ICAST Revisited

Mike and Hem

Mike and Hem

Attended the ICAST trade show in Las Vegas for the first time in five years last week. Since I've been away from the conventional game for quite a while, I figured I'd offer up a few generalized observations that really struck me:

  • Tackle continues to grow lighter and lighter. Look no further than Quantum's new EXO reel series. The baitcast and spinning reels will be used primarily in freshwater, but they epitomize the growing trend of reduced materials in reels, with the idea of lightening the load while retaining structural stability. This trend is nothing new and is happening with all the big brands, both in fresh- and saltwater tackle - but the engineering is getting better and better with each passing year. Look to Shimano's new Stradic FJ or Sustain FG reels and Daiwa's Certade and Ballistic lines, as well; a lot of evolution here from all the big players.

  • Lures continue to become incredibly realistic. Lure fishing as I remember it 20 years ago was based more on shape and design, but the colors, finishes and details available on today's products continue to amaze me. It, too, is getting better and better. Check out Yo-Zuri's 3D Prism and Color Change technologies incorporated into the company's lineup of saltwater lures. The Dorado finish simply blew my mind - turn it to the side or up-and-down, and the color changes before your eyes. Doggone if it doesn't look like a peanut dolphin! Ditto on Yo-Zuri's floating Sashimi 3D Squirt. Looks exactly like a squid, both in color AND design. The finishes the lure companies are developing today is simply astounding.

  • The same can be said for lines. They are evolving into realms that two decades ago, we never could've imagined. Take Berkley's new Nanofil, for example. While it may only be offered up to 12-pound test right now, targeting primarily the freshwater arena, its composition is certainly unique. It's built with Dyneema, but the carriers are not braided; instead, they are aligned in a linear fashion and molecularly linked, which creates a braid-like line for spinning reels that's incredibly supple, almost like mono.

One other item of note, while I think of it - I sat in on a press conference with a company called Hydrowave, an electronics outfit launched earlier this year at the Bassmaster Classic. During that launch, angler Kevin VanDam used one of the company's sound-generating devices, and he went on to win that very tournament. Hydrowave is now offering an inshore saltwater product, and VanDam was on-hand discussing its merits. I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with the ethics of machines that mimic distressed baitfish sounds into the water, but it seems like a remarkable technology that obviously has some merit. Let's put it this way: VanDam's comments were pretty convincing from the freshwater side of things. It will be interesting to check it out.

And, finally, speaking of famous bass fishermen, I managed to spend a little time at the show with Bill Dance and Shaw Grigsby, whom I watched religiously on television as a kid. It's always great to meet folks who, in one way or another, had an influence on you when you were younger, and, for that matter, it was quite a thrill to have met Ernest Hemingway's middle son, Patrick Hemingway, who attended ICAST with his wife while introducing a new line of Ernest Hemingway glasses from Ono.

I talked with Patrick about an old picture book I have in my library, simply called "Ernest." It's a very rare book, but Patrick knew it well, and we discussed some of the old photos from its pages that have been engrained for years in my mind - Patrick recalled all of them (he was even in a few of them!) and then spun some incredibly good tales.

Now, it's off to the wilds of Alaska in two weeks to film an episode of Sport Fishing Television with Dean Travis Clarke. It's been an amazing month, and with a little luck, I'll be able to spin a few good tales for you!

Till then, good fishing from your angling friend,

Mike Mazur
Senior Editor,_ Sport Fishing_

Photo: Mike with Ernest Hemingway's middle son, Patrick Hemingway