Notes from Vegas' ICAST 2013: Bet on the latest boats, baits and bass rods

By Gary Lewis

I gambled on Vegas, risked the cash for an airline ticket and another full body pat-down in the TSA line on the chance I might catch more fish next year.

Late at night, off the plane, I dared the city to give me a boring taxi driver. It didn't. This one had owned a record label and written songs they play on radio stations. Not ones I listen to.

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) and the International Flyfishing Trade Dealers (IFTD) held their annual product showcases in Vegas in mid-July.

As soon as the doors opened, I saw one of several booths devoted to fishing from stand-up paddleboards. If you have tried a paddleboard, you probably got wet. You will have to work at it to fall off these purpose-built boards. They come in various interpretations, but offer more stability, as well as a place to lash down a tackle box or cooler.

Kayaks are hot right now. Boats range from spare to feature-packed. Options include rod holders, depth finders, pole anchor systems, pedal/paddle propulsion and outriggers. Bellingham-based Nucanoe offers a line of roto-molded boats with a lot of options for the solo angler.

At the Maui Jim booth, I tried on the latest offerings which include the Surf Rider and the World Cup, both RX-able optics, available in various tints.

Portland-based Columbia was showing off the latest in their PFG line. Omni Freeze Zero fabric concentrates a cooling agent close to the skin that uses sweat to lower the overall temperature of the fabric.

In the Frabill booth, I met Brian Brosdahl, a guide from Minnesota. With temps outside that reached north of 110 degrees, he was excited about ice fishing. “It’s a doggone hoot,” he said. Frabill has a line of, dare I say cute, rod and reel combos designed to be held in hand for ease of twitching tiny baits through holes in solid water.

Another interesting concept was the approach that a company called Sticky Fingers is taking with plastics. The baits are designed with foam inserts and holes to ooze scent into the water.

In the TTI Blakemore booth, Dan Dannenmueller showed me the latest bass setup, tiny swim baits in tandem called the Bang Shad Buffet Rig that had me thinking smallmouth and big crappie.

In the TTI Blakemore booth, Dan Dannenmueller showed me the latest bass setup, tiny swim baits in tandem called the Bang Shad Buffet Rig that had me thinking smallmouth and big crappie.

Also in the realm of the secret weapon, I found a product from Lip RipperZ.com which is made to enhance dough baits with a powder that replicates the scent of the hatchery trout food pellet.

One interesting take on the dough bait side of the business is from Bite-On Fish Attractants. They offer a DIY Trout Dough Bait Kit that allows dad and Junior to make their own custom baits at the kitchen table.

On the fly-fishing side, I met Martin Bawden, CEO of Flymen, who showed me his Nymph Head line of fly-tying beads and the Fish Skull product which has changed the way tyers look at streamers.

At the Leviathan booth I met Steven Mandel whose lures are made from solid PVC plastic and are painted with unique finishes and accent colors.

I met Thorbjern Gaitt-Meller, who exhibited extremely well-detailed pike, rainbow trout and even halibut swim baits from Fairpoint Outdoors in Denmark.

Woodland, Washington's Lamiglas has a new line of bass rods. Jason Hambly showed me the Excel 2, which I hope to put to use this September.

Jake Carse, of Fikkes, continues to refine the Fly Hiker concept, which is now evolving to feature the spinning rod side of the fishing rod in a hiking staff concept.

Unlike a lot of rod manufacturers, B'n'M is not shy about calling their products fishing poles. Their latest are endorsed by Duck Commander and come in green and yellow, convenient for Oregon anglers who are Duck fans. The longest poles are designed for finesse presentations with small "line holder" reels with spools of about one-and-a-half inch diameter.

At the Guide's Choice booth, I ran into Mike and Eric, whose gear can be found in outlets throughout the West. Look for new colors, fabrics and stormy weather duds from this Washington-based company.

I talked to Rob Phillips at the Yakima Baits booth; he showed me the new Rooster Tail finishes, which include spring frog and, my new favorite, bleeding frog. I also laid eyes on my new favorite muskie lure, a Huskie Tail.

At the Duo booth, I ran into David Swendseid and lure designer Masahiro Adachi, who explained the spy-baiting concept. I took a sample of the new Spin Bait 80, a stick bait with specially designed propellers fore and aft. Adachi is also working on a new swim bait they are calling the Prometheus Project.

After two days ogling the latest rods, boats and baits in the least likely of all places, Las Vegas, it was easy to imagine myself on a lake in eastern Oregon with a new rod in hand and a new spinner or stick bait in the water. That's what it's all about.

The new gear will hit the shelves at your local tackle shop between the end of this summer and the first of spring. Will it help you get a big fish next year? You bet it will.

 

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Gary Lewis is an outdoor writer, speaker and television host from Bend, Oregon. Contact Lewis at www.garylewisoutdoors.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.