The 2022 ICAST New Product Showcase award winners were announced last week and the range does not disappoint.
It’s always exciting to see what’s behind the curtain at major equipment shows. This year was no exception. From new twists on old classics to completely innovative fishing technology, ICAST 2022 had a lot to offer.
When it comes to fishing gear, there is an endless sea of gadgets, gadgets, and options. If you ask me, it’s the gear in hand that gets the most excitement.
So here’s a look at the rods and reels that took top honors in 2022.
Freshwater Rod: St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass
Holy Cross is no stranger to winning awards at ICAST, with several category sweeps in the past. This year he got bold with this wild take. The Legend Tournament Bass Rod has a surprisingly tactical feel. Do you see it?
Pistol grips are nothing new in the fishing world, but St. Croix decided to take the idea a little more literally with this one. Why cast a line when you can cast it through the water?
Saltwater rod: Ugly Stik Carbon Inshore
ugly stick designed the Carbon Inshore Series to be a workhorse. The blank is constructed from 24 ton carbon, with a solid graphite tip and one-piece stainless steel guides. The goal here is to provide maximum durability while remaining lightweight and responsive.
The look is cool. Silver detailing and black components on a saltwater blue rod give this rod a really clean look that looks the part.
Rod and Reel Combo: Shimano Spheros SW Combo
The Shimano Spheros SW Combo is a set of spin casting rods designed to perform on the ocean. This kit includes the redesigned Spheros SW reel, featuring Shimano’s Infinity Drive technology. Increased power and smoother spin are the goals of this updated reel.
Capable of casting artificial and live bait, this rod features an EVA handle and a large reel seat to get the job done when the fight gets tough.
Fly Reel & Fly Fishing Accessories: Hardy Fortuna Regent Saltwater Fly Reel
The Robust Fortuna Regent Saltwater Fly Reel is a beauty. This is one of the few reels in the series that stood out to me. It just feels good in the hand. It’s substantial but still pleasantly light.
The construction of the reel revolves around a sealed hub that houses a carbon fiber disc drag system. Having major components isolated from salt water definitely extends the life of your reel.
Good to see Hardy making waves on this side of the pond.
Freshwater reel: Shimano STELLA FK
First of all, the Stella FK just looks cool. Its sleek, gunmetal, monochromatic aesthetic is pleasing to the eye. That being said, it’s also built for performance. Like the Spheros combo reel, the Stella FK is equipped with Shimano’s Infinity Drive. You may not need saltwater level fishing power on a freshwater reel, but you still want the ability to land what you are looking for.
One feature that I think is underrated is the addition of an anti-twist fin to reduce line twist. If you have the dreaded loop that instantly turns into a bird’s nest, you know what I mean. A line twist can ruin an entire day… reel fast.
Saltwater Reel: PENN Authority Reel
Penn’s Authority Spinning Reel focused on keeping the inner workings dry. The coil and body are sealed to prevent salt water from reaching internal components, even when the coil is completely submerged. Available in just about every size you could possibly need, the Authority spinning reel will fit any fishing scenario you find yourself in.
Fly Fishing Rod: Banshee Fly, Bull Bay Tackle Company
The Banshee Fly Rod ($399) from Bull Bay Tackle Company has one defining feature that sets it apart from all other new fly rods on the market – the top of the handle is designed with rings that match the weight of the rod : the more rings, the heavier.
Does this change things? No. It’s cool ? Absolutely.
It’s one of those little things that fly anglers live for. The neutral tones of the upper and cover give it a sleek, almost retro look, and the price hits that mid-point.