Although the pandemic prevented manufacturers, dealers, and the media from coming together under one roof for the unveiling of the latest and greatest fishing-related products for the coming year, the show, as they say, must go on. So the American Sportfishing Association and its industry partners successfully pulled off a virtual ICAST show, combining video chats, webinars and live-streaming on social media to show off new products online. As usual, voting was conducted — electronically this time — to select the best of each category, and here we bring you the cream of the crop.
Best of Show and Best Boat/Watercraft
The Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot motorized kayak features a seamlessly integrated, saltwater-ready, 45-pound thrust Minn Kota trolling motor (12-Volt) compatible with lead acid or lithium ion batteries. It incorporates Minn Kota’s GPS Spot-Lock technology to allow anglers to hold position when desired, no matter the conditions. And with the i-Pilot remote control, your hands remain free to fish.
Best Boating Accessory
The new Raptor Shallow Water Anchor reads the bottom and senses the anchoring force needed to stay put, and selectable modes let you pick the perfect hold for any condition. Raptor can be controlled with the included wireless remote, optional wireless foot switch, your smartphone, Humminbird fish finder, or Minn Kota i-Pilot or i-Pilot Link system. Available in 8- and 10-foot models, in black, red, silver, and white.
Best Cutlery and Tools
The Dual Hybrid Micro Scissor by Line Cutterz is the world’s first dual hybrid fishing line cutter. It consists of a patented corrosion-resistant, fixed ceramic blade in the back end, and a stainless-steel scissor action in the front, offering anglers a fast, safe, convenient and durable tool to cut braid, mono and fluorocarbon fishing lines. It can be attached to hats, retractors, PFD’s, lanyards or fly-fishing vests to always keep it within reach.
The new CoastMaster Charts provide highly accurate coverage for all U.S. coastal waters on a single card, delivering all the information and features you need to navigate and fish with confidence, including accurate spot soundings, depth contours, points of interest, navigational aids, and fishing conditions with a predictive tides and currents tool that offers details precisely for the vessel’s location. Customizable view presets make it easy to display the most important information.
Best Cold Weather Technical Apparel
The AFTCO Reaper Windproof 3-layer softshell jacket is the next generation of technical cold weather gear in the Reaper family. This softshell jacket incorporates a built-in face mask and neck warmer, laser-cut underarm ventilation and a zippered side vent, and is lined with AFTCO’s own Hexatron™ fleece material. A durable 94% polyester/6% spandex rip-stop outer shell is fused to the lining. This 3-layer fabric combination provides added comfort, warmth, and wind protection.
Best Warm Weather Technical Apparel
AFTCO’s Diffuse Air-O Mesh fishing shorts are fashioned with a proprietary, 100% polyester mechanical stretch fabric with dissolving yarn that creates the micro Air-O Mesh® venting, which keeps anglers comfortable in warm, humid climates. Built with durability and function in mind, the Diffuse Air-O Mesh shorts feature a reinforced pliers/utility pocket, AFLEX 4-way stretch for added mobility, DWR treatment to prevent stains, and multiple pocket storage options.
The new Micro G Kilchis by Under Armour sport highly breathable, quick-dry textile upper with welded synthetic overlays for abrasion protection, along with a full-length Micro G foam midsole for the ultimate in long lasting, responsive cushioning. Ports built into lateral and medial sides of the midsole ensure fast water drainage, while non-marking rubber outsole maximize surface area contact for excellent grip on wet surfaces.
Costa’s Ferg sunglasses, named after company founder Ray Ferguson, offer a refined focus on top-of-the-line performance details and with the latest technology elite anglers or captains demand. OmniFit frame and 360-degree nose pad adjustability allows for a more comfortable and secure fit on a variety of face shapes and sizes. The frame features top and side shields, integrated, textured Hydrolite rubber, and vented adjustable nose pads.
Best Soft and Hard Cooler
Yeti’s Roadie 24 is 10 percent lighter, holds 20 percent more (including a standard wine bottle upright), and performs 30 percent better thermally than its predecessor, the Roadie 20. Top features include rugged, but thinner and lighter rotomolded construction, Permafrost insulation to keep ice for days, Quicklatch for easy and quick, one-handed cooler access, Heaftyhauler Handle for comfortable carrying, and Neverfail Hinge System with interlocking design to prevent broken hinges.
Best Tackle Management
The new Plano Edge Flex Series provides the best possible combination of storage and customization in a single tackle box, with a proprietary interlocking pre-cut divider system that offers endless configuration options to personalize tackle and gear storage for a particular fishing application, technique, lures, species, or trip. Top features include Rustrictor™, rust-preventing technology molded into the base of the boxes, Dri-Loc™ watertight seal, and water-absorbing Water Wick™ desiccant dividers to ward off moisture.
Best Saltwater Hard Lure
The SP-ORCA FB 150S (5 7/8-inches, 2 1/2-ounces) is a sinking pencil boasting Shimano’s Kyorin lifelike holographic design and innovative Flash Boost technology, which employs a reflective foil suspended on springs to emit fish-attracting flashes that, combined with a side-to-side wobble while sinking, mimic the actions of a dying baitfish. Shimano’s Propulsion Weight Transfer System, with an internal weight that slides back during the cast and springs forward when the lure hits the water, affords exceptional casting distance.
Best Saltwater Soft Lure
The Mullet by 13 Fishing is a lifelike imitation of the wide-ranging baitfish frequently targeted by numerous inshore game fish. This soft artificial bait incorporates USA sourced materials and a number of top features, including hand-painted finishes, HD holographic eyes, an HD VMC weighted swimbait hook, nose anchors for durable rigging, and more.
Best Fishing Line
Berkley FluoroShield now gives anglers looking to switch from monofilament to fluorocarbon a superb new fishing line option, a fluorocarbon-infused copolymer that combines the manageability of monofilament with the desired qualities of fluorocarbon, like added abrasion resistance and near invisibility underwater. Available in breaking strengths from 4 to 30 pounds.
Best Saltwater Rod
St. Croix’s Mojo Inshore rods have undergone a significant transformation for 2021. They now feature lighter, premium-quality SCIII carbon blanks with Integrated Poly Curve mandrel technology, which eliminates any transition points from butt to tip. Split grips were replaced by full cork handles on light, medium-light, and medium power models by angler request. Medium-heavy, heavy and extra-heavy power rods now sport full-length cork-and-EVA hybrid handles more durable for rod holder storage, and a soft gimbal keeps rods placed in rocket launchers from turning.
Best Saltwater Reel
Stronger, smoother, and more durable than ever before, the PENN Battle III is now equipped with Penn’s proprietary CNC Gear Technology, HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, and a full metal body to give the new reel the guts and breaking power to handle serious abuse and win fights with the toughest game fish. With sizes ranging from 1000 to 10000, and select sizes available in high speed ratios, the Penn Battle III series offers models for every angler.
Best Fishing Accessory
The new Tsuka handle system by American Tackle Company offers a completely integrated rod handle and reel seat with the same carbon material used in the best fishing rod blanks to finally match modern blank technology used in premium fishing rods. Their lightweight design incorporates The world’s first carbon blow-molded reel seat, custom G2 matte-black aluminum trim and end cap, and a fitted 3K carbon handle tube. Tsuka handles can be used in new rod builds and retro-fits to increase sensitivity transmission and durability, and decrease overall rod weight.
Best Fly-Fishing Rod
The Hardy Zane Pro offers a terrific new option for saltwater anglers looking for a premium, fast action fly rod. Made in England, the Zane Pro features reduced blank diameter for better wind penetration and reduced weight. Redesigned mandrels and pattern layups boost performance of the aerospace-grade, carbon fiber and advanced SINTRIX 440 resin system. Titanium recoil guides with a ceramic insert and a scratch-resistant, hard-anodized double up-lock reel seat round out the offering. Available in one- and four-piece configurations.
Best Fly-Fishing Reel
A lightweight disc drag reel in its purest form, Hardy Ultradisc UDLA fly reels offer an innovative, original spool/line guide design ideal for thinner fly lines and running lines. Scaled to size, multi-disc carbon drag system is unregulated to allow for smooth, fine adjustment in drag pressure across a wide range. Available in gun metal or black anodized finishes.