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Smart gear to get fish — 22 items every angler needs to know about

August 19, 2016 (Photo Credit: Manufacturer)

The New Product Showcase at the sportfishing industry's annual ICAST trade show is where companies enter what they think — or hope — will be new and hot over the coming year. Some brands, such as St. Croix Rods, Minn Kota and Humminbird, are becoming perennial winners. Other companies, such as Lew’s Fishing Tackle, are emerging as industry forces. Here’s a look at some of the new products for 2016. An asterisk denotes that the product was also judged best in its particular category at the show.

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Humminbird Helix 10 SI GPS
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Humminbird Helix 10 SI GPS


Humminbird keeps racking up the electronics accolades. This Helix line extension is ideal for larger boats or, at least, boats with ample console space for mounting the unit. The 10.1-inch backlit LED, 1024H x 600V display is super bright. The Helix's features are superb and, depending on the system you choose, you can enjoy great GPS and sonar functions, including detailed side imaging and down imaging. Select from two beams depending on where you want to sweep. The narrow beam is great for close in and delivers exceptional detail. The wide beam is best when looking at larger search areas. The units come with a built-in mapping package that has some 3,000 U.S. lake maps in the database, including their depth contour lines. A cool new feature is AutoChart Live that lets you create your own maps (up to 8 hours of recording time) as you drive your boat. The maps are created right within the unit; no data uploads elsewhere needed. And, using the i-PilotLink Integrated GPS Trolling System, the unit communicates with Minn Kota trolling motors, automatically letting your boat track along or from a set distance any depth contour you choose. Optional 50 kHz transducers are available for extreme deepwater use. The Helix 10 can also accept the optional SD card-based mapping product called SmartStrike ($199), which lets you use the unit like a research tool. Enter criteria such as season, time of day, water conditions, cloud cover, wind, depth, structure, slope, aspect, sun and current exposure, and more, and the softwatre looks at the lake you’re on and advises you which spots may be most productive based on the variables. It’s amazing stuff! Prices start at $1,499.99,  humminbird.com

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Old Town Predator PDL
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Old Town Predator PDL


This new pedal-driven fishing boat from Old Town Canoe enables hands-free fishing. It’s similar to the Predator XL Minn Kota line in that a console drops into the center of the boat, although instead of the console sporting a trolling motor, this one has pedals. The pedal system has a 10.3:1 gear ratio, which lets anglers reach speeds up to 5.5 mph. It also has easy “no-fail” forward and reverse pedaling. A proprietary weedless prop powers through the water. The one-handed rudder control enables tight turns. The boat has 16 inches of draft for navigating shallow waters. The console easily pivots up to avoid obstacles. The PDL Drive console weighs 21 pounds, while the boat weighs 117. Total length is 13 feet, 2 inches. It’s 36 inches at the widest point. Comes with accessory mounting plates and a comfortable, durable seat. It’s rated to carry 500 pounds. Ships to dealers in September. $2,799, oldtowncanoe.com/kayaks

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Minn Kota Ultrex
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Minn Kota Ultrex


This new trolling motor has serious fishermen salivating. A power steering feature makes it easier on your feet to control steering. Once you’ve got a heading, just set the steering lock and the motor keeps heading in that direction. The unit deploys and stows effortlessly. The foot pedal has both Spot-Lock and AutoPilot buttons. Once you reach where you want to hold position, select Spot-Lock and the motor “anchors” the boat in that exact location, even in current and wind. Another button push and the motor moves you 5 feet to the left, right, front or back. You can also set the motor to run a circle around a specified location at a speed you choose. The game changer is the ability to link the unit to your Humminbird electronics — a Johnson Outdoors sister company to Minn Kota — and tell the motor to do things such as following a specific contour line. The remote, Bluetooth-enabled i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link options are what distances this motor from the pack. The Ultrex lineup will have several purchase options, including 24-volt, 80-pound thrust and 36-volt, 112-pound thrust versions. Shaft lengths include 45 inches, 52 inches and 60 inches. Available this fall. $2,199.99-$2,799.99,  minnkotamotors.com


RODS AND REELS

St. Croix Legend Glass Casting Rod
St. Croix Legend Glass Casting Rod
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*St. Croix Legend Glass Casting Rods


St. Croix Rods brings back premium fiberglass rods next year with its four-rod line of Legend Glass Casting Rods. These honey-colored rods are crafted from lightweight, linear S-Glass blanks built on St. Croix-exclusive Integrated Poly Curve​-engineered mandrels. St. Croix touts these as having high sensitivity and strength. The rods have Fuji K Series Concept Tangle Free guides with Alconite rings and polished frames. They handle super braid, mono and fluorocarbon lines. The handles are split-grip, super-grade cork. The rods come in medium to heavy power versions ranging from 6 feet, 10 inches to a hefty 7 feet, 11 inches. 15-year transferable warranty. $240-$250, stcroixrods.com

St. Croix Sole Fly Fishing Rod
St. Croix Sole Fly Fishing Rod
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*St. Croix Sole Fly Fishing Rod


The unique two-piece, graphite fly rod has a base section just under 6 feet, 6 inches and a 2-foot-plus top section. This longer lower section with its straight fibers helps the rod cast farther, much like a one-piece rod. The key is that it breaks down to allow easier transport. St. Croix provides two of the shorter sections, just in case an accident happens. It comes in nine models covering 4- to 12-weight blanks. The rods have Kigan Master Hand Zero Tangle stripper guides with titanium frames, REC Recoil lightweight snake guides, a super-grade cork handle and a Fuji TVS reel seat. Comes with dual-ply mesh sack. 15-year transferable warranty. Retails $340-$360, stcroixrods.com

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Lew's Mach Speed Stick Inshore Spinning Rod
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Lew’s Mach Speed Stick Inshore Rod


Lew’s is known for affordable, solid, quality gear. This rod’s blanks are multi-layered, lightweight, sensitive IM6 graphite. The guides are American Tackle’s new AirWave slim ring line control system. It has a skeletal, graphite reel seat and a split grip handle. Plus, it has a cool, bright green color scheme. Mach Speed Stick Inshore models include spinning and casting. All sell for $79. The overall series includes 14 freshwater, all available at the same price. lews.com

Ugly Stik Bigwater Combo
Ugly Stik Bigwater Combo
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Ugly Stik Bigwater


Ugly Stik is a proven product when it comes to durable, reliable fishing rods. The new Bigwater series, designed for saltwater, has one-piece stainless steel guides, standard Ugly Stik EVA handles and conventional reel seats. Available in several versions, ranging from standup to surf. 7-year warranty. 59.95-$89.95. Also available in spinning and trolling combos. Spinner combos feature size 50, 60 and 70 graphite spinning reels with aluminum spool. The downrigger trolling combos have a size 30 line counter round reel with metal handle and power knob. $69.95-$89.95, uglystik.com

Brekley GlowStik Casting Rod
Brekley GlowStik Casting Rod
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Berkley Glowstik


Anglers trying to detect nighttime bites now have it a little easier with this new rod that has a battery-operated red LED in the rod tip. The light operates from two AAA batteries. This fiberglass rod has stainless steel guides with titanium oxide inserts. The handle is full-rubberized shrink-wrapped. It comes in four casting models and two spinning models and is designed for either fresh or saltwater use. Catfish anglers might enjoy this. $49.95berkley-fishing.com

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Lew's Mach II Speed Spool Combo
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Lew’s Mach II Speed Spool Combo


This affordable combo pairs up the all-new, super-low-profile Mach II Speed Spool SLP reel with a Mach II rod built on an IM8 graphite blank. The reel has a 10-bearing system with double-shielded stainless steel bearings plus a Zero Reverse anti-reverse clutch bearing. The frame and sideplates are graphite, while the spool is machined and anodized 32mm aluminum. Cast control is via externally adjustable magnets. Line capacity is 110 yards of 12-pound mono. Rod guides are stainless steel frames with aluminum oxide inserts. The split-grip rod handle features nice-looking, bright green Winn advanced polymer grips. The combo comes in right- and left-hand models. $179.99, lews.com

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Team Lew's Custom Pro SLP Reel
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Team Lew’s Custom Pro SLP Reel


This sweet new “speed spool” reel is built on a very-low-profile design. It’s 10 percent smaller than traditional speed spool reels and weighs just 5.8 ounces. It has a one-piece aluminum frame with gold-finished anodized accents, 32mm aircraft-grade Duralumin drilled U-shaped spool, carbon sideplates and an 11-bearing system with double-shielded stainless bearings and a Zero-Reverse anti-reverse clutch bearing. Gears are hard-anodized aluminum alloy. The 95mm bowed power handle is carbon-fiber fitted with custom Winn Dri-Tec knobs. It cranks exceptionally well. Cast control is managed through an externally adjustable 4-pin, 27-position centrifugal braking system. Drag is adjustable up to 14 pounds of pressure. There are three right-hand retrieve models and one left-handed model. Righties range from a 6.8:1 gear ratio to an ultra-fast 8.3:1 gear ratio.The leftie has a 7.5:1 gear ratio. Holds up 110 yards of 12-pound monofilament. $259.99, lews.com

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Zebco Bullet
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Zebco Bullet


Spincast reels have a reputation for being a little slow and sloppy. New for 2017, Zebco is rolling out the Bullet, said to be the company's fastest spincaster with 5.1:1 gear ratio and ability to retrieve 29 inches of line with each handle revolution. Casting ease is facilitated with a dual-bearing-supported pick-up pin, and the line guide hole in the metal front cover is only 3mm, supposedly reducing friction. The reel has a machine-cut, brass drive gear and nine bearings. Retails around $99. zebco.com

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Quantum Vapor PT
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Quantum Vapor PT


The 6.7-ounce Vapor PT casting reel has 11 bearings, an aluminum drive and an oversized 90mm carbon fiber handle with cork grips. It comes in 7.0:1 and 6.3:1 gear ratio models, both left- and right-handed. $149, quantumfishing.com

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Penn Slammer III Spinning Reel
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Penn Slammer III


Penn brings back the Slammer with a few upgrades, the first being an improved seal to help keep water out of the gear box and drag in heavy spray and sea conditions. It has computer-controlled machined gears. The body is all metal and houses seven stainless steel bearings. The reel comes in eight models with gear ratios ranging from 6.2:1 with 37 inches of line retrieve per turn to 4.2:1 with 43 inches of line retrieve. Maximum drags start at 30 pounds in the smaller models to 60 pounds on the largest. The reels have oversized grips to increase control during the fight. The 3500 Slammer III, the smallest, weighs 13.9 ounces. The beast of the lot, the model 10500, weighs 43.1 ounces. Prices start at $249.95. pennfishing.com

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Abu Garcia Revo MGXtreme
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Abu Garcia Revo MGXtreme


This new 4.5-ounce dynamo baitcaster is at the upper reaches of the price points, but it’s quite a product for the serious or tournament angler. A new spool design features hybrid-ceramic bearings for improved casting performance. Weight is further reduced via the one-piece alloy frame and carbon sideplates. The reel’s other bearings are stainless steel. The main gear is aircraft-grade aluminum, and the line guide is coated with titanium. The carbon handle comes with both round cork and EVA knobs. $499abugarcia.com

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Pflueger President Fly Reel
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Pflueger President Fly Reel


This mid-arbor-sized reel’s frame and quick-release spool are made from machined, high-grade aluminum. It can be configured for either hand use. It’s available in five sizes, beginning with a 3-inch-diameter 34 designed for 3- and 4-weight line (and weighing just 4.3 ounces) to the larger 1112 model, with a 4.13-inch diameter, designed for 11- and 12-weight line. It weighs 7.2 ounces. Comes with a pouch. $169.95-$209.95pfluegerfishing.com

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Daiwa Ardito Surf travel rod
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Daiwa Ardito Surf Travel Rod Series


Here is an affordable surf fishing rod that breaks down and travels easily in your vehicle or suitcase. The rods are made from high-volume fiber graphite and have Fuji aluminum oxide guides. It comes with a semi-rigid travel case and a five-year limited warranty. $139-$149, daiwa.com

ACCESSORIES

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Frabill I Float Suit
Photo Credit: Dan Stultz

*Frabill I-Float Suit


This is one of just a few flotation-assisting ice fishing suits certified by the Coast Guard as a personal flotation device. The suit is designed for the cold extremes encountered on the ice, and if that ice should just happen to open up, the jacket (and matching bibs — sold separately) can help keep you alive and on top of the water. Ice picks with holsters are attached to the chest to help enable self-rescue. The waterproof and windproof outer fabric has a 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material with high-visibility orange lining. It’s Cordura-reinforced on the heaviest wear points and has hand-warmer pockets and a collapsible hood. Sizes to XXXL. Available this fall.  $299.99, frabill.com

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P-Line Fluorocarbon Line
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*P-Line Tactical Fluorocarbon


Marketed as having “supreme castability, invisibility, softness, and the pinnacle of sensitivity." Comes in 200-yard spools ranging from 6- to 20-pound test. $19.99-$29.99, p-line.com

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Spider Wire Stealth Smooth Braid Line
Photo Credit: Pure Fishing

SpiderWire Stealth Smooth


This smooth new braided line is designed for easier casting and rapid descent once it hits the water. It's an eight-carrier, tight weave braid coated with a thin layer of a microcrystalline polymer for a colorfast moss green look. The thin diameter makes it easier to tie. It comes in sizes ranging from 6- to 80-pound test and spools from 125 to 3,000 yards. Available early 2017. Starts at $13.99. spiderwire.com

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Flambeau Ritual Tackle Duffle
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Flambeau Ritual Series Tackle Bags


This series includes duffels in small ( $35), medium ( $55) and large ( $74) as well a large backpack ( $85) and an innovative On-The-Fly Satchel ($60). These tackle transports include waterproof (using a tight gasket) storage containers for personal electronics and valuables, along with easily accessible compartments for pliers, plastics and everything in between. One of the most interesting attributes is that the containers have a corrosion-preventing “Zerust” treatment. The Zerust VCI (Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor) is molded directly into the plastic divider tabs in the containers. Once enclosed, it emits an invisible, odorless, non-toxic vapor (approved by the FDA), which diffuses throughout the tackle box. The vapor molecules cling to metal surfaces, forming a barrier that seals out moisture and corrosives until the metal object being stored is removed from the enclosure. The tackle bags are constructed from 600-denier polyester, are UV- and water-resistant, and have a heavy vinyl-coated bottom with rubber feet. flambeauoutdoors.com

Savage Gear USA 3D Suicide Duck screengrab
Savage Gear USA 3D Suicide Duck
Photo Credit: Manufacturer



*Savage Gear USA 3D Suicide Duck

With thousands of new lures each year, many of which are just slight tweaks or variations on a theme, seeing something that stands out can be a rarity. The suicide duck is such a lure. Apparently, big bass, pike and catfish like to munch on baby ducks, especially in northern lakes. This hardbody lure has semi-soft feet that spin and give the illusion of paddling. It has two feather-covered treble hooks, one on the chest and one on the back. Line can be attached to the duckling’s beak or to its chest, which makes the lure run higher in the water, similar to panicked, fuzzy little duckings. Available in 4.25- and 6-inch sizes. $14.99, savagegear-usa.com 

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Shimano Flats Wading Boot
Photo Credit: Manufacturer

*Shimano American Corporation Flats Wading Boots


These wading boots have vulcanized rubber and neoprene (5mm) construction with a nylon front zipper with wide opening for easy on and off. A belt-loop ankle closure helps prevent sand from coming in the boot. The soles are non-marking. $79.99, fish.shimano.com

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