Recently I had the good fortune to travel to Florida and attend the 2022 ICAST show. This annual experience is the world’s largest sportfishing trade show. It is a unique opportunity for those in the industry to unveil and showcase the latest innovations in tackle, gear, accessories, and apparel in the fishing world.
The Jake’s Bait & Tackle crew partnered with Thomas Arens of Fishing the DMV to spend three days on the showroom floor to bring back to the Woods & Waters followers the latest and greatest in fishing.
With such a large footprint we set out to focus specifically on what anglers could use and benefit from in our region. From what we gathered talking with industry innovators, the underlying theme for this year involved taking a product from conception, through extensive research and development, to getting the best possible product in the anglers hands. Innovation starts with an idea.
Bill Siemantel of BBZ Baits shared a story of working with Mike Bennett of FishLab Tackle. Bill puts his ideas to a drawing kept in a notebook. Said notebook with product design features is shared with Mike which begins years and several seasons on the water of fine-tuning to get the product idea dialed in before it is released.
The result of this strategic work has put more detail to the creature bait and produced the Nature Series Baits. More on these Fish Lab Series baits a little later in the article.
Edwin Evers new spinnerbait was a work in process for three years. “I got it perfect….when you reel it through the water you’ll know what I’m talking about, you’ll hear it.”
The Elite Angler said his “fish catch rate has gone through the roof.”
He also noted, “If they want me to put my name on it, I want it to be perfect”.
Pure Fishing captured nine New Product Showcase awards out of 30 categories. Scott Castleberry, long time rep for the company credits a lot of their success with Research & Development. Their company is spending millions on the science behind the fishing.
With all this said, let’s get into what you should be considering adding to your fishing arsenal.
Starting off with the Fish Lab Nature Series Creature Baits which includes a Cover Bird, Flippin’ Frog, Kickin’ Craw and Flutter Nymph. Each design features a flipping bait with the natural profile, shape and action of the real thing. The Flutter Nymph is a plastic creature resembling a dragonfly, mayfly, and stonefly nymph. The four independent wings give an incredible kicking and fluttering motion as it falls through the water column. They come in a 3.5 and 4.5 inch size. River smallmouth guys will not be disappointed with this new lure.
The Flippin’ Frog is a must for the largemouth anglers. The aerodynamic shape from the head through the body, to the legs will make this the perfect flipping, pitching and punching lure. Once under the cover the kicking legs will resemble an underwater swimming frog.
Each of the Nature Series baits can be fished in a variety of techniques from Ned rig, Carolina, drop shot, finesse, as well as traditional punching rigs.
John Crews is another great innovator in the industry as his Missile Baits brand is a trusted fish-catcher in the fishing world.
Missile released the Chunky D, a 3.5 inch craw-shaped plastic featuring D Bomb shaped flappers that will give it plenty of thump. Throw this morsel as a trailer on a full size jig or vibrating jig, Texas style for flipping, or drag it along the bottom on a swing head.
Staying with plastics, the Spro CJ Smasher was designed by professional anglers Cory and Chris Johnston. This three-inch super soft but durable bait can be used for drop shot, Texas rig and jig head applications. You’ll want to consider the St. Lawrence Slayer as one of 10 possible colors.
Moving to hard lures but staying with the Spro brand, the Speed Demon 55 crankbait was designed by Major League Fishing angler Dean Rojas. It features a computer chip bill improving durability and providing a hard tight action in the shallow water cranking presentations.
The RkCrawler 50 DD Crankbait will be a hot item for the river guys and lake anglers looking to throw a downsized profile that dives to the 9-12 foot depth ranges.
There was a lot of buzz over the Spro KGB Chad Shad 180. Kevin Brightwell from KGB Swimbaits collaborated with Spro to bring a versatile glide bait for the beginner and experienced alike. The Chad Shad offers super slow sink and long glide outs as well as dive down or rise up action. A quality designed bait in the swimbait universe reasonably priced at suggested retail of $59.99.
The ZMan Hellraizer is unlike anything you’ve seen before! This is a pencil style lure with a chatterbait on the back followed by a feather treble hook. The hook tie is down the underside of the pencil bait giving it a thrashing topwater action. Can’t say that I was sold on this lure until I heard it was created and designed by the original Chatterbait architect Ron Davis. The Chatterbait changed fishing for many so it will be interesting to see if this new lure will revolutionize the topwater bite. ZMan is referring to it as the “Rise of the Topwater Chatterbait”.
Another topwater lure that caught our attention comes from Thunderhawk Lures. The Poppa Walka is designed to walk on topwater many different ways. Walk the dog on top or crank it under the surface for a tight gliding action. The plastic tail behind the hard body gives it extra action and gliding motion.
The Berkley Powerbait Slobberknocker Bladed Jig was a winner in the Freshwater Hard Lure category. The blade to head connection is the first difference you’ll see in this innovation. The blade is attached thru the newly designed head with a small cylinder style connector. This design gives it a different vibration and sound. Elites are saying it is virtually weedless and the hand tied silicone skirt is infused with the Powerbait formula.
They are pairing this bladed bait with the new Berkley Power Stinger. The honeycomb shape of the tail gives it great free swimming action. This Freshwater Soft Lure ICAST winner can also be fished on an underspin or scrounger head.
LiveTarget Lures featured two entries into the New Product Showcase that caught our eye. The LiveTarget Ultimate Frog. Frog guys will want to try the new LiveTarget Ulimate Frog, as it looks and swims just like a real frog. The hard body sits on top and when twitched the long plastic legs extend out creating a swim like stride before retracting on the pause. This bait will be available for $16.99 in two models: a Finesse and Popper style.
The LiveTarget manufacturer also put out a LIVE Craw freshwater lure with the same reliable realistic looking features. They designed an underbelly weight system that can be changed out with a or 3/8 ounce to give it a different fall rate. A dragging, reeling, or twitching action maintaining bottom contact will give a realistic wobble look and sound as the weight clicks along the bottom contour.
Crappie, trout, river and cold water anglers will want to check out the new ZMan Micro Finesse plastics. Panfish anglers make up over 8 million in the industry. ZMan has downsized these softbaits to 1.75 inches with the same Elaztech strength. Jake’s already has the Ned Rig and Tiny TicklerZ on the shelves.
Rounding out the categories in Fishing Accessories, Tackle Management, Rods, Reels, and line you may want to check out the SpiderWire Dura Braid. This Hi-Vis Yellow is 25% tougher than other conventional braids.
Who doesn’t like a smooth as butter spinning reel in the Shimano Stella FK for the serious lake angler? Pair it on the Made in the USA award-winning St. Croix Legend series Tournament Bass Spinning Rod.
Googan Squad and Bass Mafia came out with an all new redesigned Coffin 2.0 Series to help with your tackle management.
The Plano EDGE Frog Box won in this category. This new box will allow up to 50 frogs to be stored securely.
Another cool, brand new innovation is the Frabill Witness Weigh Net to weigh all the fish they will catch with all this new gear and tackle! This first of it’s kind fish net has a built in 30-lb. scale. Anglers can net the fish, measure, weigh, and release it without having to hang it on a scale.
The fishing industry continues to evolve with continued research and development where the science in the lab meets the application on the water. It takes a team a lot of time to design products to help us catch fish. Paying attention to the details of the natural forage base and fish behavior produces new innovations each year.
With that said it is important to not over think it and keep it simple. There is no right or wrong way to fish and many of the old time original lures will still catch fish.
When recently helping an angler at the bait shop to find the perfect length rod with the right sensitivity and action I showed him a picture of another customer holding a big largemouth. Wide eyed looking at the big bruiser, I also pointed out the Paw Patrol kids rod laying in the background! Even though product changes one thing that never changes is the truly great people that enjoy the experience of catching fish.
ICAST 2022 Category Winners
Fishing Accessory: Frabill Witness Weigh Net
Boating Accessories: Frabill ReCharge, Deluxe Aerator
Boats and Watercraft: BOTE Rachkam Gatorshell + APEX Pedal Drive
Freshwater Rod: St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass Rod
Freshwater Reel: Shimano Stella FK
Freshwater Soft Lure: Berkley PowerBait PowerStinger
Freshwater Hard Lure: Berkley Slobberknocker
Tackle Management: Plano EDGE Frog Box
Kids’ Tackle: Simms Kid’s Tributary Wader
Electronics: Humminbird MEGA Live Imagine TargetLock
Ice Fishing: Garmin LiveScope Plus Ice Fishing Bundle LI
Custom Tackle and Components: Mud Hole RBS Pro G2 Power