This past summer the fishing industry gathered in Orlando, Florida, to display its latest and greatest offerings at ICAST (the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) produced by the American Sportfishing Association. The convention floor was packed with everything imaginable from the latest in lures, tackle, fishing apparel, kayaks, five-gallon buckets costing $100 and more, all designed to aid in catching fish and anglers too. Among the dizzying array of booths was The New Product Showcase. Here is where all the latest offerings were on display for buyers and the media to view and vote for Best of Show and Best in Category. Not all were winners but in this article you will find a sampling of what caught this reporter’s eye.
Best of Show
Stand Up Paddleboarding and Micro Skiffs are both trends that anglers are gravitating to in large numbers. They are relatively inexpensive and a simple way to get on the water and get to some great fishing spots that otherwise may be inaccessible. Better yet, when you’ve done fishing for the day they are easy to transport and store and maintenance is as simple as hosing them off. Voted Best of Show, Bote’s new composite Rover takes advantage of both trends and effectively turns a top-of-the-line stand-up paddleboard into an outboard powered micro skiff. This 14-foot (4.26m) board with a ‘Power Well’ notched in the stern is capable of handling up to a 6HP outboard when attached to a removable ‘Moto Rac’. The stable 40-inch (1.016m) wide SUP has sockets or ‘integrated receivers’ placed strategically throughout the recessed cockpit. By simply inserting the Moto Rac into two of these receivers and adding a small outboard, your SUP Rover instantly becomes a micro skiff capable of doing 16mph (with a 6HP four stroke outboard and 200lb (90.7kg) of load). The motor bracket even has the ability to mount two small Rotopax gas cans for extended range. Once you get to your spot you can then paddle stealth fashion, sneaking up on your prey. Other sockets can be utilized to insert such accessories as a Grab Rac that helps the anglers stabilize themselves while underway or moving around the deck. Also available is a Tackle Rac that will store rods and gear up and off the deck. There is even a Bucket Rack that can store and support a standard five-gallon bucket or Bote’s own Kula bucket cooler. Deck bungees can be found up front as well as Connexsup plugs strategically placed around the board. These allow not only tie down spots but these sockets can accept a wide range of accessory inserts. Fully customizable this SUP/Micro Skiff can get you to your favorite spot, allowing you to paddle only when you want to. www.boteboard.com.
Get Hooked and Lured
Although the basic fishing hook design has been around for thousands of years Trapper Tackle has a patented design that it claims will allow anglers to spend less time re-rigging baits, improve lure performance and increase your catch rate. Industry buyers and media seem to agree as variants of this hook design won best of category in terminal tackle twice. In 2016, they did it with their Trapper DropShot/Live Bait/Finesse hook. This year they did it again with their Trapper Round Bend Treble hooks. The premise of these hook designs is simple but effective. The box or squared off section of the hook that is usually rounded between the barb and the shaft helps retain both baits and a hooked fish more effectively increasing hook-ups and catches. Available in a range of sizes and types. www.trappertackle.com.
One lure that got top honors in the Saltwater Soft Lure category is LiveTarget’s Hollow Body Mullet. This innovative lure is derived from LiveTarget’s freshwater series of hollow bodied soft lures and has been adapted into a lifelike mullet that will catch a variety of saltwater species. Its unique design allows for casting the bait where predators live, under docks, around mangroves and other obstructions. Snag free with a single hook, this lure can be cast without hang-ups and can be presented where mullet are normally found. www.livetargetlures.com.
A New Spin
Shimano is synonymous with quality fishing reels and their new Sustain Spinning reels won Best Saltwater Spinning Reel at ICAST with their 4000XG and C5000HG reels. Exceptionally smooth and strong these new reels have precision cold-forged aluminum main gears manufactured under a special process that assures longevity. Cold forged by applying almost 200 tons of pressure, the main gear is created with high precision. This combined with Shimano’s X-Protect seal system and eight shielded anti-rust ball bearings along with a Cross Carbon Drag assures a top-performing reel for years of hard service in the saltwater environment. Lightweight, smooth and capable of handling a high capacity of line quickly with its 6.2:1 gear ratio this reel shares the same body size between the 4000XG and the C5000HG. With a larger spool the C5000HG can handle 200yds (182.8m) of 30lb braided line or 195yds (178.3m) of monofilament line. www.fish.shimano.com.
Not a winner of a best of category award but so simple, innovative and functional, that it left this reporter impressed was the L’il Sucker. Walking past their booth I saw these neoprene rings and was skeptical. I was invited to tug on a tumbler that had one attached to its base and was sitting on the display. I was astonished to find it was suctioned in place and took some effort to remove – the perfect accessory to keep your beverage secure onboard. These neoprene rings come in three sizes. The L’il Sucker Original will fit beverage cans as well as beer and soda cans. The L’il Sucker Holster will work for containers up to four-inches, such as tumblers, Yeti Ramblers, Koozies and even wine bottles. There’s even a L’il Sucker Insulator that combines the neoprene ring with a Koozie. They all work by sliding the ring on the base of your container. Just place the container on a smooth or even non-porous slightly textured surface and that’s it. They are surprisingly secure and will not tip or spill. Ranging in price from just under $5 to just under $10 these innovative rings can save spills and ensure your valuable tumbler and beverage are secure and ready for the next sip. You can even design and customize your own graphics and logos on them. www.lilsucker.com.
Glenn Hayes is a freelance photographer and writer living in West Central Florida. Specializing in marine and location photography, his work includes commercial, editorial and fine art. www.HayesStudios.com