Each year I attend a bunch of different trade shows, boat shows, seminars and outdoorsman shows. They’re all cool in their own way, but the ICAST fishing tackle show is by and far my favorite one of the year. ICAST began as a buyer’s show where tackle wholesalers could go and make orders for the coming year. A bunch of buyers still come to the show, but it’s grown into a full-on media blitz. This is the spot where all of the big tackle manufacturers unveil their new products for the upcoming year. For me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store as you get to actually pick up all of the gear and play with it.
I think this was the 10th year in a row that I’ve attended the show, but it was my first year representing BD Outdoors. I was overwhelmed by the positive response we received about the new website. BD Outdoors is definitely on the industry’s radar so the website is really coming along. We opened up some new doors and you can expect to see more manufacturers involved with the site in the coming months.
This show is all about tackle. There are a couple of electronics companies there and a few boats, but the vast majority of the gear on display sports a hook, a line or a reel. Since I’m hard on my tackle (there’s a ceiling fan in every room of my house!) I have to regularly replace rods, reels and the like. So I take in all of the new gear and start preparing my wish list.
“I’m still digging out from the show, and organizing all of the material I took home, but here are a few quick highlights from what I saw.”
As far as lures go, we saw tons of cool new plugs, jigs and poppers. More companies are using iridescent materials to make their rigs glow in the dark.
“One lure that I can’t wait to try out in and around Florida is the new shrimp jig from Yo-Zuri.”
This bad boy looks about as close to the real thing as you can get.
In the reel category, there was much to play with. While Quantum’s new EXO baitcaster was built for the freshwater market, I have to write about it. Quantum did an amazing job using the toughest, lightweight materials and cutting away any unnecessary bulk to create what is most likely the lightest reel to ever hit the market. Everyone who picked up the EXO had a similar reaction. Weighing in at a slight 5.9 ounces, the weight of the reel felt more like a fountain pen than a fishing reel.
For the big boys chasing giant marlin, Fin-Nor rounded out its line of offshore two-speed reels with a new 130. Daiwa also had some sick new gear, including a high-tech spinning reel for the saltwater market and a new baitcast design that helps you cast farther. Shimano came out with a long-range specific 50, and the boys at Okuma showed off several new reels as well. I even tried a two-speed spinning reel. Now that was a first. We’ll be sharing the details on every new reel in an upcoming article so stay tuned… These are just a few highlights.
When it comes to fishing clothing, the industry has come a long way from the days of cutoffs and tank tops. We’re now seeing a variety of manufacturers making fishing-specific gear. The guys at Simms are really killing it with some cool new duds that meet the needs of a range of anglers. If you didn’t know, Simms makes a lot more than just waders. They sell board shorts, sandals, fishing shirts (that don’t look dorky) and some innovative coverups to protect your neck and arms from the sun.
ICAST wouldn’t be such a great show without a few gatherings to rub shoulders with other industry folks. Seaguar hosted one heck of a birthday party to celebrate its 40th year and brought out the fishiest cake I’ve ever seen. What looked like a giant tuna mount on a table was actually a cake! And at the Chairman’s Award Ceremony, I even had an Elvis spotting. Yup, he was in the building!
As always, I came across several new items at ICAST that made me say,
“why didn’t I think of that?”
I’ve never been able to cut line with my teeth. Maybe it’s my damn overbite, but I could never do it. A new company called ZipCut introduced a little line cutter that will ease the pain. The cutter wraps around the base of your rod just above the grip. It’s got a little razor in there and you can cut braid and mono with ease. No pliers (or teeth) needed.
Of all the cool gear I saw, I have to say that personally, I think the ARDT drag gauge now available from AFTCO is one of the most interesting items I’ve seen introduced in the fishing world in quite a while. The ARDT (AFTCO Reel Drag Technology) reel seat / rod butt actually gauges how much drag tension is on your line. Using an electronic scale that is built into the reel seat, the ARDT displays the drag tension — but it doesn’t even touch the line. Amazing! If you don’t believe me, just wait, we’ll tell you more about it soon.
There is much more to talk about, but I’m going to save that for the official BD 2012 Tackle Roundup. I hope this little teaser fills your tackle fix for now, and stay tuned for the full story next week.