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Featured Article: Show Coverage

TackleTour's "Best of Show" reels and rods from ICAST 2002 (Top secret products revealed!)

Date: 7/23/02
Location Las Vegas, NV
Admission Buyers/Press only
Reviewer: Team TackleTour

Introduction: ICAST 2002 was a showcase of some of the most exciting products that are just about to hit the market in the second part of this year. While hundreds of manufacturers displayed great offerings these 5 reel and rod manufacturers presented products that really stood out and deserve a closer look.

The "Best of Show" reels and rods: The following are the reel and rod manufacturers at ICAST that caught our attention by displaying something unique and/or truly exciting.


A trio of new Shimano reels. Stella (Main), Castaic S-Concept (upper left),
Stradic (Left-mid)

Shimano (Reels):
Shimano pulled out all the big guns this year as they prepare to introduce exciting redesigns of the of some of their most popular reels. Shimano's flagship reel, the Stella, gets a redesign that incorporates new materials, a new blue color, increased souped up gearing and a bearing upgrade. The Stella felt extremely smooth and is slightly lighter then the current model. One of the most radical changes was the introduction of a beveled spool on the 2000 and up sized Stellas. The Stella was impressive enough to also win ICAST's award for best new reel as well.

To compete with the newly introduced Capricorn from Daiwa, Shimano has also redesigned the top selling Stradic. The result is a much sleeker and smoother reel that shares some components from the Sustain. The new soft grip handle is very comfortable, and the titanium lipped spool is a major upgrade from the older model's standard aluminum.

Finally, huge news for fan's of Shimano's Castaic flipping reel. A redesign introduces the "S-Concept" which stands for a new standard of smoothness, strength, and silence in reel engineering. The new Castaic features an attractive aluminum body and a new clutch system that is easy to flip back with your thumb from either side of the reel, and also keeps the spool more exposed for feathering. The new Castaic also makes use of a wiffle spool and Shimano Super Free technology. Original Castaic fans can rest easy as Shimano plans to continue production of their existing Castaic and sell these two reels simultaneously.

John Bretza, Okuma's National Sales Manager highlights the new Titus gold reel. The Axiom shore reel (upper left), and Okuma's first baitcaster the Nitryx (lower right)

Okuma (Reels): Okuma continues to gain popularity with the introduction of some of the finest reels for the money available on the market today. The Inspira, is the latest new reel positioned above the Metaloid, and is coming to stores in time for the holiday season. This reel features all machined brass gearing and will retail for under 100 dollars. Basically Okuma's goal with this reel is to deliver features and construction found in reels twice the Inspira's price, and from the samples we got to play with it looks like they have succeeded.

Okuma fans will also rejoice as the Nitryx, the company's first conventional baitcaster makes its way into final production. This sleek looking conventional features a 2 stack drag system, 5BB, and a complete aluminum construction. With a detailed frame design and impressive finishing we were blown away by the aggressive estimated retail price of only 69-74.99 dollars!

The casting and trolling reels that made Okuma famous also get tweaked with infinite anti reverse in both the large Convector and Titus gold series reels. The beautiful Titus gold reels are now completely silent and feature an extremely fine tuned level drag, as well as a new grip for more fighting power.

Most exciting for west coast shore anglers is the introduction of Okuma's large spooled shore spinning reels. These giant reels feature high quality components, a wide spool with special anti-tangle protective guard, and a forged handle with comfortable power grip. Made with a combination of power and casting distance in mind, the high end Axiom will retail for 139-149.00. This is one reel we can't wait to field test on the Pacific shore for surf stripers!

TICA USA's VP, Alex Hung shows us a wealth of TICA offerings including lever brake reels, fine bass and walleye rods with customizable butts (upper right), and the well designed Flymaster reel (lower right)

TICA (Reels): Walking by TICA's booth you just couldn't help being drawn to the wide assortment of shining TICA reels. TICA continues to make a name for themselves in the U.S. market with an assortment of premium offerings. With a rod and reel for every application TICA was one of the few manufacturers that offered high quality reels with lever brakes. These lever brake reels are extremely popular in Asia.


High end TICA reels like the TICA TP-B feature an impressive array of specifications that include 14 BB, Brass gearing, and titanium plated line roller. What is so impressive about TICA reels is the flashy finishing, these reels are real attention getters, and some of them are a real work of art with attractive of gold and silver trim. Proving that TICA also knows how to make premium baitcasters TICA expands their popular Caiman line of reels. these reels feature one screw access and a extremely silky feel with up to 12 BBs!

Leaving no stone unturned TICA also introduces new Flymaster Fly reels. These reels are designed for the serious fly fisherman and offer a combination of art and technology. All Flymaster reels have a TICA designed anti-reverse, hexagon cut frames, and are right or left handle retrieve.


Finally, when we thought we saw it all TICA introduced TackleTour to their extensive line of rods. One rod in particular that stood out was TICA's bass casting rods that feature an innovative rotating cork butt for increased comfort, and a rubber coated reel seat that protects your reel while holding it firmly in place. The wealth of offerings and high quality craftsmanship truly made TICA products stand out.

Lynden Huggins showcases the new application specific spinnerbait rod, a new sensitive handle grip on the drop shot rod (lower left), and a attractive green finish sets the GLoomis Frog rod apart (upper right)

GLoomis (rods): Leave it to GLoomis to come out with premium rods that continue to set the bar in terms of performance and detail in design. To further provide application specific rods GLoomis is about to introduce spinnerbait, drop shot, and the all new frog rod. These rods feature new colors and a printed profile of the application on the rod for easy identification. Because these rods are designed for very specific applications they excel at providing attributes suited for your favorite lure and fishing style. The frog rod for example features a quick tip to flick frogs long distances over weed beds, but has a super strong butt for dragging fish out of the hairiest situations. These rods will be available in roughly 3 weeks, in time for the upcoming classic.

In addition the GLoomis "Fear no Fish" brand continues to grow in popularity. New branded caps, shirts, and bags are making their way to store shelves now.

Quarrow President, Don Beaulieu proudly displays the O.T. Fears designed Dream catcher rods which are a lot of rod for the money

Quarrow (rods): Quarrow impressed our team of editors 4 months ago when they were awarded a Best Value award for their ML3 rod. At the show Quarrow's President, Don Beaulieu, continued to impress us with the Dream Catcher series of rods designed by O.T. Fears. These rods are shipping now and feature a great balance of features like the latest Fuji reel seats and concept guide technology, and blanks designed for very specific applications. The Dream Catcher rods are easily identifiable by their green blank and interwoven green and red threading at the base of the rod. Extremely light weight and sensitive these rods really stood out for their outstanding value.

Conclusion: ICAST had so much to offer in terms of exciting new rods and reels this year. Picking just 5 manufactures was a truly difficult task, but the following five manufacturers presented the right balance of innovative product offerings, excellent construction, and right price points to win our vote. Other notable manufactures included Quantum with their new PT reels and rods, Abu Garcia's new EON Pro and EON Low Profile, and Van Staal's C-Vex removable sealed drag premium fly reels.

Congratulations to all our "Best of Show" highlighted manufacturers, all of which showcased extremely exciting product offerings.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the ICAST "Best of Show" where we explore the most exciting storage solutions, lures, innovations, and watercraft!









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