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CONNECTFeatured Blogs : Brett Carlson
ICAST impressions 2013
LAS VEGAS – The curtain has been pulled at ICAST 2013 as hundreds of new baits, rods, reels and accessories have officially been unveiled. Manufacturers, buyers and media members are all calling the event a success as both the number of attendees and the number of exhibitors were up from last year. Below is a look at many of the new products that caught my eye.
Power-Pole Micro Anchor
By far the biggest talker was the Power-Pole Micro Anchor, which fittingly received the overall “Best of Show” award. While this is the smallest shallow-water anchor in Power-Pole’s lineup, it could be the biggest for its business and that’s saying something considering Power-Pole’s track record for both quality and innovation.
The Micro Anchor features Power-Pole’s signature strong hold – complete with five settings of force. In seven seconds, the Micro Anchor fully deploys and stops the boat on the spot. The anchor itself will retail for $595 and the 3/4-inch spike (which is 8 1/2 feet in length) is sold separately at $95. Notably, the Micro Anchor will work with other 3/4-inch spikes. Included is a wireless remote with speed and directional controls.
While the Micro Anchor is designed for kayaks, jon boats, canoes and small craft, the big question is how big of a boat it can stop and hold. According to Power-Pole officials, the Micro Anchor is recommended for vessels of 1,500 pounds or less.
“Kayak guys have really wanted this for a while,” said Power-Pole official Curt Hill. “But it goes way beyond kayaks. Now boat owners of all sizes can enjoy Power-Pole’s anchoring abilities.”
Yamamoto launches hard bait line
While it was announced shortly before ICAST, one of the biggest surprises of the show was legendary soft plastic maker Gary Yamamoto delving into hard baits. GYCB now offers three jerkbaits, two poppers, three crankbaits and two topwater walking baits. While hard baits are new to GYCB, the skinny behind these is that they were designed by former Megabass bait makers.
“I’m relatively new to the baits, but I can tell you Yamamoto has never put his name on anything that wasn’t quality,” said veteran FLW Tour pro Jay Yelas. “The detail in the baits is absolutely incredible.”
The crankbait line – called the Chikara (“Power” in Japanese) is designed for heavy cover. The 100 series features a square bill and dives up to 4 feet. The 200 series features the same body but a longer, more rounded bill and dives up to 8 feet while the 300 digs down to 10 feet. Of the three, Yelas pointed to the 100 as a bait he can’t wait to throw at the Red River for the upcoming Forrest Wood Cup.
“The squarebill has a really nice and wide wobble and it’s always an advantage when you’re throwing a bait the fish haven’t seen.”
The jerkbaits, called Tenkuu (“Sky” in Japanese) also dive up to 4, 8 and 10 feet. Yelas said the baits effortlessly glide through the water or can be walked just under the surface. He suggested that in future tournament seasons these baits will play heavily on White River impoundments, especially in the prespawn.
The four topwater baits (walkers called Tate’ and poppers called Shibuki) appear standard with two different sizes of each. Yelas said the Tate’ walks tighter than a traditional Spook and has action that roughly resembles a Sammy. The poppers meanwhile have more of a spitting action than a chugging action. Although these feature Japanese design, the suggested retail price for all models is an impressive $7.99.
Easy to Hook USA
When David Dudley and Andy Morgan talk fishing, it’s time to listen. But what Dudley and Morgan said this week definitely goes against the grain. In short, they’re encouraging us to stop tying hooks as it weakens the overall strength in your line. Instead, they’re promoting Easy to Hook, a wrap system that looks suspect at first glance, but over time grows on you.
“Our battle is trying to convince everyone that this is not a gimmick,” said Ron Baskett, company president. “We’re fighting a 200-year tradition of tying hooks here.”
Easy to Hook actually went to the major hook manufacturers to sell their idea. Each liked the concept, but said the hook would be too difficult to mass produce as it features a pigtail for an eye and a ball below it. Easy to Hook eventually developed machines that could put the balls and hooks together and now with much improved quality are ready to introduce its creation to market.
The recommended attachment method is called a hair wrap. To connect, lay the line against the backside of the ball, come across the top, wrap counter clockwise two tight wraps to the left, then come back over to the right and wrap all the way up the shaft and bring through the pigtail and pull tight.
If you’re curious if the hook could ever come unwrapped, Dudley has a message for you.
13 Fishing is a growing rod, reel and apparel company that likes to challenge industry norms. It started in ice fishing (White Out won best Rod & Reel combo this year), but is branching out to bass and saltwater fishing. Last year they unveiled the Envy and the Omen series to high praise and this year the company launched the Envy Green line designed for inshore fishing.
In addition, 13 recently started a sub brand called No. 8 Tackle, which will feature quality custom rods at affordable prices. In particular, the new Hell Bent baitcaster is an incredible rod for only $50.
FLW Tour pro and 13 staffer Stetson Blaylock is most excited about the three new additions to the Envy Black line.
“We’ve got a new 7-11, 7-4 and 7-1 called the Crankinstein,” said Blaylock. “We worked on these for well over a year and for a company that moves as fast as 13, that’s a long time. These are great rods with Toray Carbon, custom components and feature a nice taper with a spongy feel – perfect for crankbait fishing. The 7-11 is designed to combat the trend we’re seeing with the bigger deep-diving plugs.”
The Crankinstein rods will retail for $180.
Damiki unveils two unique topwaters
Two years ago, Damiki opened some eyes at ICAST with a unique craw that featured air pockets in the claws. This year, the company is using air pockets to innovate once again – this time with a buzzing frog.
The 4-inch Damiki Air Frog features a durable plastic composition with air pockets on the sides and a soft piece of foam in the middle interior. The frog’s coolest feature is that it literally turns and rights itself. No matter what happens on a cast, the Air Frog will always return to its belly.
“It kind of acts like a pontoon boat,” said pro Bryan Thrift. “The hook provides the weight and acts like a keel. Another cool thing is that you can stop it in a particular spot and it will stay on top. Most frogs kind of sink when you stop them. The legs have a hard kick and create a good bubble trail too.”
Thrift recommends using a 5/0 or 6/0 EWG hook with the Air Frog.
“That first hard twitch is where you get the most kick,” added Thrift. “After that it’s got a nice wide walk, even wider than a Spook.”
The Rambler 120 features four glass beads in the front and one knocker in the back which contribute to a loud, ostentatious presence on top.
Roll Tide Burst
The Alabama rig craze continued at ICAST 2013 with many companies debuting different variations of the rig. Eco Pro Tungsten unveiled two five-wire rigs this year, one with blades and one without.
The four-bladed version, called the Roll Tide Burst, is made of extremely light weight composite. It possesses titanium coated wires and a recessed swivel for the head. The Roll Tide Burst comes in two colors – Tennessee shad with gold blades and shad with silver blades.
“For $12.99, it’s a bad, bad rig,” said Justin Lucas. “For that price, it can’t be beat in terms of quality. I think one of the most important features of a rig is the snap swivels and these will not bend or break.”
Lucas said both rigs can be fished shallow or deep, the non-bladed version being called the Roll Tide Pro. Lucas typically prefers blades in the prespawn when the fish are active. In terms of design, the Roll Tide rigs are solid, not extreme.
“It’s just a quality compact rig. From what I’ve found over the past few years, the tighter you can keep the swimbaits the better. This rig is compact, runs true and really hides the wires.”
Scatter Rap update, new VMC Boxer jig head sizes
With all the buildup surrounding the launch of the Rapala Scatter Rap, it’s almost hard to believe this is its first ICAST appearance. Roughly four months after the initial launch, reigning Forrest Wood Cup champion Jacob Wheeler says the Scatter Rap is now a proven producer.
“What I’ve learned is that it’s not as much of a target bait,” said Wheeler. “Where it really shines is over flats. The Scatter Rap Crank has been my personal favorite. I’ll work it in grass in like 5 to 7 feet like you would with a rattlebait. But instead of pulling it through the grass, I like to work it over the top, keep it above the grass.”
Wheeler said he’s also noticed the ideal retrieve speed is not a fast burn.
“I would call it a slow-to-medium retrieve and I throw it on a 5:1 reel. Once you find that right speed, the kick is just unbelievable.”
Wheeler also mentioned two new sizes of the VMC Boxer jig heads. While jig sizes aren’t typically newsworthy material, Wheeler says these two fit the bill and will significantly aid the action of deep-water swimbaits.
“The VMC Boxer now comes in a 3/4 and 1 ounce. That’s unique because the Boxer has a pretty small hook and now we’ve got the weights to get down deeper. Too big of a hook really destroys the action of the swimbait. Now we can get it down and retain the action.”
Z-Man launches four bass baits
Z-Man unveiled four new bass baits at ICAST 2013 – the LeechZ, Turbo CrawZ, DieZel MinnowZ and QuadZilla.
The LeechZ and Turbo CrawZ look incredible in the tank – with the LeechZ staying lifelike and vertical while the CrawZ has a great kicking action. Luke Clausen takes us through the two baits below.
The QuadZilla is a castable umbrella rig of sorts – featuring four blades, but only one centered hook. That one hook means it is legal everywhere, virtually weedless and yet still emulates the look of a school of baitfish. Clausen said he expects the QuadZilla to shine around shallow-water cover like lay-downs and grass. He also noted it’s very manageable as the sliding head collapses the four spinnerbait arms.
To go with the QuadZilla, Z-Man offers a new swimbait called the DieZel MinnowZ. At 4 inches in length, the DieZel is extremely versatile. In addition to rigs, it can be fished on a swim jig, as a ChatterBait trailer, or solo. The tails thumps hard, even on slow retrieves as the material is soft, yet it won’t roll over when it’s burned fast. Z-Man officials expect the DieZel to be one of the company’s most successful baits, which is saying something coming from the group responsible for the ChatterBait.
Strike King KVD 1.5 Flat, Rage Cut-R
Strike King probably wins the award for most new baits this year – adding everything from a castable worm to a popper to a redesigned deep-water jig. In total, the Tennessee company introduced 10 new bass baits at ICAST.
‘This is a bait that’s going to excel in colder water, in the prespawn,” explained Rose. “I would call it a finesse crankbait. But instead of balsa, the plastic allows it to be much more castable. Instead of having to throw it on a spinning rod, I can cast the 1.5 Flat on a baitcaster with 10- or 12-pound fluorocarbon line.”
Another unique offering from Strike King is the Rage Cut-R, a 6-inch castable cut tail worm. Rose said that it can be flipped and pitched, but really shines Carolina- or Texas-rigged or as a swim jig trailer.
Strike King calls the Cut-R its most versatile worm ever and says it has the fastest tail flicker rate of any worm on the market.
“It’s a great cast-and-reel worm that will excel in vegetation like hydrilla, milfoil and lily pads – perfect for what we’re about to encounter at the Red River,” added Rose.
Strike King also tweaked its popular Rage Tail Craw. The new Rage DB Craw is a narrower, tighter version of the original. Rose said it will take over as the best option for flipping and pitching, while the original (and wider action) Rage Tail Craw will be better for Carolina rigs and football jig trailers.
Complete video coverage: