THE 2019 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) show in Orlando two weeks ago lived up to its billing as the recreational fishing industry’s biggest event with hundreds of exhibitors and more than 14,500 registered buyers from outdoors retailers attending.

An annual highlight is getting to see the new stuff, figuring out what might sink or swim in the fishing world over the next year or two. This year, 1,004 new products were entered by 303 companies in the New Products Showcase and four new retail categories were added: Ice Fishing; Cold and Warm Weather Technical Apparel; Coolers and Bait/Storage; and Cutlery, Hand Pliers or Tools.

Always fun is the opportunity to vote for the best new products in each category. I picked 11 out of the 29 category winners this year.

Virginia’s own Seigler Reels won the Fly Reel category with its SF (Small Fly) reel. The company also won the category last year with their larger version of the reel. Shimano won both the freshwater and saltwater reel categories with the SLX DC baitcasting reel and the Stradic FL spinning reel, respectively.

Lew’s continues its domination of the rod/reel combo category, winning its sixth consecutive award with the Mach Smash Baitcast Combo. St. Croix, another perennial winner, won three of the best new rod categories: freshwater, saltwater and fly fishing. I got to try one of their freshwater Mojo Bass Glass rods on a kayak-fishing trip in Arkansas. A version of that rod won best freshwater rod. The Avid Surf VSS80MMF won best saltwater, while the Imperial Salt IS908.4 topped the fly category.

LIVETARGET also won three categories, taking best saltwater soft lure, freshwater hard lure and saltwater hard lure with their new line of lures that employs something they call “Injected Core Technology.” Basically, the visible profile of the baitfish that a predator fish sees is encased in either a hard or soft, clear casing. This profile appears smaller to the predator fish, while the casing adds splash and vibration that help entice strikes—so goes the theory.

My favorite of the three was the Slow-Roll Shiner. It won the saltwater soft lure category.

The unique Phantom Spider by Lunkerhunt was judged best freshwater soft lure. This small tarantula or big orb weaver-sized soft bait has two hooks. My guess is any fish that likes to eat insects falling from trees or shrubs would happily slurp this in. A cool feature is that the lure self-rights itself if it tips over. Fished slowly, it looks startlingly realistic.

The Plano EDGE was deemed the best new Tackle Management product. It borrows, a bit, from Flambeau’s Zerust technology, which added corrosion-resisting inhibitors into some of the plastic components of the tackle boxes. Plano has created several versions of the EDGE, with units designed for spinners, terminal tackle, crankbaits and more.

The category winning Hobie Pro Angler 4 boat with the 360-degree mirage drive was one of the true innovations this year. The propulsion fins can be directed anywhere you’d like. Figuring how to quickly sync rudder and mirage fins could make for rapid course adjustments.

I like how the only features protruding from the bottom of the Hobie hull are the durable, but somewhat flexible fins. There is no lower unit like you see on most propeller-driven pedal models. The Hobie fins kick up if you hit something but then snap back into position when you start pedaling again. At $4,700, it’s pricey.

Garmin USA’s new Force Trolling Motor won the Boating Accessories category and was also awarded the coveted “Best of Show” honors.

The motor has a brushless design lets the unit operate quietly. Garmin says the unit delivers as much power while running at the 24-volt option as other units running at 36 volts. And, it’s also the first trolling motor to include built-in Garmin CHIRP traditional and Ultra High-Definition ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonars. For full details on this unit, see garmin.com.

One of the funniest winning products (giftware category) was the “Fillet Table Beverage Management System” by 13 Fishing. It solves the problem of efficiently managing your beer when you’ve got a fillet knife in one hand and a fish in the other. This updated take on the old stadium drinking hat/helmet holds two units of your favorite beverage, plus has a built-in knife sharpener and a Bluetooth speaker. I initially thought this a total goof, but who knows? And, it’s just $99.99.

DGIF Wants Citizen-Scientists

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries wild turkey project leader Gary Norman is looking for reports from Virginia’s “citizen-scientists.” He is looking for people to share what they are seeing in terms of wild turkeys, especially hens with their young, called “poults.”

This new program will help DGIF gauge reproductive success. Past assessments have relied mainly on agency staff reports, which can be limited. Norman said similar public reporting programs in Pennsylvania and North Carolina resulted in thousands of observations.

Norman said adding citizen-scientists to DGIF’s turkey management program offers much potential, especially in terms of getting better local and regional estimates of annual reproduction.

To use the system, go to the gooutdoorsvirginia.com web site, the same site used for checking big game online. Go to the “Harvest Reporting” block and log in. Once you establish or access your account, access the “Forms” button (a green button near the top of the page). There, you’ll find turkey and grouse reporting forms. The turkey form asks for information about where you’ve seen turkeys, whether they were hens, gobbler or poults, and the number of each. Logging in or establishing an account is easy. The program ends at the end of August.Email Norman at gary.norman@dgif.virginia.gov with any questions.For more on this year’s ICAST products, including photos, videos and a deeper look at winners and some interesting “also rans,” see Ken Perrotte’s weblog at outdoorsrambler.com.

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