April 20, 2021
A new year on the water calls for new gear. Whether you're adding a rod with a different action to your arsenal, spooling up with fresh line or stocking your boxes with the latest baits, there’s bound to be a trip to the tackle shop in your near future.
Indeed, picking new tackle is a rite of spring that’s almost as fun as the fishing you plan to do with it.
Tackle manufacturers roll out their new offerings for the coming year at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) show, organized by the American Sportfishing Association, in July. Although last year the COVID pandemic caused ICAST to be a virtual event rather than the in-person tradeshow typically held in Orlando, Fla., Game & Fish editors nonetheless received an advance look at new fishing gear from hundreds of brands.
The tackle introduced at ICAST is now available on retailers’ shelves and just waiting for a trip to the water. We compiled noteworthy products from several categories to give you a heads-up on what to look for and consider when planning your fishing strategy. Spring is here, and it’s time to go shopping.
Lew’s KVD LFS Casting and KVD Spinning Series
These reels, designed by Lew’s with input from Kevin VanDam, show that pro-grade gear need not break the bank. The KVD LFS Series offers six casting reels set up for right- or left-hand retrieve, aluminum frames and spools, solid brass Speed Gears, a bearing-supported pinion gear and Lew’s Multi-Setting Brake dual cast-control system. The KVD Spinning Series includes three reel sizes, all with an aluminum body, sideplate and spool, and a C40 carbon rotor. More durability comes from a stainless steel main shaft and solid brass pinion gear. Reels in both series feature a 10-bearing system for smooth casts and retrieves.
$139.99 (casting), $89.99 (spinning) | lews.com
Lew’s Pro SP Skipping and Pitching
A super-shallow design enables the Pro SP’s spool to start up faster and prevent deep-spool backlashes while skipping and pitching baits—a feature Lew’s developed by working with pro angler Andy Montgomery. The externally adjustable QuietCast braking system includes a “skipping zone” to maximize cast distance while further reducing backlash. In addition, the spool has an innovative Knot Slot that recesses the spool knot so it doesn’t interfere with line lay. An 8.3:1 gear ratio minimizes the time your bait is out of the zone.
$199.99 | lews.com
Daiwa Tatula 300
Here’s a reel made for throwing fat, big-lipped crankbaits and meaty swimbaits with control. The Tatula 300’s T-Wing level-wind system allows for less resistance on the line when the reel is out of gear, permitting longer casts. Anglers can also finely tune spool tension to reduce backlashes when throwing large baits with this 300-size reel. Daiwa’s Magforce magnetic casting system is easy to adjust to suit wind conditions, rod characteristics and bait aerodynamics for hassle-free presentations. Larger gears in the reel are designed for handling hefty baits—and fish.
$269.99 | daiwa.com
Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag
The Saltiga Lever Drag reels feature frames and sideplates machined from a single piece of aluminum, which ensures the precise alignment of bearings and gears for increased performance during tough battles in the salt. Oversized stainless steel main and pinion gears provide strength, while oversized spool bearings make turning the handle smoother and easier. Daiwa’s Advanced Tournament Drag System stays cool while providing consistent pressure. The reel is available in six single-speed models, 10 two-speed models and two special-purpose tournament-style sailfish designs.
$419.99 to $699.99 | daiwa.com
Lew's KVD Series
Kevin VanDam needs no introduction to bass anglers; he’s one of the most successful professionals in bass tournament history. Lew’s teams up with KVD to offer a series of casting and spinning rods designed to his specifications, all with powers, actions and lengths purpose-built for certain presentations. A casting rod made for dock skipping and swimming frogs, and a spinning rod designed for drop-shot and Ned rigs are just two examples. The entire KVD Series includes 10 casting rods and seven spinning rods, all with IM8 graphite blanks, and six graphite-glass composite casting rods to cover a wide range of fishing conditions.
$99.99 | lews.com
Daiwa Tatula Swimbait
Big baits call for big rods, and although swimbaits are heavy, Daiwa shows us a rod that can handle them does not have to be. The Tatula Swimbait rod has a heavy action, but the blank’s carbon construction made with HVF Nanoplus Technology results in a stick that weighs less while remaining strong. Daiwa’s X-45 Bias concept and fiber-braiding technology enables the blank to resist twisting when loading up, and Fuji FazLite Tangle-Free K-Guides contribute to long, accurate casts. The Tatula Swimbait is available in 7-foot-3-inch and 7-foot-9-inch lengths.
$189.99 to $199.99 | daiwa.com
Daiwa Dark Water
Engineered for East coast offshore anglers, the Dark Water series includes 21 rods with blanks specifically constructed for targeting kingfish, sailfish and other Atlantic species. Configured for conventional and spinning reels, Dark Water rods provide a range of lengths and actions to suit various techniques. Daiwa’s HVF rod-building technology produces a lighter blank with a soft tip and strong backbone, and provides a slight parabolic bend during the fight. The rods’ EVA grips ensure all-day comfort while handling the rigors of fishing the salt.
$179.99 and up | daiwa.com
Strike King KVD 100 Jerkbait
Working a jerkbait is one of Kevin VanDam’s go-to presentations, and he teamed up with Strike King to offer a bait that has the ideal combination of roll, wiggle and flash. The bait’s 3D eyes add realism, and black-nickel hooks keep fish secure. A proprietary weight-transfer system aids in casting.
$8.99 | strikeking.com
Strike King 2.75-Inch Ned Rage Craw
It may be a small bait, but the Ned Rage Craw produces big action. This finesse-focused soft plastic offers anglers Strike King’s Rage Tail design in a more compact package, and features a flat end for use with jig heads typical of Ned rigs. It’s available in 12 colors.
$6.99 | strikeking.com
Yo-Zuri 3DB Jerkbait 110 Deep and Pencil Popper
Whether you’re fishing the middle of the water column or on the surface, Yo-Zuri has two new baits to cover both areas. The 3DB Jerkbait 110 Deep dives 8 to 12 feet while using Yo-Zuri’s Wave Motion Technology to send out vibrations. A walk-the-dog topwater bait, the 3DB Pencil Popper features a deep mouth to spit water, 3D internal prism to reflect light and rattle to add sound.
$9.99 | yo-zuri.com
Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore TopKnock Pencil and Mag Popper
Surface strikes may be even better in saltwater than in freshwater, and Yo-Zuri introduces two topwater baits to bring the action. The TopKnock Pencil features Yo-Zuri’s 3D Prism finish and a rattle in the back of the bait that adds casting distance and produces a knocking sound during the retrieve. The Mag Popper has the company’s Magnetic Weight Transfer system to enable longer casts, while its bottleneck design and deep mouth create disturbance.
$17.99 (Mag Popper), $8.99 (TopKnock Pencil) | yo-zuri.com
LINE, TOOLS and STORAGE
Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai
Anglers know fluorocarbon line for its low visibility and long-lasting durability. Daiwa adds versatility with its J-Fluoro Samurai, offering the small-diameter line in strengths of 2- to 25-pound test. Developed and made in Japan, J-Fluoro Samurai is available in 220-yard filler spools and 1,000-yard bulk spools.
$20.99 to $42.99 (filler), $59.99 to $159.99 (bulk) | daiwa.com
Strike King KVD Tools
For pro anglers like Kevin VanDam, wins often come down to efficiency on the water. Good tools help make that happen. Strike King offers a set of tools developed by KVD to help rig baits and maintain gear with ease. The collection includes 5 1/2- and 8-inch scissors, 7- and 7 1/2-inch pliers, 5 1/2-inch split-ring/braid cutter pliers, a 6-inch fillet knife, 15-in-1 multi-tool, Ocho wacky-rig tool and lure wraps.
$6.99 to $44.99 | strikeking.com
Lure Lock Ultra-Thin and 3-in-1 Deep Boxes
The tacky, soy-based gel in the bottom of Lure Lock’s boxes keeps baits and terminal tackle in place—even when a box is flipped over. Lure Lock calls it TakLogic Technology, and it prevents damage to baits and hooks during transportation. The company now offers an Ultra-Thin box that measures about 1 1/4 inches high, as well as a 3-in-1 Deep box that’s 4 inches high and includes two divider configurations.
$14.99 (Ultra-Thin), $34.99 (Deep) | lurelock.com
Plano Edge Flex
Allowing complete customization, Edge Flex boxes come with 38 pre-cut dividers in four sizes that interlock to form compartments based on an angler’s needs. One box will organize everything from tools to small weights. Edge Flex boxes are available in 3600 and 3700 sizes, and include Rustrictor rust-preventing technology, a Dri-Loc watertight seal and Water Wick desiccant dividers. A label system and clear DuraView lid make identifying contents quick and easy.
$29.99 (3600), $39.99 (3700) | planomolding.com
Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot
The new Sportsman line from Old Town includes seven kayaks, but the most exciting may be the AutoPilot. Available in two sizes, the AutoPilot features a fully integrated Minn Kota saltwater-safe motor, which offers 45 pounds of thrust and GPS Spot-Lock anchoring. The motor is controlled by Minn Kota’s iPilot remote, enabling anglers to control the craft easily while keeping their hands free to fish.
$3,799.99 (AutoPilot 120), $3,999.99 (AutoPilot 136) | oldtowncanoe.com
Old Town Sportsman Discovery Solo 119
Weighing just 56 pounds, the Sportsman Discovery Solo is ideal for reaching out-of-the-way places that may require a portage. Although it’s shaped like a canoe, the Solo comes with a kayak-style seat and is easy to handle with a double-blade kayak paddle.
Old Town’s three-layer hull construction surrounds closed-cell foam with high-density polyethylene for durability. The Solo includes four rod holders, a forward accessory track, padded armrests with tackle trays and a tackle box.
$999.99 | oldtowncanoe.com
One press of a button allows you to capture your catches in HD video with the Fish-I. The compact, waterproof action camera records in a continuous loop, and you can save only the moments you want. It’s light enough to attach to your body, a net or even a rod. The camera is compatible with a remote and the Fish-I app for more control when recording. Ultra-wide-angle and 2X zoom lenses are available.
$199.99 | tactacam.com
Hornady RAPiD Safe
The RAPiD Safe line includes several portable safes ideal for securing firearms, valuables and documents while on the boat or traveling to the water. Contents locked inside a RAPiD Safe are quickly accessible with touch-free RFID technology. Simply place the included RFID wristband, key fob or decal over the reader, and the safe opens instantly.
The RAPiD Safe 2600KP will accommodate a compact handgun, the 2700KP will hold a full-size handgun, and the 4800KP has enough space to secure two full-size handguns. Each safe attaches to an immovable object with a security cable.
$220.99 to $286.51 | hornady.com
Fish Monkey The Blocker Gloves
These gloves are made for the damp, windy, chilly days of early spring. The 2 mm neoprene material keeps hands dry and warm, but it’s not so thick that it impedes dexterity. A slit at the tip of each index finger allows tying knots and operating touchscreen devices without having to remove the gloves. The company’s Griptanite non-slip grip design enhances purchase on surfaces no matter if they’re wet or slimy.
$29.95 | fishmonkeygloves.com
Yooneek Gloves and Sleeves
The FIR-SKIN T+ fabric that Yooneek uses for its gloves and arm sleeves contains titanium fibers that reflect the body’s far infrared ray (FIR) emissions for warmth and comfort. The technology keeps muscles and tendons performing well during long days of repeated casting. In addition, the thin, four-way stretch fabric blocks the sun’s UV rays and has an SPF 50+ rating.
$27.99 (half-finger gloves), $29.99 (sleeves) | yooneekproducts.com