Thursday, July 16, 2009

ICAST 2009 - Day One Recap

I had many scheduled meetings on the first day of ICAST 2009 and that makes for a lot of time in only a few booths. Tomorrow I will spend a little time in a lot of booths. I've found more than anything at ICAST, that I have too many friends in this business. Great for the personal enjoyment of a great job, but horrible if you want to see 300 booths of 20 products each. You hate to cut anyone off, but it takes so much time just to move from booth to booth and get some meaningful information from each.

So here is recap of just some of the things I saw and found interesting at ICAST 2009 on Day One of the show.

Pure Fishing

Of course people will assume we started with Pure Fishing because of their sponsorship but the truth is this company is a monster in the sport fishing industry. They have a lot of great brands with a lot of new products, so it was the most logical place to start our ICAST show.

The Ripple Shad is a great new finesse swimbait. It's got an ultra-tight wiggle and a rapid vibrating tail. The ridges make for more surface area to expose PowerBait to the fish. They come in several great looking colors for both Fresh and Saltwater applications. I've been fishing this bait for a few months (thanks to a great partnership I have with Berkley where I get to test products long before they come to market and provide them with feedback and tweaks to the products to make them better). I like it on a standard swimbait hook. I've been adding some treble stingers for schooling fish. Trust me this is a great clearwater subtle bait and walleye anglers have been tearing the walleyes up with these 3-inch versions on jigheads. They have been a killer.

Berkley Trilene TransOptic is an extension of their Vanish Transition technology in the Monofilament market. The line is a bright goldish orange color above the water and turns translucent in the water. The line handles really well, seems very durable, casts beautifully and is really easy to see when trying to watch for subtle bites.

Abu Garcia Reels - The Revo S, SX and STX all got retooled and the most notable aspect I found is what they did with the braking systems. The STX has both a centrifugal braking system and the linear drag system. The great thing about this is you can set your pins and then fine tune it even further with the dial. This should make this reel one unbelievably tunable casting machine. The S and SX got a new system for the centrifugal brakes that will be copied through the entire line of Abu baitcasters. The new system has three pinch drag pins and three spring loaded pins. You can set your spring pins when you have to cast a light bait. The brakes will engage at first when you rare back and sling it as hard as you can. At the beginning of the cast the spool spins super fast. Then as the spool slows and the bait gets further out there the brakes spring back away allowing more free spool. This results in fewer backlashes and further casts.

The Pinch drags are your standard pins that you pop out permanently. These are good when you need that constant braking tension like when casting in high wind.

The Toro and Winch were combined to create a wide spool reel with a ton of low gear-ratio torque. It will be a high power reel for cranking and trolling with a lot of applications.

My favorite reel in the line-up is the Revo Orra. I got to test one of these in the prototype stages and was literally floored at how well it cast and handled for a mid-range reel. I loved that reel for everything from spinnerbaits, jigs, worms, flipping, jerkbaits, etc. It comes in at the $99 price point and offers an Aluminum frame with graphite components as well. The reel is low profile, light and a great performer at a great price.

The Revo Premiere looks awesome. We didn't get to take it apart and play with it at the show because of some issues with products being lost in transit - twice! But we're promised a close-up look tomorrow with Andrew the Australian reel guru for the Pure Fishing brands.

Vendetta and Vengeance rods. The Vendetta rods are slick looking in black, grey and red and matchup nicely to the redesigned Revo SX reels. The rod actions seemed very stiff to us. These are some powerful light rods at a good price point - $79-$89. Stetson Blaylock already has a tour level win on the rods at the National Guard Open on Lake Norman. The flipping stick was sweet and I really liked the 6'9" Jig worm rod.

Vengeance rods are a little lower price point $49-$59 and also powerful actions. The rods come in 10 spinning and 12 baitcasting models from L to H actions and lengths from 6 foot to 7 foot, 6 inch lengths.

Pflueger reels - I was most excited about the new wide/narrow spool on the Arbor SP reel. This reel looks awesome and Andrew reported this is the best handling reel he's ever used for fluorocarbon fishing line. Said the reel is ready for braid with a rubber braid strip on the spool and the wide spool lends itself to great casting and handling. We're excited about fishing with this new spinning reel and it comes in at $79.95. This reel will be a hot item for shaky heads and drop shot anglers all over the world.

Minn Kota

One of the coolest technologies we saw at the show today was the Minn Kota iPilot. This is an add-on system for electric controlled trolling motors. A replacement head and remote will give anglers the first gps driven control of their trolling motor. With this system you can tell it to track your path for 2 mile segments (up to 3 times) and then you can go back along your exact route. Even better is the Spot Lock feature that if you start to drift off your waypoint the trolling motor will engage when you're outside of a 5-foot circle from the waypoint and get you back on the spot. This will be invaluable to anglers fishing big water or fisheries commonly with a lot of wind.


I like this company. They are real low key, but make great products at a real affordable price. We're very intrigued by their two baitcasters the Serrano and the Cayenne. The Serrano features a cool green color, is super light and has an unbelievable free spool. The reel is as low a profile as we've seen on a reel. It has 10 ball bearings including 5 ABEC Japanese bearings on the spool to make it a super free casting reel. It's got an aluminum frame and aluminum side housing the DuraBrass gears and a graphite side plate on the other side with easy access to the braking system.

We're definitely going to put this reel through the paces at we think will be around a $169 price point. The Cayenne is similar at 8 ball bearings and what they believe might be a $139 price point. Also features the aluminum frame and side plate housing the gears.

We also really liked the C3 and EVX b rods from Okuma. Great actions, great cosmetics, very low key Okuma branding on all makes for sharp looking high quality packages at moderate $149-159 and lower prices respectively.


We watched Patrick Sebile demonstrate his baits in the test tank. Sometimes I think shows like ICAST were invented for people like Patrick. He seems totally at home up there talking about fishing, situations and of course his creations.

The Magic Swimmer Soft Pro and Spin Shad baits were both impressive looking in the tank. I was most impressed with the slide on soft weights for the Soft Pro swimbait. You will basically get 3 baits, two hooks and like 5 weights. You slide the weights onto the hook in different increments to control the depth. The bait looked great in the tank, especially on the pause. The turn on a dime just like the hard version.

The Spin Shad is an interesting take on lead tail spinner bait. The spinner looks like another shad but has a treble hook back there. The bait has the same great details and concepts as the other hardbaits in Sebile's line. There are some interesting applications that come to mind for this bait like schooling fish, drop baits on ledges and bluff walls, etc.


The much anticipated and long awaited announcement was finally here. Lowrance introduced us to Structure Scan today. Quite frankly it's amazing. My favorite part of the announcement today was the captured stills of things they have looked at underwater. This thing saw a bus underwater and you could make out all the windows, the rear view mirrors and even the stripes down the sides because of the indentions where those were. There was a demo of a sunken ship where they showed what the ship looked like when it was in operation above the water. It was unreal how well you could make out every part of the ship.

They even showed Tarpon under docks where you could make out the fins on the fish with the structure scan technology. IT was crazy good detail. The most intriguing aspects to me were the add-on ability of the unit. You add a separate transducer on a flex-away bracket, you add the module that will attach to up to three graphs on your boat and then you connect with your Ethernet cables. So basically a guy can turn two or three units into structure scan units with one purchase now.

The other cool thing was the down scan. This unit looks left and right but it also looks straight down. IT was cool to split the screen and go over something with your graph and see what it looked like via sonar and then see the same thing via structure scan. This unit is going to educate a lot of anglers to become better sonar operators. Can't wait to use this on Kentucky Lake!!!

We saw a lot more, but quite frankly it's 1 am. I've got to get up in about 6 hours, so I'm going to call it a night and post more tomorrow. I'll apologize now for any typos. I'm whipped but wanted you to have a bunch of info from the first day!

Good Fishing to you all!

-Jason Sealock

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