MaxRap 13
Rapala's MaxRap 13 - with its short lip, thin body and slightly arched back - cruises just below the surface, imparting a rolling motion that makes it flash. The lure slowly rises when paused on the retrieve and fishes well in the surf, Rapala says. The 5 1/4-inch lure weighs half an ounce, so it casts for distance even in wind. The lure's three trebles are noncorrosive, No. 6 VMC Spark Point hooks. The bait comes in eight color variations with holographic eyes and internal laser-engraved scales. The MaxRap 13 costs $18.99. Visit www.rapala.com.
Constructed with Z-Man's naturally buoyant ElaZtech material and hand-painted for natural coloration, the UltraCrabZ sinks slowly on the drop with its claws up, mimicking a defense posture. The nontoxic ElaZtech also makes this crab bait up to 10 times tougher than other soft plastics, Z-Man says. Pre-rigged with a 1/8-ounce Z-Hook jig, the 2 1/2-inch crab comes in four color patterns: blue, ghost, pass and peeler. UltraCrabZ costs $4.99. Call 800-822-3398, or visit www.zmanfishing.com.
Seaguar uses a "double-structure process" to create its new Tatsu fluorocarbon line. The process involves two resins: a softer exterior resin to enhance knot strength and a high-density interior resin to improve tensile strength. The two are extruded together as a solid piece. Use Tatsu (which means "dragon" in Japanese) as a main line, top shot or as leader material. Tatsu comes in 200-yard spools of line tests from 4- to 20-pound. The line costs $42 to $58.50 per spool. Call 212-867-7040, or visit www.seaguar.com.
Berkley Trilene TransOptic
Five years following the introduction of Vanish Transition fluorocarbon line, Berkley has debuted Trilene TransOptic, the world's first color-changing nylon monofilament. TransOptic, which won this year's ICAST best-line award, captures UV rays to physically change the mono's color, making it high-vis gold above water and transparent below. TransOptic comes in 220-yard spools of 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 17-, 20- and 25-pound-test, and 2,000-yard service spools are also available. The 220-yard spools cost $8.95 to $10.95. Call 877-777-3850, or visit www.purefishing.com.
Hi-Seas Quattro Fluorocarbon
Combining the stealth of fluorocarbon with the secrets of camouflage coloring, Hi-Seas has developed its Quattro Fluorocarbon line and leader. Hi-Seas' Quattro camo uses four colors to break up visual patterns underwater, making this fluoro line further blend with its surroundings, the company says. Hi-Seas pros say they can now increase their line rating without increasing visibility. Quattro fluorocarbon comes in 25-yard leader spools of 12- to 80-pound-test and in 200- and 1,000-yard line spools of 8- to 25-pound-test. Leader prices range from $7.49 to $28.99 for 25-yard spools. Line prices range from $19.99 to $42.99 for 200-yard spools and from $83.99 to $181.99 for 1,000-yard spools. Call 800-824-9473, or visit www.hiseas.net.
Bluefin USA/SLAM Apparel
Tackle company Bluefin USA has partnered with SLAM, an Italian technical clothing designer, to create technical and casual fishing apparel, including jackets, shirts, vests, bibs, shorts, pants and Polo-style shirts. Men's and women's sizes are available in the technical all-weather jackets and pants. The bibs, shorts and pants were designed specifically for anglers with features such as quick-drying fabrics and waterproof materials that remain breathable and allow full range of movement. Tech shirts and UV T-shirts come in long- and short-sleeved versions and promote comfort and dryness. Color combinations include white/off-white/light gray, dark gray, blue and red. To view all products, sizes and pricing, visit www.bluefinusa.com; call 888-750-BLUE to order.
Plano Liqua-Bait Locker System
Bio-baits suspended in liquids may simulate live bait to a remarkable extent, but their mess and odor often turn off anglers. Plano developed its Liqua-Bait Locker System to house and seal these lures. For that, Plano won ICAST's top tackle-management prize. The locker is made from Duraview plastic; the unit seals with a Dri-Loc O-ring. Plano designed the locker using its 3700 StowAway Utility box footprint, so it fits in any bag that can carry three or more 3700s. Lockers come in two configurations: Extra Deep ($24.99) includes one bottle, one bait grabber and one wallet. The Deep locker ($14.99) includes one bottle and one bait grabber. Additional wallets ($9.99) and bottles ($7.99) are sold separately. Call 630-552-3111, or visit www.planomolding.com.
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler
The 2009 Best of Show award at ICAST went to ... a boat! Hobie's 13-foot-8-inch Pro Angler (see SF's May 2009 New Products column) blends the amenities of a larger boat with the lightweight maneuverability and price of a well-appointed kayak. Pro Angler features Hobie's patented MirageDrive system, which employs pedals and a rudder, leaving hands free to cast and retrieve. The Pro Angler carries six horizontal and two vertical rods, plus 13 Plano tackle boxes. Hobie also provides space to mount electronics and additional rod holders and to accommodate an optional livewell or cooler. The 138-pound Pro Angler comes in moss, dune or yellow and costs $2,399. Call 800-HOBIE-49, or visit www.hobiefishing.com.
Costa Del Mar Wingman and Wheelhouse
Costa won the ICAST best-eyewear award for its Zane sunglasses (see SF's June 2009 New Products column), but the company also introduced two new metal frames - the Wingman and Wheelhouse. Wingman sports a classic aviator style and comes in gunmetal or gold Monel metal frames. Wheelhouse frames feature a square design and come in palladium or gold metal frames. Order Costa 400 or 580 lenses in eight colors, including gray, amber, vermilion, sunrise, copper, and blue, green and silver mirror. Both frames feature integral stainless-steel spring hinges and soft co-injected rubber temple tips; they range in price from $179 to $279. Call 800-447-3700, or visit www.costadelmar.com.