ICAST 2015 was a jam packed affair. I am grateful with the direction the ASA has taken with the introduction of The FLW ICAST Cup and ICAST on the water. These events were well organized, well managed, and were a great extension of the vision set forth at last years Tackle-X.
The 3 hour long ICAST Cup was certainly a hit with legendary Bill Dance and Florida’s own Cody Detweiler taking the big prize. Thanks to my pairing Doug and Debbie Chance from Complete Custom Boats of De Leon Springs Florida for your hospitality.
The week went by fast and it was great catching up with a few old friends. Special thanks to Tyler of Tbrinks fishing for cruising the show floor with me and talking tackle.
Here are a few items I found of particular interest:
Introduction of Shimano Calcutta Conquest 300 and 400 sizes
Shimano reels are consistently well engineered and they continually push the design envelope on tried and true platforms to stay ahead of their competitors year in and year out. The Calcutta Conquest 300 and 400 sizes round out the high end series and should be a Swim bait, striper, or musky aficionados ultimate weapon of choice. New S-Compact Body form factor, S3D spool, SVS Infinity Brake System, cold forged micro module gearing, and X-Ship make this an incredible heirloom quality showpiece yet ultra fish able powerhouse. MSRP $579.99
Reins punch shot
Reins is known for making quality Tungsten and is the weight of choice for many BASS Elite Series and FLW Tour professionals. I’ve found that their integrated inserts certainly help to mitigate break off issues with Flouro. The new punch shot is a simple but ingenious integration of a punch skit hopper with the main conical weight, facilitating easier skirt changes without retying and makes the overall presentation more compact since some of the weight for a given size is molded into the hub. Available in 3/8 oz, 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, 1oz and 1.5 oz sizes. MSRP $7.99-$11.99
Seguar Flippin Braid
Technique specific line developed with input from Denny Brauer the new 8 strand braid is available in Black in 50 and 65 lb test 100 yd spools.The Black coloring looks great in person and if it holds up essentially mitigates the use of old Sharpie on punchin rigs. MSRP $29.99-$31.99
Daiwa’s Steez AGS Casting Rods
Daiwa’s new line of Air Guide System (AGS) Baitcasting rods joins last years Spinning models. The predominant design feature is the use of carbon framed guides that effectively decrease weight along the blank and facilitate more effective transmission of vibrations while fishing. The series is comprised of 8 technique specific rods featuring Super Volume Fiber (SVF) blanks, x45 Bias construction, Air-Foam Grips, custom reel seat, and included Fuji Keeper and rod sleeve. The Made in China sticker had me perplexed. However, the delta comparison of the STZ741XHFB-AGS to one of my personal favorite rods of the past 5 years STZ741XHFBA-XBD has me beyond interested in testing out the limits of that Lifetime Limited Warranty. MSRP $579.95 – $599.95
Megabass debuted an entirely new line up of rods dedicated the North American market. With actions shared from their successful XX line up. The rods looked well constructed with new Pyrofil blanks adorned with stainless steel Fuji alconite guides and Megabass custom reel seat with a form factor reminiscent of their defunct Destroyer THP rods. Its understandable that the Boutique brand that is Megabass adapts and chases the lucrative American market with a value oriented offering. It remains to be seen whether or not they lose some of their identity in the process. 12 models 10 casting, 2 spinning $199
Lowrance Structure Scan 3D Down Imaging
Perhaps one of the most interesting offerings of the entire show was Lowrance’s introduction of their Structure Scan 3D module. The module (HDS Gen3 compatible only) is analogous the original structure scan and is a stand alone unit and transducer package. The unit effectively takes the 2D 180 degree image you normally see with structure scan and builds each planar view in layers to render a 3D image that the user can instantaneously manipulate their point of view angle on to analyze scanned structure and fish position. The demo was particularly impressive and seemed more intuitive for the user than typical side scanning technology.
Strike King Red Eye Shad Tungsten 2 Tap
Building upon the already successful red eye shad line up the new 2 Tap lip less crank bait features a unique tungsten sound chamber. This is said to create a double tap rhythmic profile that is different than anything else on the market. Some sweet new colors in the line up as well. MSRP $7.89
With the epic rise of the smart phone comes a multitude of technologies that can link right up and help us out with everyday tasks. The angling world is no exception to this innovation. Sonar phone has been out for awhile now, however what caught my eye at the show was the newly integrated mapping with Navionics. Now you can simply link up the Sonar phone T box with you smart phone or tablet, launch Navionics and bring up real time 2D sonar along side it. Perhaps the neatest feature is the ability to now perform live baythymetric mapping with this combo at a fraction of the cost of a stand alone head unit. Sure there are inherent difficulties with mounting a tablet, durability, and viewing in full sun. However, I like where this segment of the market is going and surely welcome future innovations. MSRP $129-$199
Savage gear pre rigged 16″ swim bait
This oversized trophy hunter weapon of bass destruction was quite the eye catcher at the savage gear demo tank. Aside from its 16″ length and massive 1.5lb weight the action of this bait was quite impressive. The $64.99 price point is rather attractive for this segment of the market as well.
Booyah Hard knock and One Knocker
Okay so we all thought the Xcalibur Xr-50 was going the way of the dodo. Turns out Booyah has the exact molds and is making the same awesome baits with the same colors we all know and love as well as a few new color selections. It remains to be seen if this really is the case. MSRP $6.99
Duo Realis 110, 70s in work
Spy baiting has certainly taken off. If your a fan of the current Spin bait 80, 90 and G-FIx 80 It was noted at ICAST that the 110 and 70 size proto types are currently being tested. MSRP: TBD
Wes Siegler and crew are a bunch of passionate saltwater anglers who certainly aren’t afraid to push the design envelope and take customer feedback of current product seriously. Previously known as “Release” reels, this all American company has continuously been stepping up their product line the past few years. The new made in USA long distance caster, SM star drag reels feature a unique bridge less design and compact form factor. Coupled with stainless steel gears, ceramic bearings and lifetime warranty spells out winner to me. MSRP $400
Avet Limited Edition Dorado Anodized Reels
Ive already seen Evinrude’s new G2 with Dorado print graphics. So why not a salt water mainstay? Available only on select right hand Raptor Models. MSRP varies
Penn blue water carnage II
Penn continues making strides by revamping the already popular Blue water Carnage line up of rods. With new SL3 composite blanks, sculpted non slip grips and Pac Bay aluminum reel seats these rods certainly feel lighter, yet more robust than the previous generation rods. Prices for the line up start at $179.99 and vary by model.
Updated Daiwa Fuego Casting Reel
Not sure what to make of this reel honestly. Since the previous iteration of the Fuego bait cast reel was effectively a “detuned” TDZ this reel is perhaps a de-featured Tatula with higher bearing count? Its obvious daiwa has been busy filling out their lineup with a number of “price point” reels. My question is did they really need to go there? I understand the need for platform consolidation, but the beauty of the earlier gen Fuego, Viento, and Sol reels were their unique USDM identities relative to the rest of Daiwa’s lineup at the time.
Minn Kota Talon 8ft models
Building upon their successful gen 2 platform. The new 8ft talons address a key complaint about the existing 8ft models height going up past the cowling of their outboards. Unlike the first generation 8 footers this talon model features the same 3 stage design as the current gen 2 12ft models. This allows the overall height of the 8ft talon to be just 41 inches at the transom. Down 16 inches from the gen 1 design. Like the current gen 2 line up the 8ft talon carries a 5 year warranty with lifetime on the spike. MSRP $1799