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Featured Article: Show Coverage

TackleTour's "Best of Show" products from ISE 2003

Date: 2/12/03
Location: San Mateo, CA
Event Dates: 1/29-2/2
Admission: Adults: 10 Dollars 
Kids 12 and under: Free
Reviewer: Team TackleTour

Introduction: ISE 2003 was filled with hundreds of manufacturers, and TackleTour had the daunting task of picking out the "Best of the Best" products out of many new and innovative products and solutions. Here we showcase TackleTour's "Best of Show" products that stood out from the entire crowd and caught our eyes in one way or another.


Larry Laba, founder of SOAR Inflatables, showed us the latest in fishing accessories for the canoes and also explained the construction leading to its rugged design

SOAR Inflatables: Reaching their tenth year in production, SOAR has always been there when a versatile and rugged inflatable watercraft was called for. Larry Laba, the founder of SOAR, introduced  us to their selection in quality inflatables ranging from their smaller 12 foot to their 16 foot canoes.  What really impressed us was the durability these inflatable canoes had built into their design. Both the tubes and bottom used 840 denier nylon, the additional coatings are what makes these canoes simply outstanding. The top is coated with 30 oz. Hypalon and the bottom employs a thick and tough 36 oz. neoprene that's nearly tear-proof.  We tried to rip a piece of the same neoprene material that's used in all SOAR inflatables from the center that already had a cut without any success.


Aside from their many uses such as white water rafting trips, Alaskan adventures, and dive platforms, these watercrafts are also great for fishing. This year SOAR introduces more fishing accessories such as a mounting board for rod holders, fish finders, and even downriggers! Other accessories that you might like for fishing are a hefty motor mount and padded seats with good support. SOAR, located right next to the well known Russian River, also has a service for white water rafting in a calm stretch, where adventure seekers of any level can enjoy a day out paddling. We can't wait for our upcoming test using these canoes on the Russian River fishing for hard fighting Steelheads. (Stay tuned for the story next month)


This is the fishing line abrasion test machine that follows Sufix to all shows.  At the time of the photo the Sufix Tritanium Plus reached 137 times beating out about 6 other manufacturers, and it continues on its own for a much longer duration before it finally breaks


Sufix: Fishing lines are as important as any other piece of equipment. If the line breaks you're simply out of luck no matter how nice a rig you fish. Sufix has been  a big hit worldwide by introducing lines that are true to its words "anti-abrasion" displayed on the package.  If you missed this line test at the ISE show, you must see it for yourself the next time you walk by the Sufix booth at any fishing show. Jeff Babb, President of Callan Western Sales, showed TackleTour the abrasion test between the Sufix Tritanium Plus and these lines, all at 20lb. test: PLine, Stren Xtra Strength, Maxima, Big Game, Ande, and their own Sufix DNA. The average amount of times the other lines rubbed on the rough surface before breaking was about 12, while test after test the same strip of Tritanium Plus kept on going, reaching numbers well above 200.  The Sufix Tritanium Plus is a advanced anti-abrasion copolymer fishing line that delivers superb performance and is incredibly strong and abrasion resistant.  This is not a line to overlook if you fish hairy situations filled with structure!


Bruce Hewlett shows us how the CrabCatcher can be an alternatively fun way to reel in some crabs 


GrabCatcher: While we walked passed The Bass Bin in the Expo Hall we noticed a rather large crowd gathering around a single person holding a little box with lines hanging off of it. We simply had to get closer and see what this product was.  As we finally made our way through the crowd, Bruce Hewlett, explained more about this little trap. This unique product, CrabCatcher, is actually a crab trap that's used with a heavy duty fishing rod. This meshed box holds your favorite crab bait, has four trap loops that will snag the legs of the crab when you jerk your rod up in a traditional hook set motion. When reeling in, keeping your line tight will ensure the loop remains tight around the crabs' legs.  It is as simple as that. This innovative CrabCatcher costs only $9.99 and can be an alternatively fun way for you to reel up some crabs in the future.


Bob of Techni-Ice showcase how useful this innovative sheet can be the next big thing to keeping your fish and beverages cool. When the plastic is torn, the active ingredients that make up the Techni-Ice will not spill out (upper right)


Techni-Ice: A new and exciting product that caught many people's attention including ours was a flat sheet that can be used as an ice pack when frozen or heat pack when placed in the microwave oven. New from Australia, this innovative product can be transported and stored easily until it is absolutely needed. Techni-Ice comes in inactive sheets in 10" by 15.6" that consists of 24 individual cells. That means that you can actually cut the sheets up into smaller sizes to fit your application. To activate these sheets all you have to do is soak them in water fully submerged for about 5 minutes, or until the cells swell up completely, then Techni-Ice is ready to be either heated or frozen. The product has four layers which is fully washable, have a heavy duty plastic surface on both sides, and the two internal fabric layers that contain larger refrigerant polymer level and also prevents the interior material from getting everywhere if the outer plastic ever rips. This innovative ice pack creates no mess, is reusable year after year, and stays frozen for many days (great for those long trips out fishing in the ocean).


St. Croix President, Paul Schluter  took time to show us the Legend Elite Fly rod that uses their advanced IPC technology on a multi-sectional rod.  They have also introduced a new reel that's made in England (upper right)


St. Croix: As you can tell, some manufacturers always make it back onto TackleTour's Best of Show one way or another every year.  St. Croix is one of them. For 2003 they introduced many new fishing rods that display their true craftsmanship.  St. Croix changed their entire line of surf rods, added new rods to some categories, and released some new technique specific rods such as drop shot rods. Besides the new exciting sport fishing rods, what really caught our attention was in their Fly booth at the Sportsmen's show where Paul Schluter, President of St. Croix, highlighted their latest and greatest in fly rods. The entirely new line of Legend Elite fly rods are truly amazing.  These rods use their IPC technology, which was easy to implement in sport fishing rods, but a great deal of a challenge in multi-sectional fly rods.  Yet St. Croix was able to perfect their technique ultimately producing a fine piece of equipment. Other features that makes the Legend Elite Fly rods our pick is a slim-profile ferrule system, the use of their highest quality graphite, and much more.


In addition to many new and exciting rods in both the fly and sport fishing areas, they have also introduced spinning and fly reels. The fly reels are made in England from aerospace grade bar stock aluminum, sealed disc drag system, and is saltwater ready. Many of these new products are now widely available.


Introducing the Limited Edition G.Loomis rod, the GLX2000 features different components and a really expensive paint job


G.Loomis: GLoomis, yet another big name that always amazes TackleTour with new products, does it again.  At their booth they had their display of new rods which include an entirely new series of spinnerbait and frog rods.  But if you looked carefully you will notice something that's totally out of the ordinary.  In a rack full of rods one rod stood out among the others and caught our eyes immediately. Standing there was a casting rod that we have never seen before but looked like a model that we commonly use for bass fishing, the MBR-783C.  That's exactly what it was, but with a twist of excitement. The GLX2000 is a special limited edition MBR-783C bass rod that sports all titanium components at the reel lock, guides, and cork butt cap.  The paint used on the GLX2000 is truly amazing.  GLoomis spent about $1500 just on the paint for the 200 Limited Edition rods. This coat of paint changes color when reflected at different angles. Not exactly a new invention, but this GLX2000 will surely be a hit for Loomis lovers that can't wait to get their hands on a unique limited edition special rod to add to their collection.


Toru Takahashi, Product Planning Manager for Daiwa holds up the new Saltiga


Daiwa: Daiwa continues to introduce strong products that not only show their abilities to be one of the top reel manufacturers, but also with their more high-tech and innovative moves. This year one exciting piece they showcased at the San Mateo show was their Saltiga saltwater conventional reel that has a frame and sideplates machined from aircraft bar stock aluminum that's hard anodized to prevent any corrosion. Packed with this solid body, this reel contains seven bearings, a beautiful blue aluminum spool, dual anti-reverse system, massive machine cut high-strength alloy gears, and many more outstanding components that ensure the reel will handle any harsh saltwater environments, and the biggest baddest of fish in the deep sea. Word has it that it that these premium Saltiga reels are just now arriving on store shelves.


Mike Hannery of TICA, highlights the popular surf rod and their low profile baitcast reel, the Sculptor


TICA: TICA's booth always has a cornucopia of products displayed. They offer many rods and reels for all types of fishing. Mike Hannery of TICA highlighted to us their new surf rods that are selling well in coastal locations, especially in Asian countries where saltwater fishing is pretty much the primary outlet for anglers. These rods are now being introduced here on the West coast and are becoming more popular each day. Their incredible value in a feature packed surf rod is hard to pass up. The rod itself features high modulus graphite, superior strength, heat treated stainless steel guides and tough low resistance ring produce less friction and result in better casting, all integrated with a comfortable and non-slip grip. In addition Mike also mentioned that their low profile baitcast reel, the Sculptor, is winning its way into many angler's hands. 

Conclusion: ISE 2003 was filled with new and exciting tackle and our goal to focus and nail down the ones that truly demonstrated it's innovation, uniqueness, and quality, was a difficult task with so many good contenders. But in the end it was these eight manufacturers that showed our editors something that really caught our eyes in terms of quality, performance, and sheer innovation. Other notable manufacturers were Alpine Innovations with their accessories like the finger "Stripee" for fly fishing and Crave Bait for their innovative products on trout dough baits and catfish scents.


Congratulations to all our "Best of Show" winners, all of which showcased extremely exciting product offerings...all of which we will cover in more depth shortly.

(Stay tuned for Part 3/3 of this article where we highlight our picks for best of show products in the Fly Fishing arena!) 










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