Outdoor Journal: New products will aid anglers

The American Sportfishing Association hosted its 55th annual International Convention of Allied Spor

The American Sportfishing Association hosted its 55th annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month, attracting more than 7,200 dealers from all over the world.

More than 700 new tackle products and accessories were unveiled, and from this group, the American Sportsfishing Association (ASA) and buyers selected 23 best-of-show items. Here are nine of those items I believe belong in our fishing tackle.


Adirondack pond and small lake anglers should definitely take a look at the dual award-winning Hobie Cat Mirage Pro Angler 12. This 12-footer has a 500-pound capacity and features incredible stability, allowing a boater to stand and fish. It stores up to six rods and all the tackle necessary. The Pro Angler has dual-steering controls, comfortable seating with Boa lumbar support technology, is Lowrance depth/fish finder-ready and is powered by the patented MirageDrive with Turbo Fins system. This is the way to sneak up on those spooky, clear-water trout and bucketmouth bass hiding under banks and docks.

The Pro Angler 12 weighs just 98 pounds, is 36 inches wide and constructed of rotomolded polyethylene. It has front and rear carrying handles and a livewell-ready cargo area. Options include a livewell, plug-in cart, aluminum trailex trailer and eVolve electric motor. I can see myself wacky-worming my way around Ballston Lake, Round Lake and Lake Lonely in a Pro Angler 12. Color choices are dune, olive and yellow. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $2,549 (www.hobiecat.com).


The winner this year was Penn’s Battle rod and reel combo with its new spinning reel on a one-piece graphite composite rod. The rod features stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts, a graphite reel seat and sculpted EVA and cork grips. Originally designed for salt water anglers, it will also handle freshwater needs.

The Battle spinning reel has already proved its versatility after being introduced a few years ago. It’s highly versatile and reliable, featuring a full metal body and sideplates, machined and anodized aluminum superline ready spool, six stainless steel bearings, heavy drag washers and what I like, an oversized EVA soft touch knob. It’s fast, offering 6.2:1 or 5.6:1 gear ratio retrieves. The combo is offered in a number of rod-and-reel comb­inations and has a suggested retail price range of $120-$130 (www.penn­reels.com).


This is just one of several “bests” taken at this year’s ICAST by Pure Fishing. Its Abu Garcia Revo MGX baitcasting reel, which weighs just 5.4 ounces, is definitely the next generation of low-profile baitcast reels.

It has a one-piece X-Mag alloy frame, light C6 carbon sideplates and features an infinitely variable centrifugal brake system that can be adjusted externally without removing the side plate, allowing the angler to easily cast a wide var­iety of bait sizes. It actually has 28 adjustment positions.

Other features include nine stainless steel bearings and a roller bearing, carbon matrix drag system, Infini II spool and a titanium-coated guide. It has a recessed reel foot, allowing the crank handle to be closer to the reel. Bass tournament anglers take note: the Revo has a line capacity of 110 yards of 30-pound braid. Suggested retail price is $350 (www.abugarcia.com).


Speaking of light tackle, this year’s freshwater rod category winner, the St. Croix LegendXtreme, was unbeatable. Not only is it light, but its sensitivity will allow the angler to feel the lightest bites. This handcrafted rod is lightweight due to its composition of high-mod­ulus/high-strain SCV graphite and a number of other graphite ingred­ients that are exclusive to St. Croix rods. It’s topped with a Fuji SIC titanium-finished frame and Fuji ACS reel seat.

Suggested retail price for the spinning rod is $350-$380, the bait casting rod, $370-$410 (www.stcroixrods.com).


As someone who spends three to four days a week on the water during the summer months, I know the value of a good pair of sunglasses, and this year’s ICAST choice of Costa 580P glasses is ideal. They’re super lightweight, impact-resistant and are the injected polycarbonate alternatives to their existing 580 series. For eye protection, they block yellow light at 580 nano­meters on the light spectrum, giving outstanding visual clarity.

Durability is also extremely important for the active angler, and the 580P is virtually as scratch-res­istant as glass, plus it repels water, oil and dust. The Costa 580P is available in gray, copper and amber in 18 frame styles. Suggested retail price is $159-$199 (www.costadelmar.com).


Kids’ fishing usually means sharp flying hooks, but the staff at Shakespeare has a safety solution, the Hide-A-Hook Bobber, an obv­ious choice for this award. This is a clever innovation that secures a jig head into the body cavity of the bobber, allowing kids to “hook fish, not parents.” Once the line is cast into the water, the jig head sinks out of the bobber and into the water. On the retrieve, the unique design allows the jig head to retract back into the bobber, which makes it weedless.

Hide-A-Hook is a hassle-free system, and packaged as a fully equipped tackle kit, with two Hide-A-Hook Bobbers, a jar of Berkley Gulp Waxies, extra jig heads, bobber stoppers and a kids’ fishing guide. It is available in Barbie, Disney Cars and Spiderman kits. Click here or here and watch one of the demos of how this works. Suggested retail price is $12 (www.shakespeare-fishing.com).


The Lunkerhunt Bento Bait minnow-style, split-tail design is something all anglers will be interested in. What caught my eye immed­iately was the anatomical realism of this bait, and when you add a soft and durable body that comes to life with the slightest twist, it’s a real “fish-getter” that puts out an extra flash with a holographic core.

These are an ideal drop shot bait, both in fresh and salt water. Available in two sizes, three- and 4 1⁄2-inch, they come in five color patterns. I’ve already ordered some and will report my experiences with them in a future fishing column. Suggested retail price is $8 for a pack of five large or six small (www.lunkerhunt.com).


Pure Fishing again takes home the award for this category with its innovative Berkley Gulp Jig Heads for Gulp baits. This line of jigs comes in a variety that covers both fresh and salt water. Made of Tundra Composite, the new lead-free Berkley Gulp Heads come in proven colors, realistic 3-D eyes and premium black nickel-finished hooks. There are three models, Darter, Minnow and BDS (bait delivery system), providing anglers options for presenting their favorite baits to different species. The Darter is for inshore flats, the Minnow for freshwater applications and the BDS utilizes controlled density methods that allow deciding how fast or slow the bait will fall. All three of these come in a var­iety of sizes and colors. The Darter and Minnow come in a package of three, the BDS in a package of two. Suggested retail price is $5 (www.Berkley-fishing.com).


Spooling line on your reels is a pain, but the recent American Premier Corporations Ultimate Line Winding System is the answer, which I’m sure is why it won this ICAST category. This new and revolutionary tool will help all anglers spool line on reels faster and easier, especially with spinning rods. It’s definitely better than the pencil-through-the-spool technique, requiring a reeler and a pencil holder and applying tension to the spool as it spins. This accessory has an adjustable line tightener built right in to its graphite frame and it accepts single-, double- and quarter-pound spools of line. For a good demonstration on the Ultimate Line Winder, go to www.americanpremiercorp.com and watch the video. Suggesteed retail price is $40.

Categories: -Sports-

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