At the ICAST 2017 sportfishing trade show, tackle manufacturers had their latest and greatest rods, reels and lures in the spotlight. There was high-dollar and bargain-basement rods and reels for every angler and every fish. Exciting innovations in lure design and materials are sure to keep the fishermen one step ahead of the fish. Clear out space in the garage and save your allowance, this is the tackle you gotta get next year.

ICAST 2017: New Kayak Fishing Tackle You Gotta Get

Daiwa braided fishing line at ICAST 2017
Photo: Ric Burnley


Daiwa is making bold moves to offer anglers light and tough tackle that is dependable and innovative. They’ve kicked up their line with the Legalis LT with a carbon body that reduces weight and increases stiffness. The rotor has a staged lip that reduces friction for long casts.

The famous work horse Ballistic line is coming in lighter and stronger with a carbon body with mag seal for corrosion resistance. They cut the waistline so much that the reel body is slim and narrow for improved performance.

On the rod side of the collection, I was drawn to the new Lexa 300 with Winn Grip that looks like a golf club handle. The low-profile rods are outfitted with Fuji components and new colors. Then I saw the new Saltist Rods. The complete line has cork grips and a short butt that kayak anglers like. The Saltists sticks range from 6’6” to 7’6” and all actions.

I’ve been a fan of Daiwa’s color-coded line for deep jigging so I’m excited to try out their full line of braided fishing line. Daiwa took advantage of a patent kerfuffle to offer four strand or eight strand braid at a lower price for the same Spectra you get from other companies.

Another cool product perfect for kayak anglers, Daiwa’s tactical fishing backpack won Best Tackle Management system. I got a chance to check out the full-size backpack that holds tackle trays, leader wheels and all the gear you’ll need in a kayak. I dream of loading the bag with all my gear so I can quickly load my kayak at the launch.

Shimano reel at ICAST 2017
Photo: Ric Burnley

Shimano Exsence

Professional anglers who need gear that will take a beating invest in Shimano’s top of the line reels. This year, Shimano is adding a line of high quality inshore and bass reels for light tackle anglers who put out heavy abuse.

I fell in love with their new Exsence line of reels from across the room. Sitting under a spot light, in the middle of a small table, the reel’s matte black finish hides its sparkling features. The saltwater safe, magnesium HAGANE Body offers rigidity and all-day comfort.

By combining Shimano’s water-repellent coating and their specially designed, water channeling, labyrinth construction, X Protect provides high-level water resistance without sacrificing light gear and rotor rotation. These features come together to make a 3000 and 4000 size reel strong enough to turn a big redfish or pull a bucketmouth out of the grass and tough enough to last for years under the worst conditions. MSRP: $539.99–$549.99.

Shimano pulled down two Best of Show awards in the New Product Showcase: Their Curado K reel and Sustain 3000 spinner took top honors for tough construction at a great value.

Rapala RipStop lure at ICAST 2017
Photo: Ric Burnley

Rapala RipStop

Rapala invented the modern fishing lure and they continue to invent new and interesting ways to catch fish. This year, they are introducing the innovative RipStop lure. Featuring both a front diving lip and a never-before-seen rear boot tail, the Rapala RipStop’s dual tail design creates a fast-ripping, flashing swim bait action with hard-stopping, forward motion that stops on a dime, with a subtle shimmy before coming to a rest, then ever so slightly lifts its head with a super slow-rise. Cast and wind, wind & stop, twitch, snap, rip and suspend, fish it your favorite way for all species of gamefish.

Rapala also offers high-quality accessories. I was impressed with their ceramic bait knife. 2X sharper than steel with 15X edge retainment comparatively, this is a never tool…never sharpen and they never rust. Super-sharp, super-tough ceramic blade is lightweight, non-porous and incredibly corrosion resistant. Molded soft grip handle for ultimate comfort. Compression sheath holds tight for safe storage and transportation. We were stoked to see Rapala’s X-Rap Mag 40 won for best saltwater hard lure at the New Product Showcase.

LiveTarget Hollow Body Mullet lures at ICAST 2017
Photo: Ric Burnley

LiveTarget Hollow Body Mullet

Hollow body soft plastic lures have been around for years. Starting with frogs and more recently adding swimbaits, these life-like imitations look and move like the real thing. Last year, LiveTarget stole the show with a line of hollow-body sunfish that caught angler’s attention and won the award for Best Saltwater Lure at ICAST. This year, they repeated with a line of mullet imitations that will make inshore saltwater anglers happy.

Like it’s older brothers and sisters, the Hollow Body Mullet is painted with ultra-realistic colors and finish to imitate a fresh mullet. It’s rigged with a single weedless hook and has a lower eye to add a treble hook. The lure can be worked walk-the-dog style, pitched under docks or ripped across the water. With the line of LiveTarget Hollow Bodies growing, I can’t wait to see what they add next year. It’s sure to be a winner.

Z-Man Ned Bait soft plastic lures at ICAST 2017
Photo: Ric Burnley

Z-Man Ned Bait

Sometimes I don’t get it until I get it. The first time I used Z-Man’s super sticky and squishy soft plastic I finally understood how they have become a favorite for anglers in salt and fresh. That was even before I put one in the water. If I still didn’t get it, the fish convinced me. Not only am I able to catch a dozen fish or more on one tough plastic tail, but the plastic floats and wiggles with an undeniable attraction.

This year, Z-Man extended its technology to a new line of Ned jigs that will have smallmouth, largemouth and other predators hungry. At the Z-Man booth, the new tails were displayed in a tank of water. The floating tail stood straight up on the flat Ned jig head. Even when the lure was resting on the bottom, the tail and tiny arms continued to wave me in like an OPEN sign on an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Seigler SGN reel at ICAST 2017
Photo: Ric Burnley

Seigler SGN

I ran into Jim Sammons of the Kayak Fishing Show at the Seigler Reel’s booth. He was holding a new reel and playing with the handle and drag lever. Seigler had built the new SGN and engraved it with Sammons’ signature kraken. I couldn’t tell whether Sammons was more excited about the new, smaller Seigler reel or the cool custom engraving. I picked up a stock SGN and started playing, too.

The reel features bullet proof construction and components with a narrower spool for a smaller, more compact reel that produces just as much power as it’s big brother the original SG. Just to show off, they even made an SGN signature edition with a shaved sideplate that reduces weight and looks bad ass.

The star of the Seigler show was the new MF and BF fly reels. Cut out of aluminum like all of their reels, the battleship has a lever drag that can be preset to produce consistent pressure on the line. And you don’t have to switch hands during the fight to apply more pressure to the fish. These fly reels are designed for big fish that make other reels cry.

YoZuri Knucklehead tackle at ICAST 2017
Photo: Ric Burnley

YoZuri Knucklehead

Leave it up to YoZuri to invent a new type of fishing lure. Even surrounded by the newest, most innovative tackle and gear at ICAST’s New Product Showcase, The 3DB Knucklebait grabbed my attention. It looks like a spinner bait, but instead of a metal blades the 3DB Knucklebait has a prism ball. According to Yozuri, the lure can be worked like a spinner bait or a jig. You can rip it across the top of the water, roll it over the bottom, or let it sink and bounce it like a jig. The jig portion has a flat head that allows the skirt to stick up from the bottom and slide over grass, wood and rocks. Not sure if the 3DB will catch bass, but it caught me.

man holds up the Savage 3D Topwater Bat fishing lure
Don’t be scared. It’s Savage’s 3D Topwater Bat, winner of Best Hard Lure at ICAST. | Feature photo: Ric Burnley

Savage 3D Topwater Bat

For another year, Savage’s life-like lures have capture awards in the New Product Showcase. But this year may be their wildest creation, yet. The 3D Topwater Bat is a 3D copy of an actual bat. They added metal wings to the hollow-body lure and a feathery tail. In the hand, the thing looks like a nightmare with a creepy fanged scream on its pinched up bat face. But on the water, the bat looks like dinner to monster bass. Reversed, hinged wings create a huge ruckus on the surface like a bat that has fallen out of the sky. I’m not sure I’d want to catch anything that would eat this meal.

St. Croix Legend Inshore Tournament fishing rod at ICAST 2017
Photo: Ric Burnley

St. Croix Legend Inshore Tournament

At the New Product Showcase, there are a lot of rods with a lot of gimmicks trying to get angler’s attention. But St. Croix continues to win awards with well-built rods that catch more fish. Adding to the Legend Tournament series, the new Inshore line gives redfish, trout, snook and striper anglers the reliable power and sensitivity that has won tournaments on the sweet water. When I stopped by the St. Croix booth to check out the winning sticks, I found old buddy Alberto Knie showing them off. He went through the long list of features and we started cooking up plans to use the rods on striper and reds. The rods come in a full range of sizes to tackle everything from light biting trout to hard charging reds with the backbone to cast a big plug and sensitivity to feel a light bite. It all adds up to a rod that will catch the fish of a lifetime and last a lifetime.

St. Croix Legend Inshore Tournament rods features:

  • Advanced Reinforcing Technology (ART)
  • Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) tooling technology
  • High-modulus/high-strain SCIV graphite with FRS
  • Fuji TVS blank-touch reel seat with built-in hood
  • Super-grade cork handle
  • Kigan Master Hand Zero Tangle guides
  • Kigan titanium hook-keeper
  • Corrosion-proof wind check
  • Two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish
  • 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service
  • Designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A.



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