Product Highlights from ICAST 2023
by Richard Simms, CrappieNOW Editor
The latest innovations revealed at the largest fishing trade show in the world
ICAST 2023 Best of Show
After 37 category winners were crowned at the prestigious ICAST 2023, the American Tackle Company came out on top as the sole owners of “Best of Show.”
In what some called an “ICAST Surprise,” American Tackle Company’s Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle was named the best new product at the annual fishing show in Orlando, Fla. The fishing rod handle system was up against other heavy hitters and innovations in trolling motors, fishing kayaks and space-age materials for lures, reels and tackle. The Tsuka 2, with an MSRP of $129.99, beat out 36 other Best of Category winners to win the coveted prize. Those other category winners are listed below.
The name “Tsuka” translates to “The handle of a katana (Japanese sword).” The company said, “While fishing rod blanks have improved through modern advances in carbon and resin systems, handles have remained relatively static. This new Tsuka Handle is the pinnacle of component design offering a complete integrated system to finally offer a handle worthy of the modern blank technology used in premium fishing rods.”
KastKing Introduces Bluetooth Smart Reel
It was 2009 when Apple first coined the phrase, “There’s an app for that.”
Long before that came baitcasting fishing reels and in the beginning, only the most practiced and skilled users could master them without creating backlashes that could completely take your rod & reel out-of-service for the day. Casting reels have improved dramatically, however, the ill reputation from days gone by still scares many fishermen away.
Well now – say it with me – there’s an app for that.
Granted, unless they are trolling, crappie fishermen rarely use casting reels for presenting tiny crappie lures. But this innovation is too novel for us to ignore. One can’t help but wonder if the technology will migrate to crappie fishing reels down the road.
Introduced at ICAST 2023, KastKing’s new bluetooth-equipped iReel represents a new category in intelligent freshwater fishing reels. The company says gone are the days of relying solely on manual adjustments and an educated thumb to prevent backlashes.
They say the IFC iReel introduces Intelligent Frequency Control (IFC) to evaluate casting variables such as spool speed, inertia, and line tension to optimize performance in real-time, mitigating backlash and ensuring smooth and accurate casts regardless of wind speed or lure weight. IFC microcontroller sensors analyze spool data and automatically apply or release a sophisticated electromagnetic braking system.
iReel provides anglers with precise casting metrics, including the number of casts made, average distance, farthest cast, retrieve speed, and more. They say by providing real-time access to this information, anglers can enhance their understanding of the fishing environment, analyze their successes and failures, and make necessary adaptations based on the prevailing conditions.
The KastKing IFC iReel will be available to the public in September. The suggested MSRP will be $349.
Minn Kota Introduces TargetLock
Minn Kota MEGA Live Imaging™ TargetLock™ locks on to structure at the push of a button, even while your boat is moving or anchored using spot-lock.
With the MEGA Live Imaging TargetLock accessory, the MEGA Live transducer beam can be steered independently of the trolling motor—from the foot pedal, the fish finder, or optional hand remote.
St. Croix Introduces Dedicated Ice Fishing Rods
New for 2024, St. Croix Panfish Ice Combos provide hard water anglers with high-performance tools in the lengths, powers, and actions necessary to target all manner of panfish with a full range of today’s modern techniques.
The company has introduced three models ranging in length from 28” to 36” and covering ultralight and light powers, all crafted from tapered, ultra-sensitive solid carbon blanks with bite-indicating hi-vis tips. Precision-matched 800-size spinning reels feature 8+1 bearings, aluminum spools, and one-touch folding handles. Retail prices are $95 to $105 with a one-year warranty.
Garmin Adds New Bundles Ice Fishing Lineup
Designed exclusively for ice anglers, these all-in-one bundles have been updated to include the ECHOMAP™ UHD2 chartplotter series. Garmin’s new ice fishing lineup also includes a first-of-its-kind LiveScope™ Plus Ice House System that lets anglers display live sonar on a TV or external display.
It’s preloaded with Garmin Navionics+™ inland mapping with unparalleled coverage and detail of more than 23,000 lakes with an included one-year subscription to daily map updates, plus built-in Wi-Fi® connectivity which lets anglers wirelessly share sonar data, waypoints and routes with another ECHOMAP UHD2 unit. It’s powered by a lightweight lithium battery.
Expected to be available in September, the ECHOMAP UHD2 5” Ice Fishing Bundle has a suggested retail price of $549.99, while the ECHOMAP UHD2 7” Ice Fishing Bundle is $899.99. The new LiveScope Plus Ice Fishing Bundle LI has a suggested retail price of $3299.99; the LiveScope Ice Fishing Bundle is $2849.99; and the LiveScope Plus Ice House System is $4699.99. To learn more about Garmin’s full ice-fishing lineup, visit garmin.com/marine.
Garmin unveils Force Kraken
Garmin announced Force® Kraken. The company says it is the most powerful trolling motor the recreational fishing market has ever seen. Coupled with Garmin’s most precise anchor lock technology, Kraken is designed with longer shaft lengths and a pivot-style mount for easy installation on boats where bow space is limited, like skiffs, bay boats, center consoles and multispecies fishing boats.
They say the Kraken utilizes multi-band GPS signal reception and integrated attitude and heading reference system to deliver Garmin’s most precise boat positioning technology.
They say for the first time in the industry, anglers can install forward-facing sonar, like Garmin LiveScope™, on a pivot-style trolling motor by conveniently routing the transducer cable inside the trolling motor shaft.
Kraken’s brushless motor uses a high-efficiency propeller to produce 100 pounds of thrust on a 36-volt system, or 80 pounds on a 24-volt system.
Expected to be available in October, Kraken will be offered in white in 63-, 75- and 90-inch shaft lengths, or black in 63- and 75-inch lengths. Both black Kraken models are sold with a GT56UHD transducer. Suggested retail prices range from $3699.99 to $4299.99. For more information, visit garmin.com/force.
Garmin New Advanced Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchors
Garmin also announced expanded system integration with Power-Pole®.
“We are excited to build on our existing Power-Pole functionality that allows anglers to stow and deploy their Power-Pole anchors from their Garmin chartplotter. The new features integrate trolling motor and shallow water anchor equipment to automate boat control so anglers can spend more time fishing and less time positioning their boat.” ~ Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of global consumer sales
The upgrade features Smart Anchor, Smart Anchor Jog, Drag Detection, End of Route and Auto Stow.
These new features are available to existing customers as a free download at Garmin.com, or through the ActiveCaptain® mobile app under the “My Marine Device” tab. In addition to a compatible ECHOMAP™ or GPSMAP® chartplotter, a C-Monster Gateway from Power-Pole is required. Visit garmin.com/software for more information.
ICAST 2023 Best of Show Category Winners
Besides the overall “Best of Show” winner, there are 36 additional category winners, all selected by credentialed buyers and media who vote in the New Product Showcase. This year’s ICAST New Product Showcase featured more than 1,000 new products from 292 companies.
These are the products selected as best in their respected categories:
- Freshwater Soft Lure – Product: Berkley PowerBait Nessie | Pure Fishing, Inc.
- Saltwater Soft Lure – Product: Mulletron LT (Line Through) Swimbait | Z-Man Fishing Products
- Freshwater Hard Lure – Product: ChatterBait Elite EVO | Z-Man Fishing Products
- Saltwater Hard Lure – Product: MIrrOlure The Duke Dog | L&S Bait Company
- Freshwater Rod – Product: St. Croix Mojo Bass TRIGON | St. Croix Rods
- Saltwater Rod – Product: NRX+ Inshore | Shimano
- Rod & Reel Combo – Product: Abu Garcia ZATA Baitcast Combo | Pure Fishing, Inc.
- Freshwater Reel – Product: Stradic FM | Shimano
- Saltwater Reel – Product: Seapower 1200 | Daiwa Corporation
- Novelties and Wellness – Product: The GoMist Drink and Misting Bottle | ExtremeMist Personal Cooling Systems
- Motorized Boating Accessories – Product: PowerPole Move ZR | Power-Pole®
- Non-Motorized Boating Accessory – Product: BOTE WATER HAMMOCK | BOTE
- Boats and Watercraft – Product: Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL + 132 | Johnson Outdoors Watercraft, Inc.
- Footwear – Product: Ankle Deck Boots – Black | AFTCO
- Ice Fishing – Product: LiveScope™ Plus Ice Fishing Bundle LI with ECHOMAP™ UHD2 93sv | Garmin USA
- Eyewear – Product: King Tide 8, Black 580G Blue Mirror | Costa Sunglasses
- Lifestyle Apparel for Women – Women’s Coverup Dress | Huk Performance Fishing
- Lifestyle Apparel for Men – Ocean Bound Hooded Performance Shirt | AFTCO Denny Le firstname.lastname@example.org
- Warm Weather Technical Apparel for Women – Product: Mojeaux 1/4 Zip Performance Shirt | AFTCO
- Warm Weather Technical Apparel for Men – Product: Channel Hooded Performance Shirt | AFTCO
- Cold Weather Technical Apparel for Women – Product: Women’s Barricade Rain Suit | AFTCO
- Cold Weather Technical Apparel for Men – Product: Gale Pullover | Blackfish Gear
- Soft and Hard Coolers – Product: Flop Box 10 | Flop Industries
- Electronics – Product: Westin EscapeCam | Westin Fishing
- Cutlery, Hand Pliers or Tools – Product: BUBBA Pro Series Smart Fish Scale | BUBBA
- Fishing Accessory – Product: ENGEL USB Rechargeable Lithium-Ion XL Live Bait Aerator Pump | ENGEL Coolers
- Kids’ Tackle – Product: ProFISHiency Next Gen Crazy Combo | Anything Possible Brands
- Tackle Management – Product: Pontoon Boat Tackle Center | Boat Outfitters
- Terminal Tackle – Product: VMC Swingin’ Ned Rig Jig | Rapala
- Custom Tackle and Components – American Tackle Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle | American Tackle Company (“Best of Show” Winner)
- Fishing Line – Product: Mastiff Fluorocarbon | Shimano
- Fly Fishing Waders & Wading Boots – Product: G4Z Stockingfoot Wader | Simms Fishing Products
- Fly Lines, Leaders, Tippet and Line Accessories – Product: BUZBE Colony 8T (THIN) | BUZBE
- Fly Fishing Packs, Bags & Luggage – Product: Flyweight Vest Pack | Simms Fishing Products
- Fly Fishing Technical Apparel and Accessories – Product: Master M6014 Edition | Renzetti, Inc.
- Fly Fishing Reel – Product: Cheeky Spray Fly Reel | Cheeky Fishing
- Fly Fishing Rod – Product: Hardy Marksman Z | Pure Fishing, Inc.
Capt. Richard Simms is the Editor of CrappieNOW magazine as well as owner of Scenic City Fishing Charters. Formerly he was a game warden for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency before becoming a photographer and PR guy for TWRA. That lead to a 30-year career as a broadcast journalist and freelance outdoor writer. Check out his book, “An Outdoor State of Mind.”