My buddies have been giving me a hard time for trolling soft-plastic lizards to target bass over the last few years. They just can’t wrap their heads around such an unconventional tactic. But each time I convince them to troll with me, we have a great day.
That’s the beauty of fishing—there’s always something new to try. That’s why I was so pumped to attend last month’s ICAST Show in Orlando, where fishing companies from all over the world gather to showcase fresh ideas in baits, rods, reels, and gadgets that have the potential to change the way we approach fishing. There still wasn’t any talk of trolling lizards with an 8-horse outboard, but there were lots of exciting and innovative new baits and a number of cool accessories that stuck out to me at ICAST 2021. Here are my favorites.
7 Best New Baits from ICAST 2021
1. Jackall Bounty Fish
For starters, the Jackall Bounty Fish allows anglers to walk-the-dog across heavy cover without getting hung up, and the action in the water is slick. The bait has a unique net-joint system that gives the tail great articulation on the retrieve. The ribbed design in the middle of the bait helps slow the Bounty Fish down during the retrieve to keep the soft plastic in the strike zone longer. The Jackall Bounty Fish comes in a length of 6.2 inches and six colors and will be available to anglers in late August.
2. A Band of Anglers Engage Waterbull Jig with Barbarian Hook
The new Waterbull Jig by Engage is perfect for flipping heavy cover. The bullet-shaped jighead combined with strong weed guards allows the jig to push down through heavy cover where other jigs will get hung up. But the feature that excites me most is Patrick Sebile’s inverse-curve hook design. The bend of the hook is farther back to help improve the hook’s overall strength and prevent it from pulling or bending out. It helps keep more fish on the line and, in turn, more fish in the boat.
3. Berkley PowerBait Lil General
If you like to fish ned rigs and other finesse-style baits, then the Berkley PowerBait Lil General is for you. This 2.75-inch stickbait has a ribbed texture and is ideal for subtle presentations. It comes in many natural colors and has good durability for long days on the water. The soft, life-like texture combined with super-charged scent gives off a realistic impression without compromising durability.
4. Jenko Fishing Groovy Glide Hemp Edition
The Jenko Groovy Glide is a hard bait that can be fished in various ways, from gliding to burning it back to the boat. But the unique feature about this bait is that it is made from 100 percent U.S.-sourced hemp. This environmentally friendly material can be fished like any other bait but will biodegrade if lost after six months. Once the paint starts to wear off the bait, the biodegrading process begins, leaving no environmentally harmful materials behind. But if fished in normal conditions, the bait will last like any other lure. Look for the Groovy Glide Hemp Edition this fall, while the plastic Jenko Groovy Glide is available now.
5. Nikko Winnow 95
The Winnow 95 drew a lot of attention at ICAST. This 3.75-inch ribbed swimbait is the definition of durable. The bait is made from Nikko’s super tough, elastic material that will withstand the abuse of fishing all day. The tough, floating material also allows for various rigging options, and it is non-toxic, making it safe if a fish swallows it. The bait has three separate swimming motions, and anglers can get creative with how they want to fish it. The Winnow 95 is available now, here.
6. Berkley PowerBait Gilly
After a lot of buzz around the Gilly at ICAST, it took home the Best Freshwater Soft Lure and Best of Show awards for its lifelike design and the tail’s articulating action in the water. This soft-plastic bait comes in three different sizes and multiple colors. You can rig it in many different ways and fish it effectively all around the country. It has a realistic swimming action and naturally falls when you pause the retrieve. The bait’s natural look in the water had everyone gathered around the tank to see what all the hype was about—and it didn’t disappoint. The Gilly will be available this fall.
7. Shimano Coltsniper Splash Walk
Saltwater anglers are going to want to take notice of this new lure, especially striped-bass fishermen. The Shimano Coltsniper Splash Walk is a hard bait with a unique design. The weighted tail allows the bait to sit vertically when stationary in the water. This design helps increase hookups and decreases the chance of a fish missing the bait. The walk-the-dog action on this lure is flawless, and the multiple colors and patterns make it easy to match baitfish. Shimano’s through-wire construction makes for an extremely durable lure too. The Splash Walk is 7¼ inches long, weighs 3⅜ ounces, and is already on store shelves and available online.
5 Best New Fishing Accessories from ICAST
1. Bajio Bales Beach Polarized Sunglasses
It’s not every day you see a fishing-sunglasses company with such a driven conservation mission. Bajio was founded behind the idea to protect and conserve saltwater flats and help the people who call these areas home. The brand uses environmentally friendly materials to make its products. Many of their frames are 100 percent plant-derived, and the lenses are glass. I’ve had a chance to test out their Bales Beach glasses, and I can confidently say that they are high-quality and made for anglers. The Bales Beach glasses have a full wrap design with a top shield for maximum coverage. The rubber nose pads and temple tips help make for a comfortable day on the water.
2. Atollas Floating Sunglasses Retainer
If you fish long enough, you’re bound to drop your shades in the water at one point or another. I’ve unfortunately done it a few more times than I’d like to admit. The Atollas floating retainer has solved this problem for anglers. After five years of engineering, this incredibly lightweight and durable rubber retainer is like no other sunglass lanyard. It can keep the heaviest fishing glasses afloat and is extremely comfortable. Looking at the photo, you may think there’s no way that this thing is comfortable, but you’d be wrong. I expected them to irritate me when I threw them on, but I had the opposite experience. It was like they weren’t even there. You won’t ever lose your expensive fishing glasses again with this retainer attached. You can pick one up here.
3. YETI Highland Olive, Harvest Red, and Sharptail Taupe Collection
YETI showcased their new limited-edition fall-color collection at ICAST 2021, including drinkware, coolers, and luggage in Highland Olive, Harvest Red, and Sharptail Taupe. Yeah, I know, they’re just new colors. But if your fishing buddies all like Yeti stuff, too, it’s nice to be able to identify your cup or cooler at a glance. And, to my eye at least, this stuff looks pretty sharp. Available now at YETI.com.
4. Bubba Pro Series Cordless Electric Fillet Knife
Taking home ICAST’s Best Cutlery, Hand Pliers/Tools Award was the Bubba Pro Series Cordless Fillet Knife. This fillet knife is for hardcore anglers who spend as much time cleaning fish as they do catching them. According to the company, the electric knife has up to 21 percent more torque, 22 percent more motor efficiency, and 100 percent more power than similar models. It comes with two batteries and multiple blades to help you get through the biggest filleting jobs.
5. Grundens Gambler GORE-TEX Jacket
The Gambler is Grundens new flagship tournament angler jacket, and it is designed to withstand the worst conditions. It has a 100-percent nylon face with GORE-TEX knit backer. My favorite part of this jacket is the GORE-TEX stretch panels that allow maximum comfort, and you don’t feel restricted when casting. The sleeves have a submersible shingled cuff design to keep water from running up your arm, and the construction is top-notch. Available in the fall, the Gambler is ideal for professional and amateur anglers alike to guarantee they stay dry in the worst conditions.