UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

ICAST Impressions Part I

ICAST - Scenes - Elite CHIRP Sonar technology enhances Lowrance's already outstanding sonar systems.


ICAST 2014 is in the rearview mirror. Like usual, it was a whirlwind of handshakes, shutter snaps and Q&A with the tackle industry’s best product designers and marketers.

If you missed any of the action, don’t worry. You can still check out all of FLW’s coverage from the show at FLWOutdoors.com/ICAST. We sent a team of 14 writers, photographers and videographers to Orlando to report on all the great new gear and gadgets that made it to the Orange County Convention Center.

This summer and fall, we’ll be expanding on our coverage with in-depth product reviews done by some of the best fishing minds in the business.

For now, here’s a look at some of the most interesting trends, and the impressions left on our staff of reporters. This is part one of a two-part series.

Sun-Safe Clothing in Abundance

By Colin Moore

The days when cut-off jeans and old T-shirts sufficed for fishing are long gone. If the new apparel on display at the ICAST show was any indication, the latest fishing clothing is fashionable, utilitarian and, perhaps inevitably, expensive. It’s made of materials with names only a chemist could pronounce, and coated with concoctions guaranteed to deflect bugs, sunrays, odor and heat.

For the record, there were 13 neck or arm gaiters, 15 hats, 10 shorts, 37 shirts, 11 shoes, and three pairs of gloves introduced at this year’s show, making clothing the most numerous of products on display in the New Product Showcase, other than lures. As if to lend global warming some credence, most of the articles of clothing are designed to ward off the damaging effects of solar rays. Indeed, technical clothing is the new sunscreen, without all the greasy hands and burning eyes.

Along with all the dozens of sun-protective clothing introduced in 2014 at this same show, the new stuff is concerned with sun protection factors ­­– SPF, as it’s known in the trade – or ultraviolet protection factor – UPF, as it’s also known in the trade. If your gear doesn’t carry a rating of at least 30 SPF or UPF, it’s not going to make the cut. Most of the items that rated a second look from the solar-challenged were way above that. Shorts keep getting longer, almost down to the knees, and are loaded with pockets and available in wild colors and patterns.

As for shirts, some of the standouts included the Hook & Tackle Bug/X, which has all sorts of pockets to misplace things in, as well as insect and sun protection. Another keeper is the Snikwah convertible “neck shirt,” which features a generously cut turtleneck that can be pulled over the head for more protection. It also has thumbholes, so the sleeves stay in place no matter how hard you sling a crankbait. As for looks, it’s hard to beat the Simms Stone Cold button-up shirt. Its SPF 30 is nothing to brag about, but it’s a great-looking shirt for a fisherman, and nothing more than the usual parts of his physique are covered.

So, with 78 new articles of sun-protective, technical fishing clothing hot out of the factories, ICAST - Clothing - SnikwahWe're not sure what the name means, but we're sure that these shirts will appeal to fishermen. They're made of a dry-release fabric that wicks away sweat and keeps the skin seven degrees cooler than exposed areas. The convertible tee-shirt can be worn as a turtleneck, or pulled up to cover most of the face except the eyes. Thumbholes keep the sleeves down for maximum protection, even when casting or netting a fish. $59.95. snikwah.comare we done? Probably not, or at least not so long as there’s a molecule to mix with another molecule and create the next best thing. It’s likely that one of the next trends will be to wrap head coverings with a sponsor’s name or logos: Mark Rose wearing a Strike King balaclava or Jay Yelas sporting a Gary Yamamoto neck gaiter.

There’s no such thing as too much advertising.   


Tools to Make You More Efficient

by Ross Robertson

Most fishermen like to accessorize, but we certainly wouldn’t be caught dead calling it that. We want things to match, help us stay organized and just make our lives easier in the boat.

Thankfully, there are dozens of companies at ICAST showing off cool accessory products to satisfy all our needs.

If there was a generalized trend among new accessory products at this year’s show, it was that all of the items are designed to make us more efficient. Here are some of my favorites:

The new Logic Lures Ceramix Scissors cut braid, mono and fluorocarbon flawlessly, but because the blades are made of ceramic material and not metal, they’ll never rust. So you can leave them on the front deck where they’re easy to reach, rather than stowing them away in a compartment.

Plano’s new Marine Trunk and countless utility boxes make it easy to organize your boat, truck and even garage so that finding anything is just a matter of grabbing the right box or storage tray.

Simple products like the HookSafe prevent rods, line and hooks from getting tangled when moving equipment from the garage to the house, or when unloading rods from the rod locker at morning takeoff.

ICAST - Accessories- Z-Launch - Get your boat off the trailer quickly and easily with the new Z-Launch, a 10-foot cord that attaches to the winch stand and the boat bow eye to keep the boat in reach when it floats off the trailer. When drawn tight, the Z-Launch expands to 20 feet to slow the boat's momentum and draw it back in. $39.95 Z-Launch.com

Oddly enough, I think the best accessory this year is simply a piece of rope … that’s right. As a full-time guide, I launch my Ranger solo just about every day, and can honestly say that I have just about set my boat free in the marina a couple of times. The Z-Launch solves that problem. It’s a 10-foot stretchy rope that connects from the bow eye to the trailer and expands to 20 feet as the force of the boat drifting off the trailer pulls it tight. With such a simple tool, anyone can launch a boat solo, even on a shallow ramp.

Accessories like these don’t necessarily allow us to catch more fish, but they sure can make life on the water more enjoyable. And that’s really the whole point, isn’t it?


Slow News Days from Folks Making Fishing Line

By Jeff Samsel

My first surprise while reporting on new line at this year’s ICAST show came on Tuesday night at the New Product Showcase preview reception. When I walked over to the line section, I couldn’t believe the small number of companies that had some sort of new line entered, and of maybe a dozen or so products, only a handful of new lines had bass applications.

Not all new stuff gets entered in the New Product Showcase, so I thought there might be a bunch of sleepers on the main show floor. If they were out there, though, they were quite well hidden because in two days of walking the ICAST floor with eyes open for line innovations, I didn’t come across many.

Having talked with folks from various line companies, it makes sense. Whether you’re talking about rods, lures, accessories or something else, most product categories lend themselves easily to totally different shapes and styles. With line, you have a handful of basic types, and once a company has filled the niches for what it believes to be its markets, lacking some huge technological advance, introducing new stuff almost forces change from what’s proven. And if customers like a product, changing to something that’s supposed to be better is risky at best.

That’s not to say that there’s no room for innovation, or that nothing was worthwhile at this year’s show. In fact, those new lines that were revealed will provide substantially better tools for fishermen.

Berkley IronSilk, which won the Best Line category of the New Product Showcase, is astoundingly abrasion-resistant, but soft and manageable at the same time, and therefore it’s ideal for fishing around gnarly stuff. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because IronSilk is a re-launch. It’s not the same product, though. It’s a far improved line from the original IronSilk.

ICAST - Line - P-Line TCB Braid - TCB stands for Teflon Coated Braid. Bryan Thrift compared the effect of the coating on braided line to the effect of the coating on non-stick pots and pans. The coated braid is smooth and slick, which allows you to cast farther and keeps the line from getting locked down in the spool on a hard hookset. TCB Braid comes in four- and eight-carrier versions. $14.99 to 18.99 for 150 yards P-Line.com

One trend I did notice in the limited number of introductions this year was toward improvement of braided lines so that they retain their round shape and manageability in use. Some improvements have been achieved through braiding more carriers but using lighter strands; others, such as the TUF-Line Tournament 8 Spectra, P-Line TCB Braid and Woodstock Power Cast, by coating the line in some way.

ICAST - Line - Sunline Flipping FC - Many pros like to flip with fluorocarbon because of its abrasion resistance and minimal stretch, but the line can be difficult to see, which makes it hard for detecting subtle strikes. Enter Sunline Flipping FC. This tough fluorocarbon features alternating sections of clear and colored (chartreuse yellow). Tie to a clear section, and watch the yellow as you fish. SunlineAmerica.com

Additions in the line category also included some new line colors, which can make a big difference and that often are designed for specific applications. There were some new metered lines (lines with alternating colors) too, including the Sunline Flipping FC, which is a clear line with sections of chartreuse that help an angler see bites, as well as feel them, in close-quarters applications.

So while there weren’t a lot of new offerings from line makers this season, you can rest easy, because that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe the line you’ve been using all along is really as good as it gets. 


“Smarter” Equipment for Boat Control

By Ross Robertson

Fear it or embrace it, the modern age of technology is overtaking the fishing industry. These days, you either get on board with it, or you get beat at the scale. That being the case, every year at ICAST we see hoards of new products that capitalize on the most cutting-edge technology, and we see new electronics that could potentially redefine fishing for the next several years.

This season, we witnessed another step in the progression of modern “smart” boat-control equipment, especially in the electric-steer trolling motor category. Both Minn Kota and Motor Guide – the two leaders in the trolling motor market – have an electric-steer trolling motor that features autopilot and “spot lock” technology, the latter being a feature that “anchors” the boat in place via a GPS-synched trolling motor. Interface them with your GPS and you don’t have to do anything to control the boat besides punch buttons on your depth finder.

This technology has blown up in walleye and salmon arenas, but it’s gaining steam in the bass world, where offshore techniques consistently dominate in the summer months.

Great Lakes bass anglers have been using GPS-enabled electric-steer motors for several years because of their ability to operate the boat hands-free and use the GPS feature to hold them on a precise spot in heavy winds – surely Tennessee River anglers will catch on to the benefits before long.

Originally the Minn Kota Terrova was the motor of choice for this. This season, Minn Kota released the Ulterra, an electric-steer trolling motor that includes all of the features of the Terrova in a slightly beefier package and with an auto deploy and stow feature. For MotorGuide fans, there’s the Xi5 with Pinpoint technology, which links to a Lowrance HDS unit.

ICAST - Electronics - MotorGuide Pinpoint GPS - For electric-steer trolling motor fans, the Pinpoint GPS system from MotorGuide is a Godsend. When paired with a Lowrance HDS Gen2 unit, Pinpoint can utilize the GPS system to steer the boat. Improved features allow you to customize trolling patterns, set the boat on autopilot along a charted course or recall previously used routes. A device is needed to connect the trolling motor to the Lowrance unit. It costs about $250. The Pinpoint trolling motor comes in three shaft lengths and 12-, 24- and 36-volt models. $1,249 to $1,679 MotorGuide.comThe boat-control revolution isn’t limited to just the front of the boat. Companies like Minn Kota and Power-Pole have continued to innovate in the shallow-water anchor sector. Last season it was Power-Pole’s electronic Micro version that made news. This season, it is Minn Kota’s longest-ever Talon, a 12-foot behemoth. It’s much quieter and smoother than the original model. And at 12 feet long, it’s almost too big to be called shallow.

Of course, there was a selection of new smartphone apps for folks who desire to have a phone in hand while on the water. They ranged from mapping apps to social apps to apps that can control in-boat accessories. It used to be that an angler headed out on the water to get away from the ringing phones and computer screens, but nowadays, bringing those tools to the lake seems to be the hottest trend.


Refined Hooks and Lead-Free Weights Abound

By Keith Jackson

Fishermen buy more terminal tackle than any other type of fishing gear because, well, we lose the stuff just about every time we go out.

That could be why manufacturers spend time and effort improving what they make. After all, small improvements can make a big difference.

ICAST - Terminal Tackle - Trokar - Trokar's line of surgically sharpened hooks has several new entries in 2015. The TK250 Frog Hook is a heavy-wire double hook intended to fit most hollow-bodied frogs. The TK35 flipping hook is built big and strong for heaviest duty, while the TK133 flipping hook has the


Because of that, terminal tackle – hooks, swivels, sinkers, weights, rigs – are in a constant tweak mode, and that certainly is the case with offerings this year. Hooks are getting better, and the best hooks are getting less expensive. Cheaper hooks are sharper, and top-of-the-line hooks are getting stronger. We’re also seeing different designs, such as frog hooks (the new Trokar TK250 Frog Hook is great) that, hopefully, will improve the hook-up rate. There are more drop-shot hooks (including from companies like VMC and Gamakatsu) this year, and more hooks designed to take care of specific rigging problems – adding molded bait keepers, for instance, to keep plastics in place.

ICAST - Terminal Tackle - VMC Powershot Hook - The Powershot combines a Z-bend worm hook with a swivel device that gives drop-shot baits freedom-of-movement while eliminating line twist. It comes in 3/0 to 5/0. VMCHooks.com

In weightier matters, this year will see more non-lead weights introduced because of fear of restrictions being placed on fishing gear containing lead. Even Bullet Weights, whose line of lead sinkers runs the gamut of fishing weights, released a series of tungsten drop-shot weights.

There are also designs that reduce the chance of hanging up on bottom. One such is an egg sinker style created by Reins that, instead of having a hole through the long, central axis, has one drilled through the middle of the shorter axis, reducing snags in rocky terrain. It’s like a sliding football head, which any football-dragging offshore angler will surely appreciate.

ICAST - Terminal Tackle - Bullet Weights Tungsten Drop-Shot Sinkers - Bullet Weights has incorporated dense, ultra-sensitive tungsten into its line of drop-shot sinkers. They come in round and the cylindrical

Terminal tackle is one area where many anglers can really fine tune their presentations, and with companies tuning up their terminal tackle products, we’ll all be able to perfect our programs more easily next season.

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Early Reports from Wheeler

Starting this Sunday, the 50 Forrest Wood Cup competitors will hit Wheeler Lake bright and early for the first of three days of official practice. It’ll be the first time the anglers have been allowed on the Tennessee River reservoir since the pre-practice cut off date of July 17. READ MORE »


Celebs, Seminars on Deck for the Cup

The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 4-7 will be crawling with some of the best bass anglers in the industry – both active pros and bassin’ legends. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to personally wish their favorite anglers good luck before takeoff, snag a picture and an autograph from an industry superstar, or sit in on a seminar. READ MORE »


Bass and BBQ Festival set for Forrest Wood Cup Expo

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – FLW is adding some Alabama flavor to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup with its Bass & BBQ Festival as part of the FLW Expo outside the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, August 6 and 7. The BBQ Festival, presented by WQRV 100.3 The River, will feature four award-winning BBQ teams offering delicious fare to visitors at the Forrest Wood Cup. A portion of all... READ MORE »


BK’s Year as the Champ

Brad Knight plans on getting a good night’s sleep before this year’s Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake begins on Aug. 4. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there have been times during the past 12 months when dozing off wasn’t so easy for the defending Cup champion. READ MORE »


Top 10 Patterns from the 1000 Islands

High wind and fluctuating water temperatures made things a little difficult for the anglers, but the top-10 pros adapted and utilized the whole playing field to exploit everything from deep smallmouth to shallow largemouth. READ MORE »


McCartney, O’Keefe Tie For Win at FLW Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Event on Mississippi River Presented By Navionics

LA CROSSE, Wis. (July 25, 2016) – Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi... READ MORE »


McCartney, O'Keefe tie on the Mighty Miss

Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi River presented by Navionics. For his win, McCartney earned $5,540 after bonuses, and O’Keefe took home $3,540. READ MORE »


Country Music Superstar Dustin Lynch to perform Free Concert In Huntsville presented by WDRM 102.1

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Country music superstar Dustin Lynch will perform a free concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at the Propst Arena in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Sunday, August 7, starting at 4 p.m., prior to the final weigh-in of the world championship of professional bass fishing, the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The concert is presented by WDRM... READ MORE »


Canterbury’s Next Challenge

At the time of writing, Canterbury had been picked by every pundit and 50 percent of players overall, which is a decent bump over Morgan at 47 percent. The dollars attached obviously make a difference, but there’s no doubt that everyone expects great things. READ MORE »


Jay Kendrick – The “Rookie”

A rookie by designation if not by experience, Forrest Wood Cup contender Jay Kendrick finished 34th in the standings in his first year on the Walmart FLW Tour to clinch a spot in the championship. What makes it even more fortuitous for him is that because the Cup is taking place on Wheeler Lake, he’ll be able to stay at his own house for the event, which is just about 30 minutes from takeoff at Ditto Landing. READ MORE »


Fan Freebies and Contests at the Cup

One pro angler is going to win $300,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Ala. That’s good for him. For fans, the chance to win is pretty good too. FLW and its partners and sponsors have lined up a sweet selection of giveaway prizes for the Cup and the accompanying FLW Expo, ranging from a tricked-out bass boat to a fishing trip with Jimmy Houston. READ MORE »


1000 Islands Top 10 Baits

The top pros from the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands kept it pretty simple to catch both largemouths and smallmouths from this massive fishery that includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Drop-shots, spinnerbaits and jigs all saw action and got it done from the lake to the river. READ MORE »


Penn State Taps Docks at Chautauqua

The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »


Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »


Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »


Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »


Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »


1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »


Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »


Lake Ontario Out for Day 2

It is never good when you wake up the morning of a tournament and every flag you see is standing straight out at 3 a.m., but that was the case this morning for day two of the Costa FLW Series event on the 1000 Islands. READ MORE »