Well we’ve wrapped up most of our coverage from ICAST, and we’ve had time to go back and review our notes and our photos from the show in Vegas. It was a whirlwind three days, and while I’d love to say we saw every booth at the show, the reality is there are 1,221 booths at ICAST and 26 hours to see as much as you can. Even if we spent only 5 minutes in a booth, we’d only see 25% of the show.
So we try to blow through as fast as possible to see everything. The new product showcase helps get an idea of what there is to see and then we make the rounds. And unfortunately we don’t get to nearly all the booths. But we did get a ton of blogs done and a bunch of the top products covered from the show for you.
The Best of Show to us has become a very watered down popularity contest at ICAST. The winners are sometimes spot on and sometimes ridiculous compared to the competition. So we take the voting with a grain of salt and do our best to vote on the products we think are original, but also the ones we think are the best products for you guys, the anglers.
In all our coverage and visits, we came up with the products we think will be the true BEST OF SHOW from ICAST in the categories that apply to all fishermen on the bank, in a boat, in a kayak or wading a stream. We came up with who we think will be the real winners with anglers in terms of originality, productivity, quality construction and eventually sales.
Those categories that matter to all freshwater anglers are Rod, Reel, Hard Lure, Soft Lure, Terminal Tackle, Line and Storage.
So without further ado, here is our take on the true Best of Show.
Actual Winner: Abu Garcia Revo MGX Baitcaster
Wired2Fish Winners: Quantum EXO Baitcaster and Spinning, Abu Garcia Revo MGX baitcaster
Reasoning: These are higher dollar reels, but made with the best components available. The Quantum EXO reels were a very original idea, feel light as a feather but also feel incredibly strong and tough. They were smooth and featured amazing control. Likewise with the Abu Garcia Revo MGX although we feel that $350 price tag will be a hard pill to swallow for 90% of anglers. But if you demand the very best, there are some new options to consider.
Actual Winner: G.Loomis GL2
Wired2Fish Winners: Quantum EXO rods, Abu Garcia Villain rods, Phenix Recon Series, St. Croix Rage Rods, Okuma Helios
Reasoning: All of the rods mentioned made affordable to somewhat affordable, lightweight, powerful new rod lines for anglers. Part of the trends we saw in rods this year was reduced weight, better reel seats, exposed blanks, handles that merged with the blanks, better guides, etc. We expect all of these new rod lines to do well this coming season.
Best Hard Lure
Actual Winner: Sebile D&S Crank
Wired2Fish Winners: Rapala Rippin Rap, Rapala X-Rap Pop, ABT 5-inch Banshee, Vagabond Swim Hustler Inject
Reasoning: The new Rapala Baits just keep getting better. We’ve got some serious man-crushes on the new Rippin Rap and X-Rap Pop. The finishes are great but the shape and engineering of the baits really makes them unique from other offerings. The swimbaits are going to be winners too. The mid-sized affordable swimbaits are really getting a foothold with anglers and we think these two displayed some unique, detailed high-end features at good prices.
Best Soft Lure
Actual Winner: Kopper’s Live Target Mouse
Wired2Fish Winners: MightEE Power Finesse Worm, Optimum Top of the Line Swimbait, Koppers Mouse, Evergreen Kicker Frog, Jackall Clone Gill
Reasoning: We were looking for soft baits that did something different and gave us some new options. The MightEE is a big thick straight tail worm made specifically for use on heavier shaky heads for power shaky presentations, something we’ve employed a lot in recent years. The Optimum Top of the Line took the line-thru design in swimbaits and made it where we can fish these baits over heavy cover without snagging. The Koppers Mouse puts an interesting spin on frog fishing, but a bass will probably still think its a frog. The Evergreen Kicker Frog employs a single hook design that we like for better hookups. Look at a jig and worm, you get rock solid hooksets with the single hook baits. And the Jackall Clone Gill gives us a drop shot, and bed fishing option that we haven’t had in such a lifelike profile and look.
Best Terminal Tackle
Actual Winner: VMC Spin Shot hook
Wired2Fish Winners: VMC Spin Shot hook, Eco Pro Diamond Peg, Eco Pro Wacky Rig Weight, Trokar Treble Hooks
Reasoning. The Spin Shot from VMC is the real deal. Jason has been wrecking the fish on this hook for weeks. Both of the Eco Pro tackle pieces are very well designed and simple solutions to common fishing problems. We really like their simple but very well made answers to our angling needs. And those Trokar trebles should really add a new dimesion to hardbait fishing, with penetrating hooksets on short striking fish.
Actual Winner: Berkley NanoFil (Best Of Show Overall Winner)
Wired2Fish Winners: NanoFil, Seaguar Senshi and Seaguar Kanzen
Reasoning: We’ve used all three, and it’s nice that lines are being designed for anglers that have demanded that certain hassling aspects of fishing line be corrected in higher end lines. We love NanoFil. We’re still learning what its limitations are, but at this point, we’ve had a lot more success than shortcoming with the line on our spinning reels. The new Senshi monofilament is very cool. It’s supple, smooth and really fishes well. Same with the Kanzen braid. All three of these lines will do well for their brands.
Actual Winner: Plano Hydro-Flow Tackle Management System
Wired2Fish Winner: Plano everything
Reasoning: Has Plano made a storage solution that wasn’t good? They make so much good stuff in so many shapes, sizes and configurations that there is something for everyone, no matter how you like to fish. We’re very intrigued by this new Hydro-Flow system. Rain, water spray, etc. can get in your boxes and damage your tackle with rust. However, this system might alleviate that for anglers. We’re interested to see how it performs in a damp boat compartment.
We’ll be following up with our take on the ICAST Show as a whole. What was great about it and what we think would make the show even better in 2012. What are your thoughts on the new stuff you saw from the show? What other options would you put in place of ours?