With the 2011 ICAST Show almost two weeks past, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on this year’s event, which as held, as usual, in Las Vegas. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to attend or who aren’t familiar with the show, ICAST is the annual showcase of new products for the fishing tackle industry. It’s also a place for companies to make deals with rep groups and retailers; for editorial and advertising representatives to meet with prospective advertisers; and for old friends and acquaintances to catch up. Walking the aisles, you literally bump into industry giants, legendary TV fishing show personalities, top touring bass and walleye pros, and the best known fishing writers.
When I describe the show to friends, they seem to glow with envy at the meer ideal of glimpsing all the new lures, lines, rods, reels, and more that are displayed. Indeed, that is a fun aspect of the ICAST Show, especially when the companies bring enough to pass out samples!
But for our editorial staff, it’s a daily grind from an early start right through evening dinners that bring the day’s close to midnight for those not inclined to take part in the Las Vegas gambling scene or other types of social activities. The days were full of meetings with company representatives—some old friends, some newcomers to the scene. But all are eager for editorial coverage. On the other side of the coin, our ad sales staff are looking for editorial support in the form of advertising in print, on television, and on our website.
One of the ICAST’s highlights is the “Best of Show” Award ceremony, where new items displayed at the New Products Showcase receive awards in one of 21 categories, based on voting by media and other independent representatives. Company personnel eagerly listen as the winners are announced, and cheer and high-five when their tackle’s recognized. Conversely, those who are denied may be left wondering about the fairness of the system of the wisdom of the judges.
The overall “Best of Show” award went to Berkley’s Nanofil line, an amazing new product that’s ideal for spinning applications, extremely manageable and strong.
Anglers will be excited to view and try many of the other items we examined. In-Fisherman’s annual Gear Guide will highlight select items in many categories when it’s published in the fall. You’ll doubtless marvel at light new reels such as Quantum’s EXO (short for exoskeleton) with a skeletal appearance and marvelous balance. And Daiwa’s new line of T3 reels sport a remarkable new magnetic braking system called Magforce 3D as well as the company’s new T-Wing system, a t-shaped levelwind aperture designed to reduce friction and enhance casting distance. To appreciate these features, you have to handle the reel and cast with it, possible at the show in one of the casting pools.
Many great-looking new lures were on display, particularly in the weedless frog, dropshot, crankbait, swimbait, and flippin’ categories. River2Sea’s Diving Frog, designed by Larry Dalhberg, is truly innovative, nothing like it exists at this point. And Grant Koppers adds new lifelike baits to his Livetarget line, including the Hollow Body Mouse, which won the best Soft Lure award. The D & S Crank, a weedless, single-hook lure designed by Patrick Sebile, captured the Hard Lure category for the Sebile brand, now owned by Pure Fishing. A neat new dropshot hook, VMC’s SpinShot took honors for Terminal Tackle, as it incorporates a swivel to eliminate line-twist while maintaining a horizontal position for baits.
There’s plenty more to talk about, and we will be bringing you more product reviews and tactical approaches in In-Fisherman and our seven annual guides, which we’re working on right now, beginning with the Ice Guide, due out before Thanksgiving, and winding up with the Catfish Guide next spring. In the meantime, give these new items a try, if you can find them. Nanofil, for one, is on store shelves right now.