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February 03, 2018


by Bob Banfelder

It's February. The Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania groundhog has just declared six more weeks of winter. Our boats are in mothballs. All of Donna's and my rods, reels, and tackle have been thoroughly cleaned and stored for spring—including my hunting equipment. What to do next? Well, as we both like to eat, and eat well, February is a good month to prepare some extraordinary lobster dishes for family and friends. We'll begin with one of our favorites, preparing it for either an appetizer or an entrée. Your guests will flip. Admittedly, the dish is time consuming; however, it is not at all difficult to prepare. Those with a modicum of culinary skill will breeze through this recipe. If you're a beginner, just take your time and prepare this winner the first time out for you and yours. Besides, you are probably not doing anything outdoorsy or going anywhere except to the store for the necessary ingredients.

This is one of the best Lobster Thermidor dishes that I've perfected over a period of many years. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better one. You'll be amazed and thoroughly delighted.


2 1¼ pound [live & kicking] Maine [cold water] lobsters
½ stick butter
¼ cup Marsala wine
¼ cup Savory & James cream sherry
¼ teaspoon mustard
¼ teaspoon nutmeg [preferably grated from whole nutmeg]
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon arrowroot
2 cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon white pepper
add salt to taste
¼ cup chicken broth
¼ pound baby shrimp
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon Italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon panko crispy bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
(optional) ¼ cup of white distilled vinegar for an 8-quart pot

Left to Right ~ Tools of the Trade for splitting and/or cracking lobsters: heavy-duty butcher knife, lobster scissors, regular pair of kitchen shears, seafood cracker, lobster/crab fork (pick-tool), ramekin for liver/roe, removed lobster meat, teaspoon, salad fork, optional heavy-duty serrated bread knife (not shown).

Kill lobster (humanely) by inserting the point of a heavy, very sharp butcher knife behind the crustacean's head, pushing and driving the blade downward and toward you as shown below.

1¼-pound lobster

Repeat the process upon the second lobster. Now you can plunge the pair into a pot of boiling water or steam them for five (5) minutes. You are not thoroughly cooking the lobsters; you are poaching them. Adding ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar to an 8-quart pot of boiling water will later help separate the meat from the shells.

Remove lobsters from pot and allow the shellfish to cool. Replace the blade of the knife just below its head (opposite you this time) and cleanly split the shell from head to tail.

Open up the lobster and discard the black intestinal vein. Remove the green liver (tomalley) with the teaspoon and/or the red roe with a fork then set aside. Carefully remove the meat from its cavity. Using a pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears, meticulously cut, remove, and discard all cartilage, muscle, and tissue from the cavity (head and tail). Also, set aside.

Split lobster cavity and claws—showing all meat removed.

With the point of the knife positioned perpendicular upon the center of a claw, sharply drive the blade into it. Remove the butcher knife and lay the blade of a serrated knife down upon the cut, carefully cutting across and through the claw, being especially careful not to crack the shell unevenly. Presentation is as appealing as this dish is delightful. Note: If this procedure seems a bit precarious for you, use the seafood cracker tool in lieu of the knife. However, it won't make for as neat a presentation because the uneven break will be discernible. Remove the lobster meat from the pincer and crusher claws with the pick-tool.

Top claw shown with even knife cut; bottom claw shown utilizing the seafood cracker tool in lieu of knife.

Three knuckles connect the body and claw. Cut across each knuckle at the joint with shellfish scissors and remove the meat with the pick-tool. Discard knuckle shells. Rinse cavity and claws thoroughly then set aside for stuffing later.

If you are gifted with patience, you can pick out a minuscule amount of meat from the legs and tail fin (flippers).

Cut all lobster meat into bite-size ½-inch pieces then set aside as shown below.

In a sauté pan, melt ½ stick of butter over a medium heat source.

Raise heat to high; add wine and sherry then flambé; that is, liquor ignited briefly.

Reduce heat back to medium and add mustard, nutmeg, paprika, liver and/or roe, stirring well while adding arrowroot to thicken the mixture.

Gradually add the heavy cream, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.

Add white pepper and salt to taste.

Add chicken broth, all lobster meat, shrimp, and mushrooms then cook over a low heat for 3 minutes as shown below.

Carefully spoon the contents into the cavity and claws then sprinkle with bread crumb (combined Italian seasoned bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs) mixture.

Garnish with parsley then broil for approximately 3 minutes or until the bread crumbs become golden brown.

1¼ pound stuffed lobster, ready for the broiler.

1¼ pound stuffed lobster, ready for the table.

Lobster sections put back together for a near perfect presentation and to be served with a nice white wine.

You could also cut out the section of walking legs from the body and configure along the platter for a bit of decoration as shown below. Too, you could get a bit carried away and purchase special decorative lobster plates to showcase this fantastic dish. As an appetizer, we serve half a split lobster per guest. To go all out, folks are served a 1¼ pound lobster as the entrée.

Decorative lobster shell arrangement. Your own creativity will enhance the aesthetic quality of this spectacular dish.

Keep in mind that color, presentation, and quality ingredients are the keys to gourmet dishes.

Bon Appétit!

Tomorrow, we will prepare a classic Lobster Newburg dish. Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Who's Who in America

Several of My Crime Fiction Novels Incorporate The Great Outdoors

Top to Bottom:
The Richard Geist Trilogy

Dicky, Richard, and I
The Signing
The Triumvirate

The Justin Barnes Four-Book Series

The Author
The Teacher
The Good Samaritans

Trace Evidence



The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Hunting Smart Handbook: Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

The Essential Guide to Writing Well and Getting Published

December 20, 2017


by Bob Banfelder

Whether you are specifically heading off to warmer climates for a bit of fishing this winter or simply traveling willy-nilly any time of year with no particular plans or destination in mind, it's always nice to have along your own fishing equipment. How many times have you driven by an inviting body of water and thought, "Ah, I wish I had brought along my fishing gear"? Donna and I had been in that situation on more than one occasion before I did something about it. What's nice is that I set up a compact yet complete travel case to accommodate all three angling applications: spin casting, bait casting, and fly casting—and with dedicated rods, respectively. Not one of those all-in-one combination rod/reel outfits that supposedly does it all.

There are, of course, a few hard and soft quality travel cases out there. However, I found the L.L. Bean Kennebec Angler's Travel Case to be one of the best for all-around convenience, holding a good assortment of lures, inshore and offshore rigs, a plethora of flies, et cetera. Regarding compactness, I'd like you to home in on the exterior dimensions of this well-made travel case. Standing upright, the case measures 33½" long x 4" wide x 8" high and will fit into most overhead compartments or under-seat space found aboard planes, trains, busses, boats, and certainly vehicles.

L.L. Bean Kennebec Angler's Travel Case

Just as important are the travel case's interior dimensions. The interior is 32" long x 3½" deep x 7¼" wide. One entire length is set apart for a given number of rod- sections; for example, spin, bait, and a fly-casting wands; the other length is comprised of six adjustable padded dividers, which form seven compartments for reels, extra spools, tackle, et cetera, inclusive of a zippered thick-padded pouch.

Lid interior: 4 zippered clear plastic compartments ~ tapered leaders; 2 zippered mesh compartments ~ pre-rigged packaging for fluke, porgies, etc.

Upper section: spinning reel; foam spacing divider and fly box, lure box (beneath fly box); zippered thick-padded protective pouch for small camera, phone, valuables, etc.; fly reel and tippet material; extra spools filled with weight-forward floating lines, intermediate, and sinking lines; bait casting reel.

Lower section: spinning rod, bait casting rod, fly rod.

Let's examine closely what I included in my L.L. Bean Kennebec Angler's Travel Case. So as to avoid blatant advertising, we'll look at a number of quality rods, reels, and gear from well-known manufacturers, which lend themselves well in putting together this angling arsenal. Selecting the correct number of rod sections is the key to organization because you do not want them jiggling around within the case. You want the rods to fit compactly within that designated compartment with very little wiggle room. Small blocks of custom-cut Styrofoam work well to lock items firmly in place. Also, plastic twist-ties neatly hold rod sections together.

I selected a Temple Fork Outfitters Signature Series TRS 704 3 piece, 7-foot spinning rod, each section measuring 28". That gives me 2" of wiggle room at each end of the case before inserting Styrofoam. I paired the rod with a Shimano Stella 3000FD spinning reel, spooled with Ande monofilament line. My go-to lure is a Kastmaster on which I epoxy eyes. Eyes affixed to lures pretty much serve as a bull's-eye for predator fish of many species that swim in our waters.

Foreground: 3-piece spinning reel/rod & go-to lure.

Next, I selected a Daiwa Ardito-TR 3 piece 7-foot bait casting rod, each section measuring 29¼", which gives me slightly less than 1½" of wiggle room at each end of the case. Perfect. I coupled the rod to a KastKing Spartacus bait casting reel, spooled with PowerPro braided line. My go-to lure is Steve Sekora's Glow Squid rig, upon which I affix eyes via epoxy. A fresh squid strip/mummichog (killie)/Glow Squid combination is the magic that will attract keeper-size fluke.

Foreground: 3-piece bait casting rod/reel, go-to fluke rig with sinker.

Lastly, I selected a Sage Xi 2 4-piece 9-foot fly rod, each section measuring 28½". That gives me 1¾" of wiggle room on each end. Great. I joined the rod to an Orvis Battenkill Mark III fly reel, which I've had for ages. I carry extra spools filled with Orvis, Teeny, and RIO fly lines; for example, weight-forward floating line, intermediate, and sinking line. When it comes to selecting leaders and tippet material, RIO fluorocarbon tapered leaders and tippets are hard to beat. My go-to fly is the Gimp, an often overlooked fly that absolutely belongs in every fly angler's arsenal. Also, a minnow imitation that I designed a decade ago—boldly named Bob B's Big Black & White Bull's-Eye Fly—is deadly. Both these fly recipes, along with the other lures mentioned above for spinning and bait casting, are covered in detail in my fishing book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook ~ For Salt & Fresh Water, available on Amazon. The book is endorsed by Lefty Kreh [international master, fly fisherman], and Angelo Peluso [nationally recognized angler].

Foreground: 4-piece fly rod/reel, go-to flies atop cork handle (see close-ups below).

Close-up: The Gimp

Close-up: Bob B's Big Black & White Bull's-Eye Fly

Of course, you can put together your own combination spin, bait, fly rod and respective reels, along with necessary gear and materials. Again, the important point to bear in mind is selecting a 3-piece rod for a 7 footer regarding both spin and bait casting rods, and a 4-piece rod for a 9-foot fly rod as all will fit compactly into the L.L. Bean Kennebec Angler's Travel Case with the aforementioned foam dividers. The case is handsomely crafted in a dark olive/briar color with orange accents.

The travel case may be carried in a number of ways as it has an attractive, durable cork-like suitcase/luggage-style handle, a wide non-slip padded adjustable shoulder strap that also allows the case to be carried horizontally, or it may be carried vertically via an end strap. The shoulder strap features a pair of clips for attaching small items as does the exterior face of the travel case, which also boasts a dual-zippered compartment running its length. Perfect for area maps or other papers. All exterior clips and zippers are reinforced with easy-to-grab taps. All corners, too, are reinforced with a non-slip material as well as "Box X"-type stitching at strap locations, a pattern that provides a high level of strength and stability. This is one well-constructed travel case.

Shown below in the foreground are the opened boxes (lures and flies), along with items that fit neatly within the zippered padded pouch. Remember, those upper compartments are comprised of six padded dividers forming seven adjustable compartments (inclusive of the zippered thick-padded protective pouch) for a totally custom fit.

Travel safely and confidently in that you have a place for everything and everything in its place. Happy Holidays, folks.

Foreground~ left to right: custom-cut foam block spacer; fly box; tackle box (which sits below fly box); cell phone ~ tri-fold wallet for fishing license, shelfish permit, boat registration ~ tri-fold wallet for drying wet flies (all items fit neatly into zippered padded pouch.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Who's Who in America

Several of My Crime Fiction Novels Incorporate The Great Outdoors

Top to Bottom:
The Richard Geist Trilogy

Dicky, Richard, and I
The Signing
The Triumvirate

The Justin Barnes Four-Book Series

The Author
The Teacher
The Good Samaritans

Trace Evidence



The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Hunting Smart Handbook: Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

The Essential Guide to Writing Well and Getting Published

December 19, 2017

Barnacles, Bryozoans & Boat Bottoms

by Bob Banfelder

On October 1st and 2nd, I had written a two-part piece for Nor'east Saltwater on Porta-Botes' foldable boats. Part One was titled Barnacle-Free Boat Bottoms? Better Believe It. In the piece, I stated that our foldable boat was impervious to barnacles, for it had sat in the suds from the beginning of the 2017 boating season until being prudently pulled because of threats of September's major tropical storms; namely, Irma and Jose. Surprisingly, there was not a single barnacle to be found anywhere on the hull, only a brownish-green marine growth slime, which cleaned up quite easily with boat soap, car brush, and a good hosing, so back in the brine she went after the coast was clear of impending storm damage.

Then, on October 15th, Donna and I pulled the boat anew to launch her elsewhere for another distant angling adventure. What had happened in that short period of time also surprised us. Amid the brownish-green slime were a few minuscule barnacles found along the hull—about a dozen. No big deal. They came off easily, along with the slime, using the aforementioned bucket of soapy water, car brush, and hose. However, a thin encrusted surface layer of something strange stubbornly remained after repeated scrubbing. Donna and I straightaway addressed the issue with a putty tool and pressure washer, gently scraping away at the crusty layer. After approximately an hour and a quarter, the hull came spotlessly clean. That's the magic of Porta-Bote's space-age polyurethane-copolymer material. For the structural black tubing running along the hull, a Brillo soap pad made for easy work in removing small sections of filmy grime in seconds.

It was not until I removed a pair of black vinyl inflatable boat fenders from our dock—where we had horizontally secured them all season long—that we now saw a series of thin, flat, circular, muted gray-white skeletal-like organisms to which several small barnacles were firmly attached. In our years of boating in the Peconics, we had never seen—or perhaps not taken notice of—anything like that before. Barnacles on our pilings for sure, along with grassy marine growth, but not those strange, blanched circular shapes. We wondered. What were those crusty creatures that had clearly adhered themselves to those black vinyl boat fenders? Their circular shape resembled something like that of a nautical sand dollar. Perhaps they created the crust found along the hull of our Porta-Bote. I say perhaps because they were not at all discernible on the light-gray hull.

After sending an e-mail along with photos to our good friend, Chris Paparo, manager of Stony Brook University's Marine Sciences Research Center, Southampton Marine Station, he immediately identified the crustaceous culprit as Bryozoans. A Bryozoan, aka moss animal, is an invertebrate comprising many marine and freshwater species.

A pair of boat fenders encrusted with Bryozoans and several barnacles.

Gentle scraping and pressuring washing had removed all Bryozoans, barnacles, and grassy marine growth from the fenders. The question is will we again leave our Porta-Bote in salt water or ever brackish water for drawn out periods of time? I had wondered if the crusty substance was some sudden invasion of a marine species that might not show itself again.

After a lengthy and detailed phone conversation with our marine biologist friend, Chris had explained that my latter concern was definitely not the case. "They've always been around; you probably just didn't notice them before," he said. I immediately thought back to those boating fenders. It was the second boating season that I had conveniently secured the fenders dockside instead of carrying them aboard a small boat. Chris went on to explain that the boat's polyurethane-copolymer surface, when new (or in our case, relatively new like those fenders) will help retard such organisms as barnacles and Bryozoans. However, as time goes on and the surface gets roughed up, Bryozoans, barnacles, and other marine growth will, indeed, attach themselves to those surfaces. Chris went on to compare the polyurethane-copolymer hull to that of a new fiberglass boat. "At first, that nice shiny fiberglass factory finish thwarts marine growth; however, as time goes by and the bottom becomes scabrous, marine growth will, indeed, adhere to its hull," Chris said.

Hence, bottom paints to the rescue if the craft is to be left in salt water for prolonged periods of time. However, you may recall from my October 1st article that marine bottom paints do not adhere well to Porta-Bote's space-age material. What to do?

Even though our Porta-Bote went practically seven months before being pulled from salt water, and without any sign of barnacles, then again for less than a month before collecting several barnacles as well as those crusty Bryozoans, I'd now think twice about leaving the craft in the suds for prolonged periods of time. Using the boat for the way it was intended, that is as a portable craft from water to property, is probably prudent advice. However, I wouldn't hesitate to leave our Porta-Bote in the suds for very short periods of time. Cleanup should not be an issue. Keep in mind that a gentle scraping with a putty knife will not harm the boat's hull, for it can be pulled into and from a sandy/rocky shoreline without fear of any damage save a few cosmetic scratches that will not affect performance. The boat is virtually indestructible as covered in my previous articles, being almost twice the thickness of an aluminum craft.

In any event, I have to make a retraction referencing my earlier statement in Part I of the October 1st article. Porta-Bote's space-age polyurethane-copolymer material is not impervious to marine growth. However, all things considered, Porta-Boat's cleanup when compared to the time and expense involved in prepping, priming, and bottom painting a similar sized aluminum or fiberglass hull would be far less. This is not a rationalization but a fact. Next season, I will play around with waxes and/or polishes to, perhaps, help retard marine growth then monitor the results and report back to you. Also, keep in mind that utilizing a pair of Porta-Bote's optional set of wheels when transporting the craft from vehicle to shoreline would help prevent scuffing up the hull before launching, which would otherwise enable marine growth as marine biologist Chris Paparo made crystal clear.

Porta-Bote ~ Shipshape, shiny, and about ready to be folded following removal of seats and wheels.

Port side of Porta-Bote port hull. All cleaned up and looking good as new, ready to be transported for another angling adventure.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Who's Who in America

Several of My Crime Fiction Novels Incorporate The Great Outdoors

Top to Bottom:
The Richard Geist Trilogy

Dicky, Richard, and I
The Signing
The Triumvirate

The Justin Barnes Four-Book Series

The Author
The Teacher
The Good Samaritans

Trace Evidence



The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Hunting Smart Handbook: Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

The Essential Guide to Writing Well and Getting Published

July 15, 2017

Best New Products of iCAST: Day 3

by Craig Ritchie

Okuma Epixor XT

While the Epixor name has long been associated with Okuma spinning reels, the all-new Epixor XT adds a body built from C-40X long-strand graphite fiber for enhanced durability. Additional features include Okuma's slow oscillation system for optimal lime lay, 7+1 bearing construction and a multi-disc drag that can exert more than 22 pounds of drag pressure. Available in three sizes (20, 30 and 40 series) the Epixor XT comes with a one-year warranty. MSRP is $69.99

Revo Premier

The fourth generation Revo low profile baitcasting reel, Abu Garcia's new Revo premier takes smoothness and durability to a new level with 10 stainless steel HPCR bearings plus 1 roller bearing, an alloy frame with carbon side plates, Abu's Carbon Matrix drag system and Infini II spool, and a lube port for easy maintenance. An oversized cranking handle and knobs provide greater leverage and comfort. MSRP is $299.95.

Doomsday D-Hop 90

2017 may well go down as the year of the frog at ICAST, with frog baits more prominent than ever. Leading the charge is Doomsday tackle's new D-Hop 90. Made from DuraFoam, the D-Hop 90 can never be filled with water no matter how many pike chew on it. Soft and pliable, yet buoyant enough to float any hook the angler chooses to use, it offers an easy walking action supported by floppy legs for enhanced appeal. MSRP is $7.49.

Simms Wader Maker Wallet

Show off your angler's pride all the time with the Wader Maker wallet by Simms. Made from the same Gore-Tex material used in the company's premium waders, this wallet features six card slots, two currency pockets and an embossed Simms trout logo in a slim fold, easy wearing design. It's also just plain cool. MSRP is $89.95.

Raffal Jerk Bait

The Raffal from Biwaa Fishing Performance is an all-new jerk bait design built using a resin body for extreme durability, yet matching wooden baits in terms of performance. The Raffal delivers an erratic or gliding action depending on the retrieve, and shimmies enticingly as it falls on a slack line. Photorealistic finishes using Clone Tech – Capture Life technology give these baits an irresistible appearance. MSRP for the 4-inch model is $14.99, while the 6-inch Raffal is $17.99.

Haira Tiny

Walleye, salmon and steelhead anglers will appreciate the new Haira Tiny from Lucky John USA. This shallow diving, thumbnail-sized wobbler floats at rest, providing an enticing action when retrieves in a slow stop-and-go. With a steady retrieve, the Haira Tiny vibrates quickly, delivering intense vibrations fish can sense at long distances. Lucky John's OSS system provides increased casting range as well. MSRP is $8.99.

Magic Sponge

Star brite's Magic Sponge scuff and streak eraser uses a non-abrasive texture to safely remove stains and scuff marks from fiberglass boat decks, vinyl, plastic and other surfaces. Individually, packed, the Magic Sponge is perfect for spot clean-ups in a boat, RV, garage or house. MSRP is $2.99.

Sea Eagle PackFish 7

The PackFish 7 from Sea eagle weighs just 21 pounds and packs down to a 20x20x5 inch package that can be worn as a backpack, allowing anglers to effectively fish even the most remote waters. The PVC ladder is protected by a thick 840 denier nylon fabric to protect against punctures. Standard features include oak locks, rod holders, a measuring tape and two large gear pockets with cup holders. Inflated, it supports up to 300 pounds of angler and gear. MSRP is $399 - $439.

July 14, 2017

Best New Products of iCAST 2017: Day 2

by Craig Ritchie

New product introductions continue as iCAST, the world's largest fishing tackle trade show, runs through its second day.

Daiwa Ballistic LT

Daiwa's all-new Ballistic LT series of spinning reels were created to be lighter in weight yet stronger in build, while utilizing a more compact overall design. The strength of the Zaion housing gives the reels their name, with LT standing for Light and Tough. An A7075 aircraft-grade aluminum Digigear provides smoothness and durability while a Magsealed main shaft protects against water and debris intrusion. With models from 1000 to 6000 size, the Ballistic LT is ideal for freshwater, inshore and light saltwater applications. MSRP ranges from $229.99 to $249.99 depending on size.

Quarrow Digital Scale

Quarrow's new digital fish scale features an extremely compact design that lets it fit anywhere – even in a fishing vest pocket. Measuring just 4 inches by 2.2 inches by 1 inch deep, it can weigh fish of up to 50 pounds, displaying weights in pounds, kilograms, ounces or grams. The green back-lit screen is easy to see in any lighting, and its stainless steel hook resists corrosion for long life. MSRP is $16.99.

Head Hunter Magnum

The double-jointed Head Hunter Magnum from Livingston Lures is an all-new muskie and pike lure that combines the slow-swimming action of a swim bait with the vibration of a shallow crankbait. With its natural action, slow sink rate and EBS technology that mimics the sounds of real baitfish, and the Head Hunter Magnum should attract some fresh water monsters. MSRP is $22.99

Shimano Sustain C4000/5000

Shimano continues to update its acclaimed Sustain line of spinning reels with new C4000/5000 models built for heavy freshwater and general saltwater use. Now incorporating Shimano's Hagane gear technology and body design, and X-Protect, both feature a fast 6.2:1 retrieve ratio that allows the 4000 to retrieve 39 inches of line with each turn of the handle, while the larger 5000 brings in 41 inches per turn. MSRP is $309.99.

Super Snip

The Super Snip from Boomerange Tools combines three essential fishing tools into one compact unit. Its powerful 40 milliwatt UV light charges glow-in-the-dark jig heads quickly, while an integral hook eye cleaner rids jig head eyes of paint debris. The long blade snip easily cuts fluorocarbon, braid and monofilament lines cleanly. It even has a 36-inch retractable tether to keep the Super Snip close at hand and protected against loss. MSRP is $19.99

Bobbin' Frog

Designed to accurately mimic the appearance and action of a small frog making its way across the water surface, the Bobbin' Frog from Chasebaits Australia measures just 1.57 inches long, but attracts the attention of big fish with its natural bobbing action that looks just like a small frog pushing its way along. Natural kicking legs and paddling arms work together to accurately mimic a real frog's movements. The body material is super-tough and the weedless hook positioned to avoid fouling vegetation while still providing solid hooking power. MSRP is $6.29.

Lew's Hyper Mag SLP

The new TLH1SH Hyper Mag SLP from Lew's is a premium 11-bearing reel with Lew's lowest profile design yet. An innovative, machined aluminum spool handles lighter lines and lures without sacrificing power and performance, while a one-piece magnesium frame with C45 carbon side plates keeps total weight down to just 5.4 ounces. It even features a 95mm carbon fiber handle with Winn Dri-Tac knobs. MSRP is $299.99

Berkley Juke

The Berkley Juke combines the action of handcrafted wooden baits with the durability of synthetics. Designed with input from master angler David Fritts, the Juke casts like a bullet while delivering maximum action at all speeds on straight retrieves, twitching retrieves, high-speed burns or deep trolling. Available in a wide range of colors, the Juke is described by Fritts as a "dream bait." MSRP is $7.99.

Sportfisher II Moonphase

The new Sportfisher II Moonphase titanium watch from Hook & Gaff uses a custom Swiss quartz movement to display time, date and moon phase. Said to offer "the best graphical representation of the passage of time, compared to the standard watch with more precise hands and numbers," the Sportfisher II Moonphase places the winding crown on the left-hand side to avoid irritation while fishing. Its titanium case is corrosion and water-resistant, in addition to being a poor conductor of heat during those warm days out on the open water. MSRP is $650 with the standard woven strap, and $745 for hand-stitched leather.

Yakima 4-Inch Mag Lip

Yakima Baits made a lot of salmon and steelhead anglers happy with the release of a new four-inch Mag Lip trolling plug. Also billed as an effective lure for lake trout and walleye, the new four-inch model features the unique darting "skip beat" action with an added ability to dive to depths of 16 to 18 feet. The lure can handle speeds or currents of up to 4.0 mph without turning over. Available in 30 colors, each Mag Lip 4.0 features a durable UV overcoat to increase its visibility in low light and off-colored water. MSRP n/a.

July 13, 2017

2017 ICAST Award Winners Announced

by Craig Ritchie

A total of 21 manufacturers were recognized with 2017 New Product Awards on the second day of ICAST, the world's largest fishing tackle trade show.

New products entered into a total of 26 different categories were judged based on votes by media and tackle buyers in attendance. Voting began at a new product showcase reception held on Tuesday evening, and concluded mid-day Wednesday with the winners announced in the early afternoon.

Winner of the Best of Show award as the overall most promising new product was the Rover, a fishing-specific stand-up paddleboard (SUP) made by Fort Walton beach, Florida-based BOTE Boards.

Category winners included:

Freshwater Reel
Curado K Baitcasting Reel

Freshwater Rod
Fate Black
13 Fishing

Saltwater Reel
Sustain C4000/5000

Saltwater Rod
Legend Tournament Inshore
St. Croix Rods

Rod & Reel Combo
Mach Crush Speed Spool Combo

Fly Fishing Reel
Pfluger Supreme QRS
Pure Fishing

Fly Fishing Rod
G. Loomis

Freshwater Hard Lure
Savage Gear 3D Topwater

Freshwater Soft Lure
Prop Series
Lunkerhunt LP

Saltwater Hard Lure
X-Rap Magnum 40

Saltwater Soft Lure
Holly Body Mullet

Fishing Line
Berkley Fireline Ultra 8
Pure Fishing

Kid's Tackle
Ambition Combo
13 Fishing

Tackle Management
Tactical Backpack

Terminal Tackle
Round Bend Series
Trapper Tackle

Solix 15 CHIRP Mega SI GPS

BOTE Boards

Boating Accessory
LoadOut Bucket
Yeti Coolers

Fishing Accessory
Panga Duffel
Yeti Coolers

Fly Fishing Accessory
G3 Guide Stocking Foot Waders

2017 Flounder Sample Pack
Eagle Claw

HUK Performance Fishing

Fish Prints – Actual Size
The Catch & Release Gift Shop

Lifestyle Apparel
Prym1 Series Pilot II Jacket & Bibbs
Frogg Toggs

Technical Apparel
Sierran Transition Wader
Frogg Toggs

Sunrise Silver Mirror Lens
Costa Sunglasses

The 2017 edition of ICAST runs through Friday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

July 13, 2017

Best New Products of iCAST 2017: Day 1

by Craig Ritchie

Berkley Fireline Ultra 8

Berkley takes fishing line innovation to the next level with its new Fireline Ultra 8. Thermally-fusing an eight-carrier Dyneema fiber braid makes this Fireline the toughest yet, with four times more abrasion resistance than the original. Casting distance is also said to be improved. Available in smoke and crystal finishes, Berkley Fireline Ultra 8 comes in 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 20 and 30 pound test. MSRP is $19.99 for a filler spool.

Ardent Tackle Apex Denny Brauer Flippin Reel

Designed by elite angler Denny Brauer, the Apex Denny Brauer Flippin Reel is specifically designed for "flippin and pitchin" to fish buried deep in heavy cover. The narrow spool design and ceramic insert nose piece allow for direct line release. Major features include 10+1 ball bearings, an all-aluminum frame, and a carbon fiber handle. But don't look for a level wind, because it doesn't have one. Available in left-hand or right-hand retrieve, in either 6.5:1 and 7.3:1 retrieve ratios. MSRP is $149.99.

SPRO BBZ-1 Rat 25

SPRO is adding to its acclaimed BBZ-1 Rat family with the all-new BBZ-1 Rat 25. This downsized topwater bait produces a deep thumping sound when fished on a steady retrieve, or an erratic side-to-side action when fished in a stop-and-go. The Rat 25 measures 2.5 inches in length and weighs 5/16 ounce, making it usable with light baitcasting gear. It comes in all five BBZ-2 Rat colors, and includes a replacement tail section. MSRP is $19.95

Garmin Quatrix 5 Sapphire Marine Smartwatch

Garmin's Quatrix 5 sapphire marine smartwatch provides comprehensive connectivity with compatible Garmin chartplotters and other devices. Capabilities include autopilot control, remote waypoint marking and data streaming, such as speed, depth, temperature and wind. Built-in Wi-Fi plus connected features for smart notifications, automatic uploads and more add to its utility. It even includes a wristband heart rate monitor, and a built-in GPS. MSRP is $849.99

Evergreen Noisy Dachs ND-90

Evergreen is known for making high-end tackle, and the Noisy Dachs ND-90 is about as high-end as fishing lures get. The new hybrid wake bait/swim bait pushes a small wall of water like most billed wake boats, but also has a distinctive shad tail – constructed of a unique hardwood said to produce a deeper, more marked sound – that thumps loudly on the surface. In fact, the entire bait is constructed of hardwood for natural action and buoyancy, and comes rigged with Decoy big game treble hooks. Consider it the Mercedes-Benz of fishing lures, and with an MSRP to match at $89.99.

Okuma Coronado CDX

The new Coronado CDX baitfeeder reel from Okuma utilizes a trip bait-feeding system that allows anglers to disengage the spool and allow the bait to run freely. Cyclonic flow rotor technology and heavy duty brass DFD and spool shaft stabilizer work with five bearing construction for silky smooth operation. A corrosion-resistant body, slow oscillation and a one year warranty make the Coronado CDX a top pick for freshwater or saltwater use. MSRP is $99.99 to $119.99 depending on size.

Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow Deep Diver Walleye 5.25

Yo-Zuri showed a new addition to its popular Crystal Minnow Deep Diver Walleye series of crankbaits. The new 5-1/4 inch model dives to depths of up to 20 feet and comes in 14 painted and translucent finishes, including all-clear and all-white models for anglers who wish to apply their own unique color patterns. Black nickel round bend hooks, black nickel split rings and Yo-Zuri's proven Crystal Minnow action give this bait plenty of appeal. MSRP is $9.99.

Clee-Seven Bass Design Explorer

V-shaped and light weight, the Explorer hybrid kick boat from Clee-Seven Bass Design is the ideal watercraft for anglers who like to get way back into ultra-remote lakes. It features the company's patented Clipline system to secure cargo side bags and anchor loose fishing tackle, while the built-in seat has holders for a security flag and two fishing rods. A pocket apron keeps essential gear within easy reach, while padded backpack straps allow easy portability. It even comes with a trolling motor mount for longer expeditions. MSRP is $559.00

Wiley X Omega Kryptek Neptune

Wiley X has partnered with Kryptek to create what the company calls the ultimate in polarized fishing glasses. Filter 8 polarized lenses provide premium protection while meeting or exceeding ANSI Z87.1-2010 and EN.166 safety standards for optical clarity as well as high velocity impact protection. Offered in sizes medium and large, each comes with a case strap, cleaning cloth and a limited lifetime warranty. MSRP is $140.00.

July 15, 2016

ICAST 2016: Top 10 Lures

by Craig Ritchie

Are they made to catch fish? Or are they made to catch fishermen? With new lures it's sometimes hard to tell. What can't be argued is that lure designers keep getting more inventive all the time, as evidenced by the entries in the annual ICAST Best of Show Awards for 2016. Here are 10 top baits that impressed the judges.

Livingston Lures Walking Boss
MSRP: $19.99

When the initial prototype was destroyed by a muskie on the first cast, Livingston knew they had a winner in the Walking Boss. With its pronounced wobble walk and ability to be worked at speeds from 5 mph to a slow roll, this versatile bait has a natural look while the EBS sound calls in big predators for the strike. Built tough to withstand plenty of chewing and abuse by big predator fish, this 8-inch 4-oounce topwater features a solid 1.8mm steel wire design and 2X strong VMC hooks.

Rapala Skitter V
MSRP: $8.99

Its unique belly design is said to give the Skitter V a radical topwater action. The innovative V-Rap belly design mimics the hull of a boat, allowing for extreme, sharp-turning action. Combined with tail weighted balance, the design allows the 4-inch, ½-ounce lure to cut quick to stay in place without leaving the strike zone.

Biovex Joint Bait 142
MSRP: $16.95

The Biovex Joint Bait 142 is a slow floating, 5.5-inch, 1-ounce near-surface lure developed out of the Japanese trend of "snake-based action." Retrieved slowly, it provides a unique waking movement just below the water's surface.

Mann's Big 4-0
MSRP: $6.99

The newest member of Mann's DL (Deep Ledge) series, the beefy 4-0 is said to dive to an astounding 40 feet. Made in the USA, the Big 4-0 weighs in at 2.5 ounces and is just over 6 inches long. It can be cast like a traditional crankbait using most beefed up rod/reel combos. The Quick Dive lip gets the lure down faster than other crankbaits, so it stays at the desired depth for longer periods of time. Available in 6 popular colors.

Berkley Dredger
MSRP: $8.95

A unique body shape and weighted bill drive Berkley's Dredger deep and keep it in the strike zone longer. With a tight, subtle action, it offers great castability and a slow rise when paused. Comes in 5 different sizes and 20 different colors.

Lunkerhunt Link
MSRP: $13.99

Said to be the only hinged walking topwater currently available, the Link offers an enticing gliding, serpentine action to replicate some of North America's most popular forage species. It comes in two styles: chasing baitfish which replicates fleeing minnows, and serpent, which mimics the slithering action of a snake or eel along the water's surface. The Lunkerhunt Link is equally effective in both freshwater and saltwater environments and comes in 4.5-inch and 6.75-inch sizes in a choice of 9 natural forage patterns.

Daiwa EverGreen Crankbait CH-1
MSRP: $15.95

An extreme shallow-running crankbait with a fast pitch and rolling action, the CHI crankbait generates a tremendous amount of vibration on the retrieve, making it a great choice in stained water. Designed with a weight transfer system that provides for long accurate casting when searching for productive waters, the CH-1 comes in 6 productive colors either in a natural pattern or vibrant combinations with high quality tournament hooks.

Shimano Coltsniper Jerkbait
MSRP: $14.99

Extreme casting distance with a dynamic swimming action is the best way to describe the all new Coltsniper Jerk by Shimano. The Shimano propulsion weight transfer system uses a spring-loaded sliding weight that delivers a 20 percent increase in casting distance compared to traditional weighted lures. With a tight wobble and slashing action that triggers aggressive strikes, anglers will be able target fish from a greater distance to avoid spooking or pushing a school down in the water column. Available in 2 sizes and 8 colors.

Westin BabyBite
MSRP: $9.99

Available in both shallow runner (SR) and deep runner (DR) versions, the BabyBite has a tight swimming action with "just enough craziness to attract even the weariest of hungry predators." The lure's low density keeps it in the strike zone longer when you perform a spin-stop retrieve, and is also effective on a continuous retrieve.

Savage Gear 3D Suicide Duck
MSRP: $19.99

The Suicide Duck's spinning feet throw water in all directions on the retrieve, calling in large game fish from a considerable distance. Rigged with both top and bottom hook configuration so anglers can customize the bait for any fishing situation, the 3D Duck is available in two sizes and three fish-catching colors.

July 14, 2016

ICAST 2016: Top 5 Fly Reels For 2017

by Craig Ritchie

Fly fishing continues to grow in popularity, and with exciting new reels like these, it's easy to see why. Here are five of the most exciting new reels unveiled at ICAST 2016.

Bauer SST
MSRP: From $355

The new Bauer SST fly reel combines a new large arbor spool and frame design with Bauer's industry-leading fully sealed zero-backlash drag. Bauer SST premium reels come in a spectacular clear aluminum finish with a new star drag dial available in 8 color choices. The new SST precision-manufactured reels continue the tradition of Bauer innovation as the "Swiss watch of fly reels." Available for 3wt through 7wt lines.

Sage 6200 Series
MSRP: $439

The new 6200 Series is fully machined with cold forged, tempered 6061-T6 aluminum, housing our proven Sealed Carbon System (SCSI) Drag. The 6200 features a super rigid frame-to-spool connection, a widened palming rim, a large/vented arbor for high retrieve rate, and our One Revolution Drag Knob with 40 detented drag settings for adjustable and repeatable drag resolution.

Ross Colorado LT
MSRP: From $280

Less is More Lightest reel in its class - all models under 3.0 ounces Large Arbor Design All-metal clicker and cover All aluminum, fully-machined construction Machined, marine-grade bronze bushing Canvas Micarta Handle - an industry first, more grip when wet MADE IN USA

Reddington Rise
MSRP: $200

The all new RISE continues our ongoing quest to think beyond the bounds of traditional reel designs. It features a u-shaped large-arbor and a compact carbon fiber drag system that offers over nibs of fish stopping torque. Lightweight design shows through in the modern aesthetic of the RISE, and thoughtful details like twin molded soft-touch handles and oversized drag knob help the reel perform in the hands of any angler.

Hardy Ultralite ASR
MSRP: $299

The ultimate cassette system reel, the new Hardy Ultralite ASR (Assisted Spool Release) reel features a fast, easy-to-use spool release system that actively frees the spool at the flick of a switch and automatically engages the new spool with a simple push fit. Also new to this range is a lightweight size model specifically designed for the challenges of modern river fishing.

July 14, 2016

ICAST 2016: 5 Top Baitcasting Reels

by Craig Ritchie

It takes a lot to impress the judges at the ICAST Best of Show awards, but these five new baitcasting reels all made a mark.

Lew's Super Duty Wide Speed Spool E040
MSRP: $199

Designed for inshore saltwater fishing, the Super Duty Wide Spool impressed judges with its potential for freshwater salmon, stripers, muskie and sturgeon. With a line capacity of 190 yards of 14 pound mono, it uses a sturdy one-piece aluminum frame and handle side plate, high strength solid brass gears, crankshaft and worm gear, and a braid-ready anodized U-shape forged aluminum spool. A premium 11-bearing system with double-shielded stainless bearings and Zero-Reverse anti-reverse, MCS magnetic cast control and carbon fiber drag system give it the credentials to tackle the toughest customers.

13 Fishing Concept TX (Special Edition)
MSRP: $300

A reel constructed "for the extreme demands of the gulf coast angler," 13 Fishing's Concept TX is built to handle the extreme salinity of the Gulf Coast
with corrosion resistant sealed bearings and Ocean Armor 2 saltwater protection. It accommodates 135 yards of 12 pound mono, and features 10 sealed ball bearing construction and a 25 pound maximum drag setting.

Abu Garcia MGXtreme
MSRP: $499

Abu Garcia's all-new, superlight MGXtreme weighs just 4.5 ounces, but don't let its diminutive form fool you. This tough little reel features 11-bearing construction, one-piece X Mag alloy frame, Abu's Carbon Matrix drag system for smooth, consistent drag pressure, infinitely variable centrifugal brake system, Infini II spool design, aircraft-grade aluminum main gear and Ti-coated line guide that reduces friction and improves durability. If the cork handles aren't for you, then swap them out for the included spare flat EVA knobs.

Team Lew's Custom Pro SLP D047
MSRP: $259

This is a big year for Lew's, with the all-new Custom Pro SLP winning the coveted Best of Show award in the freshwater reel category. This compact Super Low Profile (SLP) design is said to deliver a 10% overall reduction in size and a reel weight of only 5.8 ounces. Features include a one-piece aluminum frame, premium 11-bearing system, 4-pin 27 position SpeedCast ACB external adjust centrifugal braking system, and 95mm power handle with WINN Dri-Tec knobs. Its innovative 32mm fast-start spool casts light and heavy lures with ease. Sitting super low on a rod, balance is unreal.

Shimano Metanium MGL 150
MSRP: $419

Sleek, agile and powerful best describes the new Metanium MGL. Features include an all-new MAGNUMLITE spool that is said to deliver up to a 15% improvement in casting distance, a redesigned SVS Infinity braking system that provides a wider range of adjustability and the all new Silentune design that reduces vibration for incredible casting smoothness. When combined with Shimano's Metanium magnesium Hagane body, Micromodule gear system and X-SHIP, these new features "ensure you remain the ultimate predator on the water."

July 14, 2016

ICAST 2016: 5 Spinning Reels To Watch

by Craig Ritchie

The ICAST show is the best place to see all the latest fishing gear. Here are five new spinning reels to watch in 2017.

Daiwa BG Series
MSRP: From $99

Daiwa's new BG spinning reel series builds on more than 35 years of experience building premium tackle for both fresh and saltwater The series includes a variety of sizes, from a diminutive 1500 model to an 8000 size capable of the toughest saltwater trophies. The BG lineup features a machined body cover with black
anodizing to reduce scratching and corrosion, an oversized Digigear drive gear for smoothness and power, and a screw-in handle that eliminates any movement or play between the main gear and the handle arm.

Eagle Claw Sabalos II
MSRP: $99

The new Sabalos II reels are built to be the smoothest, longest casting reels on the market, much less for reels selling for under $100. They feature lOBB for reliable and smooth function and are guaranteed to not fail even under the toughest tournament conditions. A three layer drag system is designed to stop the strongest fish around, while a gear ratio of 5.8:1 allows the Sabalos II series to pick up line fast, with a retrieve of 26.7 inches per handle turn for the size 20 and 29.6 inches for the size 30. The size 20 reel weighs just 9.7 ounces while the size 30 comes in at 10.3 ounces.

Ardent CForce
MSRP: $99

Available in 1000, 2000 and 3000 sizes, Ardent Tackle's new CForce is a sleek, high performance spinning reel with a lightweight carbon frame and 9+1 ball bearing construction. Its 6.0:1 high speed retrieve allows rapid line pickup, while a carbon fiber, multi-stacked sealed drag system puts the brakes on even the hardest running fish.

Shimano Nasci
MSRP: Starting at $99

The all-new Nasci spinning reel by Shimano "redefines anglers expectations in a mid priced spinning reel" according to the company. Nasci – said to be the Latin word for birth – features the Shimano Hagane cold-forged gear that is claimed to be 165% stronger than zinc cast gears. Incorporating the company's CoreProtect water resistance, Nasci is designed to resist the elements and keep the angler fishing in any conditions.

Ardent Bolt
MSRP: $79

Ardent's new Bolt is a high performance, affordable spinning reel with a lightweight graphite frame and a 6.0:1 high-speed gear ratio. 9+1 ball bearing construction, a carbon fiber rotor and a high grade aluminum spool with braid band make this a feature-rich reel at an attractive price.

July 17, 2015

Fishing Accessories Galore at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

From tackle boxes to high performance rain suits, tackle manufacturers have pulled out all the stops with an incredible range of new products unveiled this week at the ICAST fishing tackle trade show, held in Orlando, Florida.

Plano exhibited a number of new tackle boxes, including a Women's Series of soft-sided tackle bags and a new M Series that includes a Hydro-Flow hanging bait bag that will appeal to muskie anglers and professional guides

The Women's Series of soft bags consists of three new totes offering all-new functional designs in a stylish teal finish with light pink trim.

Plano Women's Series Soft-Sided Tackle Bag and Tote

"Plano has always made high-quality products," says Plano Prostaffer Marianne Huskey, the first and only female to win an Angler of the Year title in professional fishing. "The new Woman's Series of soft bags are not only attractive to the female eye, but are well thought out in design and functionality."

The attractive Woman's Series Tote holds up to four 3600 StowAway utility boxes in its divided main compartment. The design allows two of the Stowaways to be pulled to make space for a light jacket or other fundamentals. Two oversized end pockets are perfect for storing water bottles, sunscreen or other large items, while two huge slip pockets provide additional utility. Inside, a zippered interior cell phone pocket sits near the top main opening for easy access. Two nylon straps fit comfortably in the hand for straightforward lift and carry.

The Carrier bag also accommodates four 3600 StowAway boxes in its main compartment, and has a double zippered opening at the top for wide open access. In a more traditional styling, the Woman's Series Tackle Bag offers four zippered and three mesh pockets that provide ample storage for essential fishing tools, sunglasses, pocketbooks and more.

Plano M-Series Hydro-Flo Tackle Bag

Professional guides and muskie anglers – male or female – will enjoy Plano's new M-Series Hydro-Flo tackle bag, which stores up to 25 oversized lures in vertical hanging bait compartments, with room for a 3700-series StowAway on top. Its flow-through design and reinforced base with drainage allow lures to be put away wet without fear of corrosion. Plus-sized perimeter pockets that zip closed secure tools like fish gloves, pliers and hook removers.

Yeti Coolers attracted a large crowd at the show when the company unveiled its first new Tundra cooler in more than three years, the Tundra 210.

Yeti Tundra 210 Cooler

With over 12,000 cubic inches of capacity, the new Tundra 210 is one of the company's largest coolers, yet has a smaller, cubed footprint designed to better fit a boat deck. Constructed from roto-molded polyethylene, the Tundra 210 is virtually indestructible, while its FatWal Design and extra thick PermaFrost insulation combine to provide maximum ice retention. Yeti's NeverFail hinge system and durable rubber T-Rex lid latches combine for secure, reliable storage while the Vortex drain system provides easy and complete draining with the twist of the plug. Like all Tundra coolers, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee certifies the Tundra 210 to be bear-resistant when secured with a proper lock.

The Tundra 210 is also dry ice compatible, giving users access to three times the cooling power of regular ice and more interior room for cooler contents.

Bubba Blade exhibited a full line of fishing-specific knives, including two new models for 2016. A new nine-inch fillet knife with a flexible serrated blade allows anglers to easily slice through fresh fish without tearing any meat. An offset, six-inch handle design with a trigger grip and non-slip thumb and finger pads allows anglers to utilize the entire blade, while providing greater comfort.

Bubba Blade Fillet Knives

Also new for this year is the four-inch Shorty, which also features an offset, titanium coated stainless steel blade. Versatile enough to perform double duty in the kitchen, the Shorty makes a great bait knife with its micro-serrated blade.

One of the most dramatic displays at ICAST belonged to Wiley X eyewear. Showing its roots as a supplier of precision eyewear to military and tactical support teams, the company featured a high mass impact test device in its booth to demonstrate the toughness of its ANSI-rated sunglass lenses and frames. The demonstrations clearly resonated with anglers in attendance, who all know the potential for being hit by the bait when a fish shakes off close to the boat. "We also test them by shooting them with steel ball bearings," said Ryan Wilkerson, director of brand management for Wiley X. "But that's just not practical to do in a show booth."

Wiley X Sunglasses

New for 2016 are the Wiley X, WX Legend, WX Tide and WX Peak styles, each available with a wise range of 16 different lens options, from a blue mirror polarized style popular with open water anglers, to a new gold mirror type. "We can also do prescription lenses," says Wilkerson. "The customer sends us their prescription and their choice of lens and frame style, and we ship it right out."

July 17, 2015

Next Generation Rods and Reels Unspooled at ICAST 2015

by Craig Ritchie

One expects to see new technologies introduced at the world's largest fishing tackle trade show, and manufacturers did not disappoint with numerous new rod and reel introductions at ICAST, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando from July 15 to 17, 2015.

Leading the way from Abu Garcia are the company's new Revo MGX spinning reels. A new AMGearing system uses finely tuned machined gears cut to exacting tolerances in order to deliver better performance and longer life. The new reels also feature Abu's X-MAG gearbox, providing a super-light weight yet extremely strong gear housing that's better able to withstand the strain of long fights with strong-running fish. Like all Revo reels, the MGX series feature the company's Rocket Line Management System, and a Carbon Matrix system for smooth, consistent drag pressure throughout the entire operating range.

Abu Garcia Revo MGX

For anglers who regularly target large, rambunctious species like muskie, pike, stripers and salmon, Abu Garcia also introduced a new Revo Toro Beast heavy-duty baitcasting reel. With its active-response Power Stack Carbon Matrix drag system, the new Revo Toro Beast allows anglers to make immediate drag adjustments in mid-fight, even with the line taut. This is unique, since anglers have historically had to ease tension on the line in order to make any adjustments, sometimes losing the fish in the process. Maximum drag setting is a whopping 25 pounds. The Revo Toro Beast uses a lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum spool for high strength and longer casts, and Abu's Duragear heavy-duty gear system for increased fighting power and extended gear life. The reel even comes with a choice of handles – and extended bent grip for increased cranking power, a power handle and a casting power handle, each with large EVA knobs for all-day comfort. The Revo Toro Beast is available in eight models, including two with high speed retrieves.

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast

Shimano also pulled the wraps of a number of new products at the 2015 ICAST, including an all-new Stradic FK reel series. The new ST-1000HG, ST-25000HG and ST-C3000HG models each come with 6.0:1 gear ratios, while the larger ST-4000XG and ST-C5000XG models feature 6.2:1 gearing. All five reels feature six shielded AR-B bearings, Shimano's one-way bearing power roller and a cold-forged aluminum spool.

Shimano Stradic FK 2500HG

In its baitcasting lineup, Shimano revealed all new 300 and 400 models in its top-of-the-line Calcutta Conquest series. Increased spool capacity makes the new reels ideal for casting big swimbaits for bass, big bucktails and jerkbaits in musky waters, and for inshore saltwater use for anglers targeting bluefish, stripers and tarpon. The Calcutta Conquest 300 (right-hand) and 301 (left-hand) weigh in at 11.5-ounces and accommodate 160 yards of 20-pound test monofilament. Weighing 11.7-ounces, the Calcutta Conquest 400 and 401 can handle 235-yards of 20-pound test monofilament respectively. All four reels have 5.6:1 gear ratios and will retrieve in 30-inches of line per crank.

Shimano Calcutta Conquest

Premium rod builder G. Loomis came to ICAST with its all-new E6X rod series of 30 casting and spinning rods, offered in both technique specific models with exacting actions, and ‘Classic' models with more forgiving actions for use with a variety of lures. The series also includes a pair of two-piece rods for anglers looking for travel convenience. Technique-specific casting rods in the E6X line feature split grip handles with cork grips, along with Fuji reels seats and guides. Classic multi-purpose E6X models include six ‘Mag Bass' and flipping action casting rods, and six spin jig spinning rods – all with fast tapers and powerful butt-sections, full cork grips, Fuji guides and Fuji exposed blank trigger reels seats.

G. Loomis E6X

Okuma presented a number of new products as part of its 2016 lineup, including an all-new spinning reel series named Inspira. Available in thee sizes (20, 30 or 40 series) and with the choice of black/blue or white/black finishes, the Inspira line features an all-new cyclonic flow rotor that is said to create a rotation of air around the rotor, beneath and around the spool, in order to drive moisture away from structural elements to minimize corrosion and extend longevity. An all-new
Centrifugal Disc Bail design incorporating a stout brass disc for improved balance and smoother, more precise bail operation with a minimum of moving parts.

Okuma Inspira

The Okuma rod lineup also featured a number of new models for 2016, including a full range of SST salmon and steelhead rods with carbon grips. The lineup includes 26 technique-specific salmon and steelhead actions, four models of pink Ladies Edition SST rods and three 4-piece multi-species travel rods – that's a total of 34 new models in all. Carbon grip rods are crafted from tubular woven 3k carbon fiber, which is said to be more durable than traditional cork grips. It's also much easier to keep clean, stands up to use in rod holders without chipping, and provides a better grip in wet hands.

Okuma SST with carbon handle grip

Daiwa showed a wide range of new tackle for 2016. The company's new Fuego spinning reels utilize a "Hardbodyz" design said to add strength and durability. Available in four sizes (2000, 2500, 3000 and 4000) the Fuego features an innovative Air Rotor that cuts weight, and Daiwa's Digigear digital gear design and nine-bearing system for smooth and effortless rotation. Additional features include an Air Bail, ABS aluminum spool and machine cut aluminum handle with EVA knob.

Daiwa Fuego 2500

Also new for 2016, Daiwa's top-of-the-line Steez baitcasting reels now are available with SV spools. Made of G1 Duralumin, the SV spool is lighter is lighter yet stronger than traditional aluminum for easier start-up on the cast and greater longevity. Zaion side covers and a swept handle with cutouts further reduce weight. The Steez SV comes with an Air Brake system to allow long casts with lightweight lures, 8.1:1 Xltra hyper speed retrieve and 12-bearing construction. Daiwa's Ultimate Tournament Carbon drag with 13.2 pounds of pressure should stop big fish in their tracks.

Daiwa Steez SV

Available in both right and left hand models, the new TeamKVD line of rods and reels from Quantum tie bass fishing's all time money winner to a rich looking series of rods and reels that start at $79 for the reel, or $99 for a combo.

Quantum Team KVD rod and reel

Each TeamKVD reel features eight bearings, and a lightweight aluminum spool. The 7.3:1 gear ratio model sucks up 31 inches of line with every turn of the handle, while the 6.6:1 model picks up 28 inches per turn. Both feature an external magnetic cast control that helps anglers dial-in to match lure weights and wind conditions, plus a carbon fiber/stainless drag system. The matching TeamKVD graphite composite rods feature split grip EVA handles.

July 17, 2015

Cutting-Edge Electronics Revealed at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

Among the hundreds of new products introduced at the 2015 ICAST show, held in Orlando from July 15 to 17 inclusive, few can match the buzz generated by the latest offerings from manufacturers of high-tech electronics.

Navico generated a huge amount of buzz at the show with the introduction of the new StructureScan 3D sonar modules for its Lowrance and Simrad lines. The remarkable new technology – based on a new module and transducer – allows anglers to easily spot fish, underwater structure and bottom contours in an entirely new way, viewing the bottom down to 300 feet and with side-scanning capability to 600 feet on either side of the boat. The image is rendered on a stunning 3D touch-screen display that allows the angler to move the view in any direction with the swipe of a finger. The three dimensional views provide an unprecedented view of bottom structure, cover such as trees or vegetation growing on that structure, and fish holding in it.

Navico Lowrance HDS-9

Among the numerous new technologies included in the system are a new SelectScan capability that automatically shades fish-holding cover, providing an almost photographic rendering of the bottom contours in full 3D. Further, a new Leading Edge feature provides a clear graphical illustration of the actual sonar beams as they intersect with the bottom contours – a brilliant bit of engineering that gives the angler a better sense of target depth. Vertical Depth Enhancement provides greater emphasis to vertical drops and depth contour changes, while 3D Waypoint Overlay makes it easy to revisit favorite fishing areas.

"At the product unveiling we had three BASSMaster Champions in the booth at once, and each of them were talking about how they could have used these new capabilities last season," says Lucas Steward, product manager at Navico. "In our own product testing we were astounded not only at the degree of detail you can see, but at how easy the technology is to use."

Humminbird also used the show to display a range of new products, including its Helix 7SI, which won a Best of Show award in the electronics category. Judges were impressed with its Side Imaging, Down Imaging and SwitchFire sonar capabilities, displayed on what the company describes as the brightest seven-inch widescreen in the industry, as well as its ability to accommodate a range of media in its card slot, including Humminbird LakeMaster, AutoChart and AutoChart Pro, as well as Navionics Gold/HotMaps.

Humminbird Helix 7SI

With the growing popularity of using portable devices like iPads to display fishing information, several fishing apps were also unveiled at ICAST, including an exciting update to the popular ‘Boating' app by Navionics. An all-new autorouting feature enables dock-to-dock route planning along US coastal marine, Great Lakes, and major rivers areas. Just tap the start and end waypoints on the onscreen map, and autorouting provides viable routes, taking into consideration navaids, water depth and more. Once underway, the app also displays speed, ETA, distance-to-arrival and total distance. It is also possible to search marinas and waterfront restaurants.

Navionics' 'Boating' app

Currently available with the Navionics Boating version 8.0 for iPhone and iPad, the company says an Android edition will be available shortly.

Making its debut at this year's show, GoFree introduced an all-new fishing app called GoFree Hooked. Available for iOS, GoFree Hooked offers the capability of recording and sharing every fishing trip – whether from a boat or the shore – complete with the time, location and navigation track of each outing. The app features fast and simple "Catch" functionality to quickly save fish details like photos, size, weight, species and other information. The app merges navigational data with user data for a complete picture of every catch. All data is stored on the secure GoFree cloud server for easy access anywhere.

GoFree's 'Hooked' app

The GoFree Hooked app also delivers a powerful "Compete" feature so anglers can create their own personal tournaments among friends. Data is recorded in real time, allowing anglers to view a live leader board and share each other's data. Compatible with Apple iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and 6+ devices, the app is in a Beta test stage (interested anglers can sign up at www.gofreehooked.com) and is expected to be available from the Apple Store shortly.

July 16, 2015

Hundreds of New Baits Unveiled at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

Anglers will face tough choices when shopping for new lures next spring as manufacturers unveil a wide range of new hard and soft baits this week at ICAST, the world's largest fishing tackle trade show. More than 11,000 people representing manufacturers, buyers, dealers and reps from around the globe are on hand in Orlando to see what's new for 2016, including hundreds of new lures from manufacturers around the globe.

Berkley has unveiled a complete line of new hard baits, in cooperation with top bass pro David Fritts. The all-new Berkley Hardbait series consists of 11 different models, each rigged with Berkley Fusion19 treble hooks and featuring custom designs and colors. Models include the Bad Shad 5 and Bad Shad 7 crankbaits that rise slightly at every pause; the Cutter 90+, Cutter 110+ and Skinny Cutter 110+ suspending jerkbaits; the Digger 6.5 and Digger 8.5 crankbaits designed for covering water with an aggressive wobble and side flash; the square-billed Pitbull 5.5, designed to bounce off of wooded cover; the lipless Warpig 1/2 and 1/4; and the deep-running Wild Thang 8.5.

Berkley's Hardbait Cutter

Berkley's PowerBait Shaky Snake

While the new hardbaits definitely raised eyebrows, Berkley has also made some significant new introductions to its PowerBait lineup for 2016, topped by the all-new Shaky Snake. Designed for finicky fish that just won't commit, this five-inch bait features a beefy head section that tapers into an egg sack. Corkscrew ribs add a lifelike, fluid motion that should coax even the spookiest bass. The ribs on the Shaky Snake are said to add more surface area, allowing more scent dispersion throughout the water column.

Thanks to its unique moving weight system, the Jaco 58MR from Jackall casts like a lure that's heavier than it actually is. The flat-sided crank will dive down to about six feet, making it a good choice for fishing over grass beds. Available in eight colors, it features an innovative internal scale pattern finish for enhanced underwater reflection.

Jackall's Jaco 58MR

Mann's Baits raised a few eyebrows with its all-new Crystal Classic spinnerbait. This lure features an actual glass crystal mounted in a clear, polycarbonate blade, which the company says generates unique vibration patterns in addition to distinctive flash in the water. The Crystal Classic comes with a Silaflash skirt, Eagle Claw Trokar hook, and the classic spinnerbait head to create a truly modern twist on one of the all-time classic lure designs.

Mann's Baits' Crystal Classic

Not to be outdone, Live Target came to the show with a number of new lures for both freshwater and saltwater applications.

The Hollow Body Sunfish comes in two sizes and 12 colors that match varied Pumpkinseed and Bluegill patterns. Perfect for use in heavy cover, its weedless design utilizes a custom Trokar double hook.

LiveTarget's Hollow Body Sunfish

With the round goby now a prolific baitfish in the Great Lakes region, Live Target has introduced two variations of this pre-rigged and weighted soft-plastic lure. Available in three sizes and eight colors, the Goby comes in both a Paddle Tail and Curly Tail versions.

LiveTarget's Round Goby

Also new is a Magnum Threadfin Shad crankbait in the BaitBall Series. Designed to represent a group of shad that have become separated from their school, the new bait comes in eight color patterns, some with metallic flash enhanced anatomy schemes

LiveTarget's Magnum Threadfin Shad

Snagproof enters the 2016 season with its new Wobbletron frog. The weedless, one-half ounce floating frog features new kicker feet that come straight out the back of the frog for great gurgling action during a slow, steady retrieve. The durable, soft, hollow plastic body stays weedless through the snaggiest weeds and feels natural to fish that hit it, allowing more time to set the hook. Specially weighted to land right-side-up at the end of the cast, the Wobbletron comes in five colors.

Snagproof's Wobbletron Frog

The new Impulse Live Rigged Paddle Minnow from Northland Fishing Tackle was designed for walleye, but should also prove a hit with smallmouth bass anglers. The lifelike baitfish-imitating bodies are precisely matched to ultra-realistic, stand-up jig heads and come conveniently pre- rigged in sizes from 3/64 to 3/8 ounce. Available in six holographic HD fish photo-image finishes, the Live Rigged Paddle Minnow is said to offer a uniquely lifelike action and feel.

Northland's Impulse Live Rigged Paddle Minnow

The ICAST show runs at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando through July 17.

June 12, 2014

My Four Favorite Lures for Summer Fun

by Bill Dance

I love to wade creeks and fish small ponds and lakes. Fishing knee deep and casting for bass brings back memories of when I was a kid, and it is still one of my very favorite ways to spend a summer day.

Light "finesse" tackle is perfect for this kind of fishing. It resembles ultra-light gear, but the length and the action of the rods are different. The traditional ultra-light tends to come with soft action in a 4 1/2- to 5-foot length. A finesse rod averages 6 to 6-1/2 feet with some in the 7-foot range. It is a little stiffer and more sensitive, and it allows you to handle a good fish more effectively and to deliver a better hookset.

Like ultra-light, finesse tackle employs a small spinning reel and light line. Select a reel that balances with your rod. If it's too heavy it overpowers the rig. Generally, I like a size 10 reel with a high retrieve speed and an aluminum long-cast spool. My Quantum Accurist spinning reel is so small that you can palm it, and it weights less than 6 ounces, yet it holds 140 yards of 6-lb line, which is perfect for the casting distance and strength I need.

Finesse tackle opens the doors to a wide variety of lures, not just the small jig or feather-weight lures required by true ultralight gear. Here are some of my absolute favorites.

Rebel Teeny Wee Crawfish

More than 1,200 species of crawfish live in creeks, ponds and lakes across the country and around the world. A favorite imitation of this preferred bass forage is the Rebel Teeny Wee Crawfish, which runs about 3-feet deep, and the Rebel Wee-Crawfish, which gets down to the 5- to 7-foot depths.

The secret to working this floater-diver is to simulate the erratic action of a real crawdad by imparting a strategic ‘stop-and-go' into the presentation. Watch a crawfish under water. He will move fast, then just glide real slowly…dart…then glide.

A steady, constant retrieve will not duplicate that movement (although it does catch fish), so I like to crank the lure down to its designated depth, then stop it. A lot of times I pull it, stop it, then reel three or four turns real slowly, then reel it fast a few quick turns. Always mix your presentation with stop and go, but don't overpower the bait. You want to make it look as natural as possible.

Rebel Frog-R

The Heddon Zara Spook introduced bass fishermen to a technique we call "walk the dog," but, thanks to a short, squatty lure that mimics a crippled amphibian struggling at the surface, we have a take-off of that presentation I call "walking the frog."

The Rebel Frog-R is a bug-eyed little bait without a diving lip or propeller to give it action. It has body mass and surface swimming action that the angler creates. In other words, you have to put life into the bait.

Now, you can't do that with a pool cue. You need a rod with light tip action. But in the hands of a skilled angler, this bait has amazing action that is perfect for pond bass.

No one becomes an expert with this bait all at once. It takes practice and a lot of eye, wrist, and rod tip coordination to produce that side-to-side walking action. I like a "1-2-3-pause, 1-2 pause…then repeat" approach. The hard part is reeling one-half turn at the same time you are bringing your rod tip down. The downward action swings the lure to the side. Raising the rod lets the lure swing back in the opposite direction.

Keep 12 to 14 inches of slack in your line. It takes practice to get the proper cadence and coordination, but walking a frog – or dog – is a technique well-worth learning. When you perfect the technique, that squatty lure will walk the walk and talk the talk.

Rebel Bumble Bug

A bass's daily diet isn't always a mix of just crawfish and baitfish with a little frog leg appetizer. Watch feeding activity in ponds and lakes. You will see that fish eat insects like crazy! Crickets, grasshoppers, mayflies and bees hit the water and struggle side-to-side or go in circles…and bass hit them!

The Rebel Bumble Bug is one of those tiny crankbaits that will catch fish most of the time if you are fishing it in the right location with the right retrieve. It shines when the fishing is slow or when fish are feeding on small food items. It is also great when you are fishing a heavily pressured shoreline, along warming banks in winter and in the backs of coves and hollers in the fall.

The key to the Bumble Bug's effectiveness is the presentation. After it hits the surface, allow it to sit. Then twitch it a couple times, reel it under the surface, and stop to let it float back to the top. Like the bumblebee it is patterned after, it has two wings, so it zig-zags as it rises to the surface.

Rebel Teeny Pop R

Bass fishing is often a shoreline affair. We find pleasure and solitude near the bank as we watch raccoons and snakes and deer. And, with topwater lures, we fish with excitement and anticipation as we watch for a bass to blow up on our bait.

You'll find more than 30 popping/chugging lures on the market. Some are better than others, but one of the most endearing is the Rebel Pop-R. The Pop-R has a baitfish profile and a concave "popping" mouth. Its profile as it lies in the water looks natural, and it is engineered with the whole mouth out of the water, enabling it to walk and pop better. The feathered rear hook looks like a shad tail.

The Pop-R family comes in several sizes, all of common baitfish dimensions. At a mere 2-inch length, the Rebel Teeny Pop R is the smallest.

The key to fishing any Pop-R is to establish a pattern and rhythm. The retrieve I use most frequently is three pops and a pause – pop, pop, pop, pause…pop, pop, pop, pause. A faster, more erratic retrieve is best in late spring when bass are bunched up. At other times of the year, I am inclined to mix my retrieve up, switching off from fast to slow, and varying the frequency and length of the pause. It pays to experiment.
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