BoatU.S. Magazine cast a wide net at the 2023 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show (ICAST) and hauled in a boatload of cool new angling gear.
Catch, Weigh, Record
Just how smart can a scale be? Bubba pushes the limits with its Pro Series Smart Fish Scale, which won the award for Best New Tool. It boasts a +/- 0.3-percent accuracy, links up with smartphones, and the Bubba mobile app can log your catches as they happen. “Smart Culling” automatically replaces the smallest fish in your livewell when you top it and works in conjunction with the color-coded culling indicator set. Pro series scales are rated IPX7 waterproof and are powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. $229.99 | bubba.com
Tech has worked its way into just about everything, but now even fishing reels? Yes, even fishing reels. The KastKing iReel One is a “smart reel” that tracks casting distance, retrieve speed and cadence, total number of casts, and more. That data, along with weather conditions and fishing locations, are always accessible via t the KastKing app. You can even tap into this data with your sunglasses, if you get the FishIQ Smart Sunglasses, which link up with your phone to access the app (or to play music, since they do double-duty as Bluetooth earphones). $349.99 for the reel, $169.99 for the sunglasses | kastking.com
We’ve had bicycles with electric pedal-assist for years, so why not have it in a fishing kayak? Old Town makes it happen with the ePDL+ drive, which it designed for the Sportsman BigWater ePDL+ kayak. An integrated lithium-ion battery provides the juice so you can choose when to pedal, when to enjoy pedal-assist, and when to cruise purely on motor power. The 8.5-pound, 42-volt battery can run full-tilt for up to three hours, according to Old Town, and an LCD readout displays how much power is remaining. $5,999.99 | oldtownwatercraft.johnsonoutdoors.com
The Hunt Is On!
Berkley Nessie won the Best Freshwater Soft Lure award. This two-piece bait has a mesh-reinforced joint to maximize motion while also providing durability, plus belly fins for stabilized swimming. Available in 5-, 7-, and 9-inch sizes and in 10 color patterns. $7.99 to $12.99 | berkley-fishing.com
Boost your pontoon boat’s tackle stowage with Boat Outfitters’ Pontoon Boat Tackle Center, which won the Tackle Management category. Seven slide-out tackleboxes, four bulk stowage drawers, and a catch-all stowage compartment under the hinged top are among the features, plus an engraved fish ruler and vertical racks for two rods on either side. $2,433.80 | boatoutfitters.com
In the what-will-they-think-of-next category we have the Rugged Road Ice-Timator. This little gadget is a drain plug that monitors the cooler’s internal temperature and keeps track of melt-off. It’s so smart it can wirelessly link up with smartphones and send notifications when to add ice. We wouldn’t exactly call it critical gear, but for a boater who has everything? $79.99 | ruggedroadoutdoors.com
The Stradic FM reel is an oldie and a goodie, but Shimano is continually redesigning even its most popular offerings. In this case, that garnered a Best Freshwater Fishing Reel award. Improvements include adding InfinityXross gearing and extending the gear teeth horizontally to distribute the load more evenly, giving the reel InfinityDrive to increase cranking power, and coming up with a new Duracross felt drag system designed to increases durability by 10 times. There’s also a new anti-twist fin under the roller to improve performance with mono lines. Available in 1000 to 5000 sizes weighing 6.5 to 10.2 ounces, has six ball-bearings plus the roller bearing. $199.99 to $229.99 | fish.shimano.com
It can be tough for women to find properly fitting foul weather gear for fishing, but Aftco’s Woman’s Barricade Rain Suit addresses the issue – and in doing so, won the category for Cold Weather Technical Apparel for Women. With three-layer construction, cuffs to prevent water from flowing in the sleeves, YKK zippers on the pockets, and elastic bib shoulder straps, these suits will keep angling ladies warm and dry. And in the interest of convenience, there’s also a dual side-zipper relief hatch for taking care of business without having to remove the bibs. Sizes XS to XL. $478 | aftco.com
If you have little anglers in the family, you know how tough it can be to find them deck boots that fit. We were psyched to discover the Red Bobber Li’l Bobber Anglers Ankle Boot. With a rubber exterior and a neoprene interior lining over EVA foam, these boots are 100% waterproof and have front and rear pull loops. Gray/red; sizes range from 7k to 5 (manufacturer recommends ordering one size larger). $59.99 | redbobbergear.com
A hot market segment at the show was new electric trolling motors. Big and new players introduced bow-mounts that will be changing the game in the coming year – and possibly changing the way you fish.
Release The Kraken
Garmin is getting salty with its new trolling motor in the Force line, the Kraken. Garmin claims this is the most powerful trolling motor yet, boasting 100 pounds of thrust in compliance with ISO standards, with 63-, 75-, and 90-inch shaft lengths to hold big center-consoles in place against wind and current. Garmin also integrated multi-band GPS to deliver more accurate heading hold and positioning. A GT56 transducer is built in, and in addition to the floating wireless remote, you can control it with a Garmin Smartwatch. Starts at $3,699.99 | garmin.com
On A Mission
Minn Kota pulled a big surprise at ICAST when it introduced the Quest series of trolling motors. This is a huge change for the company, shifting its lineup to brushless motors in both fresh- and saltwater venues and claiming the gain of a 50% boost in torque and 30% in efficiency. Additional changes include a new battery-monitoring system, redesigned remote controls and propellers, an upgraded mount, and a carbon-infused shaft. That shaft is available in a wide range of lengths up to 100 inches. If you have a monster center-console and thought you’d never be able to find an electric trolling motor big enough for your boat, these motors will change your mind. $3,299.99 to $6,099.99 | minnkota.johnsonoutdoors.com
Power-Pole is well known for making shallow water anchors, so its new trolling motor was a surprise introduction. The MOVE ZR won the award for Best Motorized Boating Accessory, and Power-Pole also introduced a pivot-mount model called the PV. These are brushless motors, with highlights including titanium shafts that have a lifetime warranty, GPS virtual anchoring and navigation, optional integrated Lowrance transducers, 24- and 36-volt configurations, and wireless remotes with charging cradles. Power-Pole claims a 30% boost in thrust and efficiency as compared to “leading trolling motors.” Despite all this, what leapt out at us when we saw the MOVE ZR was the big difference in the size of the head of the motor as compared to the industry standard. It’s round, rather than teardrop-shaped, and barely the size of a hockey puck. Shaft lengths are 45, 52, 60, and (PV only) 72 inches. Starts at $4,999.99 | power-pole.com — L.R.