I have been to plenty of the trade and consumer fishing related shows in Europe over the years, but none of them can compare in any way to the sheer scale of the US based iCast fishing tackle trade show. This was the second year I have been and to be honest it fried my brain a whole lot more again than last year, as in I kinda got my head around the size of the show, but then the scale of the sport fishing scene in the US just continues to mess with my head when you come from a relatively small island in northern Europe as many of us do here. I refer back to my blog post the other day (here) and compare it to the incredible buzz that permeates the iCast show - ok, so it’s three days in a monstrous convention centre in the middle of Orlando, a place that in truth is way down on my list of places I am dying to see in the US, but I just can’t get away from how exciting it is to be around the US sport fishing scene like that - and holy cow is there some gear on show……....
I got a proper look at that larger IMA Salt Skimmer Grande and also the IMA Little Stick - both are surface lures that I am itching to try on our bass, and the guys told me that these lures are now on sale in the US. I tried to find some in the Orlando Bass Pro shop but they didn’t have them, and here’s to hoping that we will get to see these particular lures in the UK sometime soon. In the meantime, check out how cheap the Skimmer Grande is here.
The most impressive lure I saw was actually from an Australian company called Cranka Lures - check out their website here, but ignore the crab lure you see on their homepage. They launched their brand new crab lure at the iCast show and it’s just frigging awesome how it works. They are launching on to their home market next week so I would imagine they will put images etc. of the new crab up on their website soon, and it really is something. Incredibly well thought out, highly innovative how all the parts combine and can be changed/replaced etc., and I reckon they could work pretty well for some of our fish here in the UK.
Richard from Dorset Fishing Rods (interview blog post with him here) left a comment the other day telling me that his Korkers Devil’s Canyon wading boots have been doing great for over a year now I think it was. I have been aware of Korkers for a long time, and I have always really liked the idea of replaceable soles, so I went to their stand at the iCast show and had a proper yap with the guys there. Their Devil’s Canyon wading boot looks hugely impressive and hopefully I will be able to get hold of a pair for testing - some of the soles that can be supplied with the boots look perfect for our fishing, and it’s great how I could then change to say a non-studded rubber sole if I was to wear the boots on a boat. The Korkers guys told me that it’s fine to use the rather clever Boa lacing system around sand and saltwater as long as you take care of it and wash them out to get rid of grit etc. as and when required.
Although it might not look like much here, in the flesh I thought the Strike King KVD Perfect Plastic Ocho looked like a pretty neat variation on a senko - nice and heavy for long casting, and the 8 sided design is a little different to your more regular round profiled senko. Would this catch any more bass? Ain’t got a clue, but who knows? I can’t get away from how lethal senkos are for our bass fishing and I would love to see how these particular ones might work. Strike King told me at the show that they don’t make a white version yet I can see a white one here - uh?
If I was to buy a specialist rod for our wrasse fishing on the soft plastics, I would be sorely tempted to go for one of the fast action US largemouth bass rods. Most of them are incredibly light and their actions feel perfectly suited to how we might fish Texas rigs along the bottom for wrasse, and as with most fishing rods you could spend from very little to serious wedge on a freshwater bass rod - I picked up a bunch at the iCast show, and I could have quite happily dropped some wedge on the Gray Loomis designed Edge Black Widow rods (see here). To be honest though, most of the better US bass rods felt pretty perfect for our wrasse fishing, and any anglers who like very fast, light and sensitive lure rods for their bass fishing would get on well with them I reckon, and especially for boat fishing.
It was great to see Major Craft at the iCast show - they are just breaking into the US market and have no doubt been inspired by the likes of MegaBass and DUO and their inroads into US fishing. The Major Craft bass rods that we know don’t seem to have much application in the US, so on their stand were mostly freshwater bass rods and some hugely impressive boat fishing lure rods - it continues to amaze me how specialist the Japanese lure rods are, and this was the first time I got to properly see any of the Major Craft rods that are not (sea) bass rods. If I was to buy a lure rod for boat fishing I have to say that I’d be sorely tempted by the gear I saw on their stand - wow!! Boat lure rods for vertical fishing, slow jigging, lure casting to species such as tuna, kingfish, mahi mahi etc., and whilst say the tuna rods would be far too heavy for our species, the mahi mahi lure casting rod I picked up I reckon would be pretty cool for chucking lures from a boat at our bass. Very impressive stuff, and their freshwater bass rods would do so well for our wrasse.
I could go on, believe me. Some great looking rain gear from the likes of Gill and Frogg Toggs, more soft plastics than a lure junkie’s brain can take onboard, without doubt the most comfortable fishing rod grips I have ever felt (Winn Grips), etc., etc. We met so many people on the Fiiish stand, and this year we had a demo tank which really helped - eyes were popping out of heads when people saw Matt demonstrating the Black Minnow especially and how incredible it looks when you move it relatively slowly. Paddletails or “swimbaits” as a lot of anglers call them in the US are a vital part of the soft plastics market, but from what I have seen over there I would hazard a guess that there ain’t a US swimbait that moves like the French Black Minnow. Exciting times, bouncing brain syndrome, some show………