Navigating the floor of ICAST is a daunting endeavor. The show floor is as large as a couple city blocks, so visiting every booth in just two-odd days would be impossible. But we tried our damnedest, in hopes of tracking down the most cutting-edge and useful new fishing gear for 2018. Here’s what we found.
1. Rapala 50lb. High Contrast Digital Scale
Rapala made a statement this year with their newest scale. Weighing can inflict injury on a fish, due to the hooks that have been traditionally used to hold down the catch. But Rapala has replaced these standard hooks with fish-friendly grippers, so the scale is a must-have for catch-and-release anglers. Other key features include a reverse-image screen that makes reading the display easy in bright light.
2. Aquatic Nutrition Mojo Carp and Mojo Cat
The folks at Aquatic Nutrition know how to feed fish. While the company already has a solid lineup of food and chum to feed everything in saltwater, they had yet to offer anything for freshwater anglers until this year, with the release of the new Mojo Cat and Mojo Carp baits. The catfish bait is a specially designed punch bait that stays on the hook well and disperses scent only in the water—not on your clothes. The Mojo Carp is a dough bait, with boilies available in the very near future. Both baits are available in 16-ounce sizes.
3. Lew’s Mach Speed 8-Inch Carbon Steel Pliers
$45 Lew’s Fishing
For one reason or another, anglers tend to go through pliers quickly; mine seldom last for more than a couple seasons. The trouble is that buying high-end pliers adds up fast, and value-priced tools are usually not durable enough to make it through a single season, or single trip for that matter. Lew’s Mach Speed 8-inch Carbon Steel Pliers offer the best of both. They’re made of durable, corrosion-resistant steel, and sport a comfortable Winn grip, a wire cutter, crimp slots, and a line cutter that will make easy work of braiding. The best part? They’re reasonably priced, especially given their quality.
4. 13 Fishing Concept Z
Saying that a reel will revolutionize fishing tackle is a bold statement, but the Concept Z may do just that. The latest addition to the 13 Fishing line, the reel is the result of extensive research and engineering, and ultra-precise manufacturing. Though the baitcaster is not the first no-ball-bearings reel, it is the first among high-performance models. So why does this matter? Ball bearings are prone to corrode and suffer in quality over time. The reel’s so-called Concept Zero Bearings are made of polymer and designed for lasting performance, durability, smoothness, and strength. They never need oil, and will self-lubricate with use. The reel packs 22 pounds of drag to boot.
5. Yak Gear Fish Stik
$35 Mark Modoski
The popularity of kayak fishing has exploded in recent years, and more and more companies are entering the market to meet the demand. One of the latest ‘yak-specific products is the Fish Stik from Yak Gear, a folding measuring board designed for use in tight, confined spaces. It makes for quick, accurate measurements and folds down for easy storage; it would be just as useful to boat and shore anglers looking to conserve space.
6. St. Croix Mojo Muskie Trolling Rod
$200–$240 St. Croix Rods
St. Croix unleashed a powerhouse lineup at ICAST this year. And while the Mojo Muskie Trolling rod isn’t nearly their most high-end new rod—it fills a void in the market. Anglers who troll for muskies usually want a moderate-action yet powerful rod, but most graphite and glass models leave much to be desired in these respects. The Mojo Muskie Trolling series solves the predicament with a composite design. The rods are constructed primarily out of a glass blank but reinforced with graphite at critical points. There are five models in the series, ranging in length from 7 to 10 feet.
7. KastKing BioSpool
KastKing has taken a step to minimize the footprint of fishing with its new BioSpool. Moving forward, all KastKing line will be sold on a biodegradable spool, which will remain rigid and intact in your boat, home, or tackle bag, but will deteriorate completely within eight to 12 months in soil. Every angler has gone through their share of plastic spools and seen far too many in the water or on the bank.
8. Zebco Cajun Line Smooth Cast
Cajun Line has been a mainstay in the monofilament market for almost 20 years, thanks to its low-visibility red tint. This year, Zebco is re-launching Cajun Line in a formula that dramatically improves its casting capabilities. It will be available in the original low-vis red, as well as in clear blue.
9. Quantum Tour S3
Seldom will you hear manufacturers tout a reel as “the best we’ve ever made,” but that is exactly what Quantum is doing with the Tour S3. The reel boasts a large spool for longer casts and better line pickup, as well as a redesigned cast control that maximizes distance while controlling backlash. Other highlights are the reel’s oversized handle for rock-solid hook sets and a line-memo indicator that lets you know which pound test is on the reel.
10. Aqua-Vu Micro Revolution 5.0
Aqua-Vu came to ICAST this year with the most user-friendly underwater-viewing system that the tackle industry has seen. Although not as big as other Aqua-Vu cameras, the Micro Revolution 5.0 excels in portability and utility. It’s the first underwater camera to feature a reel system that easily retrieves the camera cord and stows it safely, to prevent the cord from being piled up on the ice or floor of a boat. In addition, the Micro Revolution 5.0 has an extra-bright 5-inch high-resolution screen, is also water and weatherproof, and has a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery.
11. Humminbird Solix 15
Prices not yet available. Humminbird
There seems to be a never-ending race to build the biggest and best sonar unit. As of now, the Humminbird is leading the pack. The Solix 15 packs all of Humminbird’s cutting-edge technologies into one unit. It has a 15-inch screen, and its functions include 360-degree imaging, custom map creation, and industry-leading underwater imaging. The display is as crisp and detailed as HDTV. The Solix 15 has no shortage of user options to customize the display and to recall information.
12. HUK Attack
HUK has established itself as a top brand in outdoor apparel, but it had yet to offer footwear until this year. The Attack is a breathable shoe that drains water and keeps the foot ventilated. The outsole is non-marking, making it a perfect deck shoe, in addition to other uses. It is designed with Kryptek Camo.
13. Flambeau IQ Series Boxes
$12–$30 Mark Modoski
Tackle storage is a key concern for any angler. Neatly organizing and protecting gear from the elements not only saves money, but it also can help anglers catch more fish. Flambeau teamed up with Bassmaster Elite Series angler Mike Iaconelli to co-design the IQ Series boxes, which is unlike any other storage system currently available. All the boxes in the line are molded with Flambeau’s Zerust separators that fight moisture and minimize the rusting of hooks, terminal tackle, or any other metals. Not only that, the storage compartments are customizable to accommodate most any type of tackle.
14. Sampo Oh Snap
The Oh Snap takes terminal tackle to the next level with a ball-bearing swivel that eliminates line twist, and features a wind-on snap, so lures can be twisted on and off with ease. The Oh Snap will first be offered in #3 and #4 sizes, in nickel or black finish.
15. Anglr Labs Log Book
Anglr Labs first introduced their integrated tracking device and software in 2016 and has quickly found favor with anglers, for its value and the ease of tracking fishing information with it. This year, Anglr Labs updated and improved their Premium software to offer several new features. Some of these include the ability to track minute-by-minute trip details, as well as view weather trends up to 48 hours prior the trip. Premium has a trip-planning function, too, that can invite friends, coordinate the way out on the water, and mark waypoints from past trips.