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Best of the 2021 ICAST Show

A look at the latest and greatest in fishing tackle, gear and apparel for the coming year.

July 23, 2021
ICAST 2021 was packed full of amazing products
Manufacturers of tackle and fishing related products convened again in Orlando. Courtesy TakeMeFishing.org

After going virtual in 2020, ICAST, the world’s largest sport fishing trade show, returned to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, this summer (July 20-23), bringing together manufacturers from across the country and abroad to showcase their latest in fishing tackle and related gear, accessories and apparel.

As is customary, industry insiders, members of the media, and other show attendees voted to select the top product in a variety of categories, and we bring you the winners, all products soon coming to a dealer near you.

BOTE LONO Aero + APEX Pedal Drive won best boat at ICAST 2021
Best Boat or Watercraft: BOTE LONO Aero + APEX Pedal Drive SWS Staff

The latest inflatable addition to BOTE’s impressive lineup of kayaks and SUPs, the LONO Aero + APEX Pedal Drive provides the option to propel the boat via a pedal-driven propeller system (removable) or conventional paddling. Both a kayak and a paddleboard (with a minor configuration change), the LONO Aero offers ease of use, comfort, stability, speed and versatility, enhanced by its numerous features and available accessories, some of which turn the craft into an effective fish stalker. Packable and portable (it quickly folds to fit into an included rolling travel bag), the BOTE LONO Aero can be stored in a small space, and travel with you on adventures to waters throughout the U.S. and abroad.

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Daiwa Saltist MQ won best saltwater reel
Best Saltwater Reel: Daiwa Saltist MQ SWS Staff

The popular Daiwa Saltist series of spinning reels has been redesigned and upgraded. The new Saltist MQ still feature a heavy-duty aluminum frame, but they also boast a Monocoque (MQ) body designed to allow a more compact frame with a larger gear inside, adding power and longevity to your gear set. The 360 degree screw-in sideplate eliminates the need for sideplate screws, reducing the size of the housing and increasing its weather resistance. The Zaion AIR ROTOR makes the rotation effortless, and the Magsealed main shaft maximizes protection from the elements. Available in sizes from 2500 up to 20000 to cover the gamut of inshore and offshore fishing situations.

Banshee Rod by Bull Bay Rods won best saltwater rod
Best Saltwater Rod: Banshee Rod by Bull Bay Rods SWS Staff

Banshee Rods, the series with the fastest, most responsive actions ever produced by Bull Bay Rods, includes a range of lengths and power ratings, all featuring extra fast tips and progressive backbones designed to achieve maximum casting distance and accuracy, high quality, tangle-free guides, custom EVA-rubberized composite grips with flared edges for added leverage, perfectly balanced grip layout with custom matt-painted, double-locking reel seats, and specially designed blanks with an attractive “flats sand” finish.

Duracrab by Savage Gear USA won best saltwater soft lure
Best Saltwater Soft Lure: Duracrab by Savage Gear USA SWS Staff

Its proprietary Duratech material gives the new Savage Gear Duratech Crab its lifelike movement and amazing durability. The realistic look (an exact replica of a real crab) enhanced with scent ensures the lure will appeal to the most cautious of gamefish. The weight placement is designed for the optimal sink rate and body position, and the sharp 3X black nickel hook promises superb penetration and holding power. Available in three sizes 3/4-inch (1/4-ounce), 1-inch (1/3-ounce) and 1 1/2-inch (1/2-ounce).

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Berkley Choppo Saltwater won best saltwater hard lure
Best Saltwater Hard Lure: Berkley Choppo Saltwater SWS Staff

Available in 2 sizes (105mm, 3/4-ounce and 120mm, 1-ounce) and eight color schemes, the Choppo Saltwater from Berkley is an extremely easy to use topwater lure, you simply cast and wind, and it delivers explosive surface action. Precision balance ensures an enticing walking action that begins immediately and remains on track at a variety of speeds. The durable, perfectly-balanced tail propeller won’t melt in your tackle box, the enhanced surface area produces more noise and spray, and sharp 3X Anti-Rust Fusion 19 hooks deliver solid hookups.

Seaguar BasiX won for best fishing line
Best Fishing Line: Seaguar BasiX SWS Staff

Seaguar now offers a soft, supple, easy-to-cast fishing line that delivers all the benefits of fluorocarbon at an affordable price everybody will love. BasiX is made from 100 percent custom Seaguar fluorocarbon resins, so it’s virtually invisible underwater and boasts the kind of knot strength and abrasion resistance anglers have come to expect from Seaguar. Available in seven breaking strengths, from 4- to 20-pound.

Greys Tital won for best fly reel
Best Fly Reel: Greys Tital SWS Staff

The new TITAL fly reels from Greys, include attractively priced, lightweight models to match rods from 3- through 10-weight, all constructed with high-quality barstock aluminum and fitted with a waterproof, sealed multi-disc carbon drag system for top strength and performance in both fresh and salt water. Large-arbor, narrow-spool design provides increased control and faster line pickup, and simple and secure spool release makes for quick spool changes.

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G. Loomis NRX+ T2S won for best fly rod
Best Fly Rod: G. Loomis NRX+ T2S SWS Staff

Designed for apex saltwater anglers, G. Loomis NRX+ T2S series rods boast a unique fusion of materials, technology, and innovative design. To increase the casting distance “sweet spot,” Dynamic Recovery Technology provides the power, line speed, and loop stability expected from modern fast-action rods without compromising “feel” and finesse in the short game. New two-piece “Tournament Configuration” offers one-piece performance with the convenience of compact transportability. Aggressive matte-black finish cuts glare and boosts boatside eats from wary targets.

The Costa Untangled Collection won for best eyewear
Best Eyewear: Costa Untangled Collection SWS Staff

Working with its partner Bureo, Costa is taking discarded fishing nets and other sustainable materials — like recycled aluminum logos and mineral glass lenses —and giving them a new life in its Untangled Collection of core performance frames. Ever since the original Untangled Collection of lifestyle frames debuted in 2018, Costa has been working to advance the recycling and molding techniques to build frames better suited for anglers. The new frames have a 100 percent traceable supply chain, and are built from a more durable NetPlus material that is 97 percent recycled fishing nets and 3 percent performance additive.

Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging won for best electronic product
Best Electronic Product: Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging SWS Staff

Humminbird raises the bar in fish-finder performance with the introduction of MEGA Live Imaging, new sonar technology that delivers the clarity and detail of MEGA Imaging in live-action, allowing anglers to see both fish and structure in real-time, and even watch fish on-screen as they move in to strike a bait or lure. MEGA Live Imaging views are provided by an accessory transducer compatible with select Humminbird HELIX, SOLIX and APEX models. Upgrading to MEGA Live Imaging is simple: connect the included Ethernet and power cables, attach the three-position MEGA Live transducer to your trolling motor, and you’re ready to fish.

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Frabill Conservation Ultralight Net won for best boating accessory
Best Boating Accessory: Frabill Conservation Ultralight Net SWS Staff

One-handed catches have never been easier with the new Frabill Conservation Ultralight Net. The low-resistance net and handle slide in and out of the water swiftly, reducing strain on you and your catch, while the knotless mesh with tangle-free coating protects fish slime and prevents hooks from entangling in the net. Other features include an 18″ x 21″ scooped hoop, flat, linear bottom to reduce fish rolling and support the fish’s entire weight, and MeshGuard hoops to greatly extend the life of the net.

AFTCO Adapt Tactical Phase Change Hooded Shirt won for warm weather technical apparel
Best Warm Weather Technical Apparel: AFTCO Adapt Tactical Phase Change Hooded Shirt SWS Staff

The AFTCO Adapt Tactical Phase Change Hooded Shirt resets the bar for performance shirts. Its bio-based Phase Change fabric delivers intelligent technology that automatically reacts to changes in body temperature with dynamic cooling or warming. Key features include UPF 50, SpeedVent active hood and integrated, ergonomic face mask for optimal sun protection, plus mesh ventilation panels, cuff thumb holes, and tactical camo print.

AFTCO Barricade Elite 4L Waterproof System won for cold weather apparel
Best Cold Weather Technical Apparel: AFTCO Barricade Elite 4L Waterproof System SWS Staff

The Barricade Elite Waterproof System is comprised of a jacket and bibs featuring 100 percent nylon 4-layer construction designed for the rigors of the saltwater environment. The jacket of this 30K waterproof/7K breathable system from AFTCO incorporates the innovative SpeedVent Hood to eliminate neck strain, Double Dry Cuffs to prevent water seepage, YKK AquaGuard chest zippers, kill switch D-Ring, and reflective logos. The bibs include the signature elastic shoulder straps with swivel buckle, reinforced utility pocket, YKK AquaGuard side zippers, customizable hem cinching system, as well as a kill switch D-Ring and reflective logos.

Xtratuf Ankle Deck Boot Sport won for best footwear
Best Footwear: Xtratuf Ankle Deck Boot Sport SWS Staff

With a sportfishing-specific silhouette that makes it up to 30 percent lighter than similar 6-inch boots, and built from Pro Lite, a new high-performance foam that is ultra durable and slip resistant, the Ankle Deck Boot Sport from Xtratuf delivers the comfort and agility of a sneaker with long cushion life and high energy return. The new boot is designed with a one-piece outsole, and offers the same traction of a full rubber boot.

Plano Atlas Tackle Pack won for best tackle management
Best Tackle Management: Plano Atlas Tackle Pack SWS Staff

The Atlas Tackle Pack from Plano is a durable tackle-carrying solution that combines the strength of a hard-sided tackle box with the lightweight portability of a soft-sided tackle bag. The new pack is loaded with design features that make it ultra-efficient. The sturdy, high-density polyethylene base is both skid-resistant and waterproof. EVA panels surround the body for a solid foundation, allowing the pack to stand up and keep its form even when empty, while padded shoulder straps help distribute the weight, and a patented magnetic Dropzone at the top, holds tools and lures for quick access. The pack also includes a bungee-cord rod holder, tool holders, water-resistant cell phone pocket, internal zippered mesh pockets, molded, clamshell-style side pockets, and three Plano 3750 StowAway utility.

Frabill Universal Bait Station won for best cooler
Best Soft or Hard Cooler: Frabill Universal Bait Station SWS Staff

The Universal Bait Station from Frabill is a durable and portable multi-purpose cooler. A side-mounted aerator lets anglers carry and maintain live bait safe and healthy, the quick-access door allows for efficient bait capture through the lid, and the non-slip, waterproof base keeps the soft-sided cooler in place. Designed to hold up to 8 quarts of water or ice, this versatile, insulated cooler also has the dimensions to carry 3600-size Stowaway tackle boxes instead.

BUBBA Pro Series Cordless Electric Fillet Knife won for best cutlery
Best Cutlery, Pliers or Tool: BUBBA Pro Series Cordless Electric Fillet Knife SWS Staff

The BUBBA Pro Series Cordless Electric Fillet Knife has been designed to meet the needs of the hardcore angler, with industry-leading power and technology for unparalleled cutting efficiency. The brushless motor delivers 21 percent more torque, 22 percent more efficiency, and up to 100 percent more power, making the Pro Series cordless EFK the most powerful electric fillet knife on the market. It features BUBBA’s features the brand’s iconic non-slip grip, and comes with 7-inch E-Flex, 9-inch E-Flex, 9-inch E-Stiff and 12-inch E-Stiff blades, as well as 2 batteries. The Magnum Battery (sold separately) can be added for more power and runtime.

The Zeppelin by Sharkbanz won for terminal tackle
Best Terminal Tackle: The Zeppelin by Sharkbanz SWS Staff

Touted as the world’s first shark-deterrent tackle, The Zeppelin from Sharkbanz (sharkbanz.com) uses the company’s patented magnetic technology to repel predatory shark species, protecting your catch and gear. Researched and tested by marine biologists, the Zeppelin overwhelms a shark’s electroreception, creating a highly unpleasant sensation that will stop the ocean’s apex predators in their tracks, but won’t ward off other fish. Proven effective for bottomfishing, the Zeppelin can be used to replace the sinker on your rig. The compact design minimizes drag.

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