ICAST is an acronym that stands for International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades - you can see why they use the acronym. IFTD is also an acronym that stands for International Fly Tackle Dealer (Show). They’re both “shows” actually. Last week in Orlando, Florida’s Orange County Convention Center, ICAST and IFTD happened under the same roof. And, it was one hot roof, let me tell you. Central Florida in July is like a pressure cooker.
I was there for the second year in a row, which is hardly monumental when you talk with guys like freelance writer Keith Jackson of Missouri and he regales the listener with stories from the mid-80s shows. The old “back in the day” stories are always better than anything I can muster - even if I made them up. But, make no mistake, the ICAST/IFTD show is pretty doggone cool, even if it is slightly gentrified comparatively.
For example, how often can a guy that has devoted his life to angling, walk up to bass fishing legend Bill Dance and chat like you’re in the line with somebody at a coffee shop? I did. And yes, he was wearing a crisp clean Tennessee Volunteers cap. I even spent some time with Kevin Van Dam. In fact, there were fishing celebrities old and new in every direction. Other than the occasional autograph or photo, they go about their business with little interference. That’s ICAST- a clearing house of new products and industry folks ranging from elite pros to hardly-known PR guys like myself.
I do have a couple of decades of guiding experience and I’m a member of several pro-staffs related to the fly fishing side of the business, so many of my friends were there, and it’s always nice to see them and take it all in. That said, I was working, so I had very little time to walk around, which is very unfortunate because there is a lot to see. Fortunately, the evening festivities include good food and libation.
The bottom line is manufacturers show up and unveil their latest and greatest products at ICAST and IFTD. These items won’t be available until late this year at the earliest, but they give anglers and merchants something to look forward to. Here are a few of my favorites that you may want to check out.
Plano has been churning out the best tackle storage options available to anglers for a long time. In fact, Plano invented the first plastic tackle box in 1952. This company leads by example, and for 2018, they have some great new products, including two designed specifically for kayak anglers. I should mention that kayak fishing is all the rage and that was clearly evident by the number of kayaks at ICAST designed specifically for fishing.
Plano’s new V-Crate caters to the needs of kayakers, who until now, were essentially faced with using milk crates for tackle storage. The V-Crate’s unique design allows the rower easy access to tackle and other fishing necessities right behind the paddlers seat, and the universal design fits just about any fishing kayak. It’s a must have for kayak anglers. And, if you can’t shake the milk crate concept, Plano’s new Soft Crate is just the thing you need to kick up your crate game a big notch. Check them both out at www.planomolding.com.
Park Falls, Wisconsin-based St. Croix Rods has been churning out top-notch fishing rods for many decades, and an incredible number of avid anglers swear by St. Croix Rods reliability and value. The new Legend X Series is a prime example of what happens when the best engineers in the business team up with the finest rod crafters on the planet. This rod is constructed with the best components and graphite available and you can feel. I know because I fished with a few of them last week. All I can say is, wow. Put a Legend X on your Christmas list. These are premium rods and they’ll go for a premium price. Trust me when I say, once you cast one, you’ll never look back. They are worth every penny.
Also, fly anglers keep an eye out for the amazing new Imperial USA fly rods. These wands cast like rods that cost two or three times as much and St. Croix didn’t skimp on components either. Another home run by St. Croix for sure. Check both rods out at www.stcroixrods.com.
Last, but not least, FLIR has a new gadget that boat anglers may want to take a look at. The FLIR M500 Multi-Sensor Maritime Camera is based on the same heat signature technology Apache attack helicopter pilots use. For real. Here’s a snippet from yesterday’s press release, “The M500 enables superyachts, first responders, and commercial vessels to see long-range targets with exceptional clarity, the FLIR M500 provides professional captains with enhanced situational awareness to detect targets more than 15 kilometers, navigate tight waterways, and avoid collisions day and night.”
So, basically you can see at night. Yep, that’s right, night vision people. I don’t own a super-yacht, but I can tell you a lot of duck hunters and fishermen are going to want one of these, myself included. And frankly, the price is not ridiculous considering the level of technology used in the M500. For more information, go to www.flir.com.
Jay Anglin writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Argus. Write to him at email@example.com.