ICAST 2019: best fishing rods, reels and combos of the show

St. Croix nearly swept away this year’s ICAST rod category with three wins, and the technology just keeps getting better. Read on for the best rods and reels from iCast 2019.

I spent two days scouting at ICAST, North America’s largest fishing convention, and it was full of exciting new products for the fisherman. In this article, I’ll detail this year’s top picks for rods, reels, and rod combos, awarded by a jury of ICAST buyers and media representatives.

Freshwater Rod: St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Rip’n Chatter


St. Croix took three of the four spots in this category, and they’re affordable. Mojo Bass Glass takes the freshwater category. With Fuji reel seats, Kigan rings and 100 percent S glass with IPC chuck technology, this rod looks like a future favorite for the avid bass angler.

Saltwater rod: St. Croix Avid Surf


The Avid Surf is a ranged rod, which means your throw is likely to go further with it. Corrosion control traps moisture in this rod, ensuring longevity in salty conditions. Plus, these things are sturdy! They are made from a reformulated SCIII material and, like the three winning rods, they feature IPC chuck technology.

Fly fishing rod: Ste Croix Imperial Salt


Yes, again St. Croix – they won Best in Show in the Fly Fishing Rod with Imperial Salt category ($ 350). Coming in 2020, it’s designed with salt in mind. It features Sea Guide PVD coated stripping guides and snakes, and is constructed of carbon, with IPC chuck technology, for long lasting and fast action on the water.

Rod and Reel Combo: Lew’s Mach Smash Baitcast Combo Reel


For just $ 130, this combo has just about everything you could want in an affordable setup. The graphite reel boasts brass gears, a 7 + 1 bearing system and Combat Grip paddle knobs. The rod features Winn Dri-Tac grips, IM6 blanks and an EVA foam stock section to fight when those lines get tight.

Saltwater Reel: Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Reel

Shimano’s Stradic FL ($ 200-230) focuses on the theme of increased durability in saline environments, coupled with top-level performance. This rod combines MicroModule Gear II for smoothness, Silent Drive Technology for better tolerances, X Protect to combat the effects of salt and Long Stroke Spool for better casting. Additionally, it will be available in five options to cover a variety of situations on the water.

Freshwater Reel: Shimano SLX DC Baitcasting Reel


This economical $ 180 reel puts Shimano’s exclusive digitally controlled braking system in the hands of every angler. Similar to its high-end Curado DC reel, the reel features a HAGANE body and SLX platform. It is available in three gear ratios and right and left recovery.

Fly reel: Siegler Small Fly

The Siegler Small Fly ($ 750) is light, active, and responsive. At just 7.2 ounces, it still manages to rack up 18 pounds of drag. An asymmetrical spool allows for better line laying and the dovetail foot connects low and strong to your rod. Add a lever drag system that allows for fine adjustment of the drag pressure, and you’ve got a nice reel for those long days on the river.

Material for children: ProFISHiency, the drone

At $ 50, this little cane packs a punch for that special time when kids are getting too big for their toy canes. This 5’6 ″ Spincast combo comes pre-wound with a hi-vis braid, features a Micro Spincast reel with a fast 4.1.1. gear ratio, and it has a dual-grip reel crank with soft padded knobs for comfortable casts and catches. All the right things to help you build a lifelong partner on the lake.

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