For the past three years, most of the innovation in fishing tackle and gear has been in sourcing materials, redesigning existing products to meet the challenges of the times and scrambling to manufacture and fill orders. The chaos of COVID and a volatile economy have distracted from creating new stuff to make fishing easier and more fun. As we enter a new normal, hot, new start-ups and the biggest companies in the business are back in the game and ready to cook up new and better ways to catch fish. Here is the fourth and final installment in our list of favorite new fishing products from ICAST 2022.
[This article is part of our Best New Tackle And Gear At ICAST 2022 series. Read Part I, Part II and Part III for more of our top picks from the world’s largest fishing tackle tradeshow, or browse all of our ICAST coverage.]
Best New Tackle And Gear At ICAST 2022, Part IV
Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging Targetlock
Humminbird changed fish finder technology with the highest power side view, down view and live imaging sonar. Sister company Minn Kota changed trolling motor technology with SpotLock GPS integrated control. Now the siblings have come together to combine Spotlock and live imaging with the new Targetlock.
The problem with live imaging is independently controlling the transducer and the trolling motor. By combining the two technologies, Humminbird makes finding fish and navigating the boat a no-brainer. Targetlock allows you to lock the MEGA transducer on a mark and then position the boat for a perfect cast. The system also allows you to sweep an area with the live sonar while cruising along with the trolling motor. Or, the transducer and motor can operate independently. The list of options goes on.
Targetlock is so impressive, it won Best Marine Electronics at ICAST 2020. While the motor and transducer are too big and bulky to practically install on a kayak, Humminbird Targetlock is a look into the future.
Oru Kayaks make the lightest, most transportable hard-body kayaks on the water, and the new Oru Lake is the lightest and most transportable Oru. The San Francisco-based company builds folding kayaks using a unique corrugated plastic.
The Oru Lake is a nine-foot-long, 36-inch-wide sit-inside recreational kayak that only weighs 17 pounds. Unhook a few straps and the boat folds like origami into its own suitcase. The folded boat measures 42 inches by 10 by 18 and fits in the back seat of the car or under the couch.
The Lake is available in two models, with the upgraded Lake+ adding a better floor and seat. For anglers on the go, Oru used their unique engineering experience to make the Lake the lightest and smallest kayak that you can take anywhere.
Simms Solarflex Hoodie
Summer means fishing in the hottest temperatures under the boiling sun, so I live in a sun hoodie. After Simms SolarFlex Guide Cooling Hoodie won Best Warm Weather Technical Apparel at the ICAST 2022 Best of Show awards, I was stoked to check it out in person.
The SolarFlex Hoodie includes all of the best sun-shirt technology plus some new ideas inspired by Simms’ extensive pro staff. For example, the hood snaps to the integrated neck gator and the neck gator has stay-straps to keep it in place. I often fish in ridiculous wind, and these upgrades keep the hood in place even in a gale. The fabric is inherently cool to the touch no matter how hot the sun. I like the extended sleeve and thumb holes that allow me to skip wearing sun gloves.
The number one feature I appreciate is the low-profile zippered pocket on the back of the shirt. I never knew I needed a pocket on the back of my sun shirt, but now I store my cell phone, a granola bar, or even pack of soft plastics in the pocket. To keep me camouflaged from the fish, the shirt comes in a steel blue for sunny days and cloud camo grey I can wear when it’s overcast.
Simms designed the SolarFlex Guide Cooling Hoodie to be the best defense against the sun and heat, and the voters at ICAST 2022 confirmed the sun shirt is a winner.
Daiwa Procyon MQ LT
Daiwa’s Procyon MQ LT wins the prize for the most advanced spinning reel you can afford. Famous for unique solutions to the challenges of designing fishing tackle, Daiwa took all of their out-of-the-box engineering ingenuity into the Procyon MQ line.
The new LT reels come in sizes from 1000 to 4000 and only cost $179. The Procyon MQ uses a mono-body design that seals and stiffens the reel for improved power and durability. The LT stands for light and tough, so the Procyon MQ LT includes top-of-the-line features, like Daiwa’s super-light bail and rotor, that reduce rotating weight and improve stiffness.
At its core, Daiwa is a precision metalworking shop. Their experience shows in the computer-designed and machine-cut gears, which contribute to the little reel’s amazing 11 to 26 pounds of drag. With so many high-dollar, super reels on the market, it’s good to see an advanced spinning reel at a great value.
Lowrance Elite FS 7
Good things come in small packages and the Lowrance Elite FS 7 is a big hit with kayak anglers. Since the early days of kayak fishing, Lowrance has been a popular choice for reliable electronics. The Elite FS 7’s rugged IPX7 waterproof housing continues the reputation. The tough exterior holds some of Lowrance’s best fish finder features, including live view sonar. Watching the live view screen, I could actually see fish swimming in front of the transducer. The Elite FS 7 also has side view sonar and down view for a more detailed view of surroundings.
Lowrance matched the top-of-the-line sonar with powerful navigation tools. The Elite FS 7 uses detailed charts with the option to upgrade to premium charts. Controlling all the features is easy by using intuitive buttons or the touchscreen. Basically, the Elite FS 7 includes everything you need to get the most out of your time on the water, in a system that is tough and small enough to fit on any kayak.
Under Armour Iso-Chill Hybrid Hoodie
Sun hoodies and cooling fabrics have been around for quite a while, but the latest generation of lightweight hooded sun shirts is taking the concept to a new level. There’s no better example of this trend than the Under Armour Iso-Chill Hybrid Hoodie. To start, the unique hoodie uses a two-part construction. The front of the shirt is made of UA’s durable and stain-resistant woven material.
To keep the angler cool, the back of the shirt uses Under Armour’s chilling fabric that reduces the temperature of the material. But wait, there’s more: the Hybrid Hoodie also has a three-quarter zipper in the front and two pockets. Think of the Iso-Chill Hybrid as a cross between a sun shirt and your favorite winter hoodie keeping you cool and comfortable on the hottest days.
It’s one thing to look at pictures and read about the MotorGuide Xi3 kayak trolling motor and another thing to see it in action. After hearing so much about the compact and powerful trolling motor, I finally got a chance to see it in action.
The Xi3 is popular because it makes it easier to install and operate a kayak motor. First, the 36-inch shaft is the perfect length for a kayak. Then, the wireless remote control allows you to mount the trolling motor on the bow or stern of the kayak and control direction and functions with a palm-size remote control. That means you don’t have to rig the kayak with foot pedals or reach for a tiller. Just sit in the seat and push buttons like channel surfing on the living room couch. Best of all, the Xi3 is GPS connected, so you can program the motor to anchor, jog or replay routes.
Installing the Xi3 is easy because the motor mount fits many of the most popular fishing kayaks. As I said, anglers are talking about the MotorGuide Xi3 because it makes motorizing a kayak easier.