2015's best new tackle
Fantastic new hardware for baitcasting, spinning, mooching and ice angling
The massive International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades Show (or ICAST) is like Disney World for anglers, and not just because it was held in Orlando, Florida. After checking out a dizzying array of gear, these are my picks for the year’s best new rods and reel. Also see a round-up of new accessories, and the year's best new baits.
Named ICAST’s Best Freshwater Reel, the Beast is designed for heavy-duty techniques, such as casting big swimbaits, Alabama rigs, Carolina rigs and punchin’ baits. Everything about this Abu Garcia reel is big and easy to use, including the handles and star drag system that lets you dial up an amazing 22 pounds of fish-tiring resistance. Featuring eight bearings, as well as a tuneable magnetic and centrifugal braking system, the Beast may have been developed for big bass, but I have no doubt it will also work well for muskies, pike and lake trout.
More info: Abu Garcia, (519) 750-0100
Best High-Tech Freshwater Rods
POISON ADRENA RODS
The alliance between Japan’s Shimano and Jackall has resulted in several premium fishing products, but none more impressive than the new Poison Adrena rods. Featuring streamlined CI4 handles and reel seats that fit your hand like a glove, these rods offer amazing sensitivity. But it’s the special carbon tape woven inside and outside the blank that makes the rods so incredibly light and responsive—and incredibly strong. New this year are the 7’ heavy action, 6’ 10" medium-heavy and my favourite, the 6’ 10" medium-glass action for fishing lures when you want a more parabolic bend.
More info: Shimano Canada, (705) 745-3232
BEST SALMON REEL
Rapala’s Classic Moocher had the salmon anglers at ICAST asking how anyone could manufacture such a premium reel with such an affordable price tag. Machined from double-anodized aluminum to resist saltwater corrosion, the reel features a high-load stainless steel bearing and large arbour spool that lets you wind on 800 yards of 25-pound-test monofilament line. You can reverse the custom-shaped non-slip handle to accommodate both left- and right-hand retrieve, and the ring is contoured for easy palming. Also featuring a reinforced reel seat and stainless steel spindle, the Classic Moocher comes with a protective neoprene case.
More info: Rapala Canada, (905) 571-3000
MICRO MAGIC PRO
The standout feature of the Micro Magic Pro series of casting, spinning and cranking rods is the MicroWave line-control system—carefully positioned, high-gauge ring lock guides that quickly straighten out the line, allowing for incredibly long casts, even into a strong wind. Developed by Bassmaster Classic winner Boyd Duckett, the system increases line speed, flattens out the path of the cast, avoids line slap and eliminates wind knots, all of which also contribute to greater accuracy. Named Best Freshwater Rod at ICAST, the Micro Magic Pro is also affordable, costing only $200 or so.
More info: Duckett Fishing, 1-888-603-0005
BEST ICE REELS
POLAR FIRE DELUXE TIGHTLINE & DAVE GENZ ICE SPOOLER ELITE
The hottest trend in ice fishing these days is to use a fly-style reel instead of a spinning reel to counteract line twist and prevent wildly spinning baits. Enter Clam’s new Dave Genz Ice Spooler Elite (right) and HT Enterprises’ Polar Fire Deluxe Tightline (left), both which will improve your odds on the ice. The Ice Spooler Elite sports a large arbour that eliminates line coiling, a left- or right-hand retrieve, 2.3:1 gear ratio, dial drag and three ball bearings. The Polar Fire features a four-bearing drive system, 2:1 gear ratio, positive drag system, extra large handles and an elongated reel foot.