August 02, 2022
By Dr. Todd A. Kuhn
ICAST 2022 was recently held in Orlando July 19-22. The annual fishing trade show is a time when companies large and small display their wares for attendees to touch and feel. More importantly, attendees are afforded the opportunity to interact directly with the manufacturers to gain insight into their new products.
After spending three days walking the show floor, and picking through literally hundreds of new products, I've made my picks of the best new gear for 2022. Here's what I think will be hot this year.
The folks at Z-Man market the original ChatterBait, an undulating, vibrating jig that every self-respecting bass fisherman throws with seeming regularity. This year, the engineers at Z-Man put their heads together and designed a topwater gadget called the HellraiZer.
The HellraiZer has a weighted vibrating jig blade attached to the tail to impart a unique sashay on the lure's body. The HellraiZer vibrates wilding on retrieve, offering a mix between a buzzbait, soft plastic frog and stick bait, in an all-in-one package. The very unique action and the bait's long, slender profile will draw crazed attacks from almost any gamefish. $14.99 | zmanfishing.com
STORM ORIGINAL DEEP WIGGLE WART
The original Storm Wiggle Wart is a bass-catching machine. For decades, bass fishermen have relied on it as their go-to crankbait. Storm is now offering the same bait as the original Wiggle Wart in a deep-diving version. The new Original Deep Wiggle Wart dives to 11 to 13 feet while retaining that great, unique, original Wiggle Wart shimmy and shake. The new Wart also has that loud, "wart rattle" (as all bass fishermen call it) and incredible hunting action. The new Wart is available in 25 colors, one perfect for just about any application or condition. The bait measures 2 inches, weighs 7/16 ounce and features No. 4 VMC treble hooks and is a super deal at a very light MSRP. $6.99 | rapala.com
BERKLEY POWERBAIT JIGS
Jigs are jigs are jigs. Well, hmm, maybe not. Berkley has introduced an entire line of jigs with a unique twist. Their new jigs feature PowerBait silicone skirts, which emit a fish-attracting scent trail. According to the company's scientists, the PowerBait skirts help catch more fish.
The new jigs are high-quality pieces, with just about every imaginable jig-style available. The lineup includes football, skipping, finesse, finesse swim, swim, heavy cover and flipping jigs. Each jig style comes in a variety of weights, feature very sharp Berkley Fusion19 hooks and high-quality weed guards. From $3.99 | berkley-fishing.com
HUMMINBIRD MEGA LIVE w/ TARGETLOCK
Forward-facing sonar has changed the way we fish. However, keeping your forward facing sonar locked on a target while the trolling motor is moving side-to-side is physically impossible. Additionally, when using a trolling motor with the Spot-Lock feature on makes staying locked on a target impossible.
Humminbird's MEGA Live Imaging TargetLock for the Minn Kota Ultrex solves this problem in graceful fashion. The turret-like TargetLock assembly attaches to the trolling motor and keeps the selected forward-facing sonar target locked on the fish finder screen no matter the trolling motors movement.
TargetLock also has a sweep feature that allows users to monitor a 120-degree field of view, hands-free. The TargetLock unit can be switched into and out of TargetLock instantaneously, allowing the user to use the trolling motor to "aim" the sonar beam in any direction they desire. The unit is designed to fit Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motors with 45- or 52-inch shafts. $2,999 | humminbird.com
PLANO EDGE FROG BOX
Those of us who love our hollow body frogs know that keeping them in good working order can be a maddening challenge. Squishing them into a 3700 box or tackle tray crumples tails and crushes their soft bodies. For frog lovers, there's now good news—Plano has added a frog box to their popular line of Edge tackleboxes.
The Edge Frog Box optimizes your frog storage, with a deep box designed to keep frogs snug and safe by hanging them vertically. There are 25 dual-sided posts, which allows hanging up to 50 baits by their line tie. The Frog Box has a rust inhibiting technology, which promises to keep your valuable froggies rust-free. A watertight lid seal keeps water out when weather conditions turn inclement. $54.99 | planomolding.com
13 FISHING LUNCH BUG
13 Fishing keeps expanding their bait product line with innovative new designs. This year, they introduced a great looking new craw imitator—the Lunch Bug. The Lunch Bug will appeal to those looking for a great trailer for vibrating jigs, spinnerbaits or swim jigs. This Bug will also shine for applications such as punching, flipping and skipping.
The Lunch Bug is 4 inches long, offering a large profile that will coax big fish in close for angry strikes. The claws have hydrodynamic "dams" that make them ungulate wildly on the fall, when wound or worked.
Additionally, the appendages and main body are void of anything (i.e., protrusions) that would hinder it from slipping through the thickest of slop when punching. It comes in an 8 pack and is available in all the popular bass catching colors. $5.15 | 13fishing.com
GARMIN LIVESCOPE ICE BUNDLE LI
Garmin is arguably the leader in forward-facing sonar technology, having introduced the original unit several years ago. For 2022, they are offering an ice fishing version, sure to help avid anglers drill fewer holes this winter.
The all-in-one bundle pairs a high-capacity, lightweight lithium-ion battery, Panoptix LiveScope sonar with LiveScope Forward and LiveScope Down modes with a large ECHOMAP UHD 93sv combo touchscreen display. The new bundle allows hardwater anglers to "see" up to 200 feet in any direction. A built-in "flasher" mode provides a view of baits below and fish as they swim into the beam.
The bundle includes the complete Panoptix LiveScope system, with swivel pole mount for the Panoptix LiveScope transducer and li-ion battery charger and improved power cable which stays flexible no matter how cold it gets. The bundle comes in a rugged, compact carrying bag for easy transport and safe storage. $2,999 | garmin.com
Jenko is definitely not a household name to most bass fishermen. However, they make some simply outstanding products. For those who ply the shallows (and who doesn't?), the new Jenko Wake-N-Bait offers some unique features sure to appeal to both fishermen as well as the fish.
Unlike other wakers, the Jenko rendition has a long body. The extended body length makes the bait a bit less "frantic" on retrieve than their shorter, pudgier wake baits counterparts. The baits design allows it to saunter more too. The unique line tie allows you to walk the bait, an oddity in the wake bait category. VMC hooks are standard. $22.99 | jenkofishing.com
Finding a good pair of fishing pliers is tough. Finding a great pair is nearly impossible. The people at Visser, the makers of high-end, sealed saltwater spinning reels, has introduced their Visser Pliers, designed by Robert Koelewyn. If Koelewyn name sounds familiar, it's because he is the designer of the original Van Staal fishing reels.
The new pliers are rust-proof titanium, built with investment casting, making them immune to breakage for bulletproof operation. The pliers come in two sizes and have a patent pending split right feature on the replaceable cutters. The nose on the pliers is extra-wide, making it easy to remove hooks, unlike narrower fishing plier designs.
A high quality, locking Kydex holster is standard and accommodates just about any belt size. Now these pliers do come at a cost. However—as with any quality hand tool—they are well worth the investment for the most serious of anglers who have tired of buying several pairs of inferior pliers each year. $369-$399 | visserreels.com
SNAG-PROOF BOBBY'S PERFECT FROG 2.0
Hollow body frogs are a dime a dozen. Well, admittedly they aren't really that "cheap," but every major lure company seems to be making their own version nowadays. The designers at American Baitworks, specifically Bobby Barrack, have improved upon his original Bobby's Perfect Frog.
The Bobby's Perfect Frog 2.0 has a unique water evacuation system, taking on less water than other frogs, and ultimately keeping them floating longer. The Perfect Frog 2.0 balance is rear-weighted, keeping the frog's head upright when paused for a very natural look. A welded line tie keeps your line from slipping out at the most inopportune of times. Additionally, the Perfect Frog 2.0 comes in 15 great colors/patterns. The fantastic graphics were designed by gifted artist Andrew Gardner, and they look incredibly realistic from any angle of view, mimicking nature nicely. $11.99 | americanbaitworks.com