5 ICAST 2022 award winners

We met with different companies to find out the details on their award winning new products and when you can expect to get your hands on them.

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5 ICAST 2022 award winners

ICAST is the largest fishing trade show in the world with a huge assortment of brand new rods, reels, baits, lures and gear to fit every type of fishing. Several of these new products will earn ICAST notoriety by being named the best new products in a certain category. Fishbrain had the chance to meet with some of the lucky companies that had products win awards at ICAST 2022 this year and we got the skinny on new designs, specifications and everything else that makes their gear award worthy.

The company: Aftco

The gear: Reaper Series Hoodie

Category: Winner for best lifestyle apparel for women

"Aftco won for the best lifestyle apparel for women and we won it with our women's Reaper windproof. Our Reaper series of hoodies which was introduced a few years ago has really taken off. It's a very popular piece of fleece. Our Reaper windproof kind of takes out to the next level. It has a three layer stretch, ripstop fabric on it that really prevents any wind from coming through on those cool, windy days when you’re making a good run. There’s a nice water resistant coating on it in case you are getting any ocean spray or if any fall, or winter, rain pops up. On the interior of the jacket has a hexagon fleece, which is relatively light weight and very warm and with the hexagon shape it lifts the fabric from your skin. This keeps you warm but also gives you good ventilation through out the suit. All along on the cuffs you have velcro closures, really nice hood cinches to keep things locked in and big, front, water-resistant zippers. This is a  great overall piece and a great price point for fall cool weather fishing."

The company: Aftco

The Gear: The Ankle Deck Boot

Category: Winner for new showcase in best footwear

"Here at Aftco we have a whole new category coming this spring. We won best in category for the new product showcase in the footwear category. That's with the new Ankle Deck boot. A lot of time went into this design of his boot; something has been heavily requested from the pro team and customers. You’ll notice it's a really nice good pliable rubber with our boot. It has a nice, good sole. A lot of effort was spent to design the hexagon, hexatron grid for good grip with good lugs on traction.

All along the exterior you notice some channel bumps with channels on each end they help to push any water out as you step, whether beyond a dock, or a boat surface. On the end of the interior you have a recycled neoprene liner that is ultra soft and comfortable, and the secret sauce on these insoles. It has a really good density insole, a good cushion but also the right amount of support for a long day on the water. All along the edge of the boot is reinforced to help prevent any rips and back pull tabs are fully welded in and reinforced. It's a great overall boot coming in around a hundred bucks. Boots are available in our harbor gray, navy and in our green acid camo. Available this coming spring from Aftco."

The company: Bull Bay Rods

The Gear: The Banshee Fly Rod

Category: Best new fly rod

The Banshee spinning rod won best of show last year in the category. It was our first entry into an extra fast tapered rod. We chose the color both from a marketing standpoint and also from the aesthetics of nature. The earth tones fit into who we all are. It all kind of blends together and what it is, is the earth tones. Also from the simpler marketing play Toyota Tacoma Jeep Rubicon they’re using this same color scheme. It makes sense and then when you take a full rod rack and put it in a store for a retailer it jumps out at you and sets itself apart from all the black rods in a sea of black rods. So I am a diehard hard-core fly angler. I've got a few different rods I’ve designed and I'm very happy with them and proud of them, but I wanted something different. I am not a traditional fly angler. I do fly, spin and cast but as much as I do spring and cast I’m passionate about fly. I like fast actions. I’m a fast action caster and I’m a power caster. I hit my casts hard and I wanted to build a rod to fit my style. Part of that style is taking a fly, much like flipping for example, taking a fly and putting it exactly where I want it, fishing it, getting it out and and getting it to the next spot, but keep moving down the shore line, finding a pattern and working a pattern. So there’s a lot of fly rods and the tips are too soft to do that as mechanical as I want to, whether red fishing, trout fishing, bass fishing, or whatever. But also I wanted to add a fast fly rod I could punch a hole in mangroves with. 

A lot of my mangrove fishing which I fish with a spinning rod, which is what we design the Banshee with, throwing unweighted plastics into mangrove tunnels for snook and baby tarpon, I wanted a fly rod to do the same thing. So that's why the banshee fly came about.

We made it and the Banshees series because the fast action fit with the story of the Banshee spin. But then I took it from there and took it a step further from a fly perspective. I’ve been fly fishing my entire life. The tip of fly lines today, its printed weight forward, eight weight floating whatever taper. Twenty years ago we didn't have that so we would take the fly line, take a sharpie and mark if it was a five weight, a six weight. So we take a sharpie and literally if it is a five weight we put a one inch single mark, to represent a five weight. If it is a seven weight it would be a one inch mark and two small strikes to represent a seven weight. The handle the Banshee has that built into it. So it's a composite cork handle with black EVA rings and the black EVA rings indicate what weight the rod is. So if you're on a drift boat, or on a flats boat, you can look down you look down and see you’re fishing and five weight and want to pick up your four weight, by glancing you can easily see which rod is your four because you can see on the handle it's already marked and nobody else has done that. So all of that in the package makes the Banshee fly rod what is. 

The company: Berkley

The Gear: The Berkley Slobber Knocker Bladed Jig

Category: Best hard bait 

The new Berkeley Slobber Knocker is our version of a bladed jig, we’ve been working on for the past several years.It just won the best of category for freshwater hard bait and it's offered in two different sizes half ounce and a three eights. We have 12 different colors and as far as product attributes go, it's the head design. Initially what we had in mind when we went to design it's actually opened up a ton of different plus ones that we have kind of stumbled across along the way. One of those being the fact that we come through cover much better. With the through head design there's no clasp or anything for it to catch on, so whether it's vegetation or hard cover specifically we're gonna come through better.

Me being from Georgia and South Carolina I'm not fishing around vegetation a lot, it's more hardcover. A couple other pieces are, guys are gonna be concerned about the blade to head contact. We study sound profiles, we study vibration and we study water displacement and we make sure we are at the top in all three of those categories.

As this thing is going through the water it's hitting the head on both sides, so that's where your sound profile comes from. 

It has a power bait infused and scented skirt. Its hand tied and we have our tallon style keeper What that’s really solving is; the wire style keepers that are out there currently just slice right through your your trailer this thing is not gonna just slice through. You’re going to increase the durability of your trailers whatever they may be. 

The company: Berkley

The Gear: The Powerbait Power Stinger

Category: Best freshwater soft lure

We also came out with the Berkley Powerbait Power Stinger which won best of category for freshwater soft lure. This is a straight tail bladed jig trailer design. The honeycomb technology we implemented here is going to be the big key.

We knew from our marketing research and talking with our pro staff that today the two biggest issues were durability and action. Usually you have to sacrifice one or the other. If you want a really supple bait you usually sacrifice durability when you are shooting in a really soft plastic. On the flip side, when it comes to durability, you're harping the plastic and technically you're losing some action. We took our learnings from the Gilly launch last year and inverted that technology. So we actually took material out instead of having tabs that protruded and again what that is going to do is allow us to increase the percentage hardness of the classic, but you'reIt comes in 16 colors total for each.

Now let's go fishing. We'll bring the Slobber Knocker.

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