With ICAST Demo Day in full swing, the Kayak Angler team is on the ground (and on the water) in Orlando, testing out the latest and greatest products from exhibitors. Here’s a handful of cool boats and accessories that caught our eye on Demo Day—and don’t miss our first looks at the Hobie Passport R Series, Jackson Kayak Knarr and BOTE Rackham APEX.
4 Cool New Fishing Must-Haves from ICAST Demo Day
1 Trident Explorer
Winning the award for out-of-the-box innovation, the Trident Explorer is unlike any other paddlecraft.
Inventor and designer, Greg Ferris shared the story with us at ICAST Demo Day 2021. “I got tired of fighting the wind and waves in an unstable kayak,” he explained the unique design. The result, after years of research and development, was the fiberglass, tri-hull, handsfree, paddle-powered Trident Explorer.
To begin with, the tri-hull design looks out of this world. The long center pontoon flanked by two shorter pontoons to support the deck gives the boat unshakable stability. Then, the full-size, lawn-chair style seat is high off the deck for more comfort and better visibility.
“The chair folds into a leaning post,” Ferris demonstrated. Finally, the fiberglass boat has a shiny gel coat that looks like a sparkly bass boat.
But the biggest innovation is the unique foot-powered paddle. Instead of pedals and a propellor or fins, like most handsfree kayaks, Ferris came up with simpler system. He installed a regular kayak paddle into to the center of the Explorer’s deck with an oar lock. Then, he attached two sandals to the paddle where your hands would go. With the paddle inserted in the oarlock and your feet inserted into the sandals, you can paddle the kayak with your legs. Ferris beams, “It leaves your hands completely free, you don’t even need to control a rudder.”
The system looks strange and paddling with my feet takes a minute to figure out, but once I got the hang of it the boat was surprisingly efficient and impressively maneuverable. Admittedly, I can’t see paddling for miles with my feet, but the Explorer is designed to accommodate a 30-pound thrust, tiller-drive trolling motor and battery. I could imagine using the motor on the stable and sea-worthy boat to reach the fishing grounds, then switching to the foot-powered paddle to maneuver around structure while casting and fighting fish.
While the Trident Explorer doesn’t look like any other paddlecraft, it solves problems faced by all kayak anglers: stability is rock solid, propulsion is efficient and the hull is sea-worthy.
2 Crescent Kayaks Shoalie
The Crescent Kayak’s Shoalie is a versatile paddle kayak ready to hit the river, lake or sea. With design guidance by long-time tournament angler and kayak designer, Drew Gregory, the Shoalie is the culmination of decades of fishing kayak innovation.
In the short time the Shoalie has been on the water, the boat had gained the attention of anglers from the coast to the mountains. That’s because the 11-foot, 10-inch water line, sporty hull and feature-rich cockpit allow any angler to take the Shoalie to his favorite fishing hole.
Starting with the streamlined, rounded hull with extra volume in the bow, the Shoalie is designed to turn quick, paddle straight and provide stability for standup fishing. This kayak, which is designed for white water and crossing the surf, doesn’t sacrifice performance and maneuverability for stability. Instead of crashing through waves and dragging through the current like many standup fishing kayaks, the Shoalie is a true paddle kayak with a hull that rolls with the waves and cuts through the current.
The topside of the Shoalie includes many of the most popular fishing kayak features and some unique touches that set it apart from other boats. There is a ton of horizontal rod storage in the bow and stern. A huge tankwell in the bow allows you to store more rods below deck. A smaller hatch in the stern gives access for rigging a rudder or Power-Pole Micro. Full deck padding and a premium frame seat add to the comfort touches.
The unique features include a channel in the stern to run a drag-chain anchor rope. The boat is designed to accommodate an Anchor Wizard system for quickly and neatly retracting anchor rope. Just ahead of the seat, the deck is molded to hold a tournament measuring board. The most unique feature is the bow handle, which includes a retractable strap to use for dragging the kayak over land or through shallow water.
Rigging the Shoalie with rod holders, gear crate, fish finder and more is easy because the boat has been designed to fit many of the most popular accessories and electronics. Look for spaces to mount YakAttack accessories, display screens and Boonedox wheels.
On the water, I was stoked that the Shoalie is fun and sporty to paddle. It is possible to paddle the boat for miles or bounce down a rocky river.
While the Shoalie is a great all-around kayak for any type of fishing, it is a river running masterpiece designed by the river fishing master, Drew Gregory.
3 Bixpy Motors
Bixpy Motors continue to be the most compact and powerful motor system that is easiest to install on any kayak, paddleboard or canoe. To make the Bixpy even more versatile, they have come out with a variety of new and improved mounts and power options.
The Bixpy can be attached to a standard rudder, or installed in a paddleboard finbox. The motor can also replace a pedal system on any Hobie kayak. There is even a transom mount motor bracket with an adjustable tiller to control the motor from the kayak seat. My favorite new addition is two powerful and durable power banks and batteries to run electricity to accessories, lights and electronics.
Any time I get a chance to drive a kayak outfitted with a Torqeedo motor, I jump on board. So, I got excited when I saw two boats rigged up with Torqeedo motors at ICAST 2022 on the water demo. Long-time kayak pioneer, Jeff Little was ready to let me take a test drive.
I chose to test out the Torqeedo Ultralight 1103 AC, the larger and more powerful of the Ultralight kayak outboards. Little walked me through operating the throttle and foot-peg steering controls and then sent me on my way.
Woohoo! What a blast. Push the throttle forward, and the Torqeedo jumps into action. I was quickly going six miles per hour. Then, I threw the steering hard to one side and the boat turned in a sharp 180. Slowing the motor improved maneuverability allowing me to zig-zag like a racer on a slalom course.
Not only is the Torqeedo fun, but it is reliable and smart. The brushless motor will run for years without losing power. And, the battery is coupled with a GPS to calculate range and remaining power. I can monitor the battery’s range and adjust speed so the battery power lasts until the end of the day.
The real value of the Torqeedo electric outboard is years and miles of experience. Jeff Little has installed a Torqeedo on almost every boat on the market. Video tutorials on Torqeedo.com walk anyone through installation on almost any boat. And, Little has tested the motors and made careful calculations of weight distribution to get the most out of the motor’s power.
If you ever get a chance to test a Torqeedo, jump onboard. You’ll have a lot of fun, and you’ll probably end up adding a Torqeedo to your kayak.