Fantastic Fishing Gear

By Mike Hodge

The best new angling products can be found each year at the ICAST show.

I've been to ICAST three of the past four years. Every year, without fail, a friend or family member will ask, "What the heck is ICAST?" Every year, I try to come up with a succinct answer, and each time I fail to deliver a simple, accurate response. But here goes.

ICAST, formally known as the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, is the world's largest sportfishing trade show. The past four shows have been held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The event, traditionally a mid-summer affair, ran from July 11–14, and nearly 15,000 vendors, buyers, and assorted media converged to check out the latest gear in the fishing industry.

Listed below are a sample of the most intriguing products from the 60th ICAST. Some are already for sale; some are coming soon. Check each company's website for up-to-date info.

Helios 3

Helios 3 fishing rod

Orvis hit a home run in the fly-fishing world in 2012 when the Helios 2 arrived to rave reviews about its durability, strength, and feel. The H2 now has a younger sibling. Say hello to the Helios 3, which may be even better than the H2. You can count on a lighter swing weight, deeper bend, and a snazzy white logo that's visible from across the stream. The H3 loads easily, which means fewer false casts, which means you will scare fewer fish. This rod tracks well, which helps to ensure accurate presentations. $795 |

BOTE Rover

BOTE Rover

Anyone who's owned a paddleboard at some point yearns for the horsepower of a boat. Everyone who has a boat wants the stealth of a paddlecraft. The perfect marriage between power and finesse on the water has been a predicament for decades. Well, BOTE may have solved the ultimate with the Rover, a cross between a paddleboard and a small jon boat. Is it a microskiff? Or a paddleboard? One thing is for sure it was an ICAST hit, winning overall best-of-show honors. The sales pitch is obvious: One can now go farther faster thanks to a small 6-hp outboard that fits into the stern. $3,499 |


YETI is known as the chic source for coolers, but ICEMULE has countered with a strong statement — an affordable combo backpack and cooler that features comfort, durability, and efficiency. PolarLayer insulation helps maintain ice retention for several days. AirValve technology allows for temperature control. Padded shoulder, hip, and sternum straps make portability a breeze. There are no zippers. The Boss cleans up and drains easily. And for those who want to carry more than just refreshments, the Boss has plenty of cargo room with three external pockets. $299.95 |

Promar Telescopic Baitwell Net

The new Promar LN-009T Heavy Duty Telescopic Baitwell Net is the perfect solution for any sized baitwell. The net features the Promar ProTec Net System — the netting is protected by the aluminum hoop frame, substantially extending the life of the net. The net is also outfitted with a twist-lock feature so you can adjust the desired length of the net handle. The aluminum-frame construction and soft nylon netting make it lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and extremely durable. Gathering bait for your next big catch has never been easier. $15.99 |

Simms G3 Guide Stockingfoot Wader

G3 Guide Stockingfoot Wader

Due out this fall, this product won best fly-fishing accessory. Simms is known for its attention to detail with its outdoor gear and apparel, and this version of the G3 does not disappoint with four layers of GORE-TEX in the seat and legs and three in the upper shell. These waders are durable but breathable, ensuring comfort and peace of mind during those long days on the water. G3 comes with a hand-warmer pocket for frosty winter mornings and quality suspenders that are easy on the shoulders. $499.95 |

HUK Attack

This water shoe won best of show in the footwear category and for good reason. The Attack offers style, performance, and durability. Its GripX Wet Traction design should provide ultimate stability on an array of slippery surfaces. The Attack also features a nonmarking outsole, upper support cage, and performance lacing. $84.99 |

Steinhauser Tangle-Free Pocket Combo Fishing Rod

Steinhauser Tangle-Free Pocket Combo

This pint-sized rod and reel is ideal for kids or adults who need a small setup for a backpack or a briefcase. The Pocket Combo can be used for either a daylong hike or a quick fishing trip during a lunch break. The rod extends to 30 inches but compacts to 18. A micro metal spin-cast reel comes spooled with 6-pound line.

This closed-face reel is virtually tangle-free, a welcome attribute for youngsters or new anglers not quite ready for more advanced gear. It sports a 4.1:1 gear ratio and comes in four colors — black, blue, green, and pink. The product won first runner-up in the Kids' Tackle category at the ICAST new products competition. $27.99 |

YETI LoadOut Bucket

YETI LoadOut Bucket

Strange as it may sound, the winner of the best boating accessory at 2017 ICAST was a 5-gallon bucket. The LoadOut comes in multiple colors, is made from high-density polyethylene, and is virtually indestructible. Use it to carry anything from food to bait. On the deck of a skiff, the bucket pulls double duty as a seat. So simple and effective, the LoadOut is another example of why YETI has a firm grasp of the obvious when it comes to developing new products. $39.99 |

Star brite Ultimate Fiberglass Stain Remover

Star Brite Ultimate Fiberglass Stain Remover

Sometimes bleach and Comet just don't cut it when you're trying to clean your boat between outings. Star brite has something that might help. The Ultimate Fiberglass Stain Remover is engineered to eliminate pesky stains on fiberglass such as rust, grease, and fish blood. The gel formula, which comes in a 16-ounce spray bottle, is tough on stains but won't harm fiberglass. The applied product completely envelops the stained area, penetrating and dissolving it. A longer dwell time ensures maximum cleaning power, even on vertical surfaces such as gunwales and transoms. $10.99 |

Quarrow Pocket Light

Who couldn't use this utilitarian pocket/clip light for those early morning trips on the water before the sun comes up? The Pocket Light features three modes: high (two hours of runtime), low (four hours), and strobe (six hours); anodized aircraft-grade aluminum body; rear-positioned glow-in-the-dark on/off button; and carabiner clip. Water- and impact-resistant, the light is powered by a single AAA battery. $5.99 |

Star Tron Fuel System & Injector Cleaner

Star Tron Fuel System & Injector Cleaner

Another great Star brite product for those who struggle to keep their small engines running smoothly is Star Tron Fuel System & Injector Cleaner. It combines a powerful blend of enzymes and high-tech cleaning compounds that, according to the company, restore power to all gasoline engines. Clean engines deliver great throttle response, develop full power, attain maximum fuel economy, and avoid issues such as pinging, knocking, and excessive emissions. One bottle treats up to 40 gallons of fuel. $5.99 |

Honda BF6 Outboard

Honda BF6 Outboard

Anyone who's owned a small boat knows the special aggravations that come with a small outboard motor. First, it's not easy to keep a small engine running. Second, they can be a headache to transport and tough on a transom after a day of trailering. The BF6 addresses a few of those issues. It's fairly light (59 pounds) and easy to transport because of a fold-up tiller and easy-to-access handles. There's an interior fuel tank that holds about a half-gallon of fuel. Honda claims you can run a good 30 to 40 minutes wide open. Good gas, as any boat owner knows, is hard to find and maintain. The BF6 has an easy-to-access carburetor, which makes draining the fuel and flushing the carb easier after a long day on the water. $2,213 | 

— Published: October/November 2017

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