Every year at the annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) show, a lot of us fish-heads beeline straight for the seemingly endless rack of new rods, laid out tantalizingly within the New Products Showcase. So many cool sticks and so much creativity in cosmetics alone—handles, reel seats and blank colors—that the vast display really does itch that old scratch you first felt as a five-year-old in a candy store. Every rod these days hefts like a feather. That's a given. But every ICAST show also heralds one or two real must-haves, rods you didn't know you needed until you picked the thing up and ghost-cast it through the climate-controlled air.
Behold, twelve (11) new fish-wands worth a look, and hopefully, actual on-the-water hooksets, as well.
ABU Garcia Ike Signature Series
New Ike Series rods leverage the angling expertise of bass pro Mike Iaconelli, as well as customized cosmetics to Ike's own standards. 36-Ton graphite blanks yield a lightweight, balanced feel. Ike's "Delay Series" feature tailor-made crankbait actions, utilizing high-strain glass (HSG) Construction for a smooth, parabolic bend. Twenty-one different models cover Ike's favorite techniques, from Finesse series spinning rods to Power Series casting rods, all with comfort-giving Fuji reel seats and stainless-steel guides with Zirconium inserts. Retail price is $149.95, www.abugarcia.com.
Berkley Lightning Rod Shock
Specifically engineered to withstand braided lines, the Lighting Rod Shock series are composed of 24-ton multi-modulus carbon composite blanks. Designed with slower actions and more backbone, along with stainless steel guides with titanium oxide inserts, which resist line grooving, Lightning Rod Shock rods maximize angling performance with braided lines. A special shock-absorbing tip accommodates the lack of stretch with braided lines. Textured rubbed handles and ergonomic reel seat provides a better grip and all-day comfort. Eight spinning and nine casting models are available, $49.99 each, www.berkley-fishing.com.
Daiwa KAGE Bass Rods
Matte black finish and fine wrapping evoke "elite." High tech Smooth, braid-friendly and tangle-proof, Fuji Faz Lite Ring Guides are also tough enough for rod-locker abuse. Four swimbait models, plus special Magnum Spoon and A-Rig rods highlight the fourteen-rod series. MSRP: $189.00 to $199.99, www.daiwa.com.
Dobyns Colt Series
Brainchild of bass tournament ace Gary Dobyns, Dobyns Rods is known for its technique-specific tools, such as popular swimbait and deep cranking models. The budget-minded Colt Series (MSRP $79.99) follows their method-centered rod model, giving anglers nine new lengths and actions, each featuring fast action graphite blanks and high-density EVA handles. Four spinning rods, four casting rods and one Panfish Special all sport light Sea Guide guides, wrapped precisely on the spine for perfect balance. A 7-foot cranking rod is built with a moderate-fast action, medium-heavy power blank for casting hardbaits of all styles. www.dobynsrods.com
LoomisE6X Bass Series
Weights of the newly designed E6X Bass rods has been reduced by 5-percent over previous models, while a smaller sized guide train provides better balance in all fishing situations. Spinning models have been updated with a more streamlined reel seat for improved hand comfort. Thirty-three total models, including five Mag Bass Rods and six Spin Jig Spinning rods cover all bass bases. MSRP range is $189.99 to $249.99, www.gloomis.com.
Lamiglas "The Closer" Walleye Series
A leading edge blank manufacturer since 1949, Lamiglas enters the walleye arena with its premium spinning rod series, known as The Closer. Super high modulus 1253 graphite and extra fast tips produce incredible sensitivity, transmitting bites during all phases of a jigging motion. Woven graphite handles further optimize sensitivity and produce perfect balance in every rod. Three length models, all medium-heavy and extra fast action run 5'8", 6' and 6'3", retailing at $249.99.www.lamiglas.com
Lew's Custom Plus Super Grip Series
Armed with full length Winn Dri-Tac grip handles, Lew's new Custom Plus Super Grip rods offer exceptional rod contact, comfort and a grip you've got to feel to believe. The grips' flat top design mimics the feel of a golf putter, preventing the rod from turning and torqueing in the angler's hand. Multi-layered, multi-directional HM60 graphite blanks fish light, sensitive and strong. Specialized Vibration Transfer Ring (VTR) lies just above the Winn grip, providing direct contact with the blank. Six casting models cover most common bass techniques, $179.99 each, www.lews.com.
Megabass Orochi XX
Bridging the intersection between Japanese rod technology and North American bass fishing, the redesigned Orochi XX series adds fifteen new technique-centric models. Megabass says its X47-ASL metal microfiber blanks (termed "kabt", p. 'kabutoh') give Orochi XX rods greater lifting power, torque, lightness and crispness. Each model has undergone subtle taper refinement, yielding enhanced sensitivity for bottom-contact presentations. All rods special low-profile reel seat, un-sanded micro-pitch taping on the blank and Fuji Stainless SiC guides. MRSP $300 to $325, www.megabassusa.com.
St. Croix Legend Glass Spinning
Specialization rules at St. Croix, a fact crankbait casters will greatly appreciate the first time they heft a 7-foot 2-inch Legend Glass spinning rod (LGS72MM). The newest entrant among award-winning Legend Glass series, this medium power, moderate action rod fishes impressively light, thanks to St. Croix's linear S-Glass blank and Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) mandrel technology. Everything about this crank-rod screams elite: Fuji K-Series tangle-free guides with Alconite rings, Fuji DPS reel seat, split-grip, super-grade cork handle and a Kigan hook-keeper. Designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, Wisconsin, this is one sweet stick for $260. www.stcroixrods.com
St. CroixMojo Yak
Why wouldn't St. Croix offer a lineup of kayak-centric sticks? They would, of course, and as ICAST attendees get to see firsthand, this ain't your time-honored St. Croix rod—at least not in the aesthetics. Armed with custom Winn split-grip handles, this thing ranks high on style and a solid A+ in on-water execution. Lean, mean Mojo Yak rods run with premium, high-modulus SCIII graphite built with St. Croix's action-smoothing IPC mandrel technology, and finished with Fuji DPS or ECS reel seats with black hoods, on spinning and casting models, respectively. Two casting models include a 7-foot medium power, fast action and 7-foot 6-inch medium-heavy power, fast action rod. Six spinning versions in either 7- or 7-foot 6-inch lengths give kayak fans a range of optimal powers and actions. Available in stores in August, the Mojo Yak series runs $150 to $160. www.stcroixrods.com
Four new models highlight the popular rod series, complete with CI4+ reel seats, engineered for weight-reduction and sensitivity. Hi-Power X blank construction reduces blank twist for better casting distance and accuracy. Rods utilize smaller, lightweight, stainless steel guide frames for optimal balance between weight and casting performance. Fuji Alconite K guides and Fuij SIC tips allow for line flow and casting precision. Among the new models is 7'8" extra-heavy, fast action casting rod for extreme, long-rod situations. Retail prices run $189.99 or $199.99, www.fish.shimano.com.
13 Fishing Envy Black Series
Reimagined and released at ICAST, new Envy Black series rods are powered by 46-ton poly-vector graphite blanks for exceptional light, sensitive performance. Evolve Carbon Divide reel seats transmit kinetic energy directly to the palms of anglers' hands, and provide a positive grip. The reel seat's ergonomic curves taper seamlessly into high density Japanese EVA for extra comfort and reduced fatigue while fishing. What 13 Fishing calls Zonal Action Technology delivers a range of complex yet dynamic tapers. Twenty-three casting, spinning and crankbait models cover the full spectrum of applications, with prices ranging from $185 to $350, www.13fishing.com.