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ICAST 2023 Coverage


 

KastKing Makes Big Moves with the iReel One

 

Date: 7/18/23
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: KastKing
Reviewer: Zander








Introduction:
KastKing, once known primarily for their value reels, made big moves this ICAST with the launch of their own smart reel. The iReel brings the Internet of Things (IoT) to US anglers, with the capability of providing real-time data to anglers as well as a plethora of statistics that anglers can use to identify patterns, make adjustments, and adapt quickly to improve their on-the-water success.

 


The iReel One is a smart reel that is capable of providing real time metrics and consolidated trip data via a KastKing App

iReel One: KastKing is still a relative newcomer when it comes to the reel market, yet the company has quickly grown over the last few years and have become known for their bang-for-buck. Over the last two seasons, they have made significant advances in product quality, ergonomics, and the creation of their own brand identity. Once panned by some anglers who viewed their reels as cheaper facsimiles of JDM manufacturers, we are now seeing products that truly have unique designs and features, and the new iReel is a great example of that.


Joe Woodward, Head of Marketing at KastKing and Tate Cui, CEO at KastKing had multiple iReel One reels at ICAST for attendees to cast and experience the real time data reporting  

The first thing that some critics say is that KastKing just copied the Daiwa JDM IM Z Limitbreaker. However, digging into the technology and application, the reels are completely different in terms of feature-set and design. Yes, both reels are considered smart reels that leverage Bluetooth for their connectivity, but while the IM Z Limitbreaker focuses on managing casting profiles and improving casting performance, the iReel is more about managing data. Every time an angler makes a cast, the iReel provides real-time casting metrics, including distance, cast speed, and during retrieval, it reports retrieve speed and cadence. It tracks all of this data and can report it via a voice broadcast function in real-time to your smartphone speaker, Bluetooth earphones/speaker, or even KastKing's own Bluetooth-enabled FishIQ smart-glasses.


The iReel can connect to your smartphone and provide real time reporting to earphones, smartwatches and even KastKing's own Fish IQ Smart Glasses via Bluetooth

All of this is managed via an intuitive app that can chart individual casts or your entire day of fishing, and map that data to show casts on a map thanks to GPS and trip logging. There is clearly a lot that went into creating the embedded system hardware, software, and accompanying app.


The Fish IQ Smart Fishing Glasses provide audio reporting with directional audio and can be used just like bluetooth headphones to listen to music or take phone calls

So why would an angler even want a smart reel or all of this data? The most obvious reason is because it is fun, but like with all things in today's connected world, there is potential value in unlocking patterns in data. KastKing explains, "Similar to how statistical player analysis in baseball helped teams identify undervalued players and make more strategic decisions, the iReel's objective is to help anglers enhance their fishing skills and improve their overall performance. By reviewing their successes and failures, anglers can identify patterns, uncover trends, and make necessary adjustments based on the prevailing conditions."


The KastKing App is surprisingly refined and user friendly

Personally, I view the iReel One as another tool, and ability to track casting statistics and where anglers have success on various bodies of water during different conditions could be useful. Just like how live sonar has changed the way anglers fish, learning how to apply data like this can potentially enhance their understanding of the local fishing environment, analyze successes and failures with different lures on any given day, and enable them to make adjustments faster.


Another interesting design feature is the Axis Eye line guide that rotates to reduce sharp angles and maximize casting distance

There are two different iReels, the IFC and AMB, and the main difference between the two is that the IFC features a digital braking system, while the AMB has a more traditional mechanical braking system. Both reels feature lightweight aluminum frames with carbon fiber side plates, 11+1 double-sealed stainless steel bearings, 7.2:1 gear ratios, and a brand-new line guide system called Axis Eye. The Axis Eye is a large line guide that provides a wide line out aperture for a more friction-free, straighter, and longer cast. On retrieves, it flips, so the edges of the silicon nitride-coated Eye enable a cleaner line lay across the surface of the spool. This is kind of like KastKing's own take on the Daiwa T-Wing system, and does something similar with a rotating eye versus one that flips up and down.


Once the gear is re-engaged the Axis Eye rotates to help direct line back onto the spool evenly

Both reels charge via a USB-C port at the bottom of the handle-side gearbox, and one full charge provides 30 days of fishing data reporting (4 hours per day). However, the reels can still be fished without this feature when there is no power.


Trying out iReel One for the first time and seeing, and hearing, the data reporting live

I cast the iReel IFC at ICAST and was impressed with the feel and overall casting performance of the reel. The real-time reporting via the speaker is pretty cool, but what I was most interested in was the app's ability to log every cast on every trip and provide that historical data, and even milestones like the trip's longest cast, fastest cast, and average retrieve speed.


Casting position and stats are tracked on a map via GPS

The ability to track fishing activity on the map is a cool way to analyze patterns and see which areas were most productive on the trip. The functionality and maturity of the app were impressive, but what was mind-blowing was how aggressively priced these feature-rich reels are. The iReel AMB will retail for only $299, and the IFC will retail for only fifty dollars more with an MSRP of $349. That is a lot of reel and technology for the money!


The iReel One IFC features a digital cast control system called "Intelligent Frequency Control" or "IFC". The iReel One AMB model uses a more traditional magnetic braking system

Skeet Reels: KastKing and Pro Angler Skeet Reese have joined forces to introduce a new series of signature reels called the Icon Series. The first reel is an aluminum-framed baitcaster with carbon fiber side covers and weighs in at a respectable 7 ounces. The reel comes loaded with 11+1 bearings and features the company's AutoMag braking system, which consists of a one-piece ring magnet and integrated centrifugal system designed to make casting easier for anglers of all skill levels. The reel comes with an aluminum main gear and a brass pinion gear with a versatile 7.2:1 gear ratio. The reel also boasts a triple disc carbon fiber drag that is designed to deliver over 17 lbs. of drag pressure.


Skeet is partnering with KastKing for his new signature Icon reels

No reel endorsed by Skeet would be complete without some of his yellow signature colors, and we are happy to see how this is executed on the new Icon BC reel. Rather than making the whole frame yellow, the only yellow on the reels are the TPE handle knobs, and on the non-handle sideplate, Skeet's signature can be found behind the cast control dial.


The Icon has the company's AutoMag dual braking system which has a magnet ring and center centrifugal mechanism

Overall, the reel is immediately recognizable, stands out from the rest of the KastKing portfolio, and is still tastefully done. The best thing about the new Skeet Reese ICON baitcaster is that it is available in both right and left-hand retrieves for the very accessible price of only $99. Skeet has always been a man of the people.


KastKing is becoming a force to be reckoned with and now offers aggressively priced rods, line, and even smart reels.

Our Quick Take: I was not expecting KastKing to bring out the most innovative baitcaster of the show, but they really surprised me, and other manufacturers. When I was at ICAST I witnessed competing reel manufacturers crowding the KastKing booth, and I even saw some of them taking the sideplates off to examine the casting system. KastKing’s ability to bring a smart reel and such a user-friendly accompanying app to the U.S. so quickly is impressive, but the fact that they are offering the new iReels for the price of competing performance-class basitcasters at $350, and under, is extraordinary. I look forward to putting the iReel to the test on my home water to see just how well it holds up, and whether I can apply the data to improve my fishing effectiveness and experience. This ICAST KastKing made some big moves, and with the iReel they made a statement that they are not only engineering unique offerings but are not afraid to bring them to market. I am personally excited to see where they go next.

 

   

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