ICAST can be a bit overwhelming, with countless square feet of new products jammed into the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. It would be impossible to cover them all here, but we picked some highlights that we thought you’d enjoy.
This was the year of the trolling motor, with impressive entries from three different companies. Deck boots also made a big showing, with nearly every footwear manufacturer rolling out a new model or two. We also saw plenty of lithium batteries, sunglasses, and electric reels.
Costa King Tide
Costa took the crown for best new sunglasses with the King Tide, the result of years of development and 40 years of heritage. The innovative glasses are available in both a familiar wrap around 8-base and flatter 6-base curve, with removable side shields keeping stray light out. Shark-inspired venting, sweat management channels and eye wire drains move sweat away and help prevent fogging. Non-skid hooding keeps them in place when you set them down, even if seas get a bit sporty. Available in a variety of lens colors, with black and black and gold flake frames.
G Loomis NRX+ Inshore
G Loomis makes some of my favorite rods of all time, so it was no surprise that they took the honors for the best saltwater rod at ICAST 2023. The NRX+ Inshore series includes 10 casting and spinning rods designed with technical presentations in mind. Each rod is built on an American-made blank rolled with Spiral X technology to provide ultra-fast recovery for increased casting distance, heightened sensitivity, and weight reduction. Anglers can expect long life and damage resistance from the Fuji Titanium SiC guide train.
Shimano Stradic FM
Shimano built the Stradic FM with freshwater use in mind, but with reasonable care it should serve saltwater anglers for years to come—I’m still using a Stradic I purchased 20 years ago in the salt marsh to tangle with schoolie stripers. The Stradic FM incorporates a number of technologies pioneered in the Stella family of reels, with a price point that’s much easier on the wallet. Increased gear meshing gives this one increased durability and quiets operation. With a good freshwater rinse after each use, Shimano’s X-Protect water-repellent coating and water-channeling labyrinth construction should prevent saltwater from affecting this one.
Yeti Loadout GoBox
Yeti’s Loadout GoBox is not a new product, but the improved latches warrant mention. While previous generations of the GoBox were notoriously difficult to close, Yeti’s engineers hit the drawing board to make opening and closing a breeze. The boxes still feature the dustproof, waterproof, and virtually indestructible construction combined with a removable cargo tray and divider that makes them a favorite tackle box, camera case, or boat organizer. The pack-and-stack design is available in 15, 30, and 60 sizes.
Power Pole Move ZR Trolling Motor
After eight years of development, Power Pole was finally ready to release their Move ZR trolling motor to the angling public—and take the award for best motorized boating accessory. The new troller features a brushless motor for plenty of power, on your choice of 45, 52, 60, and 72-inch titanium shafts for durability and corrosion resistance. Steering is accomplished via a beefy but quiet planetary gear arrangement, with advanced GPS anchor modes to keep you right where you need to be. Control is accomplished using a variety of wireless methods, including handheld remotes and foot pedals. Despite the large size, these stow and deploy easily.
Simms G4Z Waders
Simms has been building some of the best waders in the world for a while now, so it’s no surprise that they took the honors for the best fly fishing waders. Though they may have been designed for aficionados of the long wand, the G4Z Waders should serve jetty jockeys and other surf junkies well. This is Simms’ most durable offering, and it should resist rock rash for years to come. A GORE-TEX membrane keeps anglers dry from the inside out, and the front zipper makes getting them off and, on a breeze. Like most of Simms’ products, they are made in Bozeman, Montana.
Toadfish Fixed Blade Filet Knives
Toadfish made a splash with the introduction of their folding filet knives years ago. They hope to build on that success with fixed blades models for those that don’t have to travel with their blades. Choose from a variety of lengths to tackle every species inshore and off, with coatings that make cleaning easy. Over-molded handles provide plenty of grip, even when wet. Ships with a sheath to keep your fingers safe when not in use.
AFTCO Ankle Deck Boots
Ankle deck boots seemed to be a reoccurring theme throughout ICAST this year, and AFTCO’s are the best according to those that voted on the new product showcase. The favored design delivers superb comfort using a compression-molded insole that helps fight fatigue caused by long days at sea, with antimicrobial properties that fend off odors. The waterproof outer shell combines with an inner neoprene liner that wicks moisture and dries quickly to keep feet bone dry. A welded pull strap and rear kick wedge means you can put them on and take them off without bending down.
MirrOlure Duke Dog
MirrOlure is known for their excellent walk-the-dog style baits. The new Duke Dog is sure to extend that sterling reputation with saltwater-strong hooks and excellent surface action. Named after the MirrOlure mascot, the family Airedale Duke, the voters decided this one should win the saltwater hard lure category in the ICAST new product showcase. With a shad profile, reflective foil inserts and a variety of colors, there’s one to target your inshore favorite gamefish.
Hardy Marksman Z Fly Rod
Hardy has been making waves in the saltwater fly fishing scene with the introduction of the Marksman Z rod. The new rod impressed anglers enough to win the coveted best in category fly rod award at ICAST 2023. The Sintrix FLT blank built on an updated mandrel design that accomplishes both long and short casts with remarkable precision and offers increased lifting power in the lower section. In the hand, I was impressed with how fast the rod recovered and how light the rod was. A combination of Cerecoil and recoil stripper guides should handle the hazards of casting decks and gunnel rod storage areas.
Daiwa Seapower 1200
If the show floor was any indication, electric reels seem to be seeing an increase in popularity. Daiwa clinched the best saltwater reel category with the Seapower 1200, a feat that illustrates the rising interest in powered reels. Daiwa says the new Seapower can handle deep-dropping for benthic species and swordfish, so this one should get the job done with a winding power of 108 pounds and 66 pounds of drag pressure taking up to 140 yards of line in a minute. A simple lever allows for power adjustment without having to take your hand off the rod. Aluminum construction provides strength while keeping weight down.
Grundens Women’s Pisces Bib
It’s hard to imagine any real innovation the world of fishing bibs, but Grundens managed to pull it off with their women’s Pisces Bib. The unique design has a “women’s relief system” that offers drop seat functionality. This allows women to visit the rest room without removing the bibs, so they can get back on the deck ASAP. The garment has a number of other features from Grundens favored Fullshare bib, including waterproof and breathable construction and full-length leg zippers for easy on/off.
Tsunami SaltX II Spinning Reel
Tsunami’s original SaltX spinning reel was hit with surf anglers and others that value a sealed reel with a reasonable price point. The new SaltX II spinner promises even more water-tight performance with the addition of five additional internal seals. Tsunami sized these for inshore and beyond, starting at 3000 and going up to 8000 with 5.2:1, 5.6:1, and 4.7:1 gear ratios. All have braid-ready spools and impressive drag performance.
Korkers All Axis Shoe
Hopping across jetties or traversing mud flats are not without their perils. Korkers All Axis Shoe provides traction and protects your feet without the need for full waders. Built like an athletic shoe but with plenty of drainage, these sneakers feature swappable outsoles for grip on a variety of surfaces. You can purchase separate soles with felt bottoms, small or large spikes, and even aluminum discs or bars to bite into rocks, cobbles, or anything else you may encounter.
Newport NT 300 3HP Electric Outboard Motor
With the constant advancements in battery technology, electric motors are becoming more and more viable. The Newport NT 300 3HP electric outboard motor is the perfect choice to sneak up on spooky fish in skinny water, or equip your dingy for launch duty. The NT 300 attaches to your boat’s transom just like a fossil-fuel powered unit, but relies on battery power for propulsion. That means no more trips to the gas station, and the brushless motor doesn’t require any of the other maintenance that comes with traditional outboards. Expect up to 66 miles of range and a 6.5 mile per hour top speed from this one.
Salt Life Ballast Flip Flop
I usually disagree with the idea of wearing flip flops on the boat, but Salt Life’s new Ballast Flip Flops were built with traction in mind. The non-marking outsole on this unisex sandal is siped for extreme traction even when wet, keeping you shiny side up and casting even on wet decks. The molded foot bed with arch support and non-skip texture provides all-day comfort. Nylon webbing straps with leather trim make these stylish as well.
Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL
Kayaks are largely becoming single-person boats with many of the capabilities of their larger brethren. Case in point is the Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL, a pedal kayak that adds a power assist to extend range and capabilities—and takes the trophy for best boat at the 2023 ICAST show. The kayak’s saltwater-proof ePDL+ drive operates in a similar manner to an electric assist system you might see on an ebike, letting anglers switch between manual pedal, power-assisted pedal, or fully motorized cruise control. There are five levels of power assistance, or select the cruise control option that lets the angler take their feet off the pedals while the motor takes over.
Garmin Force Kraken Trolling Motor
Garmin entered the trolling motor market in a big way with the introduction of the Force Kraken. The brushless trolling motor produces 100 pounds of thrust on a 36-volt system to move even the biggest center consoles, with 63, 75 and 90-inch shaft models, all with a pivot-style mount. The Kraken will integrates with Garmin electronics, and select motors include a built-in all-in-one transducer with Ultra High-Definition ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonar. Anchor lock technology, route navigation and heading hold abilities are also built-in.
Shimano Talica 12IIA and 16IIA
Part of a popular line up, the Talica 12IIA and 16IIA made their debut at this year’s ICAST. Shimano believes these will set the benchmark for small 2-speed lever drag performance. Though diminutive, these reels incorporate some of Shimano’s flagship technologies including Infinity Drive which leverages a new design to increase drag force while reducing side-load pressure to produce lighter rotation during high-drag situations—perfect for slow pitch jigging scenarios. A light line drag cam is included to help protect low-test fluorocarbon or mono leaders.
Penn Carnage III Offshore Rods
Penn has expended on the Carnage line of rods with the introduction of the Carnage III Offshore series. These sticks are built with both stand up and fighting chair techniques in mind. TKTK roller guides will stand up to even prolonged battles, protecting line against hard-fighting fish such as tuna or billfish. And, they won’t rotate under the weight of a good fish.
Pelagic’s Steve T. Goione Shirts
Pelagic has enlisted renown marine artist Steve T. Goione to add a number of new designs to their lineup. Goione is known for creating artwork using a technique called pointillism, which combines line drawing with a series of small, distinct dots to create vibrant designs. These can be tough to print, but Pelagic found a way to turn the works into durable designs on high-performance angling wear. The results are awesome shirts for the boat and beyond.
Mustad Demon Series
Mustad has been crafting superior hooks for nearly 200 years, since the company was founded way back in 1832. The hooks and hardware in the Demon series are built with the same attention to detail the Norwegian company is known for, providing anglers with circle hooks and terminal tackle that will hold up to the toughest fish that swim. From 1x fine to 3x strong, there’s something for everyone in the Demon line. A variety of tournament-approved inline designs are also available.
Rapala X-Rap Magnum Xtreme 160
Rapala knows a thing or two about building lures, thanks to nearly 100 years of experience. Though Lauri Rapala carved his first lure out of cork using a shoemaker’s knife, the company has since moved on to other, more modern, materials. One such contemporary wonder is the X-Rap Magnum Xtreme 160, built using polymers with through-wire construction, heavy duty split rings and VMC 9626 3x-strong treble hooks to handle strikes from the toughest saltwater fish. You can pull this one over 15 knots and it’ll still follow a straight line, while diving down to 8 feet.
Xtratuf Sharkbyte 2.0 ECO
Xtratuf’s latest sustainable offering is perfect for the boat and beyond. The new BIOLITE outsole makes the Xtratuf Sharkbyte 2.0 ECO up to 30 percent lighter than the other Sharkbyte styles without sacrificing traction. The upper is made from a REPREVE Our Ocean textile upper, which is comprised of ocean-bound plastic bottles. Xtratuf coats this with a durable water repellant finish to keep you dry so you can concentrate on catching fish.
Minn Kota Riptide Instinct
Minn Kota has been in the trolling motor game for about as long as they have existed. But their new Riptide Instinct promises to help anglers fish harder for longer with 30 percent longer runtime and 50 percent greater torque thanks to the brushless motor built with QUEST technology. The Riptide Instinct features a redesigned and upgraded mount to handle increased torque, carbon fiber infused shaft, a new lift-assist assembly, and real-time battery monitoring. Models are available with up to a 100-inch shaft so this will work on your offshore boat, too.
Savage Gear Manic 3D Shrimp RTF
Savage Gear always has innovative lures, and this year’s ICAST show was no different. The kite fishing and trolling set will appreciate their new BFT Flyer that captures the essence of a flying fish in soft plastic form. But inshore anglers will appreciate their Manic Shrimp RTF, an extremely life-like imitation of what just may be a redfish’s favorite meal. The “RTF” stands for ready to fish, and you can just open the package, tie one on, and start catching. Available in both ¼ and ½ ounce sizes in a variety of colors.
Seaguar is known for their excellent fluorocarbon lines, but perhaps anglers should start thinking about their other offerings as well. Seaguar’s Smackdown is an 8-carrier braid that is about as smooth as they come, providing excellent handling characteristics and superior strength—it’s so thin that 20-pound test Smackdown is the same diameter as 6-pound test monofilament. And now, it’s available in a low-visibility gray color that won’t spook fish.
Shimano Mastiff FC
Shimano made a splash with the introduction of Mastiff FC fluorocarbon line, winning the best line category. This new fluoro has improved knot strength, thanks to the microscopic ridges, which Shimano calls NANOARMOR technology, embedded in the line. Despite the increased slip-resistance, the line seems to have excellent handling characteristics for smooth casts.
Z-Man Mulletron LT
Z-Man’s Mulletron LT won the best saltwater soft lure category, and is sure to be a hit with soft plastic or swim bait enthusiasts. The new bait has a wedge-shaped tail that will deliver realistic swimming action with enough thump to encourage even neutral fish to bite. The realistic mullet profile is offered in detailed hand-painted and photo-printed color schemes. A line-through harness (“LT”) lets the bait slide up the line after you hook up, helping the 10X Tough Elaztech body withstand repeated strikes from aggressive saltwater gamefish.
ENGEL USB Rechargeable Lithium-Ion XL Live Bait Aerator Pump
Hopefully your boat is equipped with a live well capable of keeping a day’s worth of bait lively. If not, consider adding an aerator pump to your favorite cooler. ENGEL’s new saltwater-approved USB Rechargeable Lithium-Ion XL Live Bait Aerator Pump provides up to 48 hours of life-sustaining bubbles on low (36 hours on high) so your bait will be ready to go whenever you are. The magnetic pump mechanism is the quietest on the market, with no cogs or moving parts to break. A standalone USB charger makes recharging easy from any household outlet