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Beilue's Best: Downsized Bass Lures & Trends from ICAST 2023

Our "Bass Crash Course" video series host Shane Beilue checks out tackle trends seen at the big fishing trade show.

Beilue's Best: Downsized Bass Lures & Trends from ICAST 2023

"Bass Crash Course" host Shane Beilue checks out new baits from Bill Lewis Lures booth at ICAST 2023. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

If you’re a fishing-tackle junkie like me, walking around ICAST 2023, the world’s largest sportfishing tradeshow, is like being the proverbial "kid in a candy store."

This is the premier event in the tackle industry where all the manufacturers put their new product releases on display to the public for the first time. Almost every tackle company is here, ranging from legendary household names to small startups with aspirations of becoming the same.

While it's impossible to highlight everything among the hundreds of booths represented at ICAST, it is easy to spot certain tackle trends within bass fishing as tackle manufacturers scramble to fill the demand from anglers like you and me. Clearly, one of the tackle trends at this year’s show is to downsize the profiles of popular designs from the past.

Without a doubt, small 3- to 4-inch swimbaits designed to fall horizontally through the water column on forward-facing sonar are trending up with a lot of tackle manufacturers. Some examples include:

Small-profile lure design is not limited to use with forward sonar. For example:

Want to talk micro-cranks?

mini crankbaits
Mini crankbaits, like the GNAT from Bill Lewis Lures, are growing trend in bass fishing for downsixed lures. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)
  • The Bill Lewis GNAT is 1/8 oz and 1/2 inch in length and can be tossed on any of the Bait Finesse System rods and reels, which emerged from last year’s ICAST.
  • Strike King Gravel Dawg: taking the classic shape of the wildly popular KVD squarebill crankbait, the Gravel Dawg has an oversized bill that allows the small profile and erratic action to get into the 8-10’ depth range.

Of course, not every tackle trend is centered around “smaller,” evidenced by the following:

  • Rapala Crush City line of soft plastics: Designed by Jacob Wheeler, one of the hottest anglers on any professional tour in the last few years, these are meticulously designed soft plastics that are impressive to behold. The plastic material is very durable and the design styles include the "Cleanup Craw," “Bronco Bug," "Ned BLT" and two sizes of paddle tail swim baits called “the Mayor." Last, but not least, in the new Crush City lineup is the "Freeloader" straight-tailed swim bait that captured Wheeler’s recent win on the Bass Pro Tour derby on Lake Guntersville, Ala.
  • Z-Man ZWG hook: With the strategic placement of bait “anchors” for securing their Elaztech soft baits in place, the ZWG hook is a weighted EWG shape that will still work with any soft plastic lure.
  • Yamamoto Ichi Worm: Building upon the popularity of the ringworm body combined with a classic curl-tail, this will be a staple when targeting brush piles in the summer months.
  • Mustad Alpha Point hook: the Alpha Point series offers incredible sharpness while maintaining the strength to avoid bending the tapered point. Multiple hook designs include a reconfigured EWG style with strategic angles throughout the hook bend to improve hookup efficiency and keep the soft plastic running dead straight.

We’ve not even scratched the surface as to what ICAST offers, so check back soon to see how the trend of smaller lure designs is also impacting rods and reels.

Editor's Note: Shane Beilue hosts Game & Fish's Bass Crash Course video series on bass fishing.




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