Featured Image Credit: ICAST
ANGLR Expert Shaye Baker takes us through 10 of the ICAST 2019 top products that caught his eye.
Well, iCast is here and now it’s time for a lot of innovation, some knockoffs, and a lot of noise. I’ve been combing through all the new products and have picked out the 10 that caught my eye. I’m not going to say that each of these are ‘game changers’ that will revolutionize how we fish, but some of them are pretty substantial additions to the market. Others are new products from companies I have been impressed with and have come to trust over the years. And then some just look like they could add a little fun to my next fishing trip. Without further ado, here are my ICAST 2019 top products!
ICAST 2019 Top Products – Livingston Walking Boss Part II Junior
On a recent video shoot with Randy Howell for YOLOtek, Howell pulled out a prototype topwater he wanted to show me: the Walking Boss Part II Junior. He made a cast and the action was intense, to say the least. I’m a sucker for a good topwater bait but with the plethora of poppers, walking style baits, and now dozens of Whopper Plopper knockoffs, it’s hard to actually catch my attention with a topwater.
But the action of this thing was different.
The action is more like that of a wake bait but can be reeled a lot faster than most wake baits so it moves a lot more water and stays on top. What also caught my attention is that the action is at the front of the bait.
As many of you probably know, one of the most popular and innovative topwater baits to hit the market in the last decade was the Whopper Plopper. Not only was the Whopper Plopper’s design of a spinning prop tail innovative, but it also gave off a much more aggressive action than most topwater baits. The one downside I have seen with the Plopper is that I have a lot of fish boil on the tail end of the bait and miss the hooks, especially recently with the rise in popularity of the bait.
Moving that aggressive action to the front of the bait should make the hookup percentage drastically rise. At least that’s the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw this thing in the water. I’m excited to get my hands on one soon as Howell has just recently approved the fourth round of prototypes and Livingston has put into production both the Walking Boss Junior and the Walking Boss Part II Junior (lipped version).
This bait may seem to have a throwback feel to some of you old school anglers or historians of the sport. That’s not coincidental.
“The original full-sized Walking Boss Part II was inspired by the old Jitterbug lips from the old days. I liked that subtle sound of the Jitterbug, so they made a clear plastic molded version of the lip and we kept playing with the depth of the cup in the lip until we got a unique pitter patter sound and hard resistance to push and splash lots of water. Then we put it on a broken back Walking Boss body and dialed in the ballast until we nailed it.” – Randy Howell
ICAST 2019 Top Products – Lowrance Ghost and Garmin Force Trolling Motors
The Ultrex from Minn Kota was certainly the greatest evolution in the trolling motor over the last decade. I have it on my boat now and feel the same way about it as I do about my Power-Poles (full disclosure I paid full price for both products and would again). My point being, those two pieces of equipment effect how I fish so much that I can’t imagine being as productive without them.
Now it looks as though the Ultrex has some serious competition on the immediate horizon with new trolling motors from both Lowrance and Garmin. The little I have seen of these things I can definitely say, they’re different.
Lowrance scrapped the whole playbook. They went back to the drawing board on this one. They (whatever other clichés you want to insert here) to make this thing different and in theory better. One of the biggest complaints with all preexisting trolling motors is the noise level. And that’s exactly what Lowrance’s marketing campaign for the Ghost is focusing on. This motor is said to be quieter. Likewise, Garmin touts that their Force trolling motor is brushless making it far quieter than anything previously on the market.
The other glaring area for improvement is energy efficiency: can a trolling motor be made to use less power, thusly extending the lifespan of our batteries in a days time? Eliminating the rotation of the head of the trolling motor is said to address energy efficiency with the Lowrance Ghost. And again Garmin makes similar claims stating that their Force trolling motor has both 24 and 36-volt options with their 24-volt option offering more thrust than their competitors 36-volt models.
With such radical new designs and both Garmin and Lowrance diving face first into the trolling motor market for the first time, there will certainly be some growing pains. Both the Ultrex and Power-Poles had their faults in the early stages before they were dialed in to perfection. So I’m not going to jump out on a limb sight unseen here and say that either of these motors will live up to all the hype just yet, even though they very well may.
What I will say is this, competition creates a better class of product. Dumping two new names into a market where there has basically been a duopoly for decades now between Minn Kota and MotorGuide will certainly create an environment where innovation is more important than ever. In one last effort to save the cliché from a world that wants to eradicate it, a rising tide raises all ships, and I believe we will see just that with Lowrance and Garmin entering this market.
ICAST 2019 Top Products – Fitzgerald VLD10
The VLD10 is the latest product from the ever-growing lineup that is Fitzgerald Fishing.
Now a little back story because I value transparency. I have been friends with the guys at Fitzgerald Fishing since they first started making waves several years ago. I still have one of their first rods in my boat that has long since been discontinued and I now primarily use their Vursa Series of rods that debuted at the 2016 iCast show.
The thing that I have noticed with Fitzgerald Fishing following their company from the beginning is their attention to detail and drive for excellence with each new product they bring to market. They are passionate about growing, not only in the quantity of product lines they offer, but also in the quality of each new addition. They put a ton of time and energy into vetting their products on the water and they also strive to bring a lower price point, quality product to the market than many of their competitors who have been doing it much longer and at a far larger scale.
Their Vursa Series of rods, for instance, is a caliber far superior to rods from other companies at that price point ($129). As I previously stated, I know these guys personally. And I’ll also add that I do get their rods at a discount. But I should also mention that I could get a discount from a lot of different rod companies and have over the years. There are a lot of great rods out there. Praising one company does not condemn another. But the more I used Fitzgerald’s rods the more they gained my confidence and I have now settled in quite comfortably with them.
I expect the same will hold true for their new reel, the VLD10. Fitzgerald Fishing brought their first lineup of reels to market at iCast 2018. The Stunner reels are good reels for the price point of $149.99. I believe the VLD10 will be a great reel at $169.99.
The VLD10 has a heavier drag, more ball bearings, a beefy all-metal frame and is available in additional gear ratios up to 8.0:1 versus Fitzgerald’s Stunner casting reel. That’s not a jab at the Stunner reels, it’s just a direct comparison by the specs.
The Curado by Shimano is a great reel, but it’s not their Metanium. My point being, Fitzgerald Fishing’s first reel to hit the market was a solid reel that’s been extremely well received. The VLD10 looks like it’s just the next step in the evolution of their company, another great reel for the guy willing to spend a few more bucks for an extra bell and whistle or two.
Fitzgerald’s proven track record makes the VLD10 another product I’m excited to get my hands on. Look for it in late 2019.
ICAST 2019 Top Products – Storm Arashi Glide Bait (AGB)
A swimbait three years in the making… I’m going to need one of those. Brandon Palaniuk is a big bait aficionado and he’s been particularly OCD in putting together what he touts as the “best glide bait out there in its size”.
That size is 7.5 inches and 3 and 1/8 ounce and it’s available in 9 colors. I don’t know much else about it yet, but I do know Palaniuk. If he’ll put his name behind it, it’s going to be legit. And if he worked on something for 3 years, it’s going to be a level above legit.
We will be putting out a behind the bait article in the coming weeks where we’ll talk through everything from the conception of Palaniuk’s new baby all the way through its realization as Storm brings it to market. Really looking forward to diving into the process of perfecting a bait over the course of 3 years when so many companies these days seem to throw products together and rush the process.
Click here for more info or to pre-order the Arashi Glide Bait. The baits are expected to ship in November.
ICAST 2019 Top Products – 13 Fishing’s Motor Boat
The Motor Boat from 13 Fishing isn’t some product that will radically change the way we fish, but it looks like a fun bait to throw and just different enough that I found it worth mentioning. To me, it’s a bit of a marriage between several really good baits: the Whopper Plopper, Skinny Dipper, Senko with a tail spinner and a skirtless buzzbait trailed by a soft plastic.
The Whopper Plopper has garnered a good bit of attention in recent years and influenced the bait market in a lot of ways. There have been numerous direct knockoffs of the bait but we’ve also seen a few companies get creative in an attempt to address the main issue with the Plopper, it’s definitely not weedless. There have been several hollow-bodied frog style baits that have come to market in the last couple years that have one or even two prop style tails like the Plopper.
But the Motor Boat is a little different still.
Mainly because you can submerge it from time to time like a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper, giving little bursts along the top with the prop but then letting the bait dip back down into holes in the vegetation.
Another bait that has flown a little under the radar is a Senko or other similar stick bait with a small blade screwed into the rear of the worm. Keith Poche drew national attention to the rig in his near win at the Bassmaster Classic in 2012. The Motor Boat to me looks like another variation of this style bait but again just different enough that it’s not a knockoff per se.
The other bait that this mimics to me but has the potential to improve upon slightly is a skirtless buzzbait with a soft plastic trailer. We’ve seen in recent years a big rise in the popularity of this style of buzzbait. They skip well and at times just seem to get bit better than a traditional, skirted buzzbait like a Lunker Lure. But the one thing the Motor Boat offers up that’s a little different is that it’s weedless. The bait should still skip very well also, perhaps even better.
ICAST 2019 Top Products – Sufix Advance 100% Fluorocarbon
This next product isn’t flashy but it is one that I am excited about. The new Sufix Advance 100% Flourocarbon. Any of you that have followed me for any amount of time will know that I have used and recommended Sufix 832 Braid for a long time now. I don’t know the science behind how it’s made, I just know that it works. Line is a very important part of fishing and something that I don’t bounce around on a whole lot or recommend lightly. It would make me sick to my stomach to know that someone bought or used a line based on something I said and then it failed. So I’m very careful with what I recommend, with line and any products for that matter.
I’m sure there are other good lines out there. I have tried Fitzgerald Fishing’s Vursa Braid for instance and would also feel comfortable recommending it as a good braided line. I’ve heard good things about Daiwa’s and Sunline’s braid as well but can’t attest to those personally. Over the last 9 years or so since Sufix 832 came out, I have used it almost exclusively from 15-pound test on a spinning reel to 65-pound test punching and frogging with a bait caster. It’s great stuff and has never failed me.
Failure was the reason I went looking for another line company to begin with. I had used another braided line for a while before that. I won’t bash that company here by name (if you want to assure that you avoid buying that line then try one of the two lines I just recommended because it definitely wasn’t one of those). But in one day, the line I was using at the time failed on me twice on big fish while flipping with 65-pound test. I wanted to throw up. That’s a terrible feeling, especially in a tournament.
Sure, I could have just bought a bad spool or at first, I thought I might have had a nick in a rod guide but couldn’t find any such culprit. The company had just been bought out at the time and I believe the new owner must have made some hasty changes to the manufacturing process. Regardless, I had lost all faith in their line and wouldn’t dare gamble on it again. So, I set out to find another braid and after sampling a few I ran across Sufix 832 and the rest is history.
A few years ago as I built more and more confidence in the Sufix braid I decided to try some of their fluorocarbon and I bought a couple of spools. I had good luck with the Sufix Invisiline Fluorocarbon Leader and still use it to this day. But I just couldn’t get comfortable with their Castable Invisiline Fluorocarbon. It was on par with some of the other brands’ fluoro offered at similar price points, but I’m admittedly a bit of a snob when it comes to my fishing line. I’ve had my heart broken before so I’m careful to do all I can to prevent that from happening again.
The Castable Invisiline is probably a good entry level fluorocarbon line because it is available at a very competitive price point. It didn’t break on me or anything so I don’t want to knock it too hard. It just didn’t feel good enough to withstand the torture I would surely put it through. I fish for money a lot and also like to fish for big fish around some pretty rough stuff, so I prefer to spend a few extra dollars to buy really good fluoro that I can leave on my reels for a while.
I have used Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon for several years now and would put that line against any other fluoro on the market. Sure there are lines that cost twice as much and offer a 0.001” reduction in diameter or something like that, but I think we can all get a little carried away sometimes.
Fluorocarbon should be malleable, abrasion resistant, strong, and not hold a lot of memory. That’s pretty much it. And that’s a lot to ask for in itself. The diameter should be taken into consideration for the visibility and vibration of the line in the water and the amount of line that will fit on a reel, but as long as we’re talking a few 100ths of a millimeter, the diameter is an even playing field between most fluorocarbons in my book.
So Seaguar InvisX is my gold standard on reasonably priced, quality fluorocarbon. As a member of the media I got my hands on a spool of the new Sufix Advance 100% Fluorocarbon a couple of days ago and the very preliminary testing I’ve done has me very optimistic. I’ve tied several knots with it and the knot strength is on par with InvizX. I’ve intentionally rubbed it on some pretty gnarly stuff to see what it would take to fray it. It takes a pretty good bit of abuse and the spool I have is only a 10-pound test. It feels great. Really soft and malleable which really helps with the casting and knot tying.
My first impressions are really good, but the true test will come on the water soon. I want to get a few other pound-tests and spool up different setups so I can test them on a day when I won’t be in a tournament. Depending on how that goes I’ll start to consider incorporating it into my lineup on a permanent basis. But I am optimistic. I would already feel comfortable recommending that you test it out for yourself and let me know what you think on my Instagram. I’ll fill you in there on how I’ve been faring with it. The line looks like it will be available for purchase later this month or you can pre-order it here.
ICAST 2019 Top Products – Megabass I Wing 135
As previously stated, I’m a sucker for a good topwater bait. The new I Wing 135 from Megabass looks and sounds legit. Though I haven’t bought one yet, it will probably be in my next Tackle Warehouse order.
Ever since I watched Aaron Martens win his Elite Series title on Havasu in 2015, I’ve often wondered how often a bass thinks my topwater is a bird instead of a frog or struggling baitfish. Aaron was using a black hollow bodied frog to mimic blackbirds that were nesting in the reeds along Lake Havasu. The baby birds were falling from the nest and being devoured by big bass waiting below.
This bait belongs to the crawler family of big baits and really does look like an injured bird trying to gain momentum to take flight. But honestly, I don’t know if it really matters what the fish think a lot of these bigger baits are, they just see and feel something oversized and react aggressively. Accompanying the aggressive action with the solid thump of the knocker inside this thing, I do believe this is one of those baits that is going to draw big blowups.
The price isn’t as high as other lures in the big bait world but it’s still significant at $59.99. And that’s honestly why I didn’t order one right away. Still though, one of these baits would probably outlast $100 or even $200 worth of soft plastics so it just depends on how you look at it.
The Megabass I Wing 135 is available for order and ready to ship now here.
ICAST 2019 Top Products – Lunkerhunt Hollow Body Phantom Spider
Oh boy, Lunkerhunt Hollow Body Phantom Spider. This thing is gross, in both a good and bad way. You’ll have to checkout the video here. Of course, it’s catching fish in whatever stock pond it’s being thrown in, but focus on the action. It really does look super realistic. I know it seems a little gimmicky at first… but the action is wicked. It almost crawls in some of the shots as it’s worked. My biggest concern is that I’ll forget about it, open the rod box and bail out of the boat to get away from it.
Really the only thing I worry about is that the bait only weighs 1/4 ounce. I’m not sure how far you’ll be able to cast it since most hollow bodied frogs weigh at least twice that. But it is nasty looking and definitely grabbed my attention. I’ll have to try one to see for myself if it’s one of those baits that’s just built to grab the angler’s eye, and see if it will truly live up to the hype. Available here for pre-order now and expected to arrive in late summer 2019.
ICAST 2019 Top Products – The Abu Garcia Virtual Rod Powered by ANGLR
Last but not least, Abu Garcia has teamed up with ANGLR to create the world’s first virtual rod. For those of you who don’t know, the company I’m writing this article for as we speak (ANGLR) built a free fishing app that is basically a digital logbook at its core. Each time you mark a waypoint in the app, a whole treasure trove of data is stored: location, time, wind, weather data and more all privately and securely saved for your eyes only. That’s the free version.
With Premium Maps and the ANGLR Bullseye you have even more capabilities. The Bullseye is about the size of a quarter and can be worn on your hat, life vest, or anywhere for that matter. Once the Bullseye is linked to your phone via Bluetooth, you can drop waypoints and gather all this additional data for your digital logbook without ever taking your phone out.
Now, Abu Garcia and ANGLR have taken the Bullseye technology and inserted it into the butt of a whole line of rods, 20 to be exact. Linking multiple rods to your ANGLR app will allow you to not only capture all the data you were already capturing with the Bullseye, but also customize each button to associate your rod, reel, line, and lure to your waypoints.
For example, imagine you’re preparing for your annual trip to your favorite destination fishery and you want to make sure you have everything you caught them on last year. Now you can go back into your ANGLR digital logbook, find the fish catch and there it is: your waypoint, the conditions, and weather when you got that big bite last year and the rod, reel, line and lure that coaxed her into the boat. Pretty revolutionary stuff. And all with the simple push of a button.
More info will be coming soon on the Virtual Rod lineup. The rods are expected to be available late 2019 or early 2020. But you can purchase the ANGLR Bullseye here now.
ANGLR also announced another Bullseye integrated fishing rod with Pro Fish Gear. That lineup will be available in early 2020 as well.
We are also incredibly excited to announce a first of its kind, one of a kind, kayak with a Bullseye built in! The NuCanoe Flint SMART Kayak Powered By ANGLR is the first SMART fishing kayak in the world. You can enter to win this fully rigged, one of a kind kayak here!