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Featured Article: Show Coverage

ICAST 2003 Best of Show, a bounty of innovation

Date: 7/21/03
Location Las Vegas, NV
Admission Buyers/Press only
Reviewer: Team TackleTour

Introduction: ICAST is a great place to learn about the industry status, facts, and trends. But let's all get to the real reason why TackleTour is here...it's the tackle. This year's best of show products were among the most innovative we have seen to date. From reels with microelectronics to Spongebob combos, this year's ICAST offered plenty of surprises.


The "Best of Show" storage solutions, lures, innovations and watercraft: The following are manufacturers at ICAST that really stood out by displaying something unique and/or truly exciting.


The Shimano Calcutta TE 200 DC features a digital control brake system!

Shimano: Shimano won the ICAST Best of Show Award with a souped-up Calcutta. Tackle fans will recognize the Calcutta TE DC as the same reel recently introduced in Japan under the Calcutta Conquest DC name. This reel uses a digital cast control system which achieves optimal brake performance by relaying reel conditions back to the processor at the speed of 1/1000 sec. The computer can then make minute adjustments allowing the spool to have higher initial speeds then any conventional brake system, and helps boost overall casting distance. While Shimano was giving quite impressive cast demonstrations at the show we still had many unanswered questions, like how does the cast control apply force to the spool? How is the system powered? How durable is the system, and can it really resist the elements? This reel is slated for introduction into the U.S. sometime this summer, and we will continue to report on any details we learn. From what we saw this may be the most innovative reel we have ever seen, at the very least it certainly is the most advanced.

Key Update: (7/22/03): Shimano media contact
John Mazurkiewicz was very supportive in answering all our questions regarding this exciting new reel. We learned that the Calcutta TE DC stores its own power generated by spool rotation to operate the spool braking system. The digital braking system uses eight pre-programmed braking patterns applied via an electromagnetic system. The digital circuit board is indeed sealed to prevent any moisture from penetrating the heart of the system, so corrosion of these advanced components is not a concern.

Being that this system allows the spool to continue to accelerate throughout the cast — up to 30,000 RPM — before any braking action is engaged, “these reels will provide anglers with hard-to-believe casting distance,” states Jeremy Sweet with Shimano’s product development staff. “As the circuit board activates the electromagnetic brakes, they respond by applying the ideal amount of force needed updated every 1/1000th of a second to keep the line tension as close to zero as possible to minimize any backlashes. Achieving long distance casts that keep your lures in the water longer, little worry about backlashes, and other proven features including our exclusive A-RB anti-rust bearings, all take reel technology to a next level,” Sweet said. “The new Calcutta TE DC reels showcase what Shimano is all about – innovation so anglers can enjoy their fishing experience even more.”

The Calcutta TE DC reels are simply the most advanced reels we have seen this year. The suggested retail price is 499.99, and judging from the information we have thus far been fortunate enough to learn, we expect many anglers, including us, will be more then happy to shell out five bills for this contemporary reel!

Kelly Coleman, Product Manager at Zebco, shows off the Icast winning "kids tackle" the Spongebob fishing combo. (Upper left: new smaller Omega)

Zebco: Zebco has been very busy this year with the introduction of some major redesigns and fresh products. At the show we were shown an engineering sample a smaller version of the popular Omega. In addition Zebco highlighted the newly redesigned Zebco 33. The 33 has been among the most popular, and most trusted, reels since it's introduction in 1954. This reel has taught many generations of anglers how to fish, and the redesigned version ushers in a new level of ergonomics and performance. But with all the new products Zebco took home the big prize with it's clever new kids combo, featuring Spongebob Squarepants. This combo comes complete with a casting plug so that the next generation of anglers can begin practicing that perfect cast right at home.

John Kushnerick showed us the entire line of new saltwater reels and rods in Quantum's new Cabo series, these reels and rods are very detailed in design (right), and are built to handle the rigors of saltwater fishing.
(Left: New Catalyst X-Metal titanium vacuum coating)

Quantum: No reel manufacturer has made such a big jump into the premium tackle category as Quantum. Last year TackleTour awarded an Editors Choice award to Quantum's Catalyst PTi reel, and this year they up the ante even further by introducing X-Metal versions, essentially a titanium vacuum coating on the reel body adds even more durability, and a beautiful finish that you have to see to believe! No two reels are the same, and seem to change color with every angle you turn the reel. But the biggest news at Quantum is the company's push into the saltwater arena. John Kushnerick showed us the entire line of Quantum Cabo PT and Boca PT (spinning) reels and rods. These outstanding products are built with top notch components, and are designed to handle harsh saltwater applications. Quantum seems to be doing all the right things, as weekend anglers, as well as tour pros like Kevin VanDam, are making the switch to Quantum as their premium reel choice.

Manny Menchaca, Marketing Specialist, and Charles Chang, President, showcase the newest Okuma offerings. (Upper Right: the new completely machined Induron conventional baitcast reel)

Okuma: While many reel manufacturers increase their product lines, and their prices, the mission at Okuma remains the same...build better products at even better prices! This year Okuma increases it's fly, surf, and baitcast offerings, but maintains their commitment to incredible bang for the buck. To follow up the success of the their first baitcast reel, the Nitryx, Okuma will be introducing their next generation round reel...the Induron. The Induron starts where the Nitryx left off, with a completely machined aluminum frame. This lightweight aluminum frame is machined rather then cast for extremely tight tolerances, and a overall more refined look and feel. Overall Okuma has one of the most encompassing product lines, with an assortment of fly, surf, baitcast, spin, and big game reels...all within the average angler's price range.

Kentaro Hara, SPRO General Manager, shows off a mega sized model of their award winning Prime Minnow (Upper Right: the new floating Prime Minnow, notice the tiny lip used to augment realistic movement)

SPRO: Premium lures is what SPRO is all about, and at this year's ICAST show SPRO introduces new designs and applications for it's popular bucktail Prime Minnow jigs. Kentaro Hara, SPRO General Manager, showed us new bottom bouncing versions as well as a very smart floating version. The floating buckatil can be skirted across the surface or Carolina rigged for perfect strike zone positioning.

Last year SPRO won our Innovation Award for their clever Stowaway net, and this year they merge the same concept into a clever new gaff. The SPRO gaff is a 2 piece telescoping graphite rod, sure to be a big hit with saltwater anglers that can use the reach of a good gaff, and utilize as little storage space as possible.

Ambush Representative James Turner was happy to show us the Ambush Stealth Diver, and we were more then happy to meet Carrie and Amber from the
"Ambush Posse"

Ambush Lures: Ambush lures featured their Stealth Diver lure which possesses a very natural swim pattern, and adds the element of natural scent. This lipless crankbait features flo-thru technology, which is essentially a tunnel crafted through the front of the lure to the rear. This creates natural motion and a realistic turbulence behind the lure. In addition sticky attractant can be poured into the tunnel for perfect scent trail delivery.

3rdGrip continues to innovate with it's new accessories and bag design

3rdGrip: Last year 3rdGrip freed up a hand for all of us when they introduced their clever 3rdGrip rod holster. This year they make 2 excellent additions to the system, a fly rod adapter, and most importantly a beer, I mean, beverage holder. In addition 3rd Grip ventures into new territory with a clever saltwater bag which is wrapped around a conventional organizer crate which you would pick up at Office Depot or Staples. This huge storage solution allows anglers to stack their largest rods, and bring along just about everything you need for a day on the water.

Marine Metal Products introduces the very portable Bubble Bag, designed to keep your bait alive and kicking for a full day of fishing

Marine Metal Products: Nothings worse then buying a bucket of minnows and have them die before you even start fishing. Marine Metal Products solves this problem with their very portable Bubble Bag Bait Server. This self contained 8qt bag is made of 30mil vinyl for a strong frame, and yet is collapsible when not in use. The aerator motor can run 33 hours on a pair of alkaline batteries, and the system comes complete with a adjustable dip net and beverage holders. We liked the very large pail door, which will allow easy access to your bait. No more fumbling around for dead minnows!

Cecil Hoge (President) and John Hoge (Vice President) show us their award winning Sea Eagle boats and new Panther Martin swimbait (upper right)

Harrison Hoge/Panther Martin/Sea Eagle: Sea Eagle is working on new enhancements to it's popular line of boats, including new designs of their very popular Paddleski boats. The Sea Eagle boats are still among the most affordable high quality inflatables on the market, but the biggest news comes from the reintroduction of some Panther Martin old favorites. These reborn lures include the Vivif swimbait, and WeedWing inline buzzbait...both proven fish catchers. In addition a new series of Harrison Hoge poison frogs will be introduced shortly, which sport a very nice holographic inner body finish for an even more realistic form.

Conclusion: There was so much tackle to see at this year's ICAST that the team found it truly a daunting task to single out just these nine manufacturers, but they certainly had plenty of great tackle to show us. One thing is certain, this season there is going to be plenty of new and exciting tackle to choose from. Whether you enjoy browsing the aisles of your favorite local tackle, shopping from catalogs, or online...there's going to be a lot of quality options competing for your hard earned fishing money.

Thanks for the great show guys!  










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