GEAR Tackle trends at ICAST 2013

It's still early — the show's barely started — but if the New Products Showcase is any indication, there are definitely some trends developing in the tackle industry.

Of course, that's always true. Fishermen are always looking for the newest, most interesting and most effective thing out there. To create it, they tend to look at what's been hot in the recent past. Rather than reinventing the wheel, they roll the old one out in some new colors or with a few more spokes … maybe a different tread.

It's the same at ICAST. If something was “new” and successful last year, you can bet your last dollar (a good reason to have the show in Las Vegas, by the way!) that there will be more of them this year — slightly tweaked to avoid lawsuits and accusations of outright thievery.

So here's what I'm seeing at this year's show … so far, anyway.


Several manufacturers are turning the castable umbrella rig on its head and coming up with variations on the idea of presenting multiple targets to the fish — preferably without breaking any state laws or tournament rules prohibiting multiple lures. It's taking a variety of forms.

LiveTarget introduced their BaitBall series on Tuesday. Imagine a large conventional crankbait body that's clear. Now add a small pod of baitfish (three to be exact) to the inside of the lure. You've got the BaitBall. The Z-Man QuadZilla is another entrant in this “new” category.

Skeet Reese and Lucky Craft have decided to go big this year. Their new S.K.T. Magnum is one of the biggest crankbaits you've ever see. It's huge! In fact, it looks perfect for long lining — except that you won't need to move your boat and strip line; you'll be able to cast this thing a mile, and it dives to 25 feet on a cast and retrieve.

The Japanese continue to add realism to baits, like the pronounced gill plates on the Matzuo Kinchou Shad. It seems like the gills have been among the last baitfish features to get their day in the sun, though big swimbait anglers have been adding them to soft baits for years using red pipe cleaner and Super Glue.

On the soft bait side, the topwater frog craze is clearly not over as several manufacturers are entering that market and several frog veterans are tweaking their creations to make them even more “froggy.” Realism and lifelike kicking action seem to be the areas of focus here.

Rods and Reels

Reels are getting faster and faster. When I was just getting started, the fastest reel you could buy had a gear ratio of 5:1. Now it's hard to find anything that slow. For years and years beginning in the 1980s, Daiwa was the only reel manufacturer offering a reel with a 7:1 gear ratio. Now everyone has them. Where will it end? At ICAST 2020, I expect to see a bass reel that's 12:1 and listen to everyone tell me that you can't catch a bass with a reel that's slower than that.

As for rods, in the 1970s fiberglass gave way to graphite. In the 1980s, rods got longer and lighter. Graphite is still king due to its light weight and sensitivity, but manufacturers are working overtime to find ways to shave a gram or two off their rod's weight. Now it seems it's all coming off the handles.

Split grips aren't new, but at ICAST 2013 they're taking over. Yes, the split grip takes weight off the rod, but is it taking it off in the right place? Don't you really feel a rod's weight in front of the reel (once you've clamped one on and are ready to go fishing)? Don't get me started about that.

Micro guides continue to be big (uh … small) and foregrips are going the way of the dodo — another concession to weight, but this time taking the weight off where an angler can feel the benefit.

Off course the rods are more sensitive and using higher grade materials, too. I don't think it's an overstatement to say that a very average and inexpensive combo from this year's show would easily outperform the best thing on the market just seven or eight years ago.

Apparel and Eyewear

Maybe more than anywhere else, clothing is making strides in the fishing industry. Outdoor garb is getting cooler and warmer, wicking away lots of moisture and generally getting lighter to wear. And sun protection is gaining importance, too. Though it's not new, most of the latest fishing fashions are offering SPF ratings in hopes to sway your buying decision.

As for eyewear, everyone it seems now has a line of sunglasses, and the price points range from the teens to several hundred dollars, depending upon the features you want and the labels you like to wear. You'd need to be an optometrist to really tell the difference between these glasses, though any of us can determine what feels comfortable and looks good.

Tackle Management

Ingenious is a word that describes some of the cool tackle management systems coming out now, though most of the ones on display were not for the bass market. The new Berkley stuff makes me want to go surf fishing. It has a place for everything, looks good and is its own chair!

Okuma has a foldout tackle system that harkens back to the old possum-belly tackle boxes of the 1930s and '40s, though it's a huge upgrade in every way.


Well, we've had braid, monofilament and fluorocarbon for a while, so it's long since been time to blend them. New copolymers are the rage at ICAST, especially those that take fluorocarbon and add a sheath that supposedly makes the line stronger and more abrasion resistant.

Looking at the product descriptions left me confused. One line said it was a copolymer that blended fluorocarbon and a shell (obviously plastic, like mono). Its selling point was that it offered less stretch than mono.

Didn't it do that when it was just fluorocarbon — before you added the second material?


Well, that's an overview. Stay tuned and keep checking back as we update, get more details and generally dig into ICAST 2013.