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July 15, 2016

ICAST 2016: Top 10 Lures

by Craig Ritchie

Are they made to catch fish? Or are they made to catch fishermen? With new lures it's sometimes hard to tell. What can't be argued is that lure designers keep getting more inventive all the time, as evidenced by the entries in the annual ICAST Best of Show Awards for 2016. Here are 10 top baits that impressed the judges.

Livingston Lures Walking Boss
MSRP: $19.99

When the initial prototype was destroyed by a muskie on the first cast, Livingston knew they had a winner in the Walking Boss. With its pronounced wobble walk and ability to be worked at speeds from 5 mph to a slow roll, this versatile bait has a natural look while the EBS sound calls in big predators for the strike. Built tough to withstand plenty of chewing and abuse by big predator fish, this 8-inch 4-oounce topwater features a solid 1.8mm steel wire design and 2X strong VMC hooks.

Rapala Skitter V
MSRP: $8.99

Its unique belly design is said to give the Skitter V a radical topwater action. The innovative V-Rap belly design mimics the hull of a boat, allowing for extreme, sharp-turning action. Combined with tail weighted balance, the design allows the 4-inch, ½-ounce lure to cut quick to stay in place without leaving the strike zone.

Biovex Joint Bait 142
MSRP: $16.95

The Biovex Joint Bait 142 is a slow floating, 5.5-inch, 1-ounce near-surface lure developed out of the Japanese trend of "snake-based action." Retrieved slowly, it provides a unique waking movement just below the water's surface.

Mann's Big 4-0
MSRP: $6.99

The newest member of Mann's DL (Deep Ledge) series, the beefy 4-0 is said to dive to an astounding 40 feet. Made in the USA, the Big 4-0 weighs in at 2.5 ounces and is just over 6 inches long. It can be cast like a traditional crankbait using most beefed up rod/reel combos. The Quick Dive lip gets the lure down faster than other crankbaits, so it stays at the desired depth for longer periods of time. Available in 6 popular colors.

Berkley Dredger
MSRP: $8.95

A unique body shape and weighted bill drive Berkley's Dredger deep and keep it in the strike zone longer. With a tight, subtle action, it offers great castability and a slow rise when paused. Comes in 5 different sizes and 20 different colors.

Lunkerhunt Link
MSRP: $13.99

Said to be the only hinged walking topwater currently available, the Link offers an enticing gliding, serpentine action to replicate some of North America's most popular forage species. It comes in two styles: chasing baitfish which replicates fleeing minnows, and serpent, which mimics the slithering action of a snake or eel along the water's surface. The Lunkerhunt Link is equally effective in both freshwater and saltwater environments and comes in 4.5-inch and 6.75-inch sizes in a choice of 9 natural forage patterns.

Daiwa EverGreen Crankbait CH-1
MSRP: $15.95

An extreme shallow-running crankbait with a fast pitch and rolling action, the CHI crankbait generates a tremendous amount of vibration on the retrieve, making it a great choice in stained water. Designed with a weight transfer system that provides for long accurate casting when searching for productive waters, the CH-1 comes in 6 productive colors either in a natural pattern or vibrant combinations with high quality tournament hooks.

Shimano Coltsniper Jerkbait
MSRP: $14.99

Extreme casting distance with a dynamic swimming action is the best way to describe the all new Coltsniper Jerk by Shimano. The Shimano propulsion weight transfer system uses a spring-loaded sliding weight that delivers a 20 percent increase in casting distance compared to traditional weighted lures. With a tight wobble and slashing action that triggers aggressive strikes, anglers will be able target fish from a greater distance to avoid spooking or pushing a school down in the water column. Available in 2 sizes and 8 colors.

Westin BabyBite
MSRP: $9.99

Available in both shallow runner (SR) and deep runner (DR) versions, the BabyBite has a tight swimming action with "just enough craziness to attract even the weariest of hungry predators." The lure's low density keeps it in the strike zone longer when you perform a spin-stop retrieve, and is also effective on a continuous retrieve.

Savage Gear 3D Suicide Duck
MSRP: $19.99

The Suicide Duck's spinning feet throw water in all directions on the retrieve, calling in large game fish from a considerable distance. Rigged with both top and bottom hook configuration so anglers can customize the bait for any fishing situation, the 3D Duck is available in two sizes and three fish-catching colors.

July 14, 2016

ICAST 2016: Top 5 Fly Reels For 2017

by Craig Ritchie

Fly fishing continues to grow in popularity, and with exciting new reels like these, it's easy to see why. Here are five of the most exciting new reels unveiled at ICAST 2016.

Bauer SST
MSRP: From $355

The new Bauer SST fly reel combines a new large arbor spool and frame design with Bauer's industry-leading fully sealed zero-backlash drag. Bauer SST premium reels come in a spectacular clear aluminum finish with a new star drag dial available in 8 color choices. The new SST precision-manufactured reels continue the tradition of Bauer innovation as the "Swiss watch of fly reels." Available for 3wt through 7wt lines.

Sage 6200 Series
MSRP: $439

The new 6200 Series is fully machined with cold forged, tempered 6061-T6 aluminum, housing our proven Sealed Carbon System (SCSI) Drag. The 6200 features a super rigid frame-to-spool connection, a widened palming rim, a large/vented arbor for high retrieve rate, and our One Revolution Drag Knob with 40 detented drag settings for adjustable and repeatable drag resolution.

Ross Colorado LT
MSRP: From $280

Less is More Lightest reel in its class - all models under 3.0 ounces Large Arbor Design All-metal clicker and cover All aluminum, fully-machined construction Machined, marine-grade bronze bushing Canvas Micarta Handle - an industry first, more grip when wet MADE IN USA

Reddington Rise
MSRP: $200

The all new RISE continues our ongoing quest to think beyond the bounds of traditional reel designs. It features a u-shaped large-arbor and a compact carbon fiber drag system that offers over nibs of fish stopping torque. Lightweight design shows through in the modern aesthetic of the RISE, and thoughtful details like twin molded soft-touch handles and oversized drag knob help the reel perform in the hands of any angler.

Hardy Ultralite ASR
MSRP: $299

The ultimate cassette system reel, the new Hardy Ultralite ASR (Assisted Spool Release) reel features a fast, easy-to-use spool release system that actively frees the spool at the flick of a switch and automatically engages the new spool with a simple push fit. Also new to this range is a lightweight size model specifically designed for the challenges of modern river fishing.

July 14, 2016

ICAST 2016: 5 Top Baitcasting Reels

by Craig Ritchie

It takes a lot to impress the judges at the ICAST Best of Show awards, but these five new baitcasting reels all made a mark.

Lew's Super Duty Wide Speed Spool E040
MSRP: $199

Designed for inshore saltwater fishing, the Super Duty Wide Spool impressed judges with its potential for freshwater salmon, stripers, muskie and sturgeon. With a line capacity of 190 yards of 14 pound mono, it uses a sturdy one-piece aluminum frame and handle side plate, high strength solid brass gears, crankshaft and worm gear, and a braid-ready anodized U-shape forged aluminum spool. A premium 11-bearing system with double-shielded stainless bearings and Zero-Reverse anti-reverse, MCS magnetic cast control and carbon fiber drag system give it the credentials to tackle the toughest customers.

13 Fishing Concept TX (Special Edition)
MSRP: $300

A reel constructed "for the extreme demands of the gulf coast angler," 13 Fishing's Concept TX is built to handle the extreme salinity of the Gulf Coast
with corrosion resistant sealed bearings and Ocean Armor 2 saltwater protection. It accommodates 135 yards of 12 pound mono, and features 10 sealed ball bearing construction and a 25 pound maximum drag setting.

Abu Garcia MGXtreme
MSRP: $499

Abu Garcia's all-new, superlight MGXtreme weighs just 4.5 ounces, but don't let its diminutive form fool you. This tough little reel features 11-bearing construction, one-piece X Mag alloy frame, Abu's Carbon Matrix drag system for smooth, consistent drag pressure, infinitely variable centrifugal brake system, Infini II spool design, aircraft-grade aluminum main gear and Ti-coated line guide that reduces friction and improves durability. If the cork handles aren't for you, then swap them out for the included spare flat EVA knobs.

Team Lew's Custom Pro SLP D047
MSRP: $259

This is a big year for Lew's, with the all-new Custom Pro SLP winning the coveted Best of Show award in the freshwater reel category. This compact Super Low Profile (SLP) design is said to deliver a 10% overall reduction in size and a reel weight of only 5.8 ounces. Features include a one-piece aluminum frame, premium 11-bearing system, 4-pin 27 position SpeedCast ACB external adjust centrifugal braking system, and 95mm power handle with WINN Dri-Tec knobs. Its innovative 32mm fast-start spool casts light and heavy lures with ease. Sitting super low on a rod, balance is unreal.

Shimano Metanium MGL 150
MSRP: $419

Sleek, agile and powerful best describes the new Metanium MGL. Features include an all-new MAGNUMLITE spool that is said to deliver up to a 15% improvement in casting distance, a redesigned SVS Infinity braking system that provides a wider range of adjustability and the all new Silentune design that reduces vibration for incredible casting smoothness. When combined with Shimano's Metanium magnesium Hagane body, Micromodule gear system and X-SHIP, these new features "ensure you remain the ultimate predator on the water."

July 14, 2016

ICAST 2016: 5 Spinning Reels To Watch

by Craig Ritchie

The ICAST show is the best place to see all the latest fishing gear. Here are five new spinning reels to watch in 2017.

Daiwa BG Series
MSRP: From $99

Daiwa's new BG spinning reel series builds on more than 35 years of experience building premium tackle for both fresh and saltwater The series includes a variety of sizes, from a diminutive 1500 model to an 8000 size capable of the toughest saltwater trophies. The BG lineup features a machined body cover with black
anodizing to reduce scratching and corrosion, an oversized Digigear drive gear for smoothness and power, and a screw-in handle that eliminates any movement or play between the main gear and the handle arm.

Eagle Claw Sabalos II
MSRP: $99

The new Sabalos II reels are built to be the smoothest, longest casting reels on the market, much less for reels selling for under $100. They feature lOBB for reliable and smooth function and are guaranteed to not fail even under the toughest tournament conditions. A three layer drag system is designed to stop the strongest fish around, while a gear ratio of 5.8:1 allows the Sabalos II series to pick up line fast, with a retrieve of 26.7 inches per handle turn for the size 20 and 29.6 inches for the size 30. The size 20 reel weighs just 9.7 ounces while the size 30 comes in at 10.3 ounces.

Ardent CForce
MSRP: $99

Available in 1000, 2000 and 3000 sizes, Ardent Tackle's new CForce is a sleek, high performance spinning reel with a lightweight carbon frame and 9+1 ball bearing construction. Its 6.0:1 high speed retrieve allows rapid line pickup, while a carbon fiber, multi-stacked sealed drag system puts the brakes on even the hardest running fish.

Shimano Nasci
MSRP: Starting at $99

The all-new Nasci spinning reel by Shimano "redefines anglers expectations in a mid priced spinning reel" according to the company. Nasci – said to be the Latin word for birth – features the Shimano Hagane cold-forged gear that is claimed to be 165% stronger than zinc cast gears. Incorporating the company's CoreProtect water resistance, Nasci is designed to resist the elements and keep the angler fishing in any conditions.

Ardent Bolt
MSRP: $79

Ardent's new Bolt is a high performance, affordable spinning reel with a lightweight graphite frame and a 6.0:1 high-speed gear ratio. 9+1 ball bearing construction, a carbon fiber rotor and a high grade aluminum spool with braid band make this a feature-rich reel at an attractive price.

July 17, 2015

Fishing Accessories Galore at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

From tackle boxes to high performance rain suits, tackle manufacturers have pulled out all the stops with an incredible range of new products unveiled this week at the ICAST fishing tackle trade show, held in Orlando, Florida.

Plano exhibited a number of new tackle boxes, including a Women's Series of soft-sided tackle bags and a new M Series that includes a Hydro-Flow hanging bait bag that will appeal to muskie anglers and professional guides

The Women's Series of soft bags consists of three new totes offering all-new functional designs in a stylish teal finish with light pink trim.

Plano Women's Series Soft-Sided Tackle Bag and Tote

"Plano has always made high-quality products," says Plano Prostaffer Marianne Huskey, the first and only female to win an Angler of the Year title in professional fishing. "The new Woman's Series of soft bags are not only attractive to the female eye, but are well thought out in design and functionality."

The attractive Woman's Series Tote holds up to four 3600 StowAway utility boxes in its divided main compartment. The design allows two of the Stowaways to be pulled to make space for a light jacket or other fundamentals. Two oversized end pockets are perfect for storing water bottles, sunscreen or other large items, while two huge slip pockets provide additional utility. Inside, a zippered interior cell phone pocket sits near the top main opening for easy access. Two nylon straps fit comfortably in the hand for straightforward lift and carry.

The Carrier bag also accommodates four 3600 StowAway boxes in its main compartment, and has a double zippered opening at the top for wide open access. In a more traditional styling, the Woman's Series Tackle Bag offers four zippered and three mesh pockets that provide ample storage for essential fishing tools, sunglasses, pocketbooks and more.

Plano M-Series Hydro-Flo Tackle Bag

Professional guides and muskie anglers – male or female – will enjoy Plano's new M-Series Hydro-Flo tackle bag, which stores up to 25 oversized lures in vertical hanging bait compartments, with room for a 3700-series StowAway on top. Its flow-through design and reinforced base with drainage allow lures to be put away wet without fear of corrosion. Plus-sized perimeter pockets that zip closed secure tools like fish gloves, pliers and hook removers.

Yeti Coolers attracted a large crowd at the show when the company unveiled its first new Tundra cooler in more than three years, the Tundra 210.

Yeti Tundra 210 Cooler

With over 12,000 cubic inches of capacity, the new Tundra 210 is one of the company's largest coolers, yet has a smaller, cubed footprint designed to better fit a boat deck. Constructed from roto-molded polyethylene, the Tundra 210 is virtually indestructible, while its FatWal Design and extra thick PermaFrost insulation combine to provide maximum ice retention. Yeti's NeverFail hinge system and durable rubber T-Rex lid latches combine for secure, reliable storage while the Vortex drain system provides easy and complete draining with the twist of the plug. Like all Tundra coolers, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee certifies the Tundra 210 to be bear-resistant when secured with a proper lock.

The Tundra 210 is also dry ice compatible, giving users access to three times the cooling power of regular ice and more interior room for cooler contents.

Bubba Blade exhibited a full line of fishing-specific knives, including two new models for 2016. A new nine-inch fillet knife with a flexible serrated blade allows anglers to easily slice through fresh fish without tearing any meat. An offset, six-inch handle design with a trigger grip and non-slip thumb and finger pads allows anglers to utilize the entire blade, while providing greater comfort.

Bubba Blade Fillet Knives

Also new for this year is the four-inch Shorty, which also features an offset, titanium coated stainless steel blade. Versatile enough to perform double duty in the kitchen, the Shorty makes a great bait knife with its micro-serrated blade.

One of the most dramatic displays at ICAST belonged to Wiley X eyewear. Showing its roots as a supplier of precision eyewear to military and tactical support teams, the company featured a high mass impact test device in its booth to demonstrate the toughness of its ANSI-rated sunglass lenses and frames. The demonstrations clearly resonated with anglers in attendance, who all know the potential for being hit by the bait when a fish shakes off close to the boat. "We also test them by shooting them with steel ball bearings," said Ryan Wilkerson, director of brand management for Wiley X. "But that's just not practical to do in a show booth."

Wiley X Sunglasses

New for 2016 are the Wiley X, WX Legend, WX Tide and WX Peak styles, each available with a wise range of 16 different lens options, from a blue mirror polarized style popular with open water anglers, to a new gold mirror type. "We can also do prescription lenses," says Wilkerson. "The customer sends us their prescription and their choice of lens and frame style, and we ship it right out."

July 17, 2015

Next Generation Rods and Reels Unspooled at ICAST 2015

by Craig Ritchie

One expects to see new technologies introduced at the world's largest fishing tackle trade show, and manufacturers did not disappoint with numerous new rod and reel introductions at ICAST, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando from July 15 to 17, 2015.

Leading the way from Abu Garcia are the company's new Revo MGX spinning reels. A new AMGearing system uses finely tuned machined gears cut to exacting tolerances in order to deliver better performance and longer life. The new reels also feature Abu's X-MAG gearbox, providing a super-light weight yet extremely strong gear housing that's better able to withstand the strain of long fights with strong-running fish. Like all Revo reels, the MGX series feature the company's Rocket Line Management System, and a Carbon Matrix system for smooth, consistent drag pressure throughout the entire operating range.

Abu Garcia Revo MGX

For anglers who regularly target large, rambunctious species like muskie, pike, stripers and salmon, Abu Garcia also introduced a new Revo Toro Beast heavy-duty baitcasting reel. With its active-response Power Stack Carbon Matrix drag system, the new Revo Toro Beast allows anglers to make immediate drag adjustments in mid-fight, even with the line taut. This is unique, since anglers have historically had to ease tension on the line in order to make any adjustments, sometimes losing the fish in the process. Maximum drag setting is a whopping 25 pounds. The Revo Toro Beast uses a lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum spool for high strength and longer casts, and Abu's Duragear heavy-duty gear system for increased fighting power and extended gear life. The reel even comes with a choice of handles – and extended bent grip for increased cranking power, a power handle and a casting power handle, each with large EVA knobs for all-day comfort. The Revo Toro Beast is available in eight models, including two with high speed retrieves.

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast

Shimano also pulled the wraps of a number of new products at the 2015 ICAST, including an all-new Stradic FK reel series. The new ST-1000HG, ST-25000HG and ST-C3000HG models each come with 6.0:1 gear ratios, while the larger ST-4000XG and ST-C5000XG models feature 6.2:1 gearing. All five reels feature six shielded AR-B bearings, Shimano's one-way bearing power roller and a cold-forged aluminum spool.

Shimano Stradic FK 2500HG

In its baitcasting lineup, Shimano revealed all new 300 and 400 models in its top-of-the-line Calcutta Conquest series. Increased spool capacity makes the new reels ideal for casting big swimbaits for bass, big bucktails and jerkbaits in musky waters, and for inshore saltwater use for anglers targeting bluefish, stripers and tarpon. The Calcutta Conquest 300 (right-hand) and 301 (left-hand) weigh in at 11.5-ounces and accommodate 160 yards of 20-pound test monofilament. Weighing 11.7-ounces, the Calcutta Conquest 400 and 401 can handle 235-yards of 20-pound test monofilament respectively. All four reels have 5.6:1 gear ratios and will retrieve in 30-inches of line per crank.

Shimano Calcutta Conquest

Premium rod builder G. Loomis came to ICAST with its all-new E6X rod series of 30 casting and spinning rods, offered in both technique specific models with exacting actions, and ‘Classic' models with more forgiving actions for use with a variety of lures. The series also includes a pair of two-piece rods for anglers looking for travel convenience. Technique-specific casting rods in the E6X line feature split grip handles with cork grips, along with Fuji reels seats and guides. Classic multi-purpose E6X models include six ‘Mag Bass' and flipping action casting rods, and six spin jig spinning rods – all with fast tapers and powerful butt-sections, full cork grips, Fuji guides and Fuji exposed blank trigger reels seats.

G. Loomis E6X

Okuma presented a number of new products as part of its 2016 lineup, including an all-new spinning reel series named Inspira. Available in thee sizes (20, 30 or 40 series) and with the choice of black/blue or white/black finishes, the Inspira line features an all-new cyclonic flow rotor that is said to create a rotation of air around the rotor, beneath and around the spool, in order to drive moisture away from structural elements to minimize corrosion and extend longevity. An all-new
Centrifugal Disc Bail design incorporating a stout brass disc for improved balance and smoother, more precise bail operation with a minimum of moving parts.

Okuma Inspira

The Okuma rod lineup also featured a number of new models for 2016, including a full range of SST salmon and steelhead rods with carbon grips. The lineup includes 26 technique-specific salmon and steelhead actions, four models of pink Ladies Edition SST rods and three 4-piece multi-species travel rods – that's a total of 34 new models in all. Carbon grip rods are crafted from tubular woven 3k carbon fiber, which is said to be more durable than traditional cork grips. It's also much easier to keep clean, stands up to use in rod holders without chipping, and provides a better grip in wet hands.

Okuma SST with carbon handle grip

Daiwa showed a wide range of new tackle for 2016. The company's new Fuego spinning reels utilize a "Hardbodyz" design said to add strength and durability. Available in four sizes (2000, 2500, 3000 and 4000) the Fuego features an innovative Air Rotor that cuts weight, and Daiwa's Digigear digital gear design and nine-bearing system for smooth and effortless rotation. Additional features include an Air Bail, ABS aluminum spool and machine cut aluminum handle with EVA knob.

Daiwa Fuego 2500

Also new for 2016, Daiwa's top-of-the-line Steez baitcasting reels now are available with SV spools. Made of G1 Duralumin, the SV spool is lighter is lighter yet stronger than traditional aluminum for easier start-up on the cast and greater longevity. Zaion side covers and a swept handle with cutouts further reduce weight. The Steez SV comes with an Air Brake system to allow long casts with lightweight lures, 8.1:1 Xltra hyper speed retrieve and 12-bearing construction. Daiwa's Ultimate Tournament Carbon drag with 13.2 pounds of pressure should stop big fish in their tracks.

Daiwa Steez SV

Available in both right and left hand models, the new TeamKVD line of rods and reels from Quantum tie bass fishing's all time money winner to a rich looking series of rods and reels that start at $79 for the reel, or $99 for a combo.

Quantum Team KVD rod and reel

Each TeamKVD reel features eight bearings, and a lightweight aluminum spool. The 7.3:1 gear ratio model sucks up 31 inches of line with every turn of the handle, while the 6.6:1 model picks up 28 inches per turn. Both feature an external magnetic cast control that helps anglers dial-in to match lure weights and wind conditions, plus a carbon fiber/stainless drag system. The matching TeamKVD graphite composite rods feature split grip EVA handles.

July 17, 2015

Cutting-Edge Electronics Revealed at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

Among the hundreds of new products introduced at the 2015 ICAST show, held in Orlando from July 15 to 17 inclusive, few can match the buzz generated by the latest offerings from manufacturers of high-tech electronics.

Navico generated a huge amount of buzz at the show with the introduction of the new StructureScan 3D sonar modules for its Lowrance and Simrad lines. The remarkable new technology – based on a new module and transducer – allows anglers to easily spot fish, underwater structure and bottom contours in an entirely new way, viewing the bottom down to 300 feet and with side-scanning capability to 600 feet on either side of the boat. The image is rendered on a stunning 3D touch-screen display that allows the angler to move the view in any direction with the swipe of a finger. The three dimensional views provide an unprecedented view of bottom structure, cover such as trees or vegetation growing on that structure, and fish holding in it.

Navico Lowrance HDS-9

Among the numerous new technologies included in the system are a new SelectScan capability that automatically shades fish-holding cover, providing an almost photographic rendering of the bottom contours in full 3D. Further, a new Leading Edge feature provides a clear graphical illustration of the actual sonar beams as they intersect with the bottom contours – a brilliant bit of engineering that gives the angler a better sense of target depth. Vertical Depth Enhancement provides greater emphasis to vertical drops and depth contour changes, while 3D Waypoint Overlay makes it easy to revisit favorite fishing areas.

"At the product unveiling we had three BASSMaster Champions in the booth at once, and each of them were talking about how they could have used these new capabilities last season," says Lucas Steward, product manager at Navico. "In our own product testing we were astounded not only at the degree of detail you can see, but at how easy the technology is to use."

Humminbird also used the show to display a range of new products, including its Helix 7SI, which won a Best of Show award in the electronics category. Judges were impressed with its Side Imaging, Down Imaging and SwitchFire sonar capabilities, displayed on what the company describes as the brightest seven-inch widescreen in the industry, as well as its ability to accommodate a range of media in its card slot, including Humminbird LakeMaster, AutoChart and AutoChart Pro, as well as Navionics Gold/HotMaps.

Humminbird Helix 7SI

With the growing popularity of using portable devices like iPads to display fishing information, several fishing apps were also unveiled at ICAST, including an exciting update to the popular ‘Boating' app by Navionics. An all-new autorouting feature enables dock-to-dock route planning along US coastal marine, Great Lakes, and major rivers areas. Just tap the start and end waypoints on the onscreen map, and autorouting provides viable routes, taking into consideration navaids, water depth and more. Once underway, the app also displays speed, ETA, distance-to-arrival and total distance. It is also possible to search marinas and waterfront restaurants.

Navionics' 'Boating' app

Currently available with the Navionics Boating version 8.0 for iPhone and iPad, the company says an Android edition will be available shortly.

Making its debut at this year's show, GoFree introduced an all-new fishing app called GoFree Hooked. Available for iOS, GoFree Hooked offers the capability of recording and sharing every fishing trip – whether from a boat or the shore – complete with the time, location and navigation track of each outing. The app features fast and simple "Catch" functionality to quickly save fish details like photos, size, weight, species and other information. The app merges navigational data with user data for a complete picture of every catch. All data is stored on the secure GoFree cloud server for easy access anywhere.

GoFree's 'Hooked' app

The GoFree Hooked app also delivers a powerful "Compete" feature so anglers can create their own personal tournaments among friends. Data is recorded in real time, allowing anglers to view a live leader board and share each other's data. Compatible with Apple iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and 6+ devices, the app is in a Beta test stage (interested anglers can sign up at www.gofreehooked.com) and is expected to be available from the Apple Store shortly.

July 16, 2015

Hundreds of New Baits Unveiled at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

Anglers will face tough choices when shopping for new lures next spring as manufacturers unveil a wide range of new hard and soft baits this week at ICAST, the world's largest fishing tackle trade show. More than 11,000 people representing manufacturers, buyers, dealers and reps from around the globe are on hand in Orlando to see what's new for 2016, including hundreds of new lures from manufacturers around the globe.

Berkley has unveiled a complete line of new hard baits, in cooperation with top bass pro David Fritts. The all-new Berkley Hardbait series consists of 11 different models, each rigged with Berkley Fusion19 treble hooks and featuring custom designs and colors. Models include the Bad Shad 5 and Bad Shad 7 crankbaits that rise slightly at every pause; the Cutter 90+, Cutter 110+ and Skinny Cutter 110+ suspending jerkbaits; the Digger 6.5 and Digger 8.5 crankbaits designed for covering water with an aggressive wobble and side flash; the square-billed Pitbull 5.5, designed to bounce off of wooded cover; the lipless Warpig 1/2 and 1/4; and the deep-running Wild Thang 8.5.

Berkley's Hardbait Cutter

Berkley's PowerBait Shaky Snake

While the new hardbaits definitely raised eyebrows, Berkley has also made some significant new introductions to its PowerBait lineup for 2016, topped by the all-new Shaky Snake. Designed for finicky fish that just won't commit, this five-inch bait features a beefy head section that tapers into an egg sack. Corkscrew ribs add a lifelike, fluid motion that should coax even the spookiest bass. The ribs on the Shaky Snake are said to add more surface area, allowing more scent dispersion throughout the water column.

Thanks to its unique moving weight system, the Jaco 58MR from Jackall casts like a lure that's heavier than it actually is. The flat-sided crank will dive down to about six feet, making it a good choice for fishing over grass beds. Available in eight colors, it features an innovative internal scale pattern finish for enhanced underwater reflection.

Jackall's Jaco 58MR

Mann's Baits raised a few eyebrows with its all-new Crystal Classic spinnerbait. This lure features an actual glass crystal mounted in a clear, polycarbonate blade, which the company says generates unique vibration patterns in addition to distinctive flash in the water. The Crystal Classic comes with a Silaflash skirt, Eagle Claw Trokar hook, and the classic spinnerbait head to create a truly modern twist on one of the all-time classic lure designs.

Mann's Baits' Crystal Classic

Not to be outdone, Live Target came to the show with a number of new lures for both freshwater and saltwater applications.

The Hollow Body Sunfish comes in two sizes and 12 colors that match varied Pumpkinseed and Bluegill patterns. Perfect for use in heavy cover, its weedless design utilizes a custom Trokar double hook.

LiveTarget's Hollow Body Sunfish

With the round goby now a prolific baitfish in the Great Lakes region, Live Target has introduced two variations of this pre-rigged and weighted soft-plastic lure. Available in three sizes and eight colors, the Goby comes in both a Paddle Tail and Curly Tail versions.

LiveTarget's Round Goby

Also new is a Magnum Threadfin Shad crankbait in the BaitBall Series. Designed to represent a group of shad that have become separated from their school, the new bait comes in eight color patterns, some with metallic flash enhanced anatomy schemes

LiveTarget's Magnum Threadfin Shad

Snagproof enters the 2016 season with its new Wobbletron frog. The weedless, one-half ounce floating frog features new kicker feet that come straight out the back of the frog for great gurgling action during a slow, steady retrieve. The durable, soft, hollow plastic body stays weedless through the snaggiest weeds and feels natural to fish that hit it, allowing more time to set the hook. Specially weighted to land right-side-up at the end of the cast, the Wobbletron comes in five colors.

Snagproof's Wobbletron Frog

The new Impulse Live Rigged Paddle Minnow from Northland Fishing Tackle was designed for walleye, but should also prove a hit with smallmouth bass anglers. The lifelike baitfish-imitating bodies are precisely matched to ultra-realistic, stand-up jig heads and come conveniently pre- rigged in sizes from 3/64 to 3/8 ounce. Available in six holographic HD fish photo-image finishes, the Live Rigged Paddle Minnow is said to offer a uniquely lifelike action and feel.

Northland's Impulse Live Rigged Paddle Minnow

The ICAST show runs at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando through July 17.

June 12, 2014

My Four Favorite Lures for Summer Fun

by Bill Dance

I love to wade creeks and fish small ponds and lakes. Fishing knee deep and casting for bass brings back memories of when I was a kid, and it is still one of my very favorite ways to spend a summer day.

Light "finesse" tackle is perfect for this kind of fishing. It resembles ultra-light gear, but the length and the action of the rods are different. The traditional ultra-light tends to come with soft action in a 4 1/2- to 5-foot length. A finesse rod averages 6 to 6-1/2 feet with some in the 7-foot range. It is a little stiffer and more sensitive, and it allows you to handle a good fish more effectively and to deliver a better hookset.

Like ultra-light, finesse tackle employs a small spinning reel and light line. Select a reel that balances with your rod. If it's too heavy it overpowers the rig. Generally, I like a size 10 reel with a high retrieve speed and an aluminum long-cast spool. My Quantum Accurist spinning reel is so small that you can palm it, and it weights less than 6 ounces, yet it holds 140 yards of 6-lb line, which is perfect for the casting distance and strength I need.

Finesse tackle opens the doors to a wide variety of lures, not just the small jig or feather-weight lures required by true ultralight gear. Here are some of my absolute favorites.

Rebel Teeny Wee Crawfish

More than 1,200 species of crawfish live in creeks, ponds and lakes across the country and around the world. A favorite imitation of this preferred bass forage is the Rebel Teeny Wee Crawfish, which runs about 3-feet deep, and the Rebel Wee-Crawfish, which gets down to the 5- to 7-foot depths.

The secret to working this floater-diver is to simulate the erratic action of a real crawdad by imparting a strategic ‘stop-and-go' into the presentation. Watch a crawfish under water. He will move fast, then just glide real slowly…dart…then glide.

A steady, constant retrieve will not duplicate that movement (although it does catch fish), so I like to crank the lure down to its designated depth, then stop it. A lot of times I pull it, stop it, then reel three or four turns real slowly, then reel it fast a few quick turns. Always mix your presentation with stop and go, but don't overpower the bait. You want to make it look as natural as possible.

Rebel Frog-R

The Heddon Zara Spook introduced bass fishermen to a technique we call "walk the dog," but, thanks to a short, squatty lure that mimics a crippled amphibian struggling at the surface, we have a take-off of that presentation I call "walking the frog."

The Rebel Frog-R is a bug-eyed little bait without a diving lip or propeller to give it action. It has body mass and surface swimming action that the angler creates. In other words, you have to put life into the bait.

Now, you can't do that with a pool cue. You need a rod with light tip action. But in the hands of a skilled angler, this bait has amazing action that is perfect for pond bass.

No one becomes an expert with this bait all at once. It takes practice and a lot of eye, wrist, and rod tip coordination to produce that side-to-side walking action. I like a "1-2-3-pause, 1-2 pause…then repeat" approach. The hard part is reeling one-half turn at the same time you are bringing your rod tip down. The downward action swings the lure to the side. Raising the rod lets the lure swing back in the opposite direction.

Keep 12 to 14 inches of slack in your line. It takes practice to get the proper cadence and coordination, but walking a frog – or dog – is a technique well-worth learning. When you perfect the technique, that squatty lure will walk the walk and talk the talk.

Rebel Bumble Bug

A bass's daily diet isn't always a mix of just crawfish and baitfish with a little frog leg appetizer. Watch feeding activity in ponds and lakes. You will see that fish eat insects like crazy! Crickets, grasshoppers, mayflies and bees hit the water and struggle side-to-side or go in circles…and bass hit them!

The Rebel Bumble Bug is one of those tiny crankbaits that will catch fish most of the time if you are fishing it in the right location with the right retrieve. It shines when the fishing is slow or when fish are feeding on small food items. It is also great when you are fishing a heavily pressured shoreline, along warming banks in winter and in the backs of coves and hollers in the fall.

The key to the Bumble Bug's effectiveness is the presentation. After it hits the surface, allow it to sit. Then twitch it a couple times, reel it under the surface, and stop to let it float back to the top. Like the bumblebee it is patterned after, it has two wings, so it zig-zags as it rises to the surface.

Rebel Teeny Pop R

Bass fishing is often a shoreline affair. We find pleasure and solitude near the bank as we watch raccoons and snakes and deer. And, with topwater lures, we fish with excitement and anticipation as we watch for a bass to blow up on our bait.

You'll find more than 30 popping/chugging lures on the market. Some are better than others, but one of the most endearing is the Rebel Pop-R. The Pop-R has a baitfish profile and a concave "popping" mouth. Its profile as it lies in the water looks natural, and it is engineered with the whole mouth out of the water, enabling it to walk and pop better. The feathered rear hook looks like a shad tail.

The Pop-R family comes in several sizes, all of common baitfish dimensions. At a mere 2-inch length, the Rebel Teeny Pop R is the smallest.

The key to fishing any Pop-R is to establish a pattern and rhythm. The retrieve I use most frequently is three pops and a pause – pop, pop, pop, pause…pop, pop, pop, pause. A faster, more erratic retrieve is best in late spring when bass are bunched up. At other times of the year, I am inclined to mix my retrieve up, switching off from fast to slow, and varying the frequency and length of the pause. It pays to experiment.
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