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Who Won the Best of Show at ICAST 2021?

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the annual fishing trade show is a swimbait that costs less than 8 bucks.

Who Won the Best of Show at ICAST 2021?

From left, Jon Schlosser, Jake Dawson and Aaron Wavra of Pure Fishing/Berkley with ICAST 2021 Best of Show award for the Berkley PowerBait Gilly. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

It usually isn't a big surprise which gear item wins the Best of Show award at ICAST, denoting the best new fishing product unveiled at the annual fishing trade show.

But in a year that has been full of surprises — from Covid-19 to political unrest — perhaps it was time for a fishing lure to win an award that in recent years has gone to something electronic, motorized or pedal-driven.

This year it was a freshwater soft-plastic lure that drew the most votes from media and buyers at the show — the Berkley Powerbait Gilly swimbait, a line of realistic baits designed in collaboration with professional bass angler Mike Iaconelli. Instead of a new fishing kayak or fish-finding electronics costing in the thousands, the top prize at the fishing industry's biggest show went to lure with a Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price of $7.49.

The last three Best of Show winners, for comparisons, were the Old Town Sportsman Autoplite kayak (2020), the Garmin Force trolling motor (2019) and the Garmin Panoptix LiveScope live-scanning sonar (2018).

The Berkley PowerBait Gilly is believed to be the first fishing lure to win Best of Show since 2002.

More than 680 items were eligible for the award in ICAST's New Product Showcase.

The Berkley PowerBait Gilly is believed to be the first fishing lure to win ICAST's Best of Show since 2002. (Photo courtesy of Berkley)

The Gilly features a heavy Japanese design and technical influence for a natural presentation in shape, color and action. Packed with PowerBait flavor, it has a hollow head that allows for easy crushing on strikes and keeps the bait upright when swimming. Rig it sideways on a Texas rig, or on a jig head, weighted swimbait hook, or even a drop shot.

The technical action, multiple-rigging options, "match the hatch" opportunities, three sizes and 12 different colors make the Gilly a versatile lure for bass anglers.

"All the technical advancements that we put into this bait are going to give bass anglers that much more opportunity to catch more fish," Berkley's Aaron Wavra said. "It’s an amazing lure, an amazing team that put it together. Winning the award is a great feeling."


  • Pro-inspired design from Berkley pro Mike Iaconelli with heavy influence from Japanese designs and techniques
  • Remarkably lifelike shape, color and action
  • Hollow head section collapses easier with strikes and helps keep the bait oriented in an upright posture when swimming
  • Packed with Berkley’s famed PowerBait flavor so anglers have the chance to set the hook on every bite
  • Can be rigged weedless sideways as a Texas rig; or on a jig head, with a weighted swimbait hook, line-through stinger hook rig or on a drop shot
  • Available in HD Tru Colors and standard injected colors
The Berkley PowerBait Gilly is expected to be available September 2021. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

Berkley PowerBait Gilly

  • Sizes: 90mm and 90mm HD • 110mm and 110mm HD • 130mm and 130mm HD
  • Package Count: 90mm –  4 • 110mm – 3 • 130mm – 2

  • Colors: HD Warmouth • HD Yellow Perch • HD Sunfish • HD Pumpkinseed • HD Bluegill • HD Crappie • Black Blue Fleck • Blue Shiner Gold • Ike’s Green Pumpkin Blue Flash • Green Pumpkin • Pumpkinseed • Watermelon Candy
  • MSRP: $6.49 Standard Colors/$7.49 HD Tru Colors
  • Available: September 2021

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