2015 Fishing Gear Premiere

A roundup of cutting-edge tackle and accessories

2015 Fishing Gear Premiere

The holiday season is in full swing with 2015 right around the corner — and yes, another fishing-tackle model year turns. Time to look at the grab bag full of gear goodies we’re starting to find on store shelves now and in 2015 catalogs. Many of these items should already be available for your Christmas list. Each year, Sport Fishing editors attend a trade show that pairs fishing-tackle manufacturers with global dealers. The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) becomes an all-out competition to debut the coolest new reel, lure, accessory or technology. This year’s show in Orlando, Florida, did not disappoint. Here are selected products we saw at the show — listed alphabetically by category (reels, rods, tackle, gear, and electronics). Where appropriate, we noted new products that won top prizes for innovation from ICAST-attendee judges. (If you’re shopping for an angler, be sure to check out the last few years’ holiday gift guides for ideas — from 2013/14 and 2012/13.)

Accurate BX2 Series II

Accurate has improved its original Boss Extreme two-speed reels with the Series II. The new BX2 II reels — in sizes 400, 500, 600 and 30, and in regular and narrow widths — come with ARB bearings, tested for corrosion resistance, and calibrated lever drags. Series IIs also feature new cosmetics, including a smooth frame. Like their predecessors, the reels are made from anodized T6 6061 aircraft aluminum. They have large, heat-treated, stainless-steel gear shafts and stainless gears. _• _Prices range from $539 to $599.

Fin-Nor Lethal Lever Drag

Fin-Nor‘s three new lever-drag aluminum Lethals — sizes 16, 20 and 30 — come with the company’s Megadrag system, which combines carbon fiber, stainless steel and Cal’s grease to create a two-stage drag profile. The single-speed versions offer 6.1-to-1 gear ratios; the two-speeds offer 6.3- and 3-to-1 ratios. They hold 20- to 40-pound mono or 50- to 65-pound braided line, depending on the size. The largest Lethals carry 675 yards of 65-pound braid. Prices range from $199.99 to $289.99.

Okuma Andros A

Capable of producing 15 to 34 pounds of drag at strike, Okuma‘s new Andros A reels now employ the Dual Force Drag system from the company’s Makaira line. That system reduces side loading and handles binding under heavy settings. The A reels include upgrades such as a stainless, ratcheting drag plate, machined-aluminum shifter gear housing and extended handle length. Okuma also introduced three new sizes of Andros reels with the A series: A-12IIa, A-12SIIa and A-16IIa. ** **Prices for the two-speed A-series reels range from $319.99 to $389.99.

Penn Fathom LD and LD2

Penn won the Best Saltwater Reel category at ICAST with its Battle II spinning reels (featured in Sport Fishing’s July/August issue), but it also gets rave reviews for the new Fathom Lever Drag single- and two-speed conventionals. The full-metal-body Fathom LDs (red trim) and LD2s (gold trim) feature the Dura Drag system that shifts from free-spool to 40 pounds of max drag. Two-speeds come with Quick Shift to move from a 6.1-to-1 gear ratio to a 2.5-to-1 setting. Available in nine sizes. **The reels__ **cost $199.95 to $299.95.

Quantum Iron PTS

Quantum‘s new Iron PTs spinning reels for saltwater use feature ceramic and carbon-fiber washers in a sealed Magnum CSC drag system, a titanium bail system with a magnetic trip, Saltguard and anti-corrosion coating, and a rubber braid band. The gear ratio for all four sizes is 5.2-to-1. The reels hold 8- to 12-pound mono or 20- to 30-pound braid. Max drags range from 19 to 25 pounds. ** **They cost $119.99 and $129.99.

Shimano Stella FI

Shimano brings new technology to its high-end flagship spinning-reel series with four new Stella FIs. The Micro Module gear system adds extra smoothness by shrinking the size of the gear teeth on the pinion and drive gears, while increasing the actual number of gear teeth. Shimano also uses a new anti-reverse stopper bearing to reduce friction and employs S-Direct gear technology to improve alignment — generating easier handle rotation for anglers, with less play. The company improved the reels’ balance through a new body design, and amped up the water resistance. Stella FI reels can handle pound-tests from 3 to 14. The reels cost $789.99 to $819.99.

Okuma Shadow Stalker Gulf Coast

Okuma designed its Gulf Coast Shadow Stalker rods to handle warm-water nearshore marauders with 12 models — 10 spinners and two baitcasters — from 7 feet to 7 feet, 10 inches. All actions are moderate/fast and designed to work bait or lures. Okuma built the rods on one-piece, 24-ton carbon-fiber blanks, and then further enhanced them with an outer wrap of carbon from the butt to the stripper guide. The rods incorporate Fuji hardened aluminum-oxide guides, Okuma C-40X long-strand carbon-fiber reel seats and EVA grips (split or full), edge-protected by composite cork rings. ** **Prices range from $79.99 to $109.99.

Penn Allegiance II

Penn‘s second-generation Allegiance inshore and nearshore rods start with a one-piece 24-ton graphite blank. The 10 spinning sticks (6 feet, 6 inches to 7 feet, 6 inches) come with Fuji SV or LV guide frames; the four 7-foot casting models feature Fuji N flared frames. All guides sport aluminum-oxide inserts for mono or braid. All reel seats are custom DPS graphite; light inshore models also have a cork insert. Medium-heavy and heavy spinning and casting rods come with EVA grips, while extra-light, light, medium-light and medium rods feature cork. ** **Prices range from $69.95 to $79.95.

Shimano Terez Stand-Up Straight Butt

Shimano has expanded the Terez Stand-Up series with six Short Straight Carbon Butt rods — which won the Best Saltwater Rod category at ICAST. By using carbon, Shimano maintained the strength while reducing the weight of the 5-foot-6-inch sticks. The rods feature small-diameter TC4 high-modulus blanks, AFTCO wind-on roller guides and aluminum gimbals. Offered in black or pearl white, the rods are available in medium-heavy, heavy and extra-heavy power, handling up to 250-pound braid. ** **They are priced from $649.99 to $669.99.

Berkley Gulp! Hollow Shrimp

Berkley says its new Hollow Shrimp generates a better hookup ratio when using movement techniques, such as jigging or popping the bait beneath a cork, because of its collapsible body. The solid head then keeps the hook aligned. The skirted tail also improves the bait’s action. The 3-inch Hollow Shrimp comes in eight Gulp! Saltwater colors — including glow, root-beer glow and molting — and four Gulp! Alive! colors (natural, new penny, nuclear chicken and pearl white). A package of four shrimp costs $6.99; half-pint tubs of Gulp! Alive! shrimp cost $9.95.

Cortland Command Series Mono

Cortland‘s Command Series premium monofilament is extruded from high-grade resins, making it tough, abrasion resistant and durable. It’s also highly impervious to solvents and UV, while remaining easy to handle, knot and rig. The high tensile strength of the material allows its diameter to remain minimal for any given breaking strength. Available in clear, in pound-tests from 4 up to 80, and in various spool sizes from 300 yards to 1-pound bulk (depending on strength). Command Series costs $6.49 to $32.99.

Eagle Claw Lazer Trokar TK619

Eagle Claw designed the TroKar TK619 for big-game anglers who need beefy circle hooks for heavy gear. The 619, which comes in medium- or heavy-wire sizes, won Best Terminal Tackle at ICAST. The new circles feature a surgically sharpened point, and are available in offset, ringed offset and nonoffset versions. Sizes range from 1/0 to 6/0 for medium-wire hooks and 4/0 to 12/0 for heavy-wire hooks. Piece counts per pack vary by hook size; packs cost $17.99.

Savage Gear 3-D PVC Crab

Savage Gear has introduced PVC and TPE crabs in 2- and 4-inch sizes. The 3-D PVC Crab (pictured) won Best Soft Lure at ICAST; both crab lures are made using three-dimensional scans of real crabs. Both are also made using the same molds, but the TPE crab material is thermoplastic elastomer. Savage Gear designed the crabs to be fished on the company’s Stand-Up Jig Heads, which present the bait in a defensive posture. PVC Crabs are unrigged, cost $3.49 to $4.49 (depending on size and number), and are available in five finishes.

Seaguar Pink Label Fluorocarbon

Seaguar says it created Pink Label fluorocarbon leader material due to angler demand for pink fluoro, and to raise money for breast-cancer research. A portion of sales will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Seaguar says the Pink Label line remains soft and supple while providing 30 percent better knot strength compared with other leading fluorocarbon. The line is available in 25-yard spools of 15- to 80-pound-test ($9.99 to $31.99) and 25-yard coil bags of 100- to 200-pound-test ($49.99 to $89.99). The spools feature Seaguar’s Level Wind Technology, which spools the line by laying it down without crossing.

Williamson Filet Knives

Williamson has expanded its saltwater fillet-knife selection to include 6½-inch straight and slim versions as well as a 12-inch curved fillet knife. Previous 8- and 10-inch models are still available. Each of the new knives features a progressively tapered European stainless-steel blade that holds a sharp edge. The knives are made by Marttiini, which also creates Rapala Fillet Knives. Prices range from $29.99 to $34.99 for the new models.

Yo-Zuri Mag Series

Yo-Zuri redesigned and updated its entire Mag Series for 2015, including the Mag Minnow Floating, Mag Minnow Sinking (pictured), and Mag Darter. The polycarbonate Mag lures all feature Yo-Zuri’s Magnetic Weight Transfer System for extended casting distance, and come with new scaled holographic finishes. The lures employ stainless split rings and extra-strong round-bend trebles. Mag Darters have an inverted cupped face; Mag floaters should be cast and slow-retrieved, and Mag sinkers can be twitched and paused. All cost $14.99.

Buff Pro-Series Stripping Guards

Buff‘s new Pro Series Stripping Guards are made from a Lycra material reinforced with Kevlar stitching on the seams for full-day protection against abrasive fly lines. The quick-drying finger sleeves come in packs of three and in a dozen different colors, including dorado and tarpon (pictured). Packs cost $8.

Columbia Megavent PFG

Columbia‘s new Megavent PFG shoes feature a range of the company’s top technologies; the shoes won Best Footwear at ICAST. The shoes offer foot protection combined with a breathable ventilated open mesh. They come with Blood and Guts water- and stain-resistant treatment, Omni-Grip nonmarking wet-grip outsoles, and Techlite midsoles for cushioning. Available in navy or oyster (gray) and in men’s sizes 7 to 15, Megavent PFGs cost $105.

Costa 580P Hamlin

Costa debuted its new 580P mirror lenses at ICAST and won the Best Eyewear category. Before the introduction, if anglers wanted both 580 technology and mirroring, they had to order glass lenses. Now they can also choose lighter-weight polycarbonate (available for prescriptions too). Costa’s 580 technology creates sharp color enhancement and superior polarization. Mirroring further blocks light in highly reflective on-water situations. Initially, 580P blue-, green-, or silver-mirror lenses will pair with 14 of Costa’s frame styles, including popular frames like the Hamlin (pictured in three colors), Fantail, and Corbina. Prices start at $179.

Engel Cooler/Dry Box with Rod Holders

Engel added rod holders to its 19- and 30-quart cooler/dry boxes to develop a complete portable system for kayak, paddleboard and shore anglers. The new product won Best Tackle Management at ICAST. The coolers offer a UV-resistant outer shell, a waterproof EVA lid seal, and a hanging basket inside. Engel then developed a rod-holder bracket attached to the cooler wall from the inside with four stainless screws. Fastened to each side of the cooler, the brackets mount four rod holders. Available in white or tan, the smaller cooler costs $74.99; the 30-quart version costs $84.99.

Huk Speed Suit

Huk says its new Speed Suit foul-weather gear handles the most extreme fishing conditions offshore that anglers can face. The waterproof design features taped seams; oversize leg and arm zippers vent body heat. The thin, breathable shell material is light and engineered with stretch for full range of mobility. Reinforced knees and watertight pockets provide durability and convenience. Bibs feature adjustable Velcro waist-straps; both bibs and jackets come in sizes S to 3XL and in black camouflage with high-viz yellow patching. Each piece costs $225.

Minn Kota Ulterra

Although Minn Kota‘s Ulterra trolling motor with auto stow and deploy and power trim was built for fresh water, the company says its saltwater Riptide version will debut this spring. The technology won ICAST’s Best Boating Accessory category. No longer will anglers have to physically hoist the motor into and out of the water; a button push launches and retrieves it. The power trim raises and lowers the motor depth. Available with i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link, in 80- to 112-pound thrust models and with 45- to 60-inch shafts, the freshwater Ulterra costs $1,989.99 to $2,549.99. (Look for updates on the Riptide version soon.)

Old Town Predator XL

The Predator XL — the flagship in Old Town‘s Premier Angler Series — not only won Best Boat at ICAST, it also took home Overall Best of Show. The 13-foot-2-inch ‘yak incorporates Element seating, customizable mounting plates and Tri-Hull design, and adds a 45-pound-thrust, saltwater Minn Kota motor with a foot-operated rudder. The XL will come in various models and colors. It measures 3 feet wide, weighs 92 to 117 pounds, and can carry 600 pounds. Prices start at $1,599 for the nonmotorized XL and $2,699 with the Minn Kota-powered model.

Yeti Hopper 30

Premium-cooler maker Yeti has rolled out a new soft-sided portable cooler that boasts 6.5 gallons of capacity, and ColdCell insulation that promises superior ice retention. The Hopper is made from DryHide fabric, similar to the material used in white-water rafts. Its HydroLok Zipper is waterproof and airtight; Yeti says it borrowed zipper technology from survival suits. Yeti used an inch of insulation in the Hopper’s sides, and an inch and a half in the bottom, which is made from heavy EVA foam with RF-welded seams. The Hopper 30 costs $299.99.

Humminbird ONIX

While Sport Fishing first told readers about Humminbird‘s new ONIX multifunction display in late 2013, the unit won ICAST 2014’s Best Electronics category. Available with an 8.4- or 10.4-inch display, ONIX comes with Cross Touch — multigesture touch-screen control — and a traditional touchpad. ONIX also accommodates add-ons such as 360 Imaging, radar, and i-Pilot Link. Available in models with or without side and down imaging, ONIX features TriFuel Cartography, meaning it can display charts made by Navionics, C-Map and Humminbird. Prices range from $1,999.99 to $3,199.99.

Lowrance Outboard Autopilot

Designed for single-outboard boats under 30 feet, Lowrance‘s new Outboard Autopilot combines with the company’s HDS multifunction displays to provide fingertip steering and course planning without the need for a separate control head. The pilot steers to selected headings, waypoints or turn patterns; anglers can also create routes from saved trails. The SmartSteer interface in the HDS Gen2 and Gen2 Touch units can also control a MotorGuide Xi5 Pinpoint electric-steer trolling motor. Available for cable-steer or hydraulic installations, the pilot costs $999 to $1,499.

Raymarine CP200 CHIRP SideVision

Raymarine has debuted its CHIRP-powered SideVision technology with the new CP200 network sonar module. The unit uses two -independent CHIRP channels for its port- and starboard-facing transducer arrays, which deliver up to 600 feet of viewing on either side of the vessel. Those arrays can be manually adjusted for either shallow- or deep-water scanning. The wide SideVision beams complement the coverage of Raymarine’s CHIRP DownVision. The CP200 is compatible with the latest generation LightHouse II MFDs, including the new aSeries, cSeries, eSeries and gS Series. The module costs $609.99.