2014 marked an important year for the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) and International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD). Not only was it the second year that the two shows came together under one roof, it was the first time for the show to take place in the East, moving to Orlando, Fla.
The two shows, produced by the American Sportfishing Association and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, did not disappoint. I was there to snoop for new gear and emerging technologies in the fishing world. As an avid fly and bass fisherman, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some gear that might help me catch a trophy. The following products really caught my eye. —Yoon Kim
Fishing Tool: Cheeky 550 Pliers ($89.00)
Perhaps the most important criteria for fishing pliers is that you can travel with them. Many of today’s fishing pliers are more like multi-tools, rendering them non-airplane safe. Don’t lose it to some TSA guy because the wire cutter is too long (they’re barely visible on these). Keep it simple with 1.8 oz of anodized aluminum and stainless steel that get the job done without getting stuck at the airport.
Saltwater Fly Rod: Redbone Performance Fly ($199)
Redbone will become the newest saltwater fly rod brand as it prepares for debut in January 2015. Positioned as performance gear at a fraction of the cost of competitors, the 4-piece Redbone Performance Fly is constructed from high modulus IM7 graphite. That means the rod is durable but sensitive to the slightest movements. At $199 for either the 8 WT or 9 WT, these rods are a good deal, and given that they can leverage off of the current success under the Hurricane brand, we think it will do well.
Freshwater Fly Rod: Tenkara USA SATO ($215)
While a fly rod is great for fishing open spaces, it can be clunky when driving from spot to spot or while portaging a kayak. Sit-in kayak anglers like myself want a solution that is ultraportable but can cast at lengths of up to 20 feet. The SATO rod from Tenkara USA weighs 2.6 oz, telescopes down to under 2’ and extends to 10’8”, 11’10”, and 12’9”. The three sizes allow you to fish tight streams or into lakes and rivers making it especially attractive to those concerned with portability.
Flies: Tacky Fly Fishing Box (Price not yet available)
Started as a Kickstarter campaign, the Tacky Fly Fishing Box contains 168 assorted flies in a polycarbonate plastic case that’s designed so the slits won’t wear out over time. Need to switch out to a nymph on the fly (Ha!)? You’ll have plenty to choose from. Spotted a monster in the reeds and need a large hopper? Your Tacky box will have a few.
Freshwater Fly Reel: Bozeman Reel RS Series (River-Stream) ($410 not including spool)
For anglers looking to step up their casting distance, a waterproof, fully encased, aerospace grade aluminum fly reel sure is nice. The Bozeman RS Series Reel comes in 5, 7, and 9 WT. The disks inside of the reel are constructed with Rulon – a smooth plastic material that resists friction. Oftentimes, when you first set a hook your tippet takes stress, leaving it vulnerable to breaking. Rulon components absorb some of this friction so drag is smooth, reducing the chance of your fish getting away. The reel is designed to easily change direction for righties or lefties as well as switch out spools when needed.
Live Bait: Hook, Line Threader Kit ($4.99 to $11.95)
A threaded bait fish among the best bait presentations for live bate fishing, but it can be tricky to get it just right. The Hook Line Threader allows you to thread a hook into lures and live fish bait like minnows or shad. The hook comes out right in front the fish’s lower ray fin. The best part about it –threading a hook through a baitfish looked just as easy as hooking through the lips or below the dorsal fin. I’ll be testing to see if this takes some practice.
Footwear: Korkers Devil’s Canyon ($219.99)
BOA has reengineered their M2 heavy duty lacing system, doubling the torque capacity. The new M2 system allows shoe tighteners to pull their laces with up to 50 lbs of torque, while the previous generation could only get to about 25. That amount of leverage is especially useful for tightening a shoe around neoprene-bottomed waders. With internal drainage and an interchangeable sole system, your booties will stay put inside while you slosh through currents.
Sandals: OluKai Nohea Sport ($85)
Olukai is already well known for sandals, but their rep is quickly spreading to shoes. The Nohea Sport is a lightweight piece made for boating, fishing, or just being out in the water. The mesh upper breathes and drains while the removable hydrophobic footbed keeps water from squishing around while you walk. The outsole is made of non-marking grooved rubber, perfect for boats, and features a drop-in heel so you can slip on and off like a sandal. It’s a great multi-purpose water shoe that drains and dries quickly.
Shirt: Mountain Khakis Skiff ($99.95)
Most fly shirts today do a great job of venting. The same can’t be said about moisture dissipation. The Skiff shirt is made of a Nylon/Spandex mix that wicks moisture more like a cycling jersey than a traditional fly fishing shirt. It features two oversized chest pockets, mesh vents on the back/underarms and roll tab sleeves with buttons to adjust the cuff allowing it to vent, dry, breathe and simply roll up.
Shorts: True Flies Shell Creek ($89.99)
A company’s logo doesn’t always represent your personal hobbies, but shorts with a fish pattern all over them might. The True Flies Shell Creek Shorts are as technically savvy as they are fashion forward. From a distance, you can’t tell that the pattern is made up of fish. Up close, you can see the details of striper, redfish, marlin, bonefish, and permit. This particular pair, made of hundreds of permits, features a 4-way stretch polyester blend that dries quickly. While their current offering all saltwater fish, they’ll feature freshwater soon.
Eyewear: Live Eyewear Cocoons (Price not yet available)
These oversized sunglasses wrap around prescriptions for those who don’t wear contact lenses. They include four lenses – two for the front and two on the sides – to ensure that every bit of light hitting your eyes is filtered of UV rays. Each polarized lens is optically correct, because if they’re not, the distortion in polarization will magnify with your glasses. Perhaps most interesting about their construction is the ballistic Nylon memory frame that is nearly impossible to break (seriously – check out the video on their website where they run over them with a car).
Kayaks: Wilderness Systems 14’ Thresher with Air-Pro SOT Seat (Price not yet available)
The Thresher from Wilderness Systems is an offshore fishing kayak with plenty of room for accessories, my favorite being the adjustable and removable seats. Similar to a horizontal bar under the seat of a car, the Air-Pro SOT seat has a bar underneath that allows you to adjust in three positions – sitting up high, sitting lower to the kayak, and reclining. Throughout the kayak are three compartments for storing gear – a tankwell in the stern that can be strapped down with bungee cords, a locking trunk in the bow, and one right in front of the seat. Finally, there are track rails all over the kayak allowing you to customize with all sorts of after-market accessories.
POV Camera: Strike Cam ($189)
In my opinion, the Strike Cam was by far the best fishing specific POV camera seen at IFTD. While other cameras could definitely be used while fishing, this is the only one that was set up to attach to your line so you could watch a fish take your bait. At 480p, it’s definitely not the highest resolution but at $189, it’s worth looking into as a camera with a single purpose.
Cellphone Accessory: Snow Lizard SLXTREME 5 ($149.99)
The Snow Lizard is one of the more impressive cellphone cases I’ve seen in a while. It’s waterproof and over-constructed body ensure your phone stays intact but unlike most heavy duty phone cases, the top flips open so your phone is easily accessible. The case also features an internal charger with a 2550 mAh battery (for reference, the iPhone 5s has a 1570 mAh batter and the Galaxy S5 has a 2800 mAh battery) that charges at 1 amp (about half the speed of a Galaxy S5 charger) with a solar charger on the back of the case that charges the phone. It’s waterproof up to 100 meters giving a diver full functionality to their phone’s powerful camera all while charging your phone.