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ICAST 2005:
New Bass Tackle & Industry Trends for 2006

By Russ Bassdozer

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a tackle industry insider? Well, feel just like a privileged insider by reviewing this sixty page report on ICAST. Be among the very first anglers to find out about new products for 2006 by some seventy bass fishing tackle companies, and gain insight into twenty major trends shaping the bass tackle industry today.

Put your finger on the pulse of the bass fishing tackle industry in Russ Bassdozer's comprehensive annual report on ICAST.

ICAST is the North American tackle trade industry insiders annual convention. It is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center each year in mid-July.

ICAST is overwhelming. You have a mere three days to walk the show floor alongside thousands of other tackle industry insiders, visiting as many of the 350 tackle manufacturer booths as time permits (an impossible task), scribbling notes and snapping photos of the hot new products for bass fishing for 2006. It takes a few more days after that to sort ICAST all out, and some solid writing sessions to get this report produced for you.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

Of course, to see something amidst the glitz and hubbub at ICAST is different than to fish with it. So be forewarned that something that looks and sounds swell at ICAST may fail miserably on the water. Even some items that win Best of Show awards (there are twelve product categories) at ICAST may not make it onto the market and may not win real-life angler approval hands-on the water. And other items that look low-key and Clark Kent-ish at ICAST, they may prove to have a spectacular Superman side that only bass can see!

Possible bass fishing tackle industry trends I spotted at ICAST this year include:

  1. Going bass fishing for other species. A trend most visible at ICAST this year is several leading bass tackle manufacturers going fishing for other species - inshore saltwater species (redfish, sea trout, calico and kelp bass, etc.) or other freshwater gamefish (especially walleye, pike, muskie). In general, these are gamefish that would hit the same or similar styles and sizes of lures as bass. On bass hard baits for instance, corrosion-resistant, possibly stronger hooks and saltwater color finishes may be all that's needed to turn many bass lures into inshore saltwater lures. A few nimble bass fishing companies seem eager to cross over to other species markets this year.

  2. Red not fading. Many in the industry felt red was going to fade by this time, but red-mania is currently stronger than ever. The angler demand for red-daubed bait shows no sign of slowing down yet. Most fishing company executives and lure designers at ICAST voiced surprise that the red trend has lasted so long. Some manufacturers are still dragging their feet and slow to get into red, despite anglers still going hog wild over red. Actually, the whole red craze was started by one hook company, Daiichi, and practically one man - TJ Stallings of TTI-Blakemore. After that, red just took off, apparently something that hit an amiable high note with anglers.

  3. Strike spots are becoming popular. Even a company like Lucky Craft, generally considered to have some of the most subtle and muted low-key lure colors for bass (like its translucent Ghost Minnow finish) has conceded to angler demand to get some red on their lures. In 2006, Lucky Craft will offer new bleeding lure finishes. For example, one of its most subtle colors, Ghost Minnow, will now come in Bleeding Ghost Minnow with a bright blast of blood red where it matters most - right at the ideal strike spot - at the belly hook hanger. Overall, strike spots are becoming increasingly popular. Often just simple black dots or red dots or some other strike target to give fish a spot to aim at. And strike spots are moving closer and closer to the nearest hook point, rather than just being somewhere else on a lure.

  4. Hot tail tips on hard baits. Another kind of strike spot or strike enticement getting onto some hard baits is a chartreuse tail tip to a crankbait, jerkbait or topwater - especially the tail's underside. This no doubt carried over from the popularity of chartreuse-dipped tails on soft baits. Now, manufacturers are starting to extend that chartreuse tail tip concept onto hard baits too. Dave Storm has put a chartreuse dye on the end of his SwishTail mylar skirted treble hook instead of tipping chartreuse right on a hard bait's tail. A good idea - chartreuse tail tips on hard baits, or on the rear treble dressing.

  5. It's really getting friggin' froggy. There are so many hollow rubber frogs and solid-bodied soft toads on the market now, by crikey. I ain't fibbin', amphibians are flooding the bass market. Uncle Josh Sizmic Toad. Zoom Horny Toad. Berkley's new Gulp! BatWing. Mann's new Hardnose Swim Toad. Yum's new Buzz Frog. Sumo Frog. Stanley's new Ribbit. A spate of new Snag Proof hollow rubber frogs popped up the past few years. Kanji Customized Frog. Reaction Innovations Swamp Donkey. Mann's new Super Frog. Spro's new Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog. I'm sure I left some out, but you get the point. Few of these frogs existed about two years ago, which was when the current frog frenzy started building to the peak it's at today.

  6. Looking like Lucky Craft is a trend this year. Last year, we reported on Gary Yamamoto's Senko soft bait as being a bass fishing industry trend (it still is). Many (not all) other soft bait vendors have added a Senko-like offering to their product line. This year at ICAST, Lucky Craft hard baits are an industry trend. Many (not all) other hard bait vendors have added something Lucky Craft-like to their product line this year. It was easy to spot many bait shapes remindful of Lucky Craft's two most legendary baits - the Sammy and Pointer. Colors popularized in North America by Lucky Craft - Chartreuse Shad, Ghost Minnow, Lucky Craft-like renditions of Table Rock Shad and Mad Craw - were popping up all over ICAST this year. Favorite generic Japanese hard bait colors like Wakasagi and Ayu patterns were appearing on non-Japanese hard baits too.
    It seems that other bass tackle companies, Lucky Craft's North American peers, are fascinated to witness Minoru Segawa miraculously bring his company and the entire bass fishing tackle industry to an undreamed of, unprecedented level of product quality.
    What's most fascinating is North American anglers have demonstrated they don't mind gladly paying over $15 for a bass bait - if they feel confident it is one of the best made. Anglers have shown they want and don't mind paying for the best possible bass lures by wholeheartedly embracing Lucky Craft. For the rest of the industry, this has given them room to increase quality and resultant price increase necessary in order to provide anglers with the higher quality, better-catching lures that anglers desire. Overall, expect to see more feature-rich, more researched, better developed and therefore higher-priced bass lures as the industry amps up to meet anglers demands for the best possible bass lures.

  7. Other Japanese bass lure companies not so lucky? Other Japanese lure companies may not be so lucky as Lucky Craft in North America. I have no way to be sure about this, and every company is different, but some Japanese lure companies that have journeyed to ICAST the last few years, some tend to say their lure sales in North America fall short of their expectations. Not every Japanese company says this, but it is not an uncommon story either. Some say they are unsure how to approach the North American bass market. They face a different marketing approach than Japanese anglers favor, a different culture, different attitude toward fishing lures, different expectations of what anglers want and hope to get out of a lure fishing experience. Also, the most popular and perfected bass lures in Japan tend to be smaller in general, bass are smaller and more pressured, and leading Japanese bass lure companies are often (not always) smaller companies than their North American counterparts. Some Japanese lure companies have full product lines across many lure types, but tend to become one hit wonders (or only a couple or a few successful lures become hits) in North America. That's all about hard baits. In terms of soft baits from Japan, soft baits simply don't seem to have made it across the Pacific to North America much yet. Partly maybe because typical Japanese soft baits are best-suited to finesse. For example dropshot type applications, and smaller soft baits than the standard North American angler uses here.
    Obviously, some Japanese lure companies can be successful here. Look at Lucky Craft who hit the high road to success in North America, but certainly it was not always peachy for Lucky Craft, and there were times when the road could have seemed very unsure for the company. Bottom line, no two Japanese lure company's experiences in North America are exactly similar, yet some tell a common tale that they are unsure how to approach the North American market, and for those who have sluggish sales here, unsure how to grow them - despite feeling they offer some great bass lures.
  8. China and Eastern Europe as subcontractors to the tackle industry. In addition to Japan being involved as a vendor, there are several other areas of the world presently work more like subcontractors to the North American fishing market. China is burgeoning, but also increasing interest and production from Eastern European fishing tackle manufacturers. Most of these entities, particularly in China, are not necessarily too eager to float their own brands here yet. But each year at ICAST, the trend continues that they are increasingly better at making tackle for the North American market, and increasingly knowledgeable of the North American fishing market. For instance, I spoke with one project manager of a Hong Kong tackle subcontractor at ICAST. His factory employs 800 persons who mainly make lures. They don't make hooks, fishing line, rods or reels. Just 800 persons mainly making lures is a huge, huge operation. Just one of a number of tackle factories in China. They're good at it. Lower costs, ample labor, modern technology, and many advancements in luremaking are being made in China today. Eastern Europe too is interested, definitely able, currently involved, and want to be even more involved in the North American market.
    A "Skater" is an interesting lure used in Europe and Scandinavia for pike, and I have included a photo of one at right that symbolizes some of the things I just wrote about. The Skater isn't a lure type normally found on the North American market, especially not for bass. It looks like a lipless rattlebait, but a Skater is typically wood with no rattles. Most are painted like European perch or bream or trout. Basically a classic and honored nature-scheme finish pervasive in European lures. It gets its name because when you retrieve a Skater very slowly, it is designed to saunter or skate from side to side like Dutchman Hans Brinker on his silver skates. The Skater at right is a recognizable European shape, design and color finish, subcontracted to be made in a Chinese tackle factory by a Japanese vendor to sell to anglers in North America. The Skater lure shown here is a product of the four corners of the world that impact the North American fishing market today and for the foreseeable future. A bit closer to home, subcontracting for North American tackle companies also occurs to a good degree south of our border, such as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico, for example. Some lure vendors take this route, since access to and project management with the companies south of here can be quicker and easier, versus China or Europe.
  9. Holographics rule. Holographic films, foils and finishes have made their way into soft baits, particularly the modern, more durable, tough plastic swimbaits. Plus more and more holographic finishes are popular on hard baits (crankbaits, topwater, jerkbaits).
    Relatively few North American companies have much experience or produce holographic lures themselves, despite holographics being a major lure trend. More than anyone else, the fishing tackle manufacturers in China seem to have advanced the fine art of holographic finishes. Eastern European manufacturers also have their own slightly different style of holographic special effects for walleye, trout, salmon and pike spinner blades and spinner bodies.
    Holographics on bass spinnerbait blades have not really made it onto the scene yet. Partly because it is an imperfect process using heat and holographic film or tape. However, new application techniques are coming that seem improved over current methods to get holographics onto spinnerbait blades but good. As fishing tackle factories (especially in China) revamp and retool to use such newer processes to apply holographics to spinnerbait blades, look for that stunningly beautiful sector of the market to take off.
  10. Bass fishing television. It was just a couple years ago, a major tournament would not air on TV until a few months later. Today, a tournament has practically same day coverage and commentary. Timeliness is a new trend in bass TV. Providing information on what baits and tactics the pros are using is also a trend. Historically, most bass TV would show you plenty of bass boated, but you rarely got much meaningful info on the lures or methods. All that has changed. Today, you get detailed tips on TV from many top pros per show. TV is also making stars out of the top twelve to twenty (if that many) figures in the sport. The new trend in bass TV is to have short clips of  several different leading pros per week. So, instead of the same one bass celebrity hosting a show for one-half hour week after week, you may get three ten-minute mini-stories (vignettes) per week, with a different popular bass star per vignette. There's more of a sports commentator and field reporter approach; less of a show host in this format. You get much more diversity of winning bass stars per show, which stays constantly fresh (plus practically same-day or within-week timeliness) versus the conventional format of one show host per season series.
  11. Spinning tackle gets new respect. Thanks to bass TV, spinning tackle is getting new-earned respect. No doubt you've noticed many top BASS and FLW pros on TV using spinning gear more this year than ever before. I don't think this trend has trickled down to the serious non-professional tournament anglers who think it's sissy to use spinning. However, pros on TV using spinning gear goes far to encourage newer, younger and inexperienced anglers to be more confident and successful with easy-to-use spinning gear. It's good to see the top pros in the world using spinning more and more. Spinning gear is good stuff, despite what the macho baitcaster types out there say.
  12. Shaking Southern Style. Pros have started using spinning gear in part to better handle lightly-rigged finesse worms and light shaking worm jigs. The last time shaking became a trend, it started in Southern California to shake a brass sinker and glass bead with a four-inch finesse worm. The new shaking trend comes out of the Southeast this time around. It involves jigs more, and tends toward longer, say 4" to 7" thin finesse worms this time. The techniques and tackle first evolved for spotted bass, but now it is simply called shaking. New jig hooks with more of a fulcrum effect have been designed for shaking jigs, new lighter wire hooks for rigging finesse worms on spinning gear, and new spinning rods designed for shaking jigs have appeared this year. Confusingly, there are many rods on the market still labeled as shaking rods from the previous California brass 'n glass shaking trend, so be careful what rod you buy.
  13. 3D Eyes. Sounds weird to say it, but the bubble type 3D eyes are a trend, for hard and soft lures. The realism of 3D eyes has caused an overall increase in realism. Across all bass lure types, realism has gone up. When 3D eyes are put on, luremakers usually add other complimentary realism as well - gill outlines, etched mouth, etc. Painted eyes are passť.
  14. Flat Sided Crankbaits. Quite simply, everyone who makes crankbaits has felt obligated to add flat sided ones to their product line lately.
  15. Jointed Crankbaits. These have gained a little attention in early 2005. Therefore, a few more models predictably popped up at ICAST. These are different from tail-jointed crankbaits of the past, which never really made it big. The new style jointed crankbaits are jointed behind the gill section, as if a gill joint. If anglers seem interested and start to produce good results with jointed crankbaits, expect more crankbait companies to add jointed crankbaits to their product lines.
  16. Swimming Jigs. It's really up to one man, Tom Monsoor, to make swimming jigs a national trend or not. Monsoor got close to doing that in 2004, but his uphill battle stalled in 2005. His tournament success in 2006 will determine whether swimming jigs become a bigger trend or not. In the meantime, there isn't anyone fishing a tournament in the area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois who doesn't have one, or more like a couple dozen swimming jigs in his bag.
  17. Swimbait Stew. The swimbait market is like a big stewpot. Luremakers keep a fire going under it, and they keep chucking items into it. Swimbaits tossed into the stew may be traditional injection-molded soft plastic, hand-pours, the more modern and durable swimbait-type plastics with holographic foils, super-stretch plastic, hard plastic, wood, or hybrid hard/soft swimbaits, double-, triple- or quadruple-jointed lures with or without soft tail fins or metal blade tail fins, and with or without frontal diving lips. It seems luremakers may throw most any big bass lure they like into the swimbait stew pot. If it's big, chuck it in. Stir the cauldron a little, let it steep, and it all becomes swimbaits.
    Soft plastic swimbaits have been around for thirty years, but there have never been as many different models of soft swimbaits as today. Originally (let's call them first generation), there were hand-pours and injection-molded soft swimbaits that first appeared in the early eighties. They were not that radically different (except in shape and action tail) than other injected and hand-poured soft baits. In the early nineties, the huge, beautifully-painted trout swimbaits and other huge hand-poured swimbaits began to be made in California for monster bass. For sake of discussion, let's call these second generation, and let's say wood and hard plastic and hybrid hard/soft monster swimbaits are part of that genre. A third generation of swimbaits began to appear in the early 2000's. This third generation is best defined by more durable plastic, holographic finishes and prerigged insider jigheads and internally-molded body weight systems and hookhangers factory-molded into the soft swimbaits.
    Usually, you expect a newer generation of a lure type to replace or make an older generation obsolete. That hasn't happened in swimbaits. All three generations are thriving today, along with all their offshoots and permutations the past thirty years. Swimbaits are more a trend today than ever before - and still really undiscovered by many bass anglers. So there is huge potential to see more stewed up on swimbaits in the future, as bass anglers discover and incorporate swimbaits into their "go to" bag of tricks.
  18. Soft baits being used more? It's hard to prove this, but I sense soft baits are being used more widely today than ever before. No doubt, the Senko may have started this renaissance in increasing use of soft baits, but there have also been other soft baits, creature lures, Reaction Innovations' Smallie Beaver, the new genre of soft toad baits, swimbaits, flipping tubes, Great Lakes tube-dragging, dropshot baits, etc. I do sense a current increase in soft bait usage among bass anglers across the continent. Anglers may still own more crankbaits on average than any other lure type, but soft baits do seem to be more widely used today than ever before.
  19. Tungsten and Titanium increasingly preferred metals. Anglers are finding a preference for tungsten versus lead or other weighty metals as sinkers, spinnerbait, buzzbait, jig and lure heads or bodies or ballast inside lures. Anglers are slowly realizing that tungsten fishes better in the applications mentioned, than any other metal. Titanium is being acclaimed for its diverse beneficial properties, depending on titanium alloy type and application, in lure arms, split rings, rod guide frames, corrosion-proof finishes and other uses that are just beginning to be pioneered with titanium. Same goes with tungsten, applications are still in their infancy. However, companies who invest in ongoing research and development of these two modern fishing tackle metals now, they may technologically advance themselves beyond the rest of the industry and emerge as tomorrow's leaders in tungsten or titanium fishing tackle.
  20. Biodegradable baits beckon. Likewise, soft bait companies who are currently investing in, experimenting with and expanding applications of biodegradable baits today, they may become the soft bait industry leaders of tomorrow. The pioneering research and development they do today may give them an advantage tomorrow versus companies that are not currently investigating and ramping up in this area. Likewise, hard bait companies that are researching hybrid hard/soft baits now will be better poised to meet biodegradability needs if/when they may arise in the future. Biolures are really putting bait back in bait, and at least theoretically, less foolery or trickery should be required to catch more fish with less artificial biolures.

New Rod and Reel Highlights for 2006

New rods shown this year at ICAST are changing. Bass rods are slowly getting longer. There are few new rod introductions under 6'6" nowadays. Most new rods seem 6'8" to 7'2" for most applications plus 7'6" to 8'0" flipping sticks.

A trend across several rodmakers this year is a preoccupation with doing away with grips, handles and reel seats in the name of sensitivity and lightness.

One company, Airrus, has taken it to the extreme, devising a new way to flare out the blank itself where the handle used to go, so you simply have a much-widened part of the rod blank as the rod handle. It felt a bit slippery, but if it gives more sensitivity, pass me the rod rosin please.

Most other companies are trying less severe methods to eliminate material from handles - in order to maximize sensitivity and touch. More and more foregrips are disappearing off rods. On rear grips, it's becoming fashionable and looks stylish to split the continuous-piece rear grip into two smaller grip sections - a split rear grip with exposed blank between the sections.

Reel seats with a soft touch coating are becoming popular. This seems to go against the grain of more sensitivity, but companies say it is more comfortable and provides a surer grip.

Palm swells are appearing, which are swollen humps in the handle, right behind the reel, where your palm would go. The couple I handled were baitcasters, and I liked the fit in my hand very much. I also noticed, but did not handle, a contoured spinning reel seat by American Tackle's that provides a palm swell for spinning rods too.

Overall, I like to have a hefty handle. So, I am not enthused by the current trend to downsize handles. I like to use a handle to, well... handle the rod. So I am uneasy that everyone wants to trim down handles. If there is hardly any handle, how am I going to wield and hold my rod, I wonder? Think of a sword or saber with hardly any handle. No problem, just hold the blade, okay? It will be lighter and more sensitive. So you see, handles have a purpose.

Nor am I convinced that eliminating handle parts will radically heighten sensitivity. I always felt sensitivity was a function of the rod tip (not the handle). Ask any grizzled guide who commands clients to set the hook by watching their rod tips (not their handles).

Heck, I 'm not even a staunch proponent of lightness in a rod. I'd rather have a way to hold it than have it lighter. Indeed, I always make my rods much heavier by stuffing chunky lead slugs in the rod butt for better balance. I always felt rod balance far outweighed lightness? I am probably wrong here since no rodmakers factory-balance rods that way. However, every rod I balance becomes heavier - but vastly improves its sensitivity (to feel the rod tip not feel the handle).

Then again, I always thought the rod's backbone, the spline, should be used to wrap guides either on (baitcasting) or directly opposite (spinning) the rod spline (the rigid backbone of a rod). Yet most all factory-made rods I own are wrapped willy-nilly, as if the rod spline isn't important (it is).

There were also a few companies that ran counter to the rest of the industry. These mavericks introduced hard graphite handles and grips attached to the blank with little or no fillers or shims between the blank and graphite handle. This makes the handle solid but sensitive, they say; the exact opposite of soft, vibration-dampening material like cork or rubber grips.

  • Airrus Rods. This rod line seems slow getting into stores, but that has not stopped rod designer Ken Whiting from innovating incredible rod engineering advancements. Ken won Best of Show in 2002, 2003 and 2004 for three different rod engineering breakthroughs. A fourth feather in Ken's cap is he pioneered and perfected use of multiple modulus with fantastic results when properly deployed like in Gary Yamamoto's Dropshot rod. This year, Ken blew the doors off everyone who is trying to reduce handle weight. Ken simply made the rod blank the handle itself. That's right, the blank itself flares out to become the handle grip. The minimal parts necessary to seat a reel are surface-mounted right on the blank itself. There are no shims or filler material between the minimal reel seat parts and the blank. There is no other grip material of any kind to dampen vibration. Without any grip except the blank itself, the rod handle felt slippery, but if touching the blank equates to the ultimate sensitivity - there you have it. There's nothing else but blank to touch. Ken also says flaring the blank to become the grip creates a megaphone effect that amplifies sensitivity.
    Ken eliminated the sensitivity-robbing grip problem by making the blank the grip. Next, Ken conquered the lightness issue. Incredible Ken debuted the use of carbon nanotubes in the resin mix of the rod blank. These tiny capsule-shaped tubes of carbon fill space between the blank fibers, spaces that were formerly filled with heavy, brittle, weak resin binder. The carbon nanotubes are extremely light yet extremely strong material. Ken says nanotubes are 200 times stronger than titanium and 450 times stronger than steel. Ken says this results in the lightest, strongest, and most sensitive rods ever produced by Airrus.
    To me, Airrus rods are the most beautiful and well-engineered rods. It's not rocket science, but it is light years ahead of some other rod designs. To me, two things Airrus has not really done yet are: 1) to get more widespread hands-on tournament-test feedback and product refinement from top national pros, and 2) get its rods into more stores. Ken Whiting, President 702-395-2173 Las Vegas, NV

  • All Star Graphite Rods. New offerings include sixteen high modulus technique-specific bass rods in its new Platinum series plus twenty multi-modulus technique-specific bass rods in its new Instinct series for 2006. Joel Townley 800-334-9105x3225 Columbia, SC

  • American Rodsmiths. New H3 Titanium series has six technique-specific bass rods that integrate titanium into the fibers, creating a titanium, graphite and carbon fiber hybrid rod blank. Sensitivity is enhanced by their new patent-pending Maximum Contact handle system. The handle features a soft to the touch reel seat, and the reel seat is attached directly to the blank without any shims, filler or padding material except graphite contact bars that are directly in contact with both the reel seat and the rod blank, resulting in direct contact with the rod blank no matter where your hand comes in contact with the handle, says the company. Jake Brewer 281-252-0474 Magnolia, TX

  • American Tackle Company. This rod component company introduced the new Titan solid titanium frame guides with a new high tech NanoLite ceramic fused rings which the company says are harder and more durable than silicon carbide. Titanium is 100% corrosion-proof and less than half the weight of stainless steel. Joe Meehan, President 508-432-7735

  • BassMedics. The makers of Rejuvenade livewell treatment have introduced the 2iG UltraStrike Pro series of nineteen new graphite rods. Two models are endorsed by Snag Proof for fishing Snag Proof  hollow rubber frog baits. Joey Couvillion, VP 866-944-2277 Springdale, AR

  • Daiwa Corporation. The new Team Daiwa Viento baitcasting reel intrigued me. If I pressed the Twitchin' Bar very slowly, it stitched in about four inches of line. If I pressed the Twitchin' Bar quickly, it spun the spool just a bit, and twitched in a tad more line, maybe seven inches. Comparatively, turning the reel handle, even a little bit, tends to bring in much more line than that. And moving the rod tip, even a little bit, tends to move the bait more than that. So if the Twitchin' Bar helps anglers slow down their retrieves and make smaller, slower, and more subtle lure movements (with jigs and soft baits especially), then it may be a great new reel feature. Oh yeah, imagine what would it be like to pause a suspending jerkbait or crank in the feeding zone, then just twitchin' it with the Twitchin' Bar! This may be something. Bill Liston, Advertising Manager 562-802-9589 Cerritos, CA

  • G. Loomis. Two new high end super high modulus GLX bass spinning rods were introduced at ICAST. The Bronzeback series smallmouth finesse fishing rod, and a new Drop Shot series rod. 360-225-6516 Woodland, WA

  • Kistler Rods. The company has taken the most popular features from Kistler's existing rods and brought them to the next level with two new rod series, the Helium II LTX series (which the company says to be the lightest rods on the planet) plus the new Magnesium TS series. The new Helium series features Kistler's proprietary super lightweight Ampli-Fiber core rod blanks. The new Magnesium series is a fusion of Helium and Magnesium graphite fibers in the blank. Here's a special page to preview all the advanced new Kistler rod features at: Trey Kistler 281-259-8033 Magnolia, TX

  • Lamiglas. The new XMG50 series bass rods includes eleven new models for 2006. The company says the rods are designed for the high-key tournament angler who cannot afford to miss a strike that can cost an angler serious money, points, and angst nowadays, whether at the pro, regional, club or local level. The new series sports American Tackle Company's Titan guides. Lamiglas says these rods push the envelope of sensitivity with graphite handle grips. These graphite handles transmit to your hand an unmatched sense of the presentation, strike and fish, says the company. John Posey 360-225-9436 Woodland, WA

  • Lucky Craft. The LC-Magnum series of seven baitcasting rods were on display at ICAST. I was surprised the rods were not technique-specific to various Lucky Craft lure applications. The rods were defined by the general power/action rating of each rod instead of being tied to Lucky Craft lure applications. 714-241-8484 Costa Mesa, CA 

  • Powell Products. Since 1910, the company has been making fine flyrods. For the last few years, company president Keith Bryan has been perfecting a series of twenty-six bass rods designed by Gary Dobyns, which made their debut at ICAST. The bass fishing rod market is much larger than for flyfishing rods, and my favorite pastime is bass fishing tournaments, says Keith Bryan. All twenty-six Dobyns bass rods have similar features. All are tall from 6'8" to 8'0", have split rear grips, no foregrips, all have emphasis on lightness and sensitivity that crosses over from the company's century of flyrod expertise. They're all tough blanks, tournament tested, says Dobyns. All rods feature a smaller than usual first guide for lightness and reduced weight. For some reason, it's become a convention to put a big first guide on rods, but you don't need it, it doesn't do anything at all except add weight, says Keith Bryan. With Gary Dobyns' design, these are rods Western guys will surely want. We'll gladly get started with that, and may ultimately add rod styles for the remainder of country if we find different regional rod styles are necessary, says Bryan. Keith Bryan, President 415-382-9745 Novata, CA

  • Reel Time Designs. Potentially one of the best answers to the hook keeper conundrum I've ever seen. Only actual on-water usage will tell. I just don't know why the company pigeonholed its patent-pending Drop-Shot Weight Keeper System as a dropshot solution? It is also the solution to any rigged bait. You do not have to take the buried hook out of a Texas-rigged soft bait to stow it on this keeper. Plus the retainer arm is big enough that baits won't pop off easily, and it has a retainer bend to prevent that. Best of all, it is smooth. I can't tell you how many times the conventional thin wire D-shaped hook keepers have opened a slice in the knuckle seam of my index finger. At first blush, Steve's doesn't seem it can hurt you like that. It comes with self-sticking rubber stretch tape to attach anywhere to any rod. Even if you have an existing hook keeper on your rod, you can wrap this on right near it. The tape has no glue; it sticks to itself. Some rodmakers are already factory-wrapping (with thread) this new hook keeper onto their factory rods. It could set a new industry standard. I'd say to give it a try. Stephen Kokai, Sales 908-876-3723 Long Valley, NJ

  • Shimano American Corporation. Greg Hammond and Bob Mahoney briefed me on the three new models of Curado D baitcasting reels for 2006. First, a High Speed Version 7:1 gear ratio for burning baits without hand fatigue. Second, a Power Version 5:1 for working large crankbaits or slow rolling spinnerbaits and third, a 6.2:1 version for pitching and flipping. Of most interest to me was the Curado D baitcasting reel model CU200DSHV with a 7:1 gear ratio that takes in 30 inches of line per handle revolution. If you need a fast reel to burn a lure like a spinnerbait back - or just to suck in slack lightning fast to set the hook at the end of a long cast - this new Curado D just may break the bass fishing industry retrieve speed record. Even for pitching a jig, where you just get bit on the fall, then reel in like the dickens to make the next pitch, this new high-speed demon may prove valuable.
    All three new Curado D's feature:

    • Magnumlite Drilled Lightweight Aluminum Alloy Spool, the benefit of which is optimum casting performance and line control, especially when using light baits and lures.

    • Superfree, which is a bearing supported pinion gear to eliminate friction on the spool. The benefit is Superfree allows for smoother spool rotation and therefore longer casts.

    • High Efficiency Gearing, meaning oversized drive and pinion gears to offer increased leverage and power thus allowing for high speed retrieves without the torque on the reel. The benefit is incredible gearing and the guts to winch fish out of the nasty stuff.

    • Super Stopper one-way roller bearing to eliminate backplay in the reel. The benefit of Super Stopper is immediate, solid hooksets.

    Two new Citica D low profile baitcasters are available in two models/gear ratios (6.2:1 and Power 5:1 versions). It features Superfree, High Efficiency Gearing, and Superstopper.

The new price-conscious Cruxis baitcaster has all the features of its big brothers but does not come with the price tag. The Cruxis is the perfect reel for the budget-minded tournament angler, says Shimano. The Cruxis is available in both right and left hand with a 6.2:1 gear ratio. It features Superfree, High Efficiency Gearing and Super Stopper.

Shimano's Compre Rods have been totally redesigned for 2006, offering a variety of actions in both spinning and casting models. Compre rods feature IM8 graphite blanks, New Concept Fuji Hardloy guides, and a limited lifetime guarantee. Select Compre baitcasting and spinning models have a Fuji Exposed Blank reel seat for direct finger touch on the rod blank. There are also several crankbait models using high modulus TC4 blank construction. Stacey Thorn, Marketing Manager 949-951-5003 Irvine, CA

  • St. Croix. Seven new technique-specific Legend Tournament Bass series rods debuted at the ICAST show - the Small Cranker, Big Cranker, Swim Bait, Mega Swim Bait casting rods plus Shakin', Split Shot and Tube action spinning rods. Jeff Schluter, VP 715-762-3226 Park Falls, WI

Adams, Ltd.

I made new friends with Nickolay Chervony and Viktor Damme, attending their first ICAST show. Adams is their export/import company in Kiev, and Sagittarius is the manufacturing company they co-own in Severodonetsk, Ukraine. This is their eleventh year in the fishing tackle business, but their first ICAST.

Nickolay and I did not know who we would meet at ICAST, but we knew it would be easier way to meet more North American tackle buyers here than in Russia. So that is why we have come here, says Viktor.

Their tackle factory employs sixty persons year-round which more than doubles to 130 persons at peak tackle order seasons during the year. Much of their output is geared to ice fishing. Russians have more ice fishing experience and our progress with ice fishing equipment reflects that, Viktor says. Being Russians, we have a cold country and lots of ice fishing days; so we make many ice fishing items as suppliers to North American firms, says Viktor. We are nationalists and very proud of our country, adds Nickolay. If you see fishing packages in America that say Made In Ukraine on back of label, we are proud of that.

I asked Nickolay how a Russian company could get an English name like Adams? Nickolay beamed a smile. When he and Viktor were first deciding to make their company, they held many business discussions while fishing for trout. The trout were stubborn to bite, and days went by while they worked out the details of their corporate partnership on the river, yet they didn't land many trout. Finally, Nickolay tried a trout fly pattern called an Adams fly, and soon they were successfully catching many trout. So Adams became their company name based on its success that day, and as a symbol of hard work and perseverance that ultimately spells success in fishing and in business.

In the former Soviet Union, spinnerbaits are new items but growing popular quickly. Anglers only started to use them the past two years. The photo below shows spinnerbaits and skirted flipping jigs designed by Adams for pike fishing in Russia.

Another photo shows a traditional style Russian jigging spoon. It is used for fishing in rivers for zander (Russian walleye) that hunker down on bottom in deep holes in Russia's rivers, says Viktor. The line tie is not on the nose of the Russian jigging spoon. You tie to a swivel exactly dead center on the side (which becomes the top) of the lure. It falls like a dying baitfish, says Viktor. You lift it fast and let it drop slowly, which is when it acts like a wounded baitfish drifting on its side, adds Nickolay.

Our spinnerbaits and flipping jigs, we make them for anglers in Russia, but they demonstrate we can produce very good lures for American bass fishing also, suggests Viktor. "Manufacturing fishing tackle is not rocket science," Viktor says, then hesitates as he finds the correct English words to continue, "but Nickolay and I, we know making good fishing tackle, it is truly an art. No, not rocket science. Yes, an art. We know that from our ice fishing tackles. We see we have some better ice fishing designs in Russia. We can easily see which other manufacturers in the world know or do not know the art to make ice tackle like we make it. So we know Americans have refined the art of making bass fishing equipment," says Viktor. We would like to understand the American bass fishing art, and make artful tackle in Ukraine for American bass anglers, adds Nickolay. Viktor Damme, Co-owner Kiev, Ukraine

Adventure Products

I've lost more nets, rods and reels than I care to remember (hats too), either flipping them over the side somehow, or when not secured properly, having them fly off the boat running wide open between spots. So, I stopped to see Adventure Products who introduced their Ego landing nets. The nets float - and the handle section has nothing for your line to wrap around, no exposed sharp edges, no nuts, bolts or anything to cut your line and cause you heartache. Adventure Products is not a fishing tackle company. Nets seem to be what they sell; many kinds of nets. Yes, they really do take butterfly nets seriously, plus marine specimen collection nets, pond scum skimming nets, aquarium nets, cast nets to corral bait, soft-meshed livewell nets for cradling live bait, and landing nets tailored to different species. Their best net for bass fishing may be the Ego large rubber mesh floating net. Rubber mesh is especially valuable in an intense tournament fishing scenario. Rubber mesh does not tangle with tackle so easily whereas nylon mesh may lead to nasty, time-consuming tangle with hooks, lures and rigs. Tangles take precious time while keeper bass are biting. Less time unpicking the pieces out of a rubber mesh net means more time to land the winning sack! Grant Corbett, CEO 478-788-2404 Macon, GA

Bagley Fishing Products

Mike Rogan, president of Bagley Fishing Products seemed most proud to show me the new Turbo Chat'r B Rattling Weedless Spoon. Originally designed with redfish in mind, Mike says it was not long until bass pros like Tommy Martin started chucking the new spoon in slop for largemouth - with wrist-wrenching results. The spoon sports an attached metal-cased rattle and a tail tied with feathers and flash material. The spoon body is linked by a heavy duty split ring to a stout wire arm with two prop blades that counter-rotate in opposite directions between free-spinning metal ball bearings. The counter-rotation of the prop blades negates any sideways torque. That lets the spoon body wobble perfectly on the retrieve. When paused, the spoon falls with a rock-the-cradle action, says Mike. Available in 24K gold plate, silver or Flash'n Black finishes.

Bagley company employees were also proud to put together a Bagley Classic Winners Collection Edition to commemorate company founder Jim Bagley's induction into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame this year. This is a set of four Bagley lures that have won the Classic. It includes four Classic-winning models and colors:

  • 1974 - Balsa B 3 - Black/Pearl

  • 1976 - Honey B - Tennessee Shad

  • 2000 - Kill'r B 2 - Hot Tiger

  • 2004 - Balsa B 2 - Black/Chartreuse Debbie Rogan, Media Contact 239-693-7070 Ft. Myers, FL

Biosonix Systems

Biosonix products were conceived in conjunction with the persons from Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap Lures. So they already know how well sound (such as a Rat-L-Trap) attracts fish to strike. Biosonix took that to the max with the BSX Fish Activator. It plays sounds underwater of distressed prey and predators feeding. The company says that bass are constantly listening for those types of sounds. Hearing such sounds makes bass more competitive, and it tells fish it is time to eat before other fish eat all the food in its territory. The product was at ICAST last year. The company had new news this year on how Kevin VanDam has been using the BSX Fish Activator recently.

The company says it gave Kevin VanDam the BSX unit in March, 2005. At first, Kevin was skeptical, and waited some time before he tried it. VanDam started using the BSX unit at Table Rock BASS E-50 event, says the company. Fishing with it, VanDam was in first place after the first two days. On the third day, VanDam had to switch out of his own boat, and he inadvertently left the BSX Fish Activator behind in his own boat. Without the BSX, Kevin fell out of the competition, says the company.

At the next big event on Smith Lake, Kevin was in first place again using the unit, but he bumped and broke the underwater speaker which was mounted on the trolling motor, and again sunk lower into the standings without using the BSX, they say.

The third event on Lake Lewisville, Texas, Kevin VanDam told the company he used the BSX Fish Activator to locate the eleven pounder in pre-fish, which was the fish that really helped VanDam win that tournament.

At the fourth event at Wisota, Wisconsin, VanDam again won it using the BSX. By this event, VanDam had shed all skepticism, and held a strong belief the BSX was helping him. Van Dam caught an incredible amount of fish with the BSX unit, even while others fishing nearby struggled desperately. By this time, VanDam was like a kid in the candy store, catching fish and believing so strongly in the BSX unit, the company says.

For shallow water fishing, the BSX speaker unit is often mounted on the trolling motor between the shaft and the lower unit, which is fine for water down to fifteen feet in depth. Anything over fifteen feet, you may want to drop the waterproof speaker over the side to varying depths.

I did not see or hear how the unit works when turned on, but from the explanation I was given, it seems you can program it for different sound patterns and program it to play at different  intervals. The company did give one sure tip, one thing that seems consistently most successful is to play the unit intermittently - rather than constantly play it. Intermittent use of the unit has proven best to stimulate fish to strike at lures, says Biosonix. Wes Higgins 800-633-4861 Alexandria, LA

B.S. Fish Tales

This new company offers their own versions of several original crankbaits discontinued by Storm Lures. Many bass anglers favored the original discontinued model Storm Wiggle Warts which were no longer made, says Duane Dettmann. So B.S. Fish Tales built Brad's Wiggler Series crankbaits to be as much as possible like the old discontinued Storm models.

There's the 1/5 oz 2" Lil Wiggler; 1/3 oz, 2-1/4" Wee Wiggler; 3/8 oz, 3" Wiggler and 3/4 oz 3-3/4" Magnum Wiggler.

The company also offers Brad's Thin Fish crankbait for all anglers who loved the discontinued Storm Thin Fin. Duane Dettmann, GM 360-423-9365 Longview, WA

Bullet Weights

PermaColor Screw-In Sinkers are new for 2006, says company president, Joe Crumrine. The screw-in sinker pegs itself to the head of a soft bait without a toothpick, a rubber strip, etc. In fact, no other item or threader tool is required, except to easily screw the wire retainer into the soft bait. Voila! Many top soft bait anglers prefer this type sinker. Gary Yamamoto in particular favors the screw-in sinker type. There are several reasons pros prefer it. First, ease of use. Second, no other tools or parts are required. Third, it does not compromise the line strength since the internal plastic tube inside the sinker cushions the line without ever pinching it or abrading it. Third, it integrates the bait and sinker into one unit, making it extremely snagless during the presentation and very accurate to cast it in tight cover. Fourth, once a fish is hooked, the sinker tends to break away from the plastic. It slides out of the way, leaving a direct hook-to-fish connection that is difficult for the fish to throw. This sounds simple, but few other sinkers or sinker-rigging methods possess these key points.

Prior to this, screw-in sinkers were heavily marketed by a different company, but no longer. So it was good news to see Bullet Weights added the screw-in sinker style - and improved upon it with attractive, durable PermaColor finishes.

PermaColor paint is baked on, so it lasts a long time and won't chip like other sinkers, says the company. Available in translucent purple, translucent blood red and watermelon green pepper with black flakes. All have a transparent sheen to give them more flash in the water, flash which attracts fish to the trailing bait. Available in 14 sizes from 1/16 to 1 ounce. Joe Crumrine, President 308-382-7436 Alda, NE

Cavitron Lures

Cavitron Lures is recently under new ownership. The new owner, Bobby Uhrig also owns Megastrike, Inc.

Cavitron buzzbaits got a facelift for 2006. In fact, they've gone bright RED in the face with a new bold red splash under the chin of every Cavitron buzzbait. The heads are now airbrushed with a new red throat, giving a strike target for bass to attack. All Cavitron buzzbaits now come with a new red Gamakatsu hook too. It's the finest, sharpest hook in the industry according to company president, Bobby Uhrig.

The buzz blades are now being anodized by a new high tech process that Megastrike developed in order to make the blades squeal and squeak like no other buzzbait. Many other buzzbait finishes, the finish coating actually insulates the blade with the finish, thereby restricting and muffling the sounds produced by the blade. With the new process we discovered at MegaStrike, we use a special acid which allows a metal to metal abrasion to be formed when the bait is pulled through the water. The Cavitron buzzbait squeals right out of the package, but when water is added to the process, the sound intensifies tenfold, says Uhrig.

Cavitron also designed a new black anodized blade for night and low light conditions, and there is a new red anodized blade for 2006 too.

What also sets Cavitron apart from other buzzbaits is a oxbow bend in the lower arm shaft. We have studied what goes on in a buzzbait strike. Why we developed this oxbow bend is it makes the head and hook run slightly below the surface. It lets the fish see the bait without the bait being distorted by the wake of the blade. It also lets the fish inhale more water when attacking the bait therefore not sucking as much air like other straight-shaft buzzbaits. The Cavitron creates more of a vacuum effect and increases the chance of the fish engulfing the head and hook. Up goes your catch ratio, says Uhrig.

The patented "stealth body" design of the Cavitron glides over just about any form of cover. Two cranks of the reel handle and it glides up on top of the water already. Bobby Uhrig, President 732-833-9680 Jackson, NJ

Dave's Lures, LLC

I spoke with legendary lure designer, Dave Storm, about his new Ka-Pop! topwater lure. It sits tail-down says Dave, which keeps the glittering SwishTail mylar skirt right in the bite zone. Dave has popularized this type of mylar flash tail on a few of his earlier lure designs. Let me tell you, the sparkling tail at times seems of more interest to the bass than the rest of the lure, in my experience.

I love a topwater lure that rests tail down. Few do. When a topwater lure rests tail down, the tail bobs and jiggles and flashes with every surface ripple or movement, encouraging fish to grab the tail - almost like bobber fishing for sunnies! It works. Best of all, Dave's Ka-Pop! has big hooks for its size.

Dave's lures also have, for all practical purposes, dipped tails now too. Many bass anglers dip chartreuse on their soft bait worm tails. Dave has colorized the tips of his mylar tails too. I am not a big fan of other synthetic fibers in a treble tail dressing, but really, Dave's SwishTail skirt is the cat's meow. It's the best synthetic tail. Especially in grassy waters, the SwishTail won't pull apart like feathers do when you pluck grass off the hooks. Good stuff, Dave. Dave Storm, Owner 405-321-0000 Norman, OK

Doc Waters Lure Company

Doc's new bulky Man-O-War Flippin' Tube seemed super. At 4-1/2" long, it appeared big enough to handle a stout 5/0 flipping hook. The tip of the head was solid for reliably holding a hook, yet the rest of the body was designed with a super-thin skin for effortless hooksets. The wide-flared double skirted tail tentacles added much bulk for flipping. The second inside tail was not obtrusive, but flashed a subtle second color, and appeared to be sturdily connected to the rest of the body. I've seen other tubes in recent years with inner/outer skirt colors that didn't totally thrill me, but Doc Waters seems to have given this tube much thought and to have gotten it right. Overall, it seemed to be a nice flipping tube. Good tube, Doc. George Ghilarducci 866-362-5873 Austin, TX

Falcon Lures

Company president Wayne Falcon showed me his new Red Bait Jerker Hook for 2006. We tried a few of the popular hook manufacturer's red hooks first, but were not satisfied with the way the finish would flake off after a few fish, says Wayne. What we have here on our hook, the red finish won't come off, says Wayne. Believe it or not, there is only one machine in the entire country that can put a finish on like this. In fact, this unique finishing machine is in such high demand for diverse industrial uses, that there are only certain weeks of the year when the machine is scheduled to apply red finishes. Other times, it does other colors. Wayne Falcon, President 337-232-7326 Lafayette, LA

Fish Arrow

These are huge hard swimbaits, whose gigantic proportions can't be gauged from the photo. They are designed for giant bass. The top item is a Monster Jack (2 oz). Second from top, that's a new model Spooky Jack. Third from top looks like an IT Jack Jr. (1-1/2 oz). The bottom lure is their Monster Jack Baby (1 oz). This seems to be what Fish Arrow produces, or at least offers via distributor Lobina Lures in North America - monster hard jointed swim baits, plus they offer a line of swimbait fishing rods designed to throw these brutes. 800-498-9520

Fishing Pool

This twenty-five year old company from the UK designs wooden fishing lures. The British company's first trip to ICAST was last year, says owner Phil Griffiths. The contacts he made were encouraging enough for Phil to return again this year.

Unfortunately, most of the company's fine lures are too big for typical bass fishing. The sizes are more appropriate for European or Scandinavian pike fishing. Many of the lures are even larger than pike size, used for Nile perch in the Canary Islands, Kenya and Egypt. Actually, Nile perch look very much like largemouth bass, but Nile perch can grow to several hundred pounds.

My reason to write about Fishing Pool is their Flipper lure. It come in the following sizes suitable to bass - 2-1/2" 3/8 oz; 3" 1/2 oz; 4-1/2" 1 oz However this lure type is practically unknown in the bass market.

This shad-shaped, deep-bodied slow-sinking bait has been the top European trophy pike lure for years. The original Flipper design was made by renowned pike lure designer Dave Scarff who made it for a man from Zimbabwe who wanted something along the lines of the old Bagley B Flat muskie glide bait. The reason the fellow wanted to use them was to catch giant largemouth bass in Zimbabwe. Ironically however, Flipper-type lures have never made it into bass fishing - although they have caused a modern-day renaissance of lure fishing for pike in Europe and Scandinavia.

Like it's name implies, the Flipper flips on its side when twitched, and that is exactly what drives fish wild - when the Flipper flashes its belly color at fish. For this reason, some Flippers are painted dark or drab-looking overall, until they flip and suddenly flash light-colored belly streaks, which is when they get bit. A dark-sided, flat-sided flipper is designed to hide or conceal the bright underbelly from a fish - until it is flipped, which is like flipping the lights on in a dark room. No one ever said fishing is rocket science, but it truly is an art.

Without any diving lip, the action of this lure type comes mainly from the weighting and the angler-imparted action. This makes it a "hands on" lure that is more challenging to use. The Flippers are retrieved using long slow jerks or short sharp snaps - and everything in between.

Phil Griffiths Coventry, Great Britain

Flying Fisherman

Best known for their polarized sunglasses, Flying Fisherman also offers high quality headgear (caps and visors) depicting many popular game fish, including the largemouth bass embroidered caps and visors. A removable terrycloth sweatband and exceptional largemouth bass embroidery are the two best features of the cap and visor. Attached by Velcro, the removable sweatband is absorbent and machine washable. There is also a Velcro adjustable strap to match your head size, an extended bill, and non-glare material under the brim. The company also offers replacement sweatbands for when the head juice just gets to be too much. The replacement terrycloth sweatbands fit both the cap and visor. To me, the Flying Fisherman largemouth cap and visor ranks among the most stylish and functional bass headgear available today. Linda Sheldon, VP 800-335-9347 Islamorada, FL

Gamakatsu USA, Inc.

The addition of Red EWG treble hooks were the news for bass anglers from Gamakatsu for 2006. Available in hook sizes 2, 4, 6. John Burgi, Western Regional Sales Manager 253-922-8373 Tacoma, WA

Gambler Lures

As the Gambler Ugly Otter name implies, the new Otter is remindful in some ways of Reaction Innovation's trend-setting Beaver - but the Otter is unique enough to be appreciated for its own merits. The Otter's three Flapp'n Shad type appendages all flap and thump, which can be felt thumping even just shaking the lure in your hand. All three flappers can be split in half - either split from the back, or split from the front Flapp'n Shad style which creates a flutter from each split appendage.

It appears the Otter has good potential to be buzzed and flapped across the surface in the same way as many of the new soft frog and toad lures too.

Another new product, the Gambler Florida Rig sinkers have been totally redesigned for 2006 - without the pigtail screw wires of old - but still keeping the same Florida Rig name.

Instead, the center bore and end cap of the sinker are filled with Gambler patented "Gambler Goo" a viscous plastic. There's a separate line threader, that has an eye like a sewing needle. You poke the threader though the Gambler goo-filled sinker bore, put the line through the needle eye, and tie the hook on.

You can thread any type or size or test line, says Gambler's Byron Childers, and you can convert from a Texas to Carolina rig in seconds. This sounds like it could be great to go down an irregular shoreline, where you may want to slide the sinker up the line two feet to Carolina rig the deep side of a point, and then slide the sinker back down onto the nose of the bait to toss a Texas rig into a bush on the next cast.

The new patented Gambler Florida Rig sinkers are available in lead, and Gambler will also have tungsten models by 2006 in 1/2 to 1 ounce sizes. Byron Childers 954-969-1772 Pompano Beach, FL

Gan Craft

Due to language, it was kind of hard to get in-depth details from the Gan Craft lure designers, Yuji Amano and Yuya Nakahira. Fortunately, as the saying goes, a picture is worth more than words sometimes. As you can see, the Gan Craft hard swimbait below looks good enough to fillet for dinner tonight. I also saw a short video clip of how it swims barely below the surface very slowly in a serpentine "S"-shaped action. It didn't really roll on its sides, just swim in an "S" kind of dazed and disoriented way which looks very lifelike.

The Gan Craft spinnerbait, and the wire bends in the arm, are unique. As I understand it, the wire bends let the blades immediately start turning as soon as it hits the water, and that generates many strikes immediately. If you start to turn the handle as soon as it hits the water, the blades will be turning instantly. Or if you do not engage the reel right away, the blades will immediately start turning anyway on their own in a perfectly horizontal helicopter fall. Overall, it is a spinnerbait posture-improving wire bend that makes it so unique, and arguably better, says the company.

Yuya Nakahira Japan

Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits

As if the Senko was not good enough, Gary Yamamoto has extended his 5" Senko line with new Senko Hot Tip colors to be ready for 2006. New injection molding technology has opened the gates to exciting and productive new two-tone Senkos with contrasting tail tips. Field tests have shown that Senko Hot Tip colors can be powerful strike inducers. Senko Hot Tip colors can attract, agitate and motivate fish to bite better at times than ordinary Senko colors, says the company.

Legendary lure designer Gary Yamamoto's entry into the saltwater market also took off at ICAST - with an incredible bang. The new Yamamoto Saltwater Swim Bait will be ready for 2006.We certainly know from field-testing that the new Yamamoto Saltwater Swim Bait crosses over easily to freshwater bass fishing, striper fishing, and walleye just seem to crave it, but initial marketing will be geared to saltwater, says the company.  The huge demand generated by the new swim bait's three-day showing at ICAST will be a tall order to fill just for saltwater buyers, says the company.

The company also extended three of its best-selling freshwater baits into the saltwater market, with the Yamamoto Saltwater Hula Grub, the Yamamoto Saltwater Ika, and the Yamamoto Saltwater Singletail, which will be ready for 2006. We'll debut new saltwater colors and a new saltwater formula; also contrasting skirt colors on the Saltwater Hula Grub and Saltwater Ika, says the company. Russ Comeau, Advertising 800-645-2488 Page, AZ


Masa Nakatani presented me with an overview of the Ima brand, which was launched in 1998. The company name comes from the first three characters of the word, "imagination". The company primarily caters to the saltwater inshore surf fishing angler in Japan. Several of Ima's lures are also favored by Japan's freshwater bass anglers. Company officials say these three Ima's are their most successful models for freshwater bass in Japan:

  1. Komomo. Momo is the Japanese word for "Peach," and the name of the company president's daughter,  Momoko. So Ima's first and for seven years still their most famous lure is the Komomo, named after Momoko. This super shallow runner gets about one foot below the surface. Only a slow steady retrieve is required to create body-rolling motion. The underside of the bait's tail is grooved and finned, which is what the company says makes the lure's balance and action so famous throughout Japan. Since there is no protruding diving lip, the lure casts great distances, and has a weight transfer system to further increase casting distance. Reel slowly, steadily, stays near the surface. The Komomo simply catches the most fish in saltwater and freshwater.

  2. P-ce 80. (Pronounced "peace") Released in late 2004, this pudgy lipped minnow works with a slow retrieve, stays shallow, rocking back and forth to create a lot of irregular turbulence like a wounded baitfish. The company says it is one of their top producers.

  3. Trip 85. Ima tested and perfected the Trip for over four years before releasing it in summer 2005. This sinking pencil type lure has a wicked slow side-to-side action underwater. The curved humpback body design is intended so water does not flow straight over the lure, but swirls around the body to create a super live action with simple steady reeling. Without twitching or jerking the rod, the Trip will swim in the shape of the letter "S" near the surface. The action is distinct. It is safe to say no American fish has seen this awesome action yet, says the company. Hartman Distributing USA 573-392-1921 Eldon, MO

Jackson, Inc.

I met Masao Kato and Masao Ueda of Jackson, Inc. Jackson was established in Japan about twenty-five years ago. This was practically the origin of lure fishing in Japan, says the company. In early years, Jackson imported USA brand lures, yet the local demand by Japanese anglers evolved into a desire for higher quality and better-performing lures, which motivated Jackson to set up its own research lab and factory. The company says Japanese anglers are unique because they are so keen about lure actions, that they got tired of using US lures. Newly-developing Japanese lures became of more interest, had better finishes, and better quality lures were being made in Japan, so Jackson decided to join the ranks of Japanese lure manufacturers. Prototype mastering, tank testing and field tests are done by lab technicians until the lure designer's concept is embodied in the Jackson product. Today, Jackson has gone through ten years experience in its own lure development, has veteran craftsmen, quality control at every step of production, and is always improving as progress enables new and advanced lure-making techniques, materials, tools and machinery to create and finish lures.

  • Jackie. This is the first time that Jackson has entered ICAST, and one of their very newest (and best, they say) crankbaits, they singled out to be very good for bass indeed, especially in a pond environment, due to its small size. Regular crankbaits with normal wobbling, highly-pressured bass in Japan become wary to show an interest because bass often see this same action. What sets Jackson's new Jackie crankbait apart, and what bass are not conditioned to (except in nature) is when you twitch, the weighting causes the belly to come up, roll up on its side. It is an irregular action that works so well because the bass have not seen such flipping/flashing action at all in a crankbait, yet baitfish do it all the time, says the company.

  • Athlete series. Overall, Jackson's Athlete jerkbait series is most popular in Japan because any situation you face, you can use the Athlete in one size or another, says the company. It comes in five sizes, swims better than other products, and catches better size fish than other products.

  • Artoron. Another Jackson jerkbait model that is most productive for bass is the Artoron, which is the Greek word for knee or elbow joints, says the company. A problem with jointed lures is they cast like potato chips and inaccurately. The Artoron jointed lipped minnow transcends this casting problem since the joint locks stiff on the cast to maximize distance and accuracy, yet unlocks on the retrieve to maximize jointed wiggling action, says the company.

  • Nyoru Nyoru. Company officials were especially proud of the funny-faced Nyoru Nyoru. Still rather new, they say the Nyoru Nyoru has been successful on the Japanese market for about three years. It was invented to work in highly-pressured fishing waters. With a very slow retrieve, it swims with a combination of wobbling and rolling. When paused, it sinks horizontally with vibration (like a Senko). It casts farther than you expect, is good for a steady retrieve, but can be twitched also, says the company. Masao Ueda, Sales Shizuoka-city, Japan

Kanji International, Inc.

I went to ICAST hoping to see Kanji's Tungsten Zen Spinnerbait. These spinnerbaits retail well over $10 apiece in the United States - when they can be found. Kyoko says Kanji just cannot keep up with the demand by American anglers for this premium spinnerbait, and dealers often sell out as quickly as they can restock them.

Stunningly detailed and beautiful with holographic blades and multiple color paint patterns (black back, green, gold tiger stripes, yellow, orange belly in photo below), Kanji is far ahead of its peers in looks and style.

Kanji is also far ahead in use of tungsten material. With the body appearance of a 1/4 oz spinnerbait head, the Tungsten Zen Spinnerbait weighs 3/4 oz due to its hidden weight (under the skirt) and dense tungsten composition. This lets a very short wire arm, small blades and small appearance be presented in a heavy 3/4 oz lure. Just a great example of what a good spinnerbait should be. Super bass "jewelry," Kyoko.

Kyoko Shibata, President 914-946-8862 Hartsdale, NY

Lee Sisson Lures

Lee Sisson reintroduced eight legacy lure designs from the seventies and eighties plus Lee also introduced four brand new designs for 2006, making a total twelve new Premium Balsa series crankbaits.

The eight legacy lure models reintroduced by Lee include:

  • Premium Balsa Shallow 1, 2 and 3. (BB1, BB2, BB3)

  • Premium Balsa Diver 1, 2 and 3. (DB1, DB2, DB3)

  • Killer P 2 (KB2) and Diving Killer P 2 (DKB2)

All the above have the same actions which have made the old balsa lures so sought after. The lips are unbreakable.

Lee's four brand new designs for 2006 include:

  • Skinny P Shallow and Skinny P Diver. Two new flat-sided cranks that suspend at rest.

  • Mini P Shallow and Mini P Deep. Also flat-sided, and are the smallest cranks Lee makes.

It's fascinating, and you realize it is something historical, to speak with legendary crankbait maker, Lee Sisson.

This was the first time I've seen Lee at ICAST. Lee got back into making crankbaits a few years ago. When he got back into the business, Lee brought out a line of Jetulong wood lures. Jetulong is a good, less expensive wood than balsa. I chose Jetulong when I got back into the business since Jetulong was more economical, and I felt I had to keep my lures, the components and paint finishes down to an affordable price level, Lee says.

Lucky Craft opened my eyes this year, says Lee. I saw I could afford to build a better lure for $10 and make money on it. I had been trying to shoehorn a lure into a $4 price range. Lucky Craft made me realize I did not need to do that.

For 2006, Lee has reintroduced premium, hand-selected balsa wood. He's putting premium hooks and glitter finishes on his new lures for 2006. Actually, eight "new" lures in Lee's new Premium Balsa series are the original designs that lots of guys caught bass on dating back to the seventies, over thirty years ago.

Lucky Craft's success made me realize I have over thirty years knowledge building crankbaits, and anglers are willing to pay for me to make the best possible lure I can for them, says Lee.

Lucky Craft has created a new demand for good quality lures, says Lee. They are excellent promoters, and I admire what Lucky Craft has done to build good lures and to teach people to use them, says Lee.

In the early seventies to mid-eighties, Lee was involved with crankbait evolution at Bagley Baits. The lures Lee offers today are the same shapes, same lips out of the same molds. What's new is what was old, says Lee, except I have added 3D eyes and fine glitter flash finishes, plus premium hooks.

Many other glitter finish crankbaits today have too much glitter, says Lee. Sisson's new glitter finish cranks have more of a fine sheen, not a gaudy display of glitter, says the crankbait designer.

I asked Lee what are his favorite crankbait colors? Going back to the seventies, black/pearl and black/chartreuse have always been tops, he says. Black/chartreuse is Lee's top-selling color today. I couldn't make enough of them this year. No doubt, the current popularity of black/chartreuse was helped by Takahiro Omori winning the last Citgo Bassmasters Classic on that color, however it has always been terribly productive going back to the seventies. Black/pearl is in the top five, always has been and will be, says Lee. Some anglers have seen and done it all with crankbaits the past thirty years, and they keep coming back to these two basic colors.

I asked Lee what are his favorite crankbait models? He doesn't have a favorite. It would be like asking a handyman if he liked to use a hammer more than he likes to use a pliers or a screwdriver. Crankbaits are like tools in a toolbox, says Lee. It just makes sense to use one for a certain task.

What's incredible, says Lee, is to realize at one time (about 1972) the whole world did not have any tool - no crankbait that could go more than six feet deep - until Lee made one. Today, Lee's deepest lure is his Premium Balsa Diver 3, a copy of his original from the seventies, which digs 8-15 feet deep.

Lee is also making four totally new flat-sided crankbaits for 2006. Some with polycarbonate lips, but also an exclusive series will feature circuit board diving lips for a top cataloger.

Some guys believe the thin circuit board lip is easier to fish, says Lee. The exclusive circuit board lip series might get a little quicker action than a polycarbonate lip, says Lee. Mostly, it is a regional preference. Lee feels a preference toward circuit board lips exists among anglers in some parts of the Northeast, maybe the southern mid-Atlantic states, in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, and thereabouts. Lee Sisson 863-967-4036 Auburndale, FL

Lil' Hustler Tackle Company

I took a look at the new Pro Jig, designed for flipping thick cover, and Swim Jig since both are good examples of two contemporary minor trends or styles being evolved in jigs today:

  1. First, a flipping jig style where the jig head is being designed in order to cover up the hook eye to render the hook eye less protrusive - as in Lil' Hustler's Pro Jig. The reasoning behind this is to reduce any way that weeds can collect on or behind the hook eye, prevent snags due to a protrusive eye, and especially so the hook eye is not blatantly protruding during a hookset, so the eye does not stick up or become an impediment that compromises a clean, clear hookset. Traditional flip jigs, the hook eye protrudes and sits on top of the jighead. With this contemporary variant style of the flip jig, the jighead shape is being designed to integrate the hook eye into the jighead shape, so the eye is not protrusive.

  2. Second, Lil' Hustler's Swim Jig is a relatively new style of jig - actually two different styles, both called swim jigs. One swim jig style stems from the Upper Mississippi River in Wisconsin. The other swim jig style stems from the Southeast for use on grass-choked lakes like Lake Guntersville, Alabama for example. Both contemporary swim jig styles are fished similarly - you keep the jig moving - "swimming" high through weeds and wood. A single tail grub trailer is often used in the North whereas bulkier trailers are more typical in the South. Brian Sanson 603-224-8856 Pembroke, NH

Lucky Craft, Inc.

New lures for 2006 that were seen in Lucky Craft's booth or cited in their new product literature include:

  1. Live Sammy 120. 4-3/4" 4/5 oz. Hybrid hard/soft topwater

  2. Live LVR. 2-3/4" 3/5 oz. Lipless hybrid hard/soft rattlebait

  3. Wood Sammy 100. 4" 1/2 oz.

  4. Wood Pointer 78. 3" 3/8 oz.

  5. Fat CB BDS1. 2" 1/4 oz. Crankbait

  6. Fat CB BDS2. 2-1/2" 1/2 oz. Crankbait

  7. Flat CB Mini SR. 2" 1/8 oz. Flat-sided crankbait. Shallow runner

  8. Flat Mini MR. 2" 1/8 oz. Flat-sided crankbait. Medium runner

  9. Flat Mini DR. 2" 1/4 oz. Flat-sided crankbait. Deep runner

  10. Saltwater Lipless Slim Pointer 90. 3-3/5" 3/8 oz.

  11. Saltwater Lipless Slim Pointer 110. 4-1/2" 3/4 oz.

  12. Saltwater Lipless Pointer 80. 2.3" 1/5 oz.

  13. Saltwater Lipless Pointer 95. 3.7" 3/4 oz.

Here are some of my thoughts on some of the above:

  • Saltwater Lipless Pointers. I did not seem able to find any photos of them anywhere, but it is a significant new departure into lure types - lipless jerkbaits. Very interesting! L&S Mirrolures are popular saltwater lipless hard baits, particularly in the company's home state of Florida. However, I would not categorize a Mirrolure as a lipless jerkbait. I consider lipless jerkbaits more like those used in muskie fishing circles, but uncommon otherwise. I may be mistaken, but hope the Lucky Craft Lipless Pointers are more like muskie jerkbaits than not. That would be cool.

  • Wood Sammy and Wood Pointer. Lucky Craft's two most famous lure models, are going to be offered in very limited collectors editions in wood. No doubt, there may be a worldwide demand for these collectibles. That's good news for me, since a market for Lucky Craft collectibles will increase the value of the original Staysee Version 1's I have.

  • Live Sammy and Live LVR. I believe hybrid hard/soft baits may become increasingly important and productive and become as good or better fish catchers than traditional hard baits over time. Lucky Craft must also harbor these same feelings, since they are investing tons of research and development into pioneering their new Live product line.

Incredibly, Lucky Craft announced no less than forty new color finishes for 2006 for freshwater and saltwater. Primarily a warmwater bass fishing lure company so far, many of Lucky Craft's new paint schemes for 2006 are aimed at extending its products into inshore saltwater markets, and extending into coldwater species and northern markets, particularly walleye, pike, muskie and possibly the trout market for hard baits. 714-241-8484 Costa Mesa, CA

Luhr Jensen & Sons, Inc.

Luhr Jensen offered a good number of new finishes to several of their successful crankbaits. Luhr Jensen added eight new finishes to its Radar crankbait models, five new finishes to its Speed Trap series and five new finishes to its Hot Lips series. You may want to pay particular attention to the exact model sizes where a company adds new finishes, since this is often (not always) an indicator of what's currently the best-selling and best-catching models and sizes that get such attention. 541-386-3811 Hood, OR

MacDaddy's Fishing Lures

The next time you grumble about having to pay too high price for that expensive lure the fish are hitting on, feel fortunate the hot "go to" bait is not MacDaddy's because his solid gold and diamond-studded lures advertised at ICAST are priced up to $10,000 apiece. The company says they are proven fish-catchers, but they don't look very snagless to me - so be careful where you cast these things! 805-234-4789 Shell Beach, CA

Mann's Bait Company

The company introduced five new patent pending Hardnose lures for freshwater, the Hardnose Swim Toad, the Hardnose Flippin' Craw, the Hardnose Worm, the Hardnose Lizard and the Hardnose Jerkbait.

Mann's says these are the only one-piece soft baits with a hard head. Bass pro Hank Parker says Mann's new Hardnose series will save you time, frustration and money, meaning that the hard plastic head will help keep the bait from slipping down a rigging hook or jig head, the hard nose will tear less, and ensure a more solid hookset. I tend to believe these claims. Also, the hard head allows a second accent color, say chartreuse, for the first inch or so at the head of the lure, which is a great strike motivator. The remainder of the body is soft and supple. 800-841-8435 Eufaula, AL

Marine Grade Marketing, LLC

One winter morning, I was the only boat on the cold, glassy lake. Bundled up as can be, I put the throttle down and blasted into the icy daybreak heading twenty-five miles uplake. I was frozen solid by the time I put the bow down. Bundled in layers of clothes needed to make the long run, I yanked on the trolling motor cord, probably a little to hard. I flipped over backwards and off the boat as the cord parted at the worst possible moment. Alone, I made it back alive, without hypothermia, but spent the rest of the day snug in bed under a thick layer of blankets. I can think of many other times the trolling motor cord snapped at anxious moments in the middle of tournaments. So it was great news to hear from Kory Mitchell of the new wire cable trolling motor cord replacement he says works with most all trolling motors. It lets you upgrade from a fiber cord to a plastic-coated wire cable pull cord. You reattach your existing trolling motor pull handle to the end of the wire cable cord, says Kory. I asked him if the wire cord stays put under power? It doesn't flail around, it simply stays in place, says Kory. This wire cable pull cord sounds like a good idea. Kory Mitchell 417-725-7015 Nixa, MO

McGuinness Fishing Products

I took a time-out to enjoy lunch with Justin McGuinness and Rich, his father. Both were excited to show me their new Leverage Jig with its patented flexible hook system and realistic crayfish detail.

McGuinness' flagship feature of their spinnerbait, buzzbait and now, new jig, is the patented, flexible hook system. It puts more fish in the boat, says Justin. Instead of being a solid inflexible hook shank, there is a wire cable between hook and lure head that lets the hook move with the fish, says Justin. This keeps the hook penetration hole from enlarging. Very simple. And even though the hook flexes with a fish, the wire cable section returns to its original straight position and does not flex during the presentation.

One of the design goals Justin aimed for and achieved with his new jig is a truer crawfish imitation. When craws want to move somewhere, they tuck their tail down under their bodies, scoot and swim backward, tail first. I suppose they may have eyes in the back of their heads when they drive around tail first like this, because they know where they're going, says Justin.  And that's what Justin set out to achieve in the "head" of his jig - it depicts the tail first, tail-tucked posture of  a scooting crawfish. At the speed most guys move jigs, it imitates a craw swimming tail first, and the new Leverage Jig accentuates that tail first appearance.

The second and most important design goal, in addition to appearance, shape and movement like a craw, Justin wanted a stand-up head that would not roll over and snag. I've studied this, and it is hard to envision a jig getting stuck when it stands straight up. Problem is, most so-called stand-up heads on the market today roll over or fall over far too often, and the probability they'll snag at that point goes sky high. Even if you only get snagged a couple few times every hour or two (which is about the industry average depending on bottom roughage), that's too much, feels Justin. In a tournament or any time you get snagged in a prime fish-holding location, you may as well hang a "Not Biting" sign there. So Justin desired his new Leverage Jig should snag less than any others. Where other jigs rolled over and played dead, Justin wanted his to be the last jig standing. Justin didn't want his new jig to roll or fall over on its side. The key to reduce snags came when Justin widened the footprint where the rubber meets the road - the bottom edge of the jig head can be described as almost a scallop shell shape or a lobster fantail shape.

On a date, it isn't good to be stood up - unless it is a date for a jig fishing trip. The enlarged footprint that stood up best was so wide, Justin had to dig out and hollow out underneath to keep it from weighing way too much. First I found the footprint that wouldn't roll over on me (and snag), then I hollowed out underneath each head to get them back down to the normal weights anglers desire, says Justin. The Leverage Jigs will have rattles to imitate craw clicks, a meaty hook for power fishing thick cover, and will be available in seven colors and three sizes. Rich McGuiness 404-787-7371Athens, GA


Of most interest to me at the MegaBait booth were the two new 3" and 4" sizes of the L.A. Slider swimbait, This is different from other swimbaits in that the internal head can be taken out, changed and reused. Most other swimbaits, the internal jighead cannot be taken out, and neither the jighead nor the body can be reused again - except L.A. Slider heads and bodies.

Brian Hawkins, designer, says that's due to its innovative flexible cavity that fits around any of five jig heads - 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 oz. The interchangeable jigheads fit both the 3" and 4" swimbait. So the weights are interchangeable and you can battle a large bass without doing major damage to the plastic body since the hook is not directly related nor pre-molded into the body. Brian's second breakthrough feature is a "loose tail" design enabling the tail to swim even on a slow retrieve. This is something thicker-tailed swimbaits don't do well. Perfected so as not to roll over on its side, even at high speed. Instead the L.A. Slider exhibits a seeking side-to-side action when used fast, yet still swims seductively as slow as you can turn the handle.

Megabait also introduced their Mr. Bill swimbait in three sizes. There's nothing molded into the Mr. Bill body, the detachable bill and hook harness comes out of body of bait, so it is interchangeable. The hook wire harness also comes out of the bait upon hook-up, so bass don't hold onto the soft plastic body, wrecking it.

Mr. Bill is a deep-diving bait. The larger 7" size dives 12-14 feet. The 5" mid-size runs 8-10 feet down. The 3-1/2" smallest size gets down to 6 feet Brian Hawkins, designer 714-773-4132 La Habra, CA

Mustad (USA), Inc.

It was good to see Steve Tagami, Harry Simmons, Chuck Reynolds and the Mustad crew. Mustad introduced these hooks for bass:

  • UltraPoint Spinnerbait Hook. For manufacturers of spinnerbaits and buzzbaits in 3/0 ands 4/0 sizes and four finishes: black nickel, bright nickel, red and 24K gold. The gold-plate should look pretty stylish!

  • UltraPoint Extra Long Fine Wire Jig Hook. Especially designed for shaking jig manufacturers. Features a 90 degree eye bend. The key feature is stretching the shank about 1/4" longer than other jig shanks, which increases the fulcrum effect when a jig is shaken (not stirred), thereby imparting more quivering, shaking action to whatever worm dresses the jig.

  • UltraPoint Mega-Bite Soft Plastics Flipping Hook. This is the hook favored by Denny Brauer for flipping tubes. Brauer won the Classic flipping tubes with this hook. New in red in sizes 1/0 through 5/0.

  • UltraPoint Ultra-Lock Light Wire: Soft Plastics. Brand new, especially designed for soft jerkbaits or any soft plastics that are going to be worked hard weightless on spinning gear or light baitcasting tackle required to throw weightless jerkbaits. Key feature is it has a fine wire not to retard the action inherent within a jerkbait - and to easily set the hook with spinning gear that's becoming a popular trend among top pros for finesse worm fishing.

After 125 years and more than 10,000 hook patterns, Mustad's not just for hooks anymore. Now you can get the latest Mustad bass pheromone attractant technology from Mustad too. Lat year, Mustad debuted UltraBite liquid attractant for bass. For 2006, the formula has been enhanced into Stimulate bass attractant and repackaged in aerosol spray form, which incorporates UltraBite and then some for bass.

In a fairly stunning move that surprised me, Chuck Reynolds reached under the counter and pulled out about a five pound bag of Stimulate chum pellets for bass. We know chumming for bass is non-traditional, says Chuck. Our studies showed that although water and the water column is expansive, bass are bottom and cover-oriented. It's easier to see and understand this with birds. Although they can and do fly anywhere in the open air column or sky, most of the time, birds are found on the bottom (ground) or in cover (trees and bushes). So although bass can swim anywhere in the water column, bass similar to birds, also spend much time on the bottom or in cover. So Stimulate chum pellets sink quickly in water, putting Mustad bass pheromone attractants right down on bottom or right in the heart of thick cover where bass are. Consider the chum pellet as a delivery vehicle to get Mustad attractant down where the bass are, then toss your lures in right where you tossed the chum pellets. Make sure you are using Mustad UltraPoint bass hooks on your lures, says Chuck. We say you should re-chum every ten minutes, because bass will probably have come found and eaten the chum pellets well within that time frame. So new chum is needed to constantly keep bass coming over to the place you are tossing the chum pellets, says Chuck. Chuck Reynolds, Scott Advertising 414-276-1080 Milwaukee, WI

Nature Vision, Inc.

Nature Vision announced its new Aqua-Vu Digital Video Recording (DVR) Viewing System. It is an Aqua-Vu underwater viewing system with built-in digital video storage that allows anglers to record their underwater viewing experiences to replay them at a later date or share with others.

For example, an angler could use an Aqua-Vu DVR system to create underwater videos of their favorite fishing spots to review and hopefully learn more about the spot by replaying and studying the recording.

The new Aqua-Vu DVR viewing system comes complete with Nature Vision's patent-pending "fish camera," 100 feet of cable, infrared lighting for low-light conditions, battery and charger, and a protective case/sunshield. It has 16 MB of on-board memory, and can use removable Scan Disk media cards (not included) that allow the user to increase the amount of video storage capacity, and save disk libraries if so desired.

Nature Vision also announced a new Hand-Held Digital Video Recorder (DVR). This accessory may be used with any existing Aqua-Vu model with the 4-pin con-axial camera connector. That includes Aqua-Vu units produced in the last four years and most current models. it also has 16 MB of on-board memory and can use removable Scan Disk media cards.

Also announced was Aqua-Vu's new MAV (Motorized Aqua-Vu) system. It's a foot-controlled Aqua-Vu system that automatically deploys and retrieves the Aqua-Vu underwater Fish Camera and cable, leaving hands free to fish, says the company. Before Nature Vision's development of MAV, anglers rarely fished while viewing because they were too busy controlling camera depth manually. MAV eliminates the hassles of using a camera, so you can be fishing at the same time as viewing, says the company.

Along with its anti-spook Fish Camera and 80-foot cable, the MAV features a 10.4-inch high-resolution LCD screen that's viewable in direct sunlight. On-screen displays include camera depth, a real plus when simultaneously viewing and watching a sonar; and water-temperature at camera depth, a key in locating temperature-relating fish.

MAV's motorized spool assembly is housed in a sleek cowling with a quick-release bracket. It can be mounted where it best suits the angler and the boat. Trevor Sumption 218-824-3803 Brainerd, MN

Nemire Lures

Spoon lovers will love Nemire's new spoon colors. The spoon is a type of lure has been used for bass about 100 years now. Yet there's never been a finer spoon than a Nemire. In addition to Nemire's legacy 24K gold, silver and black finishes, new colors for 2006 include chartreuse, pink, red, green, purple and white spoons - all with classy gold fittings and rattle chambers. John Nemire, Founder 800-232-9909 Scottsdale, AZ

Noble Metals

This start-up enterprise demonstrated their new patented Bitin' Titan titanium-bladed spinnerbaits (Willow and Colorado). Although it does oxidize, titanium oxide is transparent, so for all practical purposes, titanium does not appear to rust or corrode, says Bitin' Titan innovator Mark Kaminsky. Titanium is much lighter than standard spinnerbait blade material, which is stamped brass (or steel) electroplated with nickel, gold or silver. The designer says that because the blade is much lighter in weight, that titanium flutters and flashes at much slower speeds than standard brass or steel plated blades. This makes titanium blades ideal for super slow slowrolling situations where normal blades often stop turning. At medium to high speed retrieves, the action was described as a more magnified and animated thumping vibration than standard blade materials.

Electrochemically charging the titanium induces the wicked natural color, ranging from blue to purple; which are both less intrusive colors to fish, says Kaminsky. This titanium blue is a good color for light transmission because it is right in the middle of the color spectrum. Field tests have showed strongest fish response feedback within this titanium blue color range, says he.

Most interesting is that Kaminsky demonstrated although the blades look blue to purplish when dry, that when the blades get wet, water refraction of light charges the pale purple to pale blue blades with a reflective silver to gold sparkling sheen, which is based on the degree titanium is anodized using heat or voltage. Mark Kaminsky, Designer 248-703-8039 Bloomfield Hills, MI

Optimum Bait Company

Father Tony and son Matthew Paino say their swimbaits are causing quite a stir in New England and the Northeast states. Largely developed and used for trophy California bass, many New England and northeastern anglers have been catching the largest bass of their lives lately with big swimbaits. This seems to be more recreational or non-tournament angling, guys just going out to try for a wallhanger using a swimbait. Many anglers have been success doing just that, and the swimbait phenomena in New England and the Northeast is growing steadily due to word-of-mouth success stories passed along from one happy angler to the next.

Bass guys who haven't fished a swimbait yet, it is a slow process, but you do stand a good chance to catch the biggest fish in a lake or pond - or land the biggest fish of the season or of a lifetime - on a swimbait, says Matt.

Optimum's California bass swimbaits have become huge on muskie too, across the mid-northern muskie tier, says Matthew.

Just this season, tournament bass anglers in and around Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan have also started to use big swimbaits - to boat the five and six pound kicker bass needed to put a limit over the top. These are the more serious and secretive tournament-winning anglers who have discovered swimbaits are reliable to pull off that one kicker needed to top off a limit on northern bass waters. Enough whispers have started trickling down the grapevine that big California-style swimbait usage is ripe to become more widespread in this region of the country soon.

In the Southeast, it is less clear whether anglers are using large swimbaits for bass, says Matt who adds this may be due to water conditions being less clear in parts of the Southeast. Swimbaits usually produce best in clear to lightly stained conditions, says he. In clear water, the swimbait looks and acts so natural that it draws big fish primarily by sight.

What Optimum is evolving for muddy or stained conditions are spinnerbaits and buzzbaits for swimbaits. We're modifying and extending the basic swimbait so it can be fished in more applications, says Matt.

We added our Crashing Thunder spinnerbait/swimbait last year. This year, we are introducing our twin red-bladed Ambitious buzzbait/swimbait. We've tested this in Japan, where it caused some excitement and good catches. In fact,  Japanese anglers jumped on it, says Matt. It makes a swimbait into a topwater bait. The twin red blades bang together to create a loud clacking sound. The blades rotate in opposite directions to ensure the swimbait itself will be able to swim straight. The buzzbait arm uses a longer 4 to 6 inch wire length which we found was the ideal distance for the swimbait to follow behind the twin blades. This dropback length created the highest hook-up percentages, says Matt. The twin blades churn and clack to attract fish over to the area. Sight and the natural-looking swimbait dropped back behind the blade commotion then takes over as the strike trigger.

What we are doing is adding something - other than sight - to draw bass over into the area of a swimbait in stained or muddy water, says Matt. Gradually, these new types of stained and muddy water swimbait presentations will extend swimbait fishing out to the Southeast and other parts of the country with murky water conditions, says Matt.

Optimum is constantly looking for ways to elevate an angler's chances to catch that prize fish of a lifetime. Another new extension to the basic swimbait was debuted at ICAST - Optimum's 6" Titan hand-poured swimbait prerigged with a weedless wireguard. This is simply natural evolution in the swimbait world. Up to this time, most large swimbaits had exposed hooks, which meant anglers had to coax big bass to come out to the open edges of cover with swimbaits. That obviously does work, says Tony Paino, but now the wireguard lets an angler's swimbait work right through the trees, grass, reeds, wood and other cover. The swimbait with a wireguard means it is no longer necessary to coax a lunker to come out of its preferred habitat, says Tony.

Tony also presented Allen Cole's new A.C. Mag Shad 7" jointed wood swimbait with soft tail fin. This plug features flat sides, which creates a tighter swim, a deeper dive and more erratic darts when twitched, says Tony.

Optimum also became the USA distributor for deps products from Japan. There are three top deps products that North American anglers have got to try, says Matt:

  • Buzzjet. Said to be Japan's number one wake bait. Wakebaits waddle desperately on the surface, like wounded flopping and gasping baitfish that can't recover and swim back under the surface to get away. Wake baits have not yet hit North America with any momentum - but they are coming!


  • Basirisky. In a watery world of look-alike soft hollow rubber frogs, the Basirisky is a refreshingly individual amphibian. It's two curved legs look like flukes on a pirate ship anchor  - and they cause the Basirisky to crawl across the surface in a manner remindful of the Heddon Krazy Krawler or the Arbogast Jitterbug. Want to fish the thick slop at night? Better get a Basirisky.


  • Silent Killer. A 7" jointed trout bait for big bass. Built like Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg character in the Terminator movie, the Silent Killer is a hard body lure encased in a realistic-looking soft skin. As the name implies, the soft skin casing helps silence the artificial sounds made by the lure. |  Tony Paino, General Manager 951-676-6384 Temecula, CA

Outkast Tackle

I took a look at the Pro Staff Jig, designed for flipping thick cover, and Pro Swim Jig because they are both good examples of two contemporary minor trends or styles being evolved in jigs today:

  1. First, a flipping jig style where the jig head is being designed in order to cover up the hook eye to render the hook eye less protrusive - as in Outkast's Pro Staff Jig. The reasoning behind this is to reduce any way that weeds can collect on or behind the hook eye, prevent snags due to a protrusive eye, and especially so the hook eye is not blatantly protruding during a hookset, so the eye does not stick up or become an impediment that compromises a clean, clear hookset. Traditional flip jigs, the hook eye protrudes and sits on top of the jighead. With this contemporary variant style of the flip jig, the jighead shape is being designed to integrate the hook eye into the jighead shape, so the eye is not protrusive.

  2. Second, the Upper Mississippi River style, or Wisconsin style swimming jig - as in Outkast's Swim Jig. This relatively new style jig has become extremely popular among tournament anglers in the areas mentioned - Upper Mississippi River, Wisconsin, Minnesota - but has yet to become as big a trend in other parts of the country. The most popular method is to keep the jig moving - "swimming" high through weeds and wood in clear to lightly-stained water. Usually, threading a single tail grub trailer onto the swimming jig completes the presentation. Mike Dahl 952-944-5877 Bloomington, MN

Owner American Corporation

Tony Shitanishi showed me three new hook options from Owner for bass anglers for 2006:

  1. "J" Light. First there was singer/star J. Lo. Now there's "J" Light. It's a light wire, super needle point that is hypodermic sharp. With the increasing usage of medium spinning gear to toss lightly-rigged finesse worms, "J" Light  is the hook for those spinning applications, says Tony Shitanishi. The light wire offers effortless hook sets that can be made with less force with spinning gear or light baitcasting tackle. The extra wide bend is perfect for today's plastics, and the Z-Lock shoulder bend helps hold the bait up securely. Sizes range from 4 to 4/0 in red only.

  2. "K" Hook. On the ICAST show floor, the new Owner "K" hook looked tempting to wacky-rig bulky soft baits. The "K" hook was not designed for that, says Tony Shitanishi. It is designed similar to the old Kahle live bait hooks and really intended for fishing live shiners or live crawfish, says Tony. Still, the "K" hook comes in large sizes (2, 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0) you need to wacky-rig big baits, and features a super needle point aimed at the hook eye for quick sweepset hook-ups. I'll gladly invest a little time field-testing to tell me whether the new "K" hook may work well for bigger soft baits. After all, getting to field test everything is the best part of writing this ICAST report.

  3. Red Spinnerbait Hook with Super Needle Point. For the first time, Owner is offering a super needle point spinnerbait hook. This may be a good move for Owner, as it offers another hookpoint alternative in addition to  Owner's older flagship Cutting Point spinnerbait hook. Available in red only and 2/0 or 4/0 only. Wide gap, round bend, heavy-duty, forged XXX-strong shank that should prove popular with spinnerbait makers. Dennis Yamamoto 714-668-9011 Costa Mesa, CA


The most interesting debut by Pradco at ICAST was XCalibur Hi-Tek Tackle, a brand new Pradco brand. There are five new XCalibur hard baits. Some of the styling, shapes, features and finishes seem somewhat remindful of popular hard baits from Japan.

  1. XCalibur Xt3. 3-1/8" 3/8 oz. jerkbait

  2. XCalibur Xs4. 4-1/2" 1/2 oz jerkbait.

  3. XCalibur Xj4 Jimmy. 4" 1/2 oz walk-the-dog topwater.

  4. XCalibur Xz2 Zell Pop. 2-5/16" 1/4 oz popper.

  5. XCalibur Xr50. 2-1/2" 5/8 oz. lipless rattlebait

Brand new bassy items that caught my eye among Pradco's other brands (Arbogast, Bomber, Booyah, Cotton Cordell, Excalibur, Heddon, Smithwick, Yum, Creek Chub, Lazy Ike, Rebel, and Silver Thread) include:

  • Bomber Model 4A. New 2-5/8" 5/16 oz. crankbait dives 3-6 feet with highly deflective lip

  • Booyah Swim'n Jig. New arrowhead 1/2 oz. southern-style swim jig.

  • Smithwick Suspending Rattlin' Rogue. Reintroduction of the original 5-1/2" jerkbait

  • Yum CrawBugs (prerigged on insider jigheads) and new Yum Craw Papi

  • Yum Buzz Frog. Surface-oriented soft frog bait

  • Yum Sweet Cheeks. Holographic swimbait prerigged on insider jighead with two-prong wire weedguard to come through cover has hollow cheeks to squeeze Yum attractant inside. Prerigged sizes: 3" (3/16 oz), 3-1/2" (1/4 oz), 4" (3/8 oz) and 5" (1/2 oz).

  • Yum Weights. Non-lead bullet sinkers that are porous to absorb fish attractant

  • Heddon SwayBack Spook. New 4-1/2" Spook topwater

There was a nominal smattering of new size, weight or color extensions across many of Pradco's legacy items. However, the largest number of new color extensions were to the products below. Many extensions like this to existing items are often (not always) an indicator of high current popularity, and a good clue that many guys are bassing out on these lures:

  • Bomber Fat A 5F and 6F crankbait series in 8 new colors

  • Bomber Fat Free Shad crankbait series in 12 new Bill Dance signature series colors

  • Cotton Cordell Super Spot rattlebait (1/2 oz size) in 12 new colors Chris Gulstad 479-782-8971 Ft. Smith, AR


Pro-Troll debuted the EChip, a small metal tube that encases a stainless steel ball and a proprietary crystal. Each time the ball touches the crystal, the EChip emits an extremely minute electrical discharge. The tricky part, says Dick Pool, was to calibrate it to closely duplicate the nerve discharge (voltage) of a wounded baitfish. This discharge is detected by predator fish and they will attack, says the company. The EChip never needs charging or batteries and it doesn't wear out.

The Echip is small (1/2" long), cylindrical and slender, so it can be affixed to lures by companies that Pro-Troll grants license to use the EChip.

A test unit was available at the ICAST booth. Sure enough, the test unit generated enough electrical current to make a test light flash every time the EChip was shaken side-to-side - even very slowly, slower than a crankbait would wobble. Shaking the test unit harder to simulate a wobbling crankbait, spoon or spinnerbait arm, the test unit flashed fairly rapidly. So the EChip certainly emits an electrical discharge.

Since it's so new to me, it's not clear to me whether the EChip may cause bass to strike, however there are bass crankbaits and spinnerbaits out there now with the licensed EChip installed on them if you want to give it a try. Dick Pool 925-825-8560 Concord, CA

Pure Fishing, Inc.

New items of interest I found for bass anglers among Pure Fishing brands (Berkley, Stren, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Mitchell, Johnson, Spider, and Sevenstrand) include:

Stren DuraTuf. Arsalan Azar was winner of Best of Show in the line category for Berkley Vanish Transition fluorocarbon line last year. Since that time, Pure Fishing has acquired the Stren Line company. Arsalan won Best of Show again this year at ICAST for Stren DuraTuf.

If anglers have had any concerns over whether Pure Fishing would keep Stren alive, this should make it clear that Stren is here to stay, says Arsalan. Pure Fishing's Arsalan and Dave Justice from Stren worked together for one year to create the new self-lubricating line formula for Stren DuraTuf.

It's not just silicone on the line surface, which is how many other lines are made, says Arsalan. Fishing through weeds and exposure to sun cause surface silicone to rub off fishing lines quickly.

With the new formula in Stren DuraTuf, however, a silicone-like lubricant is permeated inside all through the line. It can't ever come off, says Arsalan. This self-lubricating line material makes Stren DuraTuf extremely durable, tough and abrasion-resistant.

New and improved Gulp! and PowerBait soft baits displayed by Pure Fishing included the following:

  • Power Bait Sinking Minnow. Particularly unique in that it has a reinforced center for durability. Plus it has two split shot type weights molded into the core, one on each side, to ensure a slow sinking motion. And it has holographic foil finish and 3D eyes.

  • Gulp! Craw. The Gulp! biodegradable lure series has become one of the fast-growing, successful product lines for Pure Fishing.

  • Sparkle Power Tube. Now incorporates holographics in its finish as does the new lizard (top right). 712-336-1520 Spirit Lake, IA

Rad Lures

James Ron Davis invented and patented the Chatterbait product. The company is just beginning its second year, and its first time at ICAST. In their home state of South Carolina, the Chatterbait is becoming popular, says the company.

The Chatterbait works in any application where either a spinnerbait or swimming jig would be a choice, says the company. I was able to swim two versions in a demo trough. One with a skirted jig and straight twin-tailed trailer combo. A second version of the Chatterbait with a Zoom Fluke threaded on the Chatterbait jighead. Both version had as a tremendous vibration and frantic action like a startled critter hightailing it. It was a more intense - yet natural-looking - action than you (or bass) usually see in a lure. The intense vibrating action is due to water pressure pushing the blade rapidly back and forth several times per second.

The demo trough was festooned with some fairly snaggy obstacles in the lure's path - completely unavoidable snags. Most times, the Chatterbait blade deflected the lure up and over the obstacles without snagging them. Since it was the front-affixed blade that prevented snags, the Chatterbait jig hook did not need any form of weedguard for the hook itself. This is a new concept lure. The action was impressive the way it wriggled intensely and avoided snags in the ICAST demo trough. It's available in 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 5/8 oz and two different blade sizes. Ron Davis, President 864-942-1800 Greenwood, SC

Rapala VMC Corporation

Rapala VMC Corporation is a leading manufacturer and distributor of fishing lures and treble hooks in the world. Its primary manufacturing facilities are located in Finland, France, Ireland, Estonia and China. The company employs more than 3,000 people in some 23 countries.

New items I noticed for bass anglers from the company's brands (Rapala, Storm, VMC, Blue Fox, and Williamson) include:

  • Rapala Twitchin' Rap. I found this to be Rapala's most unique, interesting new product this year. The new Twitchin' Rap has no diving lip. It is a twitch, glide and suspend lure, says the company. It barely gets below the surface, six inches to two feet at most. When paused, it sinks slowly in a wounded, disoriented minnow motion. The lipless design makes it a long-caster. This is one to watch. If successful, it could help open up a whole new genre of twitch 'n glide lipless jerkbaits for bass in North America, essentially downsized muskie and European pike glidebaits.

  • Rapala X-Rap Series. One original new X-Rap 10 jerkbait model last year started a huge X-Rap sales revolution for Rapala. So the X-Rap has been extended into a series with four new X-Rap models for 2006. Three of the new models are of potential interest to bass anglers. First, the smallest 3-1/8" 1/4 oz X-Rap 8 runs 3-5 feet deep. Next, the bigger 5-1/4" 1-1/2 oz X-Rap 14 runs 4-8 feet deep and suspends. It sounds big and heavy - but similar to many productive big bass swimbaits. Likewise, the 5-1/4" 1-5/8 oz X-Rap Jointed Shad sounds big for a bass bait, but if you think of it as a big jointed swimbait, it may fit in just fine.

  • Rapala DT Flat Series. Crankbait maestro David Fritts designed the original fat-bodied DT (Dives-To) crankbait series, which debuted in 2003 and was extended to four models by 2004. Now, there's a fifth new flat-sided balsa wood DT Flat with a thin coffin-style lip. It's 2-3/8" long, weighs 3/8 oz, and runs to 7 feet in depth.

  • Storm WildEye Series. Storm only started doing soft plastics in 2002, but they've become a company active in the invention and application of exciting new soft plastics. New body shapes, new and improved, more intense brighter colors, more detailed color patterns and enhanced holographic flash finishes were all added this year to Storm's WildEye Series of prerigged soft yet extremely durable PVC-based products that stay tough and last long for repeated strikes.

  • Storm Kickin' Minnow. Another new hybrid hard/soft plastic prerigged swimbait, this time with a segmented body to create a kicking tail swimming action activated by the hard plastic diving lip. In three sizes/weights, prerigged with a treble.

  • Storm ThunderCore Series. Another new hybrid hard/soft bait series from Storm. Unique combinations of soft plastic molded onto and around a hard plastic core insert and hard plastic head and action lip. There are five different avant-garde nature shapes in the ThunderCore series. Shapes that creatively express a salamander, one's a pollywog perhaps, a craw, and two types of baitfish shapes. Unfortunately, Storm may have missed a market trend here by not having a ThunderCore frogbait with a hybrid hard plastic frog head and a soft plastic frog body molded into it. Storm, Storm, Storm... How could you miss this frogbait trend? | David Hlavac, Carmichael Lynch Spong 612-375-8546

River2Sea, LLC

River2sea first showed up at ICAST one year ago, and some of the company's product offerings seemed a bit squirrelly and unusual to me then. But Western bass fishing legend Gary Dobyns must have seen something in River2Sea. This  year, Dobyns has helped turn River2Sea's offerings around. He has designed the new Gary Dobyns Signature Series products that really generated a lot of attention at ICAST this year. Although the lures look great, Dobyn's new Mohican style hairdo has really got to go.

According to Western bass pros Brian Nixon and Gary Dobyns, these products highlight some of the best River2Sea has to offer bass anglers:

  • Four new jerkbait styles designed by Dobyns for River2Sea are the deep-diving Fetch Minnow, the shallow-running Ripper, the Jerk Shad with its shad profile and fleeing threadfin action, plus the Pointer-shaped Trophy Min. There are a few sizes of each model, making ten sizes of Dobyns Signature jerkbaits in all. Gary mentioned a few of his favorite colors to be Ghost Minnow, Chartreuse Shad, Munky and Glo Plug (a kind of chartreuse pearl). These are not available yet, but some limited quantities may be out in Northern California dealers in about sixty days, says Dobyns.

  • Bottom Walker Shad. In Clear Lake and the California Delta, guys in tournaments were driving two hundred to three hundred miles just to find these, says Gary Dobyns. That's how deadly they perform in these locations, and surely they'll perform in other locations. What's most interesting about this swimbait is, as its Bottom Walker name implies, it is designed to be dragged slowly across the bottom. Some Lake Erie smallmouth tube-dragging types should get your hands on these. Company officials say the Ice White color is the number one seller, and Gary Dobyns says the Silver Side color is his favorite.

  • Stand'n Yabbie and Super Yabbie. Stand-up, claw-waving soft plastic craw imitations prerigged on jigheads. These have been the absolute best bed baits this spring in Northern California, says Dobyns. The Yabbies stand up perfectly straight on bottom, and you need to work them slow, slow, slow.

  • Wood'n Slither. A three-piece lipless jointed wood swimbait with a soft plastic tail fin has really captured Dobyns' attention. He says it's a big fish swimbait with a mesmerizing "S"-like swimming movement. K.K. Chan, Managing Director 510-237-2405 Richmond, CA

Shimano American Corporation

I covered Shimano's new rod  and reel news in the section at the front of this report.

I was also impressed with the Broadway Modular Tackle Storage System, the new Shimano gear bag system designed by Shimano's Ted Sakei. If you are a traveling angler, this system is your gear's spacious, elegant home away from home. There are different well-designed modules for different reasons - a worm binder, a reel container bag, a bag exclusively to hang big swimbaits straight, and several other modules., even an insulated lunch bag module. Each module is a bag in its own right, but they also all fit together to pack into a larger main tackle bag. So you can have for example, ten different modules - each a bag in its own right, but perhaps only pack half of then as appropriate into the main bag to meet your tackle needs on a particular trip. If you travel to fish a lot, and you have your travel tackle organized for different reasons, then this modular storage system is something you may want to learn more about it, says Ted Sakei. Stacey Thorn, Marketing Manager 949-951-5003 Irvine, CA

Southern Lure Company

If I recollect correctly, this company was among the first ever to offer hollow rubber frog lures to bass anglers. The company proudly showed off their latest hollow rubber bait creation, the Trophy Series Popper. Several design features were touted; it's small, slender profile with an easy-casting 5/16 oz weight, a 4/0 Owner hook that rides high on the frog's back. It's so snagless, but hasn't any excess rubber to fold back over the point or get in the way on a hookset, and it wears a full round silicone skirt. 662-327-4548 Columbus, MS

SPRO Corporation

Best news from SPRO this year was bass pro Dean Rojas winning the Best of Show award in the soft bait category for SPRO's Dean Rojas Signature Bronzeye Frog, a hollow rubber frogbait that Rojas has used in competition and made famous as "Kermit" on bass fishing TV shows all season. The company says it  casts like a dream and never lands upside down. Rojas says it is designed for heavy cover or open water. It sports a Gamakatsu double-sided frogbait hook. Lynn Plumley, Asst. Natl. Sales Manager 770-919-1722 Kennesaw, GA

Stanley Jigs, Inc.

I spoke with legendary bass fishing lure designer Lonnie Stanley about his two new lures for 2006. Stanley introduced the new BuckShad Swimbait which has a loud buckshot rattle in the enlarged wedge-shaped tail. Whereas swimbaits prerigged on insider jigheads like Stanley's are incredibly lifelike in shape, action and feel, anglers seem to find swimbaits are best used for sight-feeding bass in clear or stained water. Stanley's BuckShad is designed to work in dingy water as well due to the rather noisy buckshot rattle encased in the wiggling Wedgetail. Most other brands of swimbaits don't have any rattles. A 4" BuckShad weighs 1/2 oz with a 4/0 hook.

Lonnie Stanley also joined the burgeoning rog fray with two sizes of Stanley's Ribbit Frog. A Ribbit runs on top in any type of cover, says Lonnie.  It may be hard to see its big bullfroggy proportions in the photo, but the large size Ribbit is just about the biggest soft plastic frog bait I have seen on the market. That's reason enough to try it. Ken Chaumont 936-876-5713 Huntington, TX

Strike King Lure Company

Most notable of Strike King's new models were a couple of monster bass baits, including a 10" long lizard labeled the Iguana lizard. Also a monster quadruple-jointed hard plastic swimbait called the King Kong swimbait in 6" and 8" sizes.

A new series of Premier Plus spinnerbaits and buzzbaits appeared to be the first in the industry to use Z-Man's new EZ Skirt silicone skirt technology. Strike King uses an exclusive version from Z-Man, dubbed the Perfect Skirt. Chris Brown, Public Relations 901-853-1455 Collierville, TN

Thornwood Lures, Inc.

Ron Troyer intro'd seven super new crankbait models for 2006:

  • FreeStyler. I've heard many impressive comments and good catches attributed to the FreeStyler from some leading national pros who have tested prototypes of it all year. I finally got to see it at ICAST. Ron's goal here was to make something like the discontinued Lucky Craft Wander, but better than that. The FreeStyler's made of Brazilian Cherrywood, a dense, heavy wood that's hard to cut, but casts a mile. You can impart rod action to walk it on the surface or slow down some to work it under the surface. Especially good to do whenever there's a chop on the surface, is to walk it barely a foot subsurface. On a straight retrieve without imparting any rod action. The FreeStyler has a wide "S"-shaped swimming pattern. When paused, it tips and swims downward nose first. This is great when you get a short strike, since it will swim down to the fish, wiggling like a Senko. There's a little disk of weight in the head, 2-1/2 grams says Troyer, which causes it to nose down when paused. A neat trick every is to stop walking it, so it comes to rest facing toward under a dock or overhanging tree, pause it, pause it, and the Free Styler will swim under the dock or tree, says Ron.

  • Bank Robber. Two models: Shallow (2-4) and Deep (4-6). Circuit board diving lip. Noisy metal rattle chamber. The original request for this lure came from a customer who wanted something like the Bandit 100 and 200 series crankbaits - except in wood, says Ron.

  • Pan Fry. Two models: Shallow (4-6) and Deep (6-8). Circuit board diving lip. Noisy metal rattle chamber.

  • The Perp. Flat-sided, coffin lip deep diver runs 8-10 feet down. Circuit board diving lip. Noisy metal rattle chamber.

  • Half Nelson. Subsurface swimmer. Circuit board diving lip. Noisy metal rattle chamber.Originally, Ron wanted to design something to stay and wake right on the surface, but as work on the Half Nelson progressed, it actually worked best when it got a bit under the surface a few inches to less than one foot. Ron Troyer, President 863-551-1235 Auburndale, FL


We say our products have the "Lays potato chip" effect, chuckles Larry Thornhill, because an angler can't just use tungsten once. When an anglers start realizing all the benefits of tungsten - feel, sound, sensitivity, durability, density - they begin to use more and more tungsten.

As anglers go through that tungsten discovery process, we would like to be the company that brings out more and more tungsten solutions for them, says Larry.

We've spent the past two years making our tungsten bullet sinkers insert free, says Larry. An insert is a plastic tube or sleeve inside many other tungsten sinkers. It's used because tungsten alone is so hard and tends to be abrasive to line. So an insert is commonly used to sheath the line inside the sinker. We've concentrated our development away from the insert. An insert acts like a shock absorber. An insert robs the angler of sensitivity and feel. Our weights have no insert, and deliver unparalleled sensitivity directly from the sinker to the line to the rod to the hand - and there is no line abrasion with our sinker, which is why it took two years to develop, says Larry.

More recently, we have developed tungsten jigs, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. We're putting a lot of research and development in tungsten because we think it will be the next big thing. So we're driven to be the best at this. We want to be the Lucky Craft of tungsten, chuckles Larry.

Already, we are getting feedback on the new tungsten spinnerbaits and buzzbaits that, due to thinner diameter heads possible with tungsten, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits come through grass better, and just feel and respond better than lead, says Larry. Larry Thornhill 724-349-2260 Alpharetta, GA

TTI-Blakemore Fishing Group

It was great to talk with the Stallings brothers, TJ and Ron, who represent TTI-Blakemore brands (Tru-Turn, Daiichi, XPoint, StandOut and Mr. Crappie hooks, plus Blakemore Lures).

Ron and TJ have been creaming the spotted bass in Alabama using Blakemore Road Runner Barbed heads with Bleeding Bait hooks and the smallest size 9B and 9C Yamamoto Senkos. We've been pounding the spots with the chartreuse head Road Runner and practically any color Senko - watermelon, white, black - say Ron and TJ.

New for 2006 from TTI-Blakemore will be larger sizes 1/0 and 2/0 StandOut Lever Action Fishing Hooks. Dropshotting bigger baits like full-sized Senkos has caught on in parts of the Southeast, hence the demand for 1/0 and 2/0 size StandOut hooks.

StandOut hooks are unique in that up and down action is created in that the hook acts as a fulcrum with a twitch of the rod that sets off the lever action that lifts and drops the bait. A tip from TJ is that StandOut hooks do not work near as well with floating soft baits. We find it takes a sinking soft bait such as the Senko to make the up and down lever action of the StandOut hook really perform to its best ability, says TJ.

A hot new item from Blakemore Lures for 2006 will be Aaron Marten's Rollin' Runner designed by Aaron Martens. Sure to be a hit, there is no release date slated for this new product yet, say Ron and TJ. | www.tticompanies.comTJ Stallings 334-567-2011 Wetumpka, AL


David Greene, designer of Z-Man's new patent pending EZ Skirt spoke of how much he likes the umbrella profile effect created by the EZ Skirt and the way the skirt, puffs, flares and tracks in the water.

Two years in the making, the new patent pending EZ Skirt is produced in 70 strands. It is actually 14 separate sections of 5 strands each, which means each of the 14 separate sections can be a different color. So an EZ Skirt can be assembled in 5 strand color increments (up to 14 colors) to seamlessly match the back, belly, sides and other colors on a jig or spinnerbait head, for example.

The silicone molded hub in the center of the skirt locks the strands in place so they cannot move around and won't distort or disturb the strand color pattern. The skirt strands are fixed in place by the hub, which provides a tight, secure fit to any jig, spinnerbait, buzzbait or other lure collar designed to hold a skirt - yet allows for easy replacement. The hub itself also comes in ten different colors for optimal color coordination. David Greene, Designer 843.747.4366 Hanahan, SC

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