Advanced Angler’s ICAST 2015 Best of Show

Bucks Falcon Mercury

by Rob Lever, Mike Ferman and Dan O’Sullivan

ICAST-2015-AdvancedAngler-Best-of-Show-Cover-Image-TemplateAs we usually do, with ICAST behind us, has had a chance to look at the products and digest the show as a whole. As a part of our RAW coverage, we visit hundreds of booths and shoot dozens of videos – which we share with you on the site – and try to tell the story of ICAST from the manufacturer and pro angler perspective.

Our goal is to remove ourselves from the equation, and allow those responsible for the products to describe it and its features. It is our way to basically channel the personalities directly into your proximity. From them, you can decide what products you want to try and which you think will definitely help you catch more fish in the coming years.

One of the highlights of ICAST is the New Product Showcase, but we’ve long struggled with the concept of voting for products that are not fully explained. The New Product Showcase entries are placed in a series of glass cases with 4×6 index cards filled out to try and describe the offering’s virtues. There is nothing more than a 100 word description, no company representative to explain, no video demonstration and no periphery products to help illustrate.

We feel that things that would normally have a chance to win are overlooked as a result. That’s not to take away from the products that have won the Best of Show Awards; they are all quality products, but we like to take our time, look at the merits of all the products and give you our own votes after the show.

ABU Revo MGX Spinning Reel

ABU Revo MGX Spinning Reel

This year there are three opinions included; Rob Lever, our Senior Writer, Mike Ferman, our Tackle Correspondent and finally our Managing Editor, Dan O’Sullivan. Each of them are entering their five favorite products from the show as their own “Best of Show.”  While you can watch all of the videos on our 2015 ICAST Raw Coverage, we share our favorites here.

Rob Lever
ICAST 2015 for me was the year of improved technology and products. I walked through the hall and found myself gravitated to improved product lines from many manufactures. In my everyday life I am always striving to build on things I already love, and I am amazed at how these manufactures were able to take already good products and make them great.

Abu Garcia Revo MGX Spinning Reel
The first product in my top 5 is the Abu Garcia Revo MGX Spinning Reel.   I am a guy that always has a spinning rod on the deck and I am really excited about the new features on this reel. We all deal with line twist in a spinning application and this reel sports the new Rocket Line Management system to help reduce the chances of these happening. Combine that with the AMGearing system and you have a very very light weight yet power rod that will have a smooth long cast.

Strike King Red Eye Shad Tungsten 2 Tap
The second product on my list is the Strike King Red Eye Shad Tungsten 2 Tap. I am a huge fan of the original Red Eye Shad and am excited to see how this ½ ounce edition will perform. This is similar than the original except for unique tungsten chamber that emits a double taping cadence. The difference is perfect to get some of the more stubborn fish to bite on those post front days. Also being from the strike king family, I’m sure this bait will cast a mile.

Berkley Pitbull

Berkley Pitbull

Berkley Pitbull
Are you a fan of a squarebill? I am a huge fan and this brings me to my third pick. The Berkley Pitbull is from their new hard bait series designed by one of the best of all time, David Fritts. With action similar to a wiggle wart’s famous hunting motion this bait should prove to be a good choice around structure. Also sporting a great paint job this bait is a great value at around eight dollars. The last key feature is the addition of the new hooks produced by Berkley new this year that also launched last week at Icast.

SIMMS New Generation ProDry Suit
I don’t know about you, but every summer I roast in my rain gear during a storm. This is why I’m very excited for my fourth pick on my list. Simms new generation ProDry suit looks amazing. Their 25% lighter GORE-TEX should make this suit easier to pack away but also make it so your body can breathe under the suit to keep you cool on those hot muggy days. Features on this suit are built in pockets for your tools and a lower leg hem which should prevent it from dragging on the deck of the boat.

Enigma Aaron’s Edge Fishing Rods
The last thing on my list I was able to spend some time and use the product. I fished the ICAST Cup last week with Aaron Martens and used his new Aaron’s Edge Enigma Fishing Rods. Enigma is new to the market but it is obvious they have put a lot of time into these rods and I was very impressed. Sporting the MicroWave guides these rods really helped in preventing backlashes and make it easy to throw a long accurate cast. While fishing that day with Martens I threw a couple different models but was amazed at how sensitive the rods were while also having enough back bone to get the fish out of the thick Florida vegetation. I’m looking forward to also trying their drop shot rod most of all. We all know if Martens had his hand in a finesse rod, than it will be amazing!

Mike Ferman

Savage Gear 3D Shine Glide

Savage Gear 3D Shine Glide

Savage Gear 3D Shine Glide
I saw a lot of glidebaits at ICAST this year. However the one that stuck out the most was the “3D Shine Glide” from Savage Gear. Available in five colors and two sizes 5-1/4” (1oz) & 7-1/4” (2-1/3oz), this slow sinking single jointed gliding swimbait was shaped by making a mold from a 3D scan of an actual shiner. The thing that sold me almost immediately on this glide bait was its amazing action. This bait has a wide glide at any retrieve speed and will pull a 360 with by far the least effort of any bait I’ve fished. All for less than $25, The Savage Gear 3D Shine Glide is the complete package.

Molix Lover Spoon
Lately, structure or flutter spoons have become all the rage. However, one of the inherent issues with most spoons to date is a poor hook up ratio. This year, Mike Iaconelli and Molix set out to solve that with the introduction of the Lover Spoon. The solution was found in adding a double hook to the back of the spoon which is secured by a small magnet. Additionally the hook can be removed and upsized without tangling with the rear treble hook. This bait also features a textured front to add flash and a manageable size to weight ratio making easy to throw on lighter gear than most other structure spoons require.

Molix Lover Spoon

Molix Lover Spoon – photo by Mike Ferman

Garmin Panoptix
How would you like to pinpoint the location of fish long before you pass over them instead of afterwards? With the new live-view Panoptix Trolling Motor Transducer from Garmin that dream is now a reality. Panoptix is a forward facing transducer with three cones (10, 20, & 40 degree) which allows you to see a live sonar picture between the front of your boat and the shoreline before you cross over it. By lining up your cast with the directional arrow on your trolling motor you are able to see the depth and distance of the fish you want to target allowing you to concentrate your casts and lure selections to maximize your time in the strike zone.

Livingston Lures App & Bluetooth Technology
Very soon you will be able to get Bluetooth technology in your lures. You heard me Bluetooth IN YOUR LURES! With a tentative release date of January 2nd 2016 and being made available on both Android & iOS; the new Livingston Lures App combined with their breakthrough Bluetooth smart-bait technology is set to change the lure market forever. Starting with the recently debuted Livingston Lures glidebait series, you will now be able to connect your lure to an app on your smart phone which will allow you to select and control over 30 live forage sounds being emitted from your bait with the touch of a button. As well, the app will record things like the lure being used, atmospheric/environmental conditions, location, and time of catch as well. This technology has been years in the making, get prepared – The future is now!

Livingston Glidebait with Bluetooth App

Livingston Glidebait with Bluetooth App

LiveTarget Hollow Body Sunfish
It’s no secret the hollow body frog is one of the most successful lure classes in topwater fishing. Throughout the years, many companies have tried to make versions of the lure that mimic other prey commonly found on the surface; there have been mice, birds, fish, and even turtles. However, no one has ever successfully produced a photo realistic version of a hollow bodied sunfish, bream, or bluegill that will walk, spit, and turn a complete 180; until now. Enter the Hollow Body Sunfish by LiveTarget lures. Mysterious photos and videos of this bait getting viciously hammered by fish have been circulating for a few months but no one knew for sure what bait was involved. Now the secret is out and the new kid on the hollow bodied topwater block is ready to go out for a walk and bring home the big girls!

Dan O’Sullivan

Trailer Hook Pal

Trailer Hook Pal

Trailer Hook Pal Tool
This is one of those products that made me say to myself, “why didn’t I think of this myself?” The Trailer Hook Pal allows an angler to install trailer hook keeper disks on the hook without sticking yourself with the hookpoint. Put the disk into the recessed hole and brace your thumb against the back of the hook and press the wider side of the opening and push the keeper disk on the point and push past the barb. Use the Trailer Hook Pal to keep soft plastics on the hook when wacky rigged, jig trailers in place on the hook and so much else; this is a great product.

Lew's Speed Dial

Lew’s Speed Dial

Lew’s Speed Dial Line Marker
This is not a standalone product, instead it is a part of new reels that Lew’s introduced at the show. Those reels include the new Tournament Pro, Team Lew’s Lite and the Team Lew’s Magnesium baitcasters. Since the fishing world already knows that Lew’s manufactures some of the best reels on the market, I decided to focus on this one feature. My friend Tom Leogrande used to sell a line marker sticker that was small, round and would fit on the centrifugal knob under the spool on a reel. For a couple years, I had hoped he would remake them, but the time never came. Lew’s new Speed Dial allows the angler to keep track of what line size and type are on their reel simply by turning the dial to line up the corresponding arrow with the size and type of line. An absolutely brilliant product.

T-H Marine KVD Kong

T-H Marine KVD Kong – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

T-H Marine KVD Kong Electronics Mount
One of the more frustrating parts of the increased technology in fishfinders is the size of the units that cause mounts to slip as an operator is running across the water. Anglers are always having to push the top of their units up to readjust on the compression ball type mounts. There are options like the T-H Marine Shock Lock, but once the size of the fishfinder reaches above 10 inches, the Shock Lock has been known to struggle. Enter the KVD Kong Mount. This polished aluminum bracket is quick release with tremendous adjustment capability and is beefed up to hold the big screens of today.

Lucky Craft 5.5 and 6.5 XD Crankbaits
Now that deep diving crankbaits are an important part of my fishing arsenal, I can’t have enough. Lucky Craft USA has just added to one of my new addictions by coming out with their new 5.5 and 6.5 XD deep diving crankbaits. Lucky Craft has their SKT Magnum crankbait lineup, but whose lures work when bass are in the mood for eating big baitfish. However, when bass are offshore, on deeper areas, but not eating truly large forage, a traditional sized crankbait is a better choice. Their new deep plugs will give the angler the refinement of a Lucky Craft in the right size and depth for offshore cranking.

Strike King Swingin Swim Jig

Strike King Swingin Swim Jig

Strike King Swingin’ Swim Jig
The swim jig has become one lure that is tied on a rod and on my deck every time I go fishing. The only time I’ve struggled with traditional jigs is in truly heavy cover. The weedguard and hook often snag in heavy cover like the vine-type stalks of the shoreline grass and water willow at my home lake of Neely Henry. Strike King just came out with their new Swingin’ Swim Jig that incorporates a wide gap worm hook behind the head instead of a traditional jig with the head molded on the hook. This allows the angler to Texas Rig their favorite trailer onto the hook and swim it through cover more easily. I’m looking forward to throwing this jig.

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