The annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades Show—ICAST to those in the know—is the world’s largest gathering of fishing gear manufacturers, making it the perfect venue to survey the latest new products for Canadian anglers. But for a truly international perspective, I decided to also check out ICAST’s overseas equivalent: the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition, or EFTTEX, held last summer in Vienna, Austria. With that, here’s my selection of the best new fishing gear for 2014—from both sides of the pond.

BestNewFishing-LOGO-2014Lunker Frog

Best Weight: Ultra Punch

Best Weight: Ultra Punch
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Largemouth bass anglers will love Ultra Tungsten’s skirted Ultra Punch worm weight for several reasons. First, the tungsten composition makes it compact and easy to sneak through the weeds, and you can team it up with smaller soft-plastics. Plus, the finish is amazingly chip resistant, so there’s no need for an insert. And having the silicone skirt attached to the weight means you don’t have to carry separate components, saving space and rigging time. It comes in five sizes and six colours. Ultra Tungsten, (416) 993-3477; www.ultratungsten.com

Best Line: Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon XL

Best Line: Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon XL
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Despite hype to the contrary, anglers have never really had a soft, limp fluorocarbon fishing line that behaves like monofilament. Instead, fluoro has always been stiff and wiry, with all the problems that entails, especially when spooling spinning reels. But Berkley’s Trilene XL 100% Fluorocarbon line truly does act and cast like mono, yet with the abrasion resistance, sink rate, sensitivity, hook-setting power and invisibility of fluorocarbon. This is the most significant line advancement since fluoro itself. Pure Fishing Canada, (519) 750-0100; www.berkley-fishing.com

Best Multi-Species Soft-Plastic: Snappin’ Cherabin

Best Multi-Species Soft-Plastic: Snappin’ Cherabin
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Is it a crawfish, shrimp or insect larvae? Who cares! Attached to a uniquely weighted jig head, Zarek Innovations’ super-soft Snappin’ Cherabin is amazingly lifelike in the water thanks to the woven Teflon material binding the segmented tail. The mesh also makes the lure tough enough to withstand multiple hook-ups. It comes in four lengths (two to six inches) and weights (1/4 to ¾ ounce); trout anglers will appreciate the amazingly delicate small sizes, while walleye and pike anglers will favour the larger ones. Zarek Innovation, (65) 67433628; www.zerek-inv.com

Best Fishing Glove: All-Purpose Touchscreen Smartglove

Best Fishing Glove: All-Purpose Touchscreen Smartglove
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Tired of having to remove your gloves in order to use your touchscreen devices? Canadian-made Smartgloves feature a scratch-resistant, silver-plated material designed to operate any touch screen, so no more freezing your fingers in cold weather. Other features include two-way stretch spandex, neoprene knuckles, leather palms, reinforced double stitching, Lycra webbing for breathability and PVC grips on the thumb and index finger. Smart. Slide’em, (613) 729-0446; www.slideem.com

Best Spoons: Savant Series

Best Spoons: Savant Series
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Purchased last year by Brecks, Savant spoons enjoy a passionate following in New England among anglers tackling tough-to-catch trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon. Included in the series are the slender 2¾-inch Winnie and three-inch Jake, which now sport gorgeous new scale patterns and UV reflective finishes. Great for trolling in clear water, they also promise to be lethal for whitefish and lake trout through the ice (especially with the rainbow smelt/silver finish). They’re perhaps the best lures of this kind I’ve seen in years. Brecks International Inc., (819) 563-2115; www.savantspoons.com

Best Walleye Hook: Rip-n-Roll

Best Walleye Hook: Rip-n-Roll
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I thought the incredible slow-death walleye system couldn’t be improved, but Matzuo proved me wrong. Rip-N Roll swivel hooks feature a sharper, meatier hook that won’t bend when it rubs bottom. They’re also larger than most bent hooks, allowing for easier hooksets on big fish. But the real blessing is a tiny swivel in the eye, making it a cinch to get your crawler cork-screwing properly, and at speeds much slower than you’d usually troll. Slow Death just got deadlier. Matzuo America, 1-800-941-2029; www.matzuo.com

Best High-Speed Reel: Revo Rocket

Best High-Speed Reel: Revo Rocket
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When my buddy Bob Izumi gushes about something, I listen. The Revo Rocket from Abu Garcia sports a 9:1 gear ratio that retrieves 37 inches of line with a single turn of the handle. That’s why bass anglers like Bob, who love to flip and pitch, love it. The speed lets you set the hook hard and get a big bass out of cover in a hurry. It also excels at burning spinnerbaits just under the surface—great for smallies in crystal-clear water. Pure Fishing Canada, (519) 750-0100; www.abugarcia.com

Best Bait Innovation: Realis Spinbait 80

Best Bait Innovation: Realis Spinbait 80
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Sporting minuscule propellers, this lure may look like a topwater, but it isn’t. Designed for a new Japanese fishing technique called “spybaiting” (see “Cutting-edge tactic”), the Spinbait 80 is a relatively heavy, sinking finesse bait for wary fish in very clear water. The lure casts a long way, and wobbles on the fall, much like a Senko. Once the lure reaches the depth you want to fish, it’s meant to be retrieved excruciatingly slowly. This is definitely a “situation bait,” but used at the right moment, it will amaze. It comes in 17 sparkling finishes. DUO International, www.duo-inc.co.jp

Best Muskie Topwater: Popp-a-Dawg

Best Muskie Topwater: Popp-a-Dawg
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Sure to attract a lot of attention from muskies, this surface bait is also bound to stop a few hearts—nothing’s quite as exciting as watching a big, toothy critter explode on a topwater. Ranging from six to 10 inches in length, the Popp-A-Dawg is the first giant-sized popper for muskie anglers. Handcrafted by Canadian master carver Jonathan Taylor, the lures feature through-wire rigging, wolverine split rings, glass eyes and 10 coats of epoxy over the fishiest finishes you’ve ever seen. In fact, they’re practically works of art. Frantic Big Game Baits, (519) 267-6655; www.franticbaits.com

Best Muskie In-Line Spinners: Handlebarz Double 10’s & Pdeez Big Tens

Best Muskie In-Line Spinners: Handlebarz Double 10’s & Pdeez Big Tens
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For the first time ever, we have a tie. I just couldn’t pick between these two in-line spinners. Both feature strong, stainless steel wire cores; silky smooth stainless steel clevises; premium magnum, chip-resistant #10 blades; and stout, sharp hooks. But it’s the hand-tied Flashabou skirts that will blow you away—no muskie will be able to resist the way they billow, flare and shine in the water. And the colour combinations are brilliant. Handlebarz Musky Lures, www.handlebarzmuskylures.com. Pdeez Musky Inlines, (613) 715-0266; www.pdeezmuskyinlines.com

Best Safety Product: Nebulus Emergency Flotation Device

Best Safety Product: Nebulus Emergency Flotation Device
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If you ice fish, you need one of these—it’s that simple. Not much bigger than a laptop, the Nebulus EFD tethers to your snow machine or ATV. Pull the lanyard and it fully inflates in 30 seconds, providing enough buoyancy to keep your vehicle afloat and function as a life raft. I know of far too many people who’ve crashed through the ice and drowned, but would be alive today if they’d had a Nebulus EFD. JTW Associates, 1-800-682-8039; www.nebulusflotation.com

Best Boat Accessory: Micro Anchor

Best Boat Accessory: Micro Anchor
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Anglers who fish from small watercraft are often overlooked when new products are introduced, but not this time. ICAST’s overall Best of Show winner, the Power-Pole Micro Anchor, is made specifically for small boats and kayaks. Weighing a mere 11½ pounds, it deploys into water as deep as eight feet, holding boats weighing up to 1,500 pounds in perfect position. Powered by a quiet 60-watt motor, the Micro Anchor deploys at a speedy 1.2 feet per second. JL Marine Systems, (813) 689-9932; www.power-pole.com

Best Trout Flies: Match’n Catch

Best Trout Flies: Match’n Catch
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I normally don’t include fly-fishing items in my roundup, but these Swedish-made flies are so amazingly anatomically correct, I just had to include them. In fact, I honestly thought they were real insects when I first spotted them at EFTTEX—only the hooks belied them as fakes. The Match’n Catch collection includes all of the mayfly, caddis, stonefly and midge life stages, as well as scuds and terrestrials, in a wide range of sizes. Despite their delicate appearance, these flies are tied with synthetic materials that make them virtually indestructible. J:sonSweden AB, www.jsonsweden.com

Best Just-for-Canada Lures: Live Series

Best Just-for-Canada Lures: Live Series
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For years, I’ve grumbled about Canadian anglers having to make do with lures designed for foreign fishing conditions. Case in point: shad lures for U.S. reservoirs dominate the market, but shad never appear in our natural water systems. Enter Rapala Canada with its Live Series of six lures imitating Canadian baitfish. The custom finishes include Sucker (X-Rap), Smelt (Husky Jerk), Black Crappie (Rippin’ Rap), Sunfish (Crankin’ Rap), Largemouth (Dives-To) and Yellow Perch (Shad Rap). Cool, eh! Normark Canada, (905) 571-3001; www.rapala.ca

Best Spinnerbait: Live Action Spinner Bait

Best Spinnerbait: Live Action Spinner Bait
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The Live Action Spinner Bait from Canada’s Freedom Tackle features the first-ever interchangeable hook system, allowing anglers to attach whatever type of hook suits the conditions at hand. And the design gives plenty of motion to the soft-plastic trailer while preventing hooked fish from gaining leverage and escaping. The ultra-realistic fish-head jig has a hardened epoxy finish for maximum deflection as you retrieve the bait through weeds or ricochet it off logs, stumps or submerged trees. Weighing 7/16 ounce, it comes in four patterns. Freedom Tackle Corp., (416) 779-0151; www.freedomlures.com

Best Rod Innovation: LegendXtreme Rod

Best Rod Innovation: LegendXtreme Rod
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Sometimes you have to see something to believe it, but in this case, you have to feel it. The LegendXtreme features a polymer handle so sensitive you can practically feel a fish sneeze on your bait. To achieve this, St. Croix subjects the high-modulus/high-strain SCV graphite blank to Integrated Poly Curve and Taper Enhancement technologies, then wraps it up with Fuji’s tangle-free guides and split reel seat. The rod comes in a wide range of actions for both one- and two-piece spinning, baitcasting and inshore models. *St. Croix Rods, 1-800-826-7042; www.stcroixrods.com*

Best Lure: L16 Koneel

Best Lure: L16 Koneel
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Made by France’s Sert, this soft-plastic eel is designed for saltwater, but it also makes for a great smelt or ciscoe imitation for Canadian lakes. Ideal for rigging Texas-style on an EWG hook, the bait is perforated so you can also pull off the head and attach the body to a jig—hence the name L16, a playful nod to France’s beheaded King Louis XVI. It comes in two sizes: eight inches for pike and lake trout, and six inches for bass and walleye. *Sert, www.sakura-fishing.com*

Best Lure Design: BaitBall Series

Best Lure Design: BaitBall Series
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Livetarget’s BaitBall Series may be the most radical lure design to come along in years. Seizing on the Alabama rig craze, which features a number of trailing swimbaits, the BaitBall is a single lure that creates the illusion of a school of baitfish. The series includes poppers, jerkbaits and crankbaits, so anglers can cover the entire water column. There are 32 size, colour and baitfish species options, such as emerald shiner, threadfin shad and glass minnow. Koppers Fishing and Tackle Corp, 1-888-231-4448; www.livetargetlures.com

Best Crankbait: Arashi Silent Square

Best Crankbait: Arashi Silent Square
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Storm’s wide-wobbling Arashi 3 and Arashi 5 (the number indicates the lure’s diving depth) are designed for aggressive shallow-water applications. Perfect for contacting structure, these cranks feature tough, circuit board-style bills, self-tuning line ties, rotated hook hangers and premium black nickel VMC hooks. But don’t expect rattles—that’s the “Silent” part. Priced at less than $10 apiece, the lures come in 12 knockout colours. Normark Canada, (905) 571-3001; www.stormlures.com

Best Electronics: 360 Imaging Bow Mount

Best Electronics: 360 Imaging Bow Mount
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Last year, Humminbird introduced the console-mounted 360 Imaging system, enabling anglers to see under their boats in all directions. If you thought that was cool, wait until you see what the new Bow Mount system can do. The revolutionary new transducer clamps to a trolling motor, and scans up to 150 feet ahead and around the boat, covering a full 360 degrees. Spotting isolated structure or following a weedline or drop-off has never been easier. Humminbird, 1-800-633-1468; www.humminbird.com

Best Drop-Shot Bait: Bondy Perch

Best Drop-Shot Bait: Bondy Perch
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As far as I know, this soft-plastic is the first drop-shot bait designed specifically to imitate yellow perch. It’s about time. Perch prey on bass nests and drive the bass mad, often causing them to attack on sight. And walleye are well known for dining on perch. Additionally, with the crashing populations of many forage fish—especially smelt—top predators are also eating perch. The four-inch-long Bondy Perch is available in 10 fish-catching colours. Bondy Bait Company, (519) 800-7004; www.bondybaitcompany

Best Freshwater Reel: Chronarch CI4+

Best Freshwater Reel: Chronarch CI4+
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It’s easy to see why the Chronarch CI4+ baitcaster was named Best Freshwater Reel at ICAST. Thanks to the new SVS Infinity braking system, you no longer have to open up a side plate to adjust an internal partial weighting system when switching from a light lure to a heavier one. Instead, simply dial in the correct spool speed and braking adjustment via an external knob. Boasting an amazingly light and sturdy frame, the seven-bearing CI4+ comes with gear ratios of 6.2:1 or 7.6:1. Shimano Canada, (705) 745-3232; www.shimano.com

Best Suspending Jerkbait: Ito Shiner

Best Suspending Jerkbait: Ito Shiner
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Two things are certain when Megabass introduces a new bait: it will catch fish, and it will be expensive. At $25, the Ito Shiner delivers on both. With a unique cupped lip and a trio of tungsten bearings, it casts farther, dives deeper and flashes 30 per cent more than comparable suspending jerkbaits. All this makes it ideal for catching bigger fish when conditions are at their absolute worst. It’s 4½ inches long, weighs a half-ounce and comes in 10 exquisite colours. Megabass, (413) 369-6051; www.megabassusa.com

Best Baitcasting Rod: Pyzer LCT-C14

Best Baitcasting Rod: Pyzer LCT-C14
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Two years ago, I casually mentioned to David Gray, founder of Carbon X Rods, that I’d yet to find the perfect baitcasting rod for large walk-the-dog-style topwater lures. So, he asked me to design one. Purely for my love of the sport—not money, sponsorship or other considerations—I did. After numerous prototypes, we came up with this 7'2" medium-heavy-action graphite rod. It fishes so well that many top U.S. tournament anglers are now using it for long-cast techniques, hence the LCT designation. Carbon X, (816) 350-9066; www.carbonxfishingrods.com

Best Topwater Lure: Lunker Frog

Best Topwater Lure: Lunker Frog
Lunker Frog

No matter how many Kermits are already in your tacklebox, make room for this bait, which earned Best Soft Lure honours at ICAST. With flexible legs that extend, swim, kick and retract just like the real thing, the Lunker Frog is unquestionably the most lifelike topwater frog ever. At 2½ inches in length—extending to 4½ when the legs are outstretched—the ½-ounce Lunker Frog is the perfect size. It also sits realistically, with its rear end submerged, further assuring hookups. Lunkerhunt, (416) 792-0385; www.lunkerhunt.com