ICAST 2005:
New Bass Tackle & Industry Trends for 2006

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a tackle industry insider? Well, feel just like a privileged insider by reviewing this report on ICAST. Be among the very first anglers to find out about new products for 2006 by some seventy bass fishing tackle companies, and gain insight into twenty major trends shaping the bass tackle industry today.

ICAST is the North American tackle trade industry insiders annual convention. It is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center each year in mid-July.

ICAST is overwhelming. You have a mere three days to walk the show floor alongside thousands of other tackle industry insiders, visiting as many of the 350 tackle manufacturer booths as time permits (an impossible task), scribbling notes and snapping photos of the hot new products for bass fishing for 2006. It takes a few more days after that to sort ICAST all out, and some solid writing sessions to get this report produced for you.

Of course, to see something amidst the glitz and hubbub at ICAST is different than to fish with it. So be forewarned that something that looks and sounds swell at ICAST may fail miserably on the water. Even some items that win Best of Show awards (there are twelve product categories) at ICAST may not make it onto the market and may not win real-life angler approval hands-on the water. And other items that look low-key and Clark Kent-ish at ICAST, they may prove to have a spectacular Superman side that only bass can see!

Possible bass fishing tackle industry trends spotted at ICAST this year include:

1.      Going bass fishing for other species. A trend most visible at ICAST this year is several leading bass tackle manufacturers going fishing for other species - inshore saltwater species (redfish, sea trout, calico and kelp bass, etc.) or other freshwater gamefish (especially walleye, pike, muskie). In general, these are gamefish that would hit the same or similar styles and sizes of lures as bass. On bass hard baits for instance, corrosion-resistant, possibly stronger hooks and saltwater color finishes may be all that's needed to turn many bass lures into inshore saltwater lures. A few nimble bass fishing companies seem eager to cross over to other species markets this year.

2.      Red not fading. Many in the industry felt red was going to fade by this time, but red-mania is currently stronger than ever. The angler demand for red-daubed bait shows no sign of slowing down yet. Most fishing company executives and lure designers at ICAST voiced surprise that the red trend has lasted so long. Some manufacturers are still dragging their feet and slow to get into red, despite anglers still going hog wild over red. Actually, the whole red craze was started by one hook company, Daiichi, and practically one man - TJ Stallings of TTI-Blakemore. After that, red just took off, apparently something that hit an amiable high note with anglers.

  1. Asia and Eastern Europe as subcontractors to the tackle industry. In addition to Japan being involved as a vendor, there are several other areas of the world presently work more like subcontractors to the North American fishing market. China is burgeoning, but also increasing interest and production from Eastern European fishing tackle manufacturers. Most of these entities, particularly in China, are not necessarily too eager to float their own brands here yet. But each year at ICAST, the trend continues that they are increasingly better at making tackle for the North American market, and increasingly knowledgeable of the North American fishing market. For instance, I spoke with one project manager of a Hong Kong tackle subcontractor at ICAST. His factory employs 800 persons who mainly make lures. They don't make hooks, fishing line, rods or reels. Just 800 persons mainly making lures is a huge, huge operation. Just one of a number of tackle factories in China. They're good at it. Lower costs, ample labor, modern technology, and many advancements in luremaking are being made in China today. Eastern Europe too is interested, definitely able, currently involved, and want to be even more involved in the North American market.
  2. Holographics rule. Holographic films, foils and finishes have made their way into soft baits, particularly the modern, more durable, tough plastic swimbaits. Plus more and more holographic finishes are popular on hard baits (crankbaits, topwater, jerkbaits).
    Relatively few North American companies have much experience or produce holographic lures themselves, despite holographics being a major lure trend. More than anyone else, the fishing tackle manufacturers in China seem to have advanced the fine art of holographic finishes. Eastern European manufacturers also have their own slightly different style of holographic special effects for walleye, trout, salmon and pike spinner blades and spinner bodies.
    Holographics on bass spinnerbait blades have not really made it onto the scene yet. Partly because it is an imperfect process using heat and holographic film or tape. However, new application techniques are coming that seem improved over current methods to get holographics onto spinnerbait blades but good. As fishing tackle factories (especially in China) revamp and retool to use such newer processes to apply holographics to spinnerbait blades, look for that stunningly beautiful sector of the market to take off.
  3. Bass fishing television. It was just a couple years ago, a major tournament would not air on TV until a few months later. Today, a tournament has practically same day coverage and commentary. Timeliness is a new trend in bass TV. Providing information on what baits and tactics the pros are using is also a trend. Historically, most bass TV would show you plenty of bass boated, but you rarely got much meaningful info on the lures or methods. All that has changed. Today, you get detailed tips on TV from many top pros per show. TV is also making stars out of the top twelve to twenty (if that many) figures in the sport. The new trend in bass TV is to have short clips of  several different leading pros per week. So, instead of the same one bass celebrity hosting a show for one-half hour week after week, you may get three ten-minute mini-stories (vignettes) per week, with a different popular bass star per vignette. There's more of a sports commentator and field reporter approach; less of a show host in this format. You get much more diversity of winning bass stars per show, which stays constantly fresh (plus practically same-day or within-week timeliness) versus the conventional format of one show host per season series.
  4. Spinning tackle gets new respect. Thanks to bass TV, spinning tackle is getting new-earned respect. No doubt you've noticed many top BASS and FLW pros on TV using spinning gear more this year than ever before. I don't think this trend has trickled down to the serious non-professional tournament anglers who think it's sissy to use spinning. However, pros on TV using spinning gear goes far to encourage newer, younger and inexperienced anglers to be more confident and successful with easy-to-use spinning gear. It's good to see the top pros in the world using spinning more and more. Spinning gear is good stuff, despite what the macho baitcaster types out there say.
  5. 3D Eyes. Sounds weird to say it, but the bubble type 3D eyes are a trend, for hard and soft lures. The realism of 3D eyes has caused an overall increase in realism. Across all bass lure types, realism has gone up. When 3D eyes are put on, luremakers usually add other complimentary realism as well - gill outlines, etched mouth, etc. Painted eyes are passÚ.
  6. Flat Sided Crankbaits. Quite simply, everyone who makes crankbaits has felt obligated to add flat sided ones to their product line lately.
  7. Swimming Jigs. It's really up to one man, Tom Monsoor, to make swimming jigs a national trend or not. Monsoor got close to doing that in 2004, but his uphill battle stalled in 2005. His tournament success in 2006 will determine whether swimming jigs become a bigger trend or not. In the meantime, there isn't anyone fishing a tournament in the area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois who doesn't have one, or more like a couple dozen swimming jigs in his bag.
  8. Soft baits being used more? It's hard to prove this, but I sense soft baits are being used more widely today than ever before. No doubt, the Senko may have started this renaissance in increasing use of soft baits, but there have also been other soft baits, creature lures, Reaction Innovations' Smallie Beaver, the new genre of soft toad baits, swimbaits, flipping tubes, Great Lakes tube-dragging, dropshot baits, etc. I do sense a current increase in soft bait usage among bass anglers across the continent. Anglers may still own more crankbaits on average than any other lure type, but soft baits do seem to be more widely used today than ever before.

Z-Man/ GLC Fishing

Daryl Greene, co-designer of Z-Man's new patent pending EZ Skirt spoke of how much he likes the umbrella profile effect created by the EZ Skirt and the way the skirt, puffs, flares and tracks in the water.

Two years in the making, the new patent pending EZ Skirt is produced in 70 strands. It is actually 14 separate sections of 5 strands each, which means each of the 14 separate sections can be a different color. So an EZ Skirt can be assembled in 5 strand color increments (up to 14 colors) to seamlessly match the back, belly, sides and other colors on a jig or spinnerbait head, for example.

The silicone molded hub in the center of the skirt locks the strands in place so they cannot move around and won't distort or disturb the strand color pattern. The skirt strands are fixed in place by the hub, which provides a tight, secure fit to any jig, spinnerbait, buzzbait or other lure collar designed to hold a skirt - yet allows for easy replacement. The hub itself also comes in ten different colors for optimal color coordination.

www.zmanfishing.com , www.GLCFishing.com Daryl Greene, Designer dgreene2@aol.com 843.237.8698 Pawleys Island, SC

Strike King Lure Company

A new series of Premier Plus spinnerbaits and buzzbaits appeared to be the first in the industry to use Z-Man's new EZ Skirt silicone skirt technology. Strike King uses an exclusive version from Z-Man, dubbed the Perfect Skirt.

www.strikeking.com Chris Brown, Public Relations cbrown@strikeking.com 901-853-1455 Collierville, TN

Nemire Lures

Spoon lovers will love Nemire's new spoon colors. The spoon is a type of lure has been used for bass about 100 years now. Yet there's never been a finer spoon than a Nemire. In addition to Nemire's legacy 24K gold, silver and black finishes, new colors for 2006 include chartreuse, pink, red, green, purple and white spoons - all with classy gold fittings and rattle chambers.á These new spoon colors are topped off with GLC Fishingĺs new patent pending CapWrapTM skirts.

www.nemirelures.com John Nemire, Founder info@nemirelures.com 800-232-9909 Scottsdale, AZ

Rad Lures

James Ron Davis invented and patented the Chatterbait product. The company is just beginning its second year, and its first time at ICAST. In their home state of South Carolina, the Chatterbait is becoming popular, says the company.

The Chatterbait works in any application where either a spinnerbait or swimming jig would be a choice, says the company. I was able to swim two versions in a demo trough. One with a skirted jig and straight twin-tailed trailer combo. A second version of the Chatterbait with a Zoom Fluke threaded on the Chatterbait jighead. Both version had as a tremendous vibration and frantic action like a startled critter hightailing it. It was a more intense - yet natural-looking - action than you (or bass) usually see in a lure. The intense vibrating action is due to water pressure pushing the blade rapidly back and forth several times per second.

The demo trough was festooned with some fairly snaggy obstacles in the lure's path - completely unavoidable snags. Most times, the Chatterbait blade deflected the lure up and over the obstacles without snagging them. Since it was the front-affixed blade that prevented snags, the Chatterbait jig hook did not need any form of weedguard for the hook itself. This is a new concept lure. The action was impressive the way it wriggled intensely and avoided snags in the ICAST demo trough. It's available in 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 5/8 oz and two different blade sizes.á For the 2006 season, the Chatterbait will exclusively employ GLC Fishingĺs EZ SkirtTM, EZ TrailerTM add-on, and EZ Rattler add-on.

www.radlures.com Ron Davis, President radlures@aol.com 864-942-1800 Greenwood, SC

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